Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Today we actually started project, so I woke up at half 8, showered and had toast and got the tuk tuk to project at 10. We had 2 classes of women to teach english to at a local college, and did a mixture of exercises and games like hangman. It was a bit difficult as there's a real range of abilities and you have to really try to include the quieter, less confident ones or they don't get included, which can be a struggle as the confident ones are so keen to show off what they know.

After our 2 hours of teaching there was a spare half an hour so we went into the beauty parlour section of the college and had our nails painted and washed them cutting and braiding hair which was cool!

We got picked up at 1 and headed back to get some lunch. I wanted to have a productive afternoon but ended up spending ages sorting out my stuff in my bag, and went to see the boys at the orphanage for a while.

At 4 we got a minibus into delhi to visit an amazing temple. It was soooo pretty-much more spectacular than the taj mahal, but you're not allowed to take any photos there or even take phones in so I have nothing to show. We spent the evening there and had thali in the food court which was really nice, before watching a really cool water and light show. It finished at around 8.30 and we headed back to the minibus, arriving back in faridabad just after 10. We spent the rest of the evening trying to book our flights for goa next week, which I finally managed to on the terrible wifi after a solid 2 hours of trying.

Laura x
Today was our first day of volunteering, but we had an induction day to ease us in. After breakfast at around 9 we had a talk about the projects and our time here, with like rules and expectations. I didn't have this last year and it was really useful! I also decided to get a sim card so that I can connect to the Internet when I'm out without wifi.

We headed into town just to the local shops which was a bit of an intrepid journey thanks to loads of flooding. We took a really long route to avoid it which was annoying. India has no drainage system in place on the roads so you just have to wait until the water dries up, which is understandably annoying during monsoon season.

I went to see the boys at the orphanage for a bit and arrange for them to have a Skype call with one of the long term volunteers, which they are very excited for.

At about 4 we caught a tuk tuk across town to visit a bigger orphanage. The children's English was very limited but we did colouring, games and dancing with them which was cute. I got so hot though after running around and was in serious need of a cold shower after a couple of minutes.

That evening we sat on the roof playing cards and chatting until the 11.30pm curfew.

Laura x

Day in delhi

Today new volunteers started arriving, and at about 9.30 the guy who runs the project asked if I wanted to go into delhi because a new girl wanted to. I had plans to go with some other volunteers so we agreed to go at about 11, which ended up being 12 because the new girls needed to exchange some money. I went over to the orphanage to spend some time with the boys. We played a bit of football and they did their homework and it was nice. They're going to video call one of the longterm volunteers who's been lots of times and they're really excited.

At 12, 9 of us set off in a tuk tuk to the metro station, and we got the metro to a big market. It was £1 to enter and a pretty fancy market. We had a quick browse, got some free water and then got some lunch. I had a Dahl and roti for about £1.50. We continued browsing and I picked up some souvenirs and gifts. We started to get really hot, as it was about 3.30pm and over 36°c, and soon we got a tuk tuk to another market nearby. This was more local and less touristy, and I got a top for £1 and two of the other girls got sarees for about £5.

After browsing for a while we got a tuk tuk back to the metro station and came back to the volunteer house, at about 6.15pm. I had dinner pretty soon but no one came up to eat when I did it. I'd used up all my rupees so I walked into town to get cash. Annoyingly the ATM wasn't working so I had to go to another one. When I got back I skyped family, and then went upstairs to meet the new volunteers who were having breakfast.

I then went back down to my room and met the new girl in it. She's really nice and we were just chatting and then showered, and then the project coordinator came to tell us that people were sat drinking on the roof if we wanted to join. We went over and sat with them for a few hours which was really nice, before coming back to go to bed.

Laura x 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Exploring delhi solo

The friends I had made on friday were away for the weekend which was a shame. Of the 3 of us left, one was leaving at midday and the other was meeting a friend in delhi. I didn't want to waste a day off, so after breakfast I spent some time with the boys from the orphanage who did actually remember me!! So cute.

At 12 we set off to the metro station and stopped off at the post office so a girl could send some stuff home and it took forever. I think we waited for about 40 minutes, but luckily it wasn't hot. We finally set off and got to the metro station where we bought our tickets and got on. I got off after about an hour and started walking to the lotus temple which was about a 5 minute walk. I joined a queue and had my bag searched and then went in. It's a bahà'ì temple and made of marble. It was so beautiful and we got to sit inside in complete silence which was really calming.

Afterwards I got back on the metro and went a couple more stops, and then got a tuk tuk type thing which was essentially a bike which rode me to the market. It was a really nice, more western market, selling clothes from mango and zara really cheaply. I had a browse and went into starbucks to get some lunch and use the wifi and skyped a friend.

I had another browse and bought some trousers, a top and 2 pairs of earrings before getting another tuk tuk thing, then getting the metro back and another tuk tuk. I got back to the house at about 5, and just sat in the room until dinner.

The girl I'm sharing a room with got back shortly after, and we just sat and chatted. We were going to go up to the roof with the others but were so tired we ended up just going to sleep.

Laura x

Friday, 16 June 2017

First day!

Usually volunteering is from Monday- Friday, but for some reason Friday was being taken as a day off which was excellent news for me as I was really tired. I still woke up about 8.30am though, and showered and got ready while the other girls slept. I had some toast and bananas for breakfast and then went to talk to the guy who owns the project. He told me about changes that have been made over the year and asked about what I'd been doing. There's a project coordinator who stays for 3 months over the summer, and he said if he'd known I was coming back I could have been it this year!

We were planning to visit a water park but the weather was the coldest it's been in weeks (it was about 28°c) and so we decided to do it another day. Most of the other girls are going to Dharamshala tonight (I went last year) and had to be back by half 4, so instead after lunch we went into the town to get massages. It's so cheap here; I got a back and shoulder massage for £2.50 and an underarm wax for 40p.. crazy!

Afterwards we walked back and the others got some snacks for their night bus and I got a 7p samosa which was delicious. The coordinator then gave me a tour of the houses as a lot has changed around, and we saw the boys from the orphanage who didn't recognise me (sad times).

The other girls left and then me, a girl who is leaving tomorrow and the coordinator just sat and chatted for a few hours and then ate dinner, and then a guy who had been in delhi that day came back. He'd missed dinner so we went into town to get him some food, and it was cool to see how the town woke up at night.

We headed back and started watching a film before the wifi gave up, though I was secretly glad as I was shattered and fell asleep just after 10 pm.

Laura x

Off to India!

Today has been crazy! Idk why days with multiple flights just make me so disorientated and confused. I got up at 8.20 and went to the gym (gotta get the money's worth right) and showered before checking out. I decided not to get an uber to the airport so headed to the metro station and paid £1.30 for the half hour journey. After checking in my bag I went to get some food and for some reason opted for a curry even though I have a solid month of them from now lol.

After going through security I wandered around the shops in search for a t shirt as I only have 2 for india, but ended up getting distracted and buying gym leggings and a sports bra. My psychology placement involves some yoga though so telling myself they'll be useful for that... got some more food because I was so bored and then found my gate and boarded at about 1.30pm.

My first flight was about 4 hours, and I thought I had the row to myself until the last minute where two women sat next to me. Luckily they were lovely; the one next to me asked how long the flight was and then told me I had a beautiful smile and eyes which was very sweet as I saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror and looked like an egg. Later she asked about where I was from, going etc. and I'm pretty sure invited me to her house In Chennai where the flight went to. Just before we landed she said that she and her friend had been discussing how cute I was lol. Had forgotten how weird the celebrity treatment is here...

Was quickly reminded though as after going through customs and collecting my bag I headed out of the arrivals lounge and being a 200m ish walk to departures. A local guy from my flight was walking a metre or so behind me, when a random man outside the airport approached. He said hi and after the plane ladies' friendliness I replied and he asked the same classic questions, but it became weird when I asked if I was married and then followed us into the lift at the airport saying he wanted my number. I declined and when he put his hand out to shake it he kissed my hand at which point and laughed and walked away quickly. Luckily the guy walking with me had sensed that I was uncomfortable and walked with me and when I didn't understand the other guy's heavily accented questions would kind of sigh or laugh so that I knew that he was just a randomer. He wasn't scary or intimidating and once I turned him down he left immediately but it's weird how some men here feel so strangely entitled once they know you're not married, which from now on I'll be saying I am.

I had a very confusing check in, simply because I forgot to check in my rucksack and reacher the security check before noticing I was the only person with luggage. I eventually made it through and got a kfc- I find it so weird that out of everywhere I've visited india has by far the best selection of vegetarian fast food, and then wandered around for an hour or so. Spending a lot of time alone makes me pretty disorientated and I'm not even completely sure how so much time passed, though a couple of strangers asked where I was from and a man let me use his phone charger. I also drank a couple of litres of water from a water fountain which was followed closely by a lot of stomach cramps, so possibly not my wisest decision.

At 6.15pm ish I boarded my second flight to Delhi, which I again thought I had the whole row and then someone sat there at the last minute. I was in a state of confused sleep and kept drifting in and out of consciousness for the flight. After arriving and getting my bag at about 9.3pm I headed out to find the exit where the driver meets us, only to realise I was at domestic arrivals not international, and the right exit was 3.5km away. A man told me there was an airport shuttle bus for 25p but I had no change. I messaged the owner of the project on whatsapp and he said the driver would arrive soon, and luckily 10 minutes later he arrived at domestic arrivals.

I had a 1 hour taxi ride to the project where I met the owner from last year and was shown to my room and to meet the other girls. It was a bit overwhelming as I was tired and there were soooo many but they all seemed so nice that it was reassuring before going to sleep.

Laura x

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Last day before india!

Today the others left me and it was well sad!! We woke up at 11 after way too many drinks and packed up our stuff which was scattered around the room before checking out and heading to McDonald's (classic). My hangover couldn't be cured by 2 veggie burgers which was worrying but we were all so dead that we just sat in McDonald's and then Starbucks for a couple of hours, utilising the free WiFi and air con.

Early afternoon we headed back to the hostel and I booked a hotel for the night. We then proceeded to sit/lie in the like communal area for several more hours. So quite a productive day?? I did write a blog post and write postcards though which I really need to send...

At 5 the others got an uber to the airport and there was an anticlimatic goodbye before it sunk in that I was now all alone. Sad times. Luckily my hotel was like a 600m walk and so I headed off and found it quickly, checked in and went to my room. It was pretty nice, think I paid about £65 in total, but the guest before me had clearly smoked loads in the room which was cute. I went down and used the gym and the pool before showering and heading out for some food. There was a mall thing nearby and I finally had kaya toast which half boiled eggs which we had loads last year! I got some snacks and headed back to the room, where I started packing my stuff and watched some TV before getting an early night before tomorrow's flights.

Laura x

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Busy day in singapore

As the only full day here we wanted to take full advantage, however only I seemed keen for an 8am wake up call and so we didn't actually make it to the buffet breakfast until it ended at 10. We headed out abut 10.30 and made our way to the gardens by the bay. Eddy and I paid to go in the cloud forest which was soooo cool and we wandered round the outside with the others before getting some lunch.

It was really hot and we caught an uber to an art museum where some of Collette's relatives had worked, and took a photo and then headed back to the room. We spent a while getting ready then bought some cider in 7/11 and went to a happy bar at a bar next to our hostel before heading to Raffles.

We all got a singapore sling which was actually so nice, but for like £18 we could only afford one each. It's the only place where littering is legal in Singapore so the ground was covered in peanut shells which was weird.

Afterwards we caught an uber to Marina Bay Sands and got the lift up to the 57th floor where we went slightly crazy buying drinks. The views were incredible and it was weird pretending to have loads of money after having some 75p noodoes for dinner a couple of hours earlier.

After a couple of hours there we headed to where the clubs are but were all too tired/poor at this point so just got one drink and caught an uber back to our hostel (via getting some chips of course.

Laura x

Monday, 12 June 2017

We intended to get the bus to Singapore at 10.30 and so set an alarm for 8.50, but classic we weren't ready in time so didn't make it. Usually the buses are every half hour but all the ones around 11am were full, meaning that the next one we could get was at 12.30. We headed to nandos to make good use of our time. After eating we headed back to the hostel to get our bags then caught an uber to the bus station, got our tickets and some snacks and waited. 

It was delayed by half an hour and then approx 2 minutes into the journey made a 20 minute petrol stop, but we eventually ended up on our way to Singapore. The journey took maybe 8 hours?? Which included multiple stops as well as the border ones, and involved a lot of food and napping. We finally arrived at night and were very close to our hostel so walked over. The way that the booking works meant that we'd all ended up in different dorms and so we ended up paying extra to share a room which was a bit annoying but worth it.

We headed out for dinner at about 9 and wandered to a large shopping mall to McDonald's. I was very excited to discover that here they do a veggie burger, and we classily sat on the floor as there were no tables. After a trip to Starbucks we headed back to the hostel to watch Netflix before a busy day tomorrow as the others fly home on Wednesday.

Laura x

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Back to Kuala Lumpur

I really wanted one last trip to the beach before we left so I got up at 9 and went down for a swim and to sunbathe. It was so nice as the beach was virtually empty apart from the jet ski sellers setting up their stalls. Afterwards I headed back to the hostel for a shower and to pack up our stuff before we all headed out for some brunch before our afternoon flight. I ended up having such a good meal; I swapped the meat in the breakfast for essentially more carbs and ended up with hash browns, toast, potato wedoes, mushrooms and an omelette for about £3. Winning at life.

We got an uber to the airport and caught our flight to Kuala Lumpur which took about an hour, and as usual I slept for the whole thing. We were surrounded by little children which was actually so cute as they kept turning round to look at us lol.

Afterwards we caught the £2 bus for the hour long journey back into the city, which again I spent sleeping. We arrived back at the hostel and checked in for 2 nights, collected our big rucksacks and just hung out in the room for a while.

At 6 ish we ventured into the city to get some dinner. We went to a massive mall, one of the biggest in the world, called Berjaya times square, to get some dinner and go to the cinema. It was soooo weird though as because of ramadan nowhere had any tables, but was full of people sat with plates of food in front of them not eating, which they'd do for like half am hour before their fast ended. Some restaurants were full of tables full of food and drink with no one sat there, ready for their arrival. It seemed very strange to us that after fasting all day they would want a meal which had been sat out for half an hour going cold?

Despite how big the shopping mall was we couldn't get a table anywhere, so walked around to nearby restaurants where the same was happening. We eventually headed to the cinema and got snacks for our film, then went to see the new pirates of the carin bean.  It was really good and a nice way to spend the evening other than drinking.

After the film at 11pm ish we tried to leave but essentially got stuck in the mall, and finally made our way out and headed back via mcDonalds so that the others could finally get some dinner (I'd had a trusty subway salad) before going to bed.

Laura x