The Victoria Falls

Friday 29 May

In spite of a terrible night’s sleep, today was a great day!

Every Friday, Paula needs to go to a Rotary International meeting in Livingstone. On top of this, there’s been a few flat tires recently so Dan and Matt also had to go in Livingstone in the only remaining truck to buy spares. So this meant there was no work for me today as there was no vehicle free to drive the equipment around. But what I could do was take advantage of the spare seat in the truck going to Livingstone, in order that I could use this as an opportunity to see The Victoria Falls!

I got dropped at The Jolly Boy’s Hostel, where I’d stayed before, as I had noticed they do a free minibus to The Falls for guests in the hostel, which I managed to sneak onto successfully with no questions asked! Also on board were three others; Lewis from Essex, Caroline from Germany and Denise from Ireland. Once we arrived, Lewis went in solo, but the girls and I stuck together!

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Off to Mwandi

Tuesday 26 May

Well, day one has felt much like an African adventure already!

Paula collected me from the Jolly Boy’s hostel about 12:30 and we got on the road to Mwandi Village, about a 2 hour drive away. En route, Paula told me a little more about the charity Homes for AIDs Orphans, which was founded by herself and her husband Dan (who was actually born and raised in Mwandi himself) in 2005, with very meagre beginnings! While they started off sharing land with Christian Missionary groups, in 2007 the Village Chief gave them their own land from which the charity could work. Then, with Paula being part of Rotary International, Rotarian volunteers got involved, who by 2009 had set up running water and by 2010 installed electricity. Although they’re still a small charity and with basic living, it’s very impressive to me that they’ve already come so far with so little.

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Lauren and Sofia’s Grand Day Out

30 April 2015

Today was a very exciting day indeed! The day of the night that we travel to Cape Town!

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As our bus was not due to leave until 21:30, selected with the intention to sleep more or less the entire journey, Sofia and I decided it wise to fill the day with lots of eating and walking around- the best way to get sleepy. What better place for this than Port Elizabeth’s Green Acres Mall!

We began with a very hearty lunch at Mugg & Bean, a lovely Restaurant/Café chaining starting up here. They provided us with delicious iced teas and coffees

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The Sleeper Train to Palampur

12 March 2015

After a good 24 hours of travelling Agra to Delhi, Delhi to Amb Andaura, and Amb Andaura to Palampur, we have finally arrived at our accommodation!

Last night, at 11:50, was not only my first experience of being on a train in India, but my first experience being on a sleeper train! I thought it was great fun! Each wall had two or three beds that could fold out of it for your rest. There wasn’t really anywhere to put your bags other than underneath the bottom seat, so I opted for top bunk and kept mine at my feet, while the movement of the train gently rocked me to sleep like a giant baby.

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Some enjoyed it more than others.

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I woke up about 8:00 to the crisp smell of clean mountain air, and stuck my head out the door (which was broken and wouldn’t close) to greet the region of Himachal Pradesh!

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Once we arrived at the train station, we boarded our bus to make the 4 hour journey to Palampur. This would’ve been a great time to get a little more sleep, but I could as these incredible mountain views were getting more and more impressive with each mile!

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Now in my accommodation, I can also tell you that these views also exist from my own bedroom window, however these guys are stealing the show…

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Very cute.

What a place…

 

India: The First Day

27 February 2015

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After arriving safely at Delhi Airport, I made my way to the collection point, where a driver was said to be waiting. Another girl, Chanelle from Plymouth, had already arrived so we waited together for the final person due to be collected who turned out to be Krish, from New Zealand but fluent in Hindi.

We were then driven back together on those infamous Indian roads to our accommodation in Gurgaon.

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The accommodation is modest and homely, and when we arrived we had a delicious home-cooked meal waiting for us. A welcome treat, which I ate in the traditional way- Pinch, scoop, scoff!

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Over lunch, we met two other girls in the hostel. Rosie, from Forest of Dean, and Andy from Norway who will both also be part of this group of volunteers/tourists.

After lunch, we decided to set out and see what the local area had to offer, and what better means of transport for this than cramming into a Tuk Tuk!

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We stumbled across a very small, typical Indian market selling a variety of goods.

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Mmmm! As appealing as those eels were, I did manage to resist. There was, however, one street food I indulged in that I’ve never seen or heard of before in my life!

Pani Puri!

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Today’s the day!

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The last 10 days have been an absolute blur of work, emotions, food and farewells!

I spent all of last week writing the most detailed handover possible for my replacement at work, and learned somewhere in the middle that almost all my flights had been cancelled so had to rebook them! Somehow, I found the time to do my farewell office cakes- tiny little individual chocolate sponge globes! I would love to say them were simple, but they kept going wrong and eventually took me 3 days to complete!

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Start again.

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Yusssssssss.

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As I’m leaving for the airport in about an hour, I don’t have time to give you a detailed recipe, but can briefly explain that for the “sea” I used white chocolate with blue food colouring (burnt the first batch, and learned on the second that blue food colouring works as a thickening agent… Did you know that?!) and for the “land” I used store bought roll out icing. I attempted to replicate the areas of the world I’m actually going to! Let me tell you, India is pretty hard to cut out of icing!

The Friday was my work/chums leaving meal! What a great nice! An array of 20 friends and colleagues were able to come out for it and show me a fantasically unforgettable evening! A great success!

Then came the Saturday, which was (so far as I was aware) the “family segment” that my sister had kindly taken the duty of organising. And organise she did! I was overwhelmed by all the surprises I had waiting for me!

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Love, Life, Food, Adventure

First and foremost, I would like to dedicate this particular post to my parents Dawn and Kevin Maitland, who are celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary today. They are currently dining in the same Italian restaurant we went for Hana’s pre-wedding dinner just a few months ago. What a special restaurant!

Second, and with no less enthusiasm, I would like to give a great HOLLA HOO to my wonderful best friend Ali Cluney who is celebrating his birthday today. I can’t quite recall how old he is. 80 maybe?

I wanted to ensure I posted today, as it’s a significant memory, not just for my Mother and Father and not just for Ali but for me personally. And what better post for what I wish to blab about than this unusual salad I made for me and my Mum just the other day- The Thai Som Tum. Aka, Papaya Salad!

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