Welcome to the February Slug Life Status Report!
Even though February is a short month, we certainly feel like we've crammed a lot in!
Where We've Been
We started the February with a backwater cruise in Alleppey, before making our way to Bangalore to play some ultimate frisbee. Next, we checked out the palace in Mysore, then the wildlife and ruins in Hampi (meeting some wonderful new friends along the way), before taking a wee break from our travels with some chill out time in Palolem, Goa. After an incredible whirlwind of a reunion with our new friends in Mumbai, we nipped up to Aurangabad for a couple of days to check out Ellora and Ajanta Caves.
This month, we've travelled:
- 795km by plane (bringing our trip total to 12,658km)
- 798km by train (trip total 998km), and
- 43km by automobile (bringing our trip total to 1,962km)
We certainly tried to take things a bit slower in terms of travelling this month, but India is such a big country that you have to cover a lot of distance to get from point A to point B!
- Backwater cruising in Alleppey. This was a long time on our to do list, having received it as a wedding gift from my godmother and her family, so it was incredible to finally be doing it. It was so peaceful and relaxing, and a lovely way to see a snapshot of rural Indian life.
- Mysore Palace, and the walking tour we did in Mysore. Although the city itself didn't really capture our hearts, these two stand outs (plus some fun and quirky museums) certainly made the detour worth it!
- Wildlife spotting in Hampi. Getting to see sloth bears and a leopard in the wild was amazing!
- Our time in Mumbai with Delna and Kersey. We got to see a side of Mumbai we would never have seen without them!
We had a pretty lowlight-free month, so we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel with these!
- The Indian postal service, which frustratingly wouldn't let me send mail without a return address, even when I pointed out that I don't live here, so if they return it, I won't be there. Despite all the hoop jumping, the two parcels I posted (birthday presents for my nieces) still haven't turned up, both over a month after posting. Grrrrrr!
- An average second day in Mysore. While we got to do some fun stuff (like the Shell Museum, the Sand Sculpture Museum, and the Mysore Palace sound and light show), Chamundi Hill was a bust, and trying to fill in a whole day while we waited for our night bus was a bit of a chore.
- Our first night bus from Mysore to Hampi. Although sold as an AC sleeper, there was definitely no AC. After a sleepless and sweaty night, we were unceremoniously thrown off the bus at Hospet, 15kms away from Hampi at 6.30am, when the driver decided they didn't want to go any further. Luckily, our night bus experiences have improved since then!
- My creepy massage in Goa...
- On our last night in Aurangabad, I was booking our flights from Mumbai to Udaipur, and accidentally booked the wrong date (ie April instead of March). Because it was a cheap ticket, we were hardly refunded anything, but we (okay I) learnt a very valuable lesson about double checking dates... Luckily they were cheap flights to begin with, so it's not the end of the world.
- Alleppey Houseboat
Our little home on the water for a night was a complete delight. We felt like royalty having the boat to ourselves, with the amazing staff serving us delicious food and drinks at regular intervals. The absolute relaxation was an incredible treat.
- Sloth Bear Resort, Hampi
After stepping off our first sleeper bus, it was absolute heaven to arrive at Sloth Bear Resort. From the cute cabins to the helpful staff, and the carefully planned yet flexible itinerary, everything about our stay here was perfect. They even helped us out when we stuffed up our bus tickets and nearly missed our bus out. The only downside of staying here was that we had to leave.
- Rococo Pelton, Goa
A beachfront room with a balcony to view spectacular sunsets, above a restaurant with some of the best staff ever - what's not to love?
- Delna and Kersey's apartment, Mumbai
This was our home away from home for a short while, where we were truly made to feel like family. We miss everyone already!
- Air BnB, Bangalore
It's with some hesitation that I put this on the list, because it wasn't actually that bad. It just so happens that we've had a great month accommodation-wise, so the bar has been set pretty high! We booked ourselves into what looked online like a funky little apartment in a cool part of town in Bangalore. On arrival, it was clear that the photos had been taken some time ago. The place was dark and dingy, and for some inxexplicable reason, all the lightbulbs in the place were red (great for developing photos, not so great for seeing). The kitchen, which we'd been very excited about, had no crockery or cutlery, just lots and LOTS of pots. And the whole place was in need of a really REALLY good clean.
But actually, the place turned out to be pretty great. We made excellent use of the washing machine, and the proximity to great food was a huge plus. But by far the best thing about the accommodation was the host, who even invited us around for tea at his house one night. All things considered, while the physical accommodation may have been a bit of a dud, it was still a happy little home for our time in Bangalore.
- The samosas and chai on the trains, which we first sampled on the train to Mysore, are an absolute winner!
- Our street food tour in Mysore led to some interesting culinary experiences! The food we tried was all delicious, but one samosa had me in chili tears.
- Zev's vada pav, deep fried curried mashed potato puff squashed in a soft white bread roll with spicy chutney. It's his new favourite food.
- Breakfast. Still breakfast. Although we've had more success recently with getting pancakes, and we're getting better at eating curry for breakfast
- One meal in Aurangabad, where Zev thought he'd deciphered the menu and ordered what he thought would be deep fried potato. What turned up was a floury american style biscuit (like a scone) soaked in some kind of creamy sauce. To top it all off, it was cold. Bless him though, he ate it.
Since last month, we've been making an effort to record our daily expenses so that we can keep track of where our money is going. Sadly, we're still not great at it, particularly at recording online expenses (like accommodation), so the numbers aren't perfect!
We've had a few splurges this month, accommodation-wise. Our Alleppey boat cruise was around $150NZD, but since that was a wedding present, that doesn't count! Similarly, our Sloth Bear accommodation was more than we'd usually pay, at $320NZD for 2 nights, but it included our activities and food, and we used some money that was an anniversary gift from my sister to drop the price.
We spent quite a lot on flights in February, although most of the flights we were booking were actually for March. Our flights from Kochi to Bangalore were pretty affordable, at around $75NZD per person. Our flights from Goa to Mumbai were around $75pp. We also booked flights from Mumbai to Udaipur in March. These were around $150pp, but since I stuffed up the dates on the first lot, we lost most of a full set of fares when I cancelled them. Booooo....
Other than that, we're ticking along financially. Neither of us has cracked the code for how to make money while sleeping on a bus, and since we've stopped getting paid from our jobs at home, we've reached the point in the trip where our bank accounts will just be going down.
That said, if we can keep spending at the rate we're going (where we've certainly not been putting any limitations on ourselves, and have even indulged in some reasonably expensive souvenir shopping), we're on track to spend the rest of the year homeless.
Thank god, we've had another event free month health-wise! Long may it last! Note: since I'm writing this in the future, I know that it does not last...
Where to Next?
After returning to Mumbai from Aurangabad, we flew to Goa for a frisbee tournament called Holi Goa Sixes. We then went back to Mumbai to recover for a couple of days, before heading to our current location, Udaipur. Next, we plan to head to Jaisalmer, and then, who knows??
Until next month, lots of love,
S & Z