Adventure Travel Blogging

The Arts and the Art of Shopping in India

The Arts and the Art of Shopping in India
When the shopkeeper in Udaipur found out that Sergey and Olena were from the Ukraine he quoted them a starting price that was 50% more than he had just quoted me for the same miniature painting. When they called him on it he admitted to them, "I could tell from your accent that you are from Russia so I added more to the price because I knew you would be hard bargainers!" That ended the negotiation before it even got started! There is a vast range of crafts throughout India deriving over the centuries from many ethnic groups as ornamental art for home and body, as well as for utilitarian purposes and religious practice in daily life. We've proven, once again, that India is a treasure trove for handicraft souvenirs especially including ceramics, jewelry, leatherwork, metalwork, stone carving and marble inlay, woodwork, and clothing and carpet textiles of all sorts such...
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To See and Understand as Much As Possible

To See and Understand as Much As Possible
Traveling through India on this 25th anniversary of Wildland Adventures I am reminded of a social science survey presented at an ecotourism conference I attended 30 years ago in which the #1 priority for active American travelers was: "To see and do as much as possible." However, in order to help facilitate the most meaningful travel experiences we often have to help our guests find the right balance of "seeing and doing" that also allows for "experiencing and understanding." Of course, every country and each trip present a diverse variety of sites and activities, but the deeper understanding and life changing experiences come when we are open to exploring our destination and ourselves more openly, to take time to interact more intimately, allow ourselves to absorb and contemplate, and be prepared to accept the vagaries that life on the road away from home present as unexpected adventures and learning opportunities that...
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Trains, Travails and the Taj

Trains, Travails and the Taj
There was an air of tension and excitement as the light of day was fading…would we make it in time to see the Taj Mahal at the end of the day after our long, unexpected 24 hour India adventure ? It all started in Varanasi after we finished concluded our sunrise boat excursion on the Ganges River. After free time we visited Sarnath in the afternoon where Buddha came to preach his message after reaching nirvana. Today, Sarnath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world; we encountered groups of religious travelers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand chanting, burning incense and making the five obligatory circumnavigations around the huge stupa with prayer beads in hand. Then it was off to enjoy dinner at Sanjay’s family home before boarding the overnight train to Agra to see the Taj. Our travails started when we couldn’t find the smaller...
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A Wild Anniversary Party - Only in Incredible India

A Wild Anniversary Party - Only in Incredible India
Celebrating our wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day always requires advance planning, but this year I was organizing the big event a year in advance with the help of our friends in far away India    .    I kept it a secret from Anne and all the members of our group until the day before when I took everyone to a textile shop in Jaipur where all the men were fitted with white linen Indian pajama outfits, and all the women were given a sari. I picked out a dressy black kurta for myself and one of the hotel staff topped it off with a local turban. For Anne, I had measured her in her sleep months before and sent her dimensions to a tailor in India and had an orange wedding dress made for her.    As the sun set behind our Samode Palace hotel two women arrived to painted henna...
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Varanasi: "Blindingly colorful and unrelentingly chaotic"

Varanasi: "Blindingly colorful and unrelentingly chaotic"
  Let me start with the most visceral sight on my first visit to Varanasi: While floating on a boat down the mother Ganga River in the early light of dawn, in the smoky haze of fire and smoke from funeral pyres on shore, a dog was chewing on the bone of a human skull. What life did this skull contain? Who was the person among the masses of Hindus who come here, one of the holist places in India, to be cremated or otherwise to wash away their sins? Perhaps he was the Indian army soldier who fought in the Bangladesh war who came here seeking penance and reparation for those he had killed in his life. Did he come here, like thousands upon thousands of refugees we saw searching for peace of mind? The streets, river banks and funeral ghats are crowded with pilgrims from all over the world...
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