When the son of a good friend of almost 40 years invited us to his wedding in India of course we accepted without delay. It’s going to be a 3 day wedding in Gujarat with all the exotic excitement that entails but it’s a long way to go for just 3 days so naturally we had to add some extra travel on the subcontinent.
We had looked at going to Nepal a couple of years when our then neighbour who came from Nepal advised that post-earthquake tourism was more likely to be a benefit than not. That trip did not eventuate for various reasons but we have not lost interest in Nepal and extending a trip to India to include Nepal seemed a good idea.
The wedding of John and Shruti will be at a resort outside Ahmedabad, which is the largest city in Gujarat and has an international airport. The wedding arrangements included an offer of bus transport for guests from Ahmedabad to the resort on the first day of the wedding celebration. That was very welcome since we had no idea how to arrange local travel in Gujarat.
Getting to Ahmedabad required some planning effort. We will fly with Qantas from Toowoomba to Sydney and then to Singapore where Majella wanted a couple of days to look around. Singapore Airlines flies to Ahmedabad and we are booked to do that a couple of days prior to the wedding. That will give us some time to look around Ahmedabad, acclimatise, and possibly pick up anything we need but don’t already have with us.
We have happily travelled independently in many places, including Japan last year, but were not confident to try that in India and Nepal. We needed to find a package tour that would take us to places we wanted to see and had a departure date that did not require a long wait after the wedding which runs Wednesday to Friday evening.
After some searching I eventually found the GAdventures Delhi to Kathmandu Adventure which begins on the Monday evening after the wedding and takes 15 days through some significant sites in India and then into Nepal. That allows Saturday to get back to Ahmedabad after the wedding and we are booked on a Vistara flight to Delhi on Sunday morning. GAdventures were able to arrange a transfer from the Delhi airport to the hotel from which the tour begins along with the necessary extra night before the tour. We will have a day to relax and look around before the tour.
As per the map, the tour goes from Delhi to Kathmandu via Jaipur, Agra, Orchha, Varanasi, Lumbini, Chitwan National Park, and Pokhara. Along the way we have booked some optional experiences – a cycle tour of Jaipur, cooking at Orchha, and a flight to see Everest at Kathmandu. Accommodation is mostly hotels but includes an overnight on a train, two nights in homestay, and a night of camping.
From Kathmandu we have an overnight flight back to Singapore followed by another overnight back to Brisbane and home. Booking flights in and out separately presented some issues for transit status but we are hoping to sort that out and get some rest in a transit hotel between flights.
Preparing and packing has been a challenge. A 3 day Indian wedding includes multiple events for which we will need to be appropriately dressed. Majella has borrowed some outfits. I ordered one on Christmas Eve but it is coming from India and has not yet arrived. I have packed my suit which is appropriate for one event and will try to do some shopping for additional outfits in Singapore and Ahmedabad to fill in the gaps. All of that wedding gear has to be packed and carried for the whole time we are away but will not be used beyond the wedding.
Advice in the GAdventures material suggested that suitcases would not be suitable so we are both taking backpacks. Along with clothes and our other usual travel essentials, we will pack bottles for water purification along with medication for malaria and diarrhoea. The GAdventures packing list has other suggestions that we are working through to achieve a balance between having all we need but not being too heavily loaded.
Other preparations have included practising the dances that John’s relatives and friends will be expected to perform to mark his entry. We are hoping to help make up a ‘crowd’ behind the front row where we will not be seen too clearly as we stumble through.
We are now just 10 days away from leaving and in the final stages of preparation. We have begun packing bags to check capacity and gathering the final bits and pieces we will need. Our big adventure will soon begin.