Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The end

My last day in Asia! I'm sad this trip is over but I feel more ready to come back than I did last time! I think the constant changing of friends was kind of weird to deal with; just as you get close you leave and it's weird! On my last day we had a spare day, and so a group of us planned to go to the market. The market was pretty rubbish and all I wanted was a traditional mens' top for dad which was seemingly impossible to find. After traipsing around for a while I went off on my own, finding some cheap jewellery, tops, pineapple jam and some traditional sweets to bring back. Success!

We had to check out of the hotel by 1.30pm so I tried to charge my phone and power bank but the sockets in our room were broken so I couldn't which was annoying. We left to go back to Bangalore and had a long 5 hour bus journey, saying goodbye to some people at the hotel, and stopping off at kfc again for food. We arrived at the airport and almost everyone left which was kind of sad. A lot of people were very emotional about it but perhaps I'm kind of used to this arrangement now because I didn't cry!

A few of us had flights the next day and 3 of us had booked the same hotel, with the other staying at an amazingly fancy one opposite the airport. The 3 of us got dropped off at the hotel by the bus which had driven us back from Mysore which was nice, and we all checked in and individually got room service. This was the second time with a room to myself since May so nice! I slept early ready for a 6.45am wake up the next day.

My flights home as they're pretty uneventful, but one friend I met on the course was on my flights which was nice for the stopover and airport! I've had a great 5 weeks and am even more appreciative of everything I have now, especially given the at times ungrateful/rude attitudes of people I was with. I wrote this instagram caption which kind of summarises my thoughts;
"I complain about stuff all the time, but every time I heard someone complain about an aspect of India, be it the road surfaces, the heat, the food, the wifi, whatever, I thought of these children.
Growing up in slums where temperatures reach 48°c, they spend a lot of time as a group (the oldest child being about 7) playing in the park, strolling barefoot through mud and broken glass completely fearlessly, always wanting to say hello, shake your hand and ask your name. They're always, always smiling and excited.

This love isn't just shown by children; a woman stopped me yesterday to say that I was "looking very pretty"; a complete stranger touched my arm and then took a pin out of her own dress to pin a rose into my hair; earlier this week a family insisted that a group of 27 of us spontaneously came to their house for tea and snacks; a man in the street last week smiled at me and simply said "god bless". The life you're born into isn't based on your worth, and coming from somewhere more technologically advanced doesn't make you any better or more intelligent than people whose lives are much more simple. The privilege we're born with is just down to chance.

I'd much rather have the compassion, happiness and friendliness that the people in India have shown me than any of the technology I'm lucky enough to enjoy at home. Stay humble kids"

So yeah. To anyone who read all these posts I hope they haven't been too boring!! I'm now settling back into life in england and preparing to return to work. Emirates lost my bag but it's back now thank god so time to get my sleeping pattern back to normal!

Laura x

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Weekend in Mysore








I'm sooo tired! Had a really nice day in Mysore! We started the day with a buffet breakfast and then at 9.30 headed to a temple at the top of a hill. The drive felt a bit precarious but we made it and the views were cool! We weren't allowed to take photos inside the smaller temple which we visited but it was really old and beautiful.

Afterwards we drove and had lunch at a restaurant which was nice, and I put my saree on as we were going to visit a palace. They're quite complicated and a woman in the toilets helped me do it which was so sweet! The people are so friendly. After that I was the centre of attention and everyone wanted photos with me. People kept saying 'beautiful dress' or 'beautiful Indian woman' looool.

We drove to the palace and it was amazing! Again, no photos inside, but the architecture was just incredible with massive hallways with amazingly intricate designs. It was so nice!! We took photos outside before walking to a local market. Enroute I was stopped by a family and the woman was so keen to help adjust my saree, taking a safety pin out of her own to secure mine and then excitedly getting a photo taken with me like I was famous.

It was a bit annoying as the market was like where people bought spices, flowers and vegetables, and so wasn't great for souvenirs. Luckily I'd bought most of my stuff and we're going back tomorrow to look again. While looking round an elderly woman came over and gave me a rose and took a safety pin out of her clothes to pin it into my hair. One of our guides said it was because she was excited to see me in a saree which was so cute so I gave her some money.

After looking round we got some henna done. I'm so happy with mine! I opted for palm which I never have before and the guy did such an amazing job and so quickly! It was a challenge getting a tuk tuk home though, and then using the lift and finding and using our room key, but I miraculously managed without smudging.
At 7 we met to go out for dinner, and walked to a really cool rooftop revolving buffet restaurant. It was nice to just sit and chat with everyone but sad as this was our last night together! Right now a lot of the others are downstairs drinking but I was so tired so I'm just in bed

Laura x


Last day of psych

Today was our last day of the psychology placement before a weekend trip which was crazy as it's gone sooo fast! I decided to go to morning yoga so headed there at 7. I had not anticipated how hot I'd get while doing it and asked for the fan to he turned on which the guy running the session refused. I was not impressed as I was tired and coated in a layer of sweat, but he claimed this was good for us....


After breakfast we quickly showered then add a morning learning about mindfulness and its use in mental health, and the basic principles underlying it. I struggled to focus as I was so tired but the content was really interesting and when we tried out some mindfulness ourselves I could feel the effectiveness of it. After lunch we were due to do laughing yoga but it was cancelled so we ended up leaving for the weekend trip a bit early.

We set off for Mysore at 2.30, and the journey took around 5 hours. I'm now so used to long journeys that I thought of this as short and was quite happy to have the drive, though we did seem to break down a couple of times. It was fun though and a group of us chatted for a lot of it. We stopped off for dinner at a place with kfc, domino's, an Indian restaurant, a dessert place and a cafe. No one was up for Indian so I opted for a kfc veggie burger and got a frappe at the cafe be for we continued with our drive.

We arrived in Mysore just after 8pm and checked in and took our bags up to the room. There was talk of going to a local supermarket to get alcohol but we couldn't be bothered and I had the nicest shower instead before going to bed really early.

Laura x

Thursday, 6 July 2017

We had a lie in today; I didn't wake up until 7.30! (Lol) after breakfast we had an introduction to meditation in the treatment of mental health using the principles of shakras. It was really interesting to learn about their beliefs about energy channels and crystals, and we did some meditation ourselves which was cool
Afterwards we had lunch and then did an afternoon of yoga. It was quite intense but fun at the same time, and I have definitely lost a lot of flexibility. We did that until 5pm and then at 5.30 met to go for a walk around a local village. The people were so excited to see us and kept coming out of their houses to say hi or take photos. We then ended up getting invited into a local's house for tea, all 27 of us got chai and biscuits which was so cute. We took group photos with them and then walked back before dinner and bed.
Laura x












Last day at NIMHANS

Another 7.10 wake up occurred, this time with a warning that we were leaving at 8. We got ready and put our bags in one room as check out was 12 and we were going to be out until 4, and then had breakfast. We tried to get tuk tuks to NIMHANS but none would stop so we ended up getting a passing empty bus. Our day started with a trip to the out patient department. They see 100 patients per day, but people travel from all over the country and queues start at 4am with loads of people not seen each day. It was so crowded there but cool to see and learn about the treatment.

Afterwards we had a number of talks again, about family life in india, work that can be done in rural communities to increase mental health awareness etc. We also learned about the use of alternative therapies such as yoga in treatment, and visited the centre where they do it, as well as another alternative which involves oil and massage.

Afterwards we had a closing ceremony where we were given certificates and an opportunity to give feedback, before being picked up by the bus and taken back to the Ancient School of Wisdom for 2 nights. Enroute we stopped for dinner and were offered mcdonalds (chosen by 21 of the group) or an Indian restaurant (which 6 of us went for). I definitely made the right choice and had such a nice curry before getting back, trying to track down my room, showering and going to bed.

Laura x

Wednesday, 5 July 2017



I'm not used to the early mornings and my 7.10 alarm was not very welcome. However the hotel buffet breakfast with dosas made to order brightened my mood a bit! We set off in tuk tuks around 8.45 to go to NIMHANS. We had a full day of lectures, learning about mental health care in india, the services provided by the centre, the cultural barriers etc. It was really interesting and we had regular breaks for tea and snacks (they loooove to feed us lol). We finished at 4 and headed back to the hotel.

We met at 5.30 for an optional trip to the botanical gardens. I'm really glad I went as it was so pretty! It's nice to see calm and greenery in the middle of a busy city. Afterwards we got tuk tuks into town to meet the others in a shopping mall. The westernness of the trip is annoying me a bit as the mall didn't even have Indian food an everyone headed to pizza Hut. A few of us went to the food court where I had a subway salad, fries and vegan ice cream- so not like I went cultural either, but who wants to spend 2 hours in a western mall?? I don't get it but I think again it's probably just due to my lack of budget at this stage!
Some people stayed on to go out for drinks but I decided not to and got a tuk tuk back to the hotel. My room mate went out and it was actually so nice to have a room to myself for a bit; the only other time I have in the last 5 weeks was the one night in Singapore. I did a workout, did some washing and took a long shower. Sounds very boring but it was nice. I packed up all my stuff and got into bed ready for another early start.

Laura x





My day started bright and early at 6am when my roommate took a shower, but it was nice as it meant I was more awake for yoga. Some of the others arrived early on Sunday so had met, but I went along with my roommate and we did an hour. It was a bit more intense than I expected but fun.

Afterwards we had a little break where we napped before breakfast in a big communal area where we talked to some Australians volunteering here. After breakfast we had an induction to the programme where we got to know each other a bit and found out what we'd be doing. Most people are english but there are people from the US and some Australians too. After the induction we had a break where we packed up our stuff, moved it into one room and had some lunch. Afterwards we got a bus to the city where we were spending the next 2 nights.

I slept for the whole 2 hour bus journey, waking up when we arrived at NIMHANS (national institute of mental health and neuroscience). We had a 2 hour session getting an introduction to the centre and their work, before heading to our hotel to check in. It was really nice; comfy beds (I haven't had a mattress in weeks), wifi, air con and a tv. We had a bit of time before meeting to go to dinner. It was raining a lot and we went to a place that did western food. People are not on a budget like mine and were splashing out on loads of food and alcohol and I was trying to eat for under £4. Unfortunately the tax was split between all of us so I ended up paying almost the same in tax as my meal cost...

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel in tuk tuks before showering (in hot water!!) and going to bed.

Laura x

Psychology placement

My day started bright and early at 6am when my roommate took a shower, but it was nice as it meant I was more awake for yoga. Some of the others arrived early on Sunday so had met, but I went along with my roommate and we did an hour. It was a bit more intense than I expected but fun.

Afterwards we had a little break where we napped before breakfast in a big communal area where we talked to some Australians volunteering here. After breakfast we had an induction to the programme where we got to know each other a bit and found out what we'd be doing. Most people are english but there are people from the US and some Australians too. After the induction we had a break where we packed up our stuff, moved it into one room and had some lunch. Afterwards we got a bus to the city where we were spending the next 2 nights.

I slept for the whole 2 hour bus journey, waking up when we arrived at NIMHANS (national institute of mental health and neuroscience). We had a 2 hour session getting an introduction to the centre and their work, before heading to our hotel to check in. It was really nice; comfy beds (I haven't had a mattress in weeks), wifi, air con and a tv. We had a bit of time before meeting to go to dinner. It was raining a lot and we went to a place that did western food. People are not on a budget like mine and were splashing out on loads of food and alcohol and I was trying to eat for under £4. Unfortunately the tax was split between all of us so I ended up paying almost the same in tax as my meal cost...

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel in tuk tuks before showering (in hot water!!) and going to bed.

Laura x

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

To bangalore!

I did not sleep well today, as the new volunteers arrived. it was so annoying as they came in throughout the night, but 2 sat with the light on chatting for a solid half an hour which is just not what you need at 4am. I gave them a half asleep grumpy look which seemed to do the trick. I then woke up at 9ish and had to quickly pack up all my stuff before heading into delhi. I paid for the clothes I'd had made, and went to visit the boys at the orphanage one last time, taking them a little spider man pencil case I got them.


We then got a tuk tuk through the flooded streets (yay for monsoon season!) to the metro, and headed into delhi. We had to change a couple of times and then arrived at the train station stop, where I wanted to leave my big rucksack. It was a traumatic experience during which I had to ask lots of people and got very lost, but ended up with my bag safely in the cloakroom and eventually reunited with my friends. After a lot more confusion and a tuk tuk we arrived at the market we'd set out to, and spent half an hour or so stocking up on souvenirs.

It was one of the girls' birthdays and we planned to have lunch, but I wanted to buy a bag and the others were too hungry to wait so I finished my shopping then met them to say bye.
I hadn't eaten yet that day so I headed to McDonald's and then skyped my family which was nice, before boarding my flight around 5. We got a meal on it and I read and listened to music for the rest if the time, landing at like 7.45. I got picked up fairly soon and driven to the place we were staying, and found out that my roommate was sleeping, so I quickly brushed my teeth and showered then got into bed, ready for 7am yoga.

Laura x

Sad times!! Before heading off to get the metro to the airport. There was such a long queue for tickets but I made it with loads of time to spare, and checking in was super easy and the lady let me on even though I was a kilo over the 15kg limit. Aw!

Back to delhi






Sorry I'm behind again!
On saturday in goa we had planned a beach day, so after showers and breakfast and checking out, we headed down. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and it started to rain torentially just as we arrived, forcing us to hide in a doorway for ages. When it stopped it brightened up a lot and we headed onto the beach, even sunbathing for a while, as well as inevitably taking a ton of selfies.

We headed up after a while back to the hostel, stopping on the way at a couple of market stalls and buying some final souvenirs. I looked at a pretty crop top, decided I didn't want it, and ended up being half chased down the road by the woman selling it as she was insistent on giving me a bargain loool.

We got some lunch at the same place which was nice then hung out at the hostel, before getting a taxi to the airport. This took around an hour and 15 minutes and we all slept the whole way. We checked in and hung out at the tiny airport, very disappointed at the lack of dinner options. We ended up getting some crisps on our flight which was luckily much smoother than our one out, and after collecting our bags headed back to Faridabad for my last night.

Laura x