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February 6th, 2012
Wanderlust in the Middle East and India

A couple of months ago we purchased a new printer. It’s one of these new-fangled ones that does everything…if you can work out the instruction book that is! Fast forward to last weekend, and hubby decided to try out the scan function. He ended up scanning quite a few photos from an overland trip we did from London to Kathmandu.

This was the first big trip we did, and despite me catching malaria, we fell in love with many of the places we visited. I used this trip as the inspiration for one of my books, Wanderlust.

Instead of just posting a selection of the photos today, I thought I’d give you small snippets from my book, Wanderlust and some matching photos. BTW – Wanderlust is part of the Value in the Vaults program at Ellora’s Cave. You’ll pick it up at the bargain price of $0.99 there or $1.49 at Amazon Kindle.

Syria - Aleppo

I thought back to that day in Aleppo, Syria. My eyes narrowed while I remembered. The entire group had wandered through the crowded marketplace. Donkeys laden with huge loads of vegetables or bolts of cloth plodded down the narrow streets. Both locals and tourists jostled for space, the local people trying to carry out their business while tourists dallied, gawking at everything. It was noisy. Dusty.

The scent of petrol and oil was heavy on the air. We walked on, pushing our way through with all the panache of the locals. We learned quickly and we’d already visited the bazaars in Turkey. They were no place for correct and proper British manners and queues. The bazaars and marketplaces were every man or woman for himself. You pushed without being too pushy or else the locals walked all over you. And bargaining. We’d all learned to do that as well.


Without another word, we ambled down the dusty street, heading for Pushkar Lake. Other tourists wandered the streets, checking out shops and restaurants. Some wore red string bracelets on their wrists, reminding me we’d need to do the same—donate some money and receive a bracelet passport in return. Giving in and donating money stopped further harassment. Some of the priests were very persistent.

India - PushkaIndia - Pushka_0003


India - Pushka_0001India - Pushka_0002

Top left: At a Pushkar cafe
Top right: The annual Pushkar camel fair
Bottom left: The crowded streets.
Bottom right: The beautiful lake

India - Jaiselmer_0001

The sun lay low on the horizon when we drove in the old city of Jaisalmer, painting all the ochre-colored buildings a soft pink. I slowed the truck and waited for a cow to amble across the road in front of us.

India - Jaiselmer_0002

A chill breeze blew over the flat rooftop but the knee-high wall plus the air-conditioning unit protected me from the worst. The sky glittered with a canopy of stars. I stared up at them, idly picking out fantastical shapes until my eyelids grew too weighty to hold open. A dog barked, the mournful howl picked up and repeated by another animal. Gooseflesh rippled over my arms. Talk about creepy. I heard others come up to the roof and settle down for the night, their chatter a low, background noise.

The mosquitoes came out about ten minutes later, the whine irritating and loud. Very loud. They flew in kamikaze circles around my head. I slapped my hand around my head a few times and snatched at the source of the sound. Missed. Muttering, I sat up and pulled out my mosquito net. I hadn’t put it up because there was nothing to hang it on. But desperation called for ingenuity. I covered my head and upper body with the netting, tucking it under my sleeping bag. It didn’t halt their whine but at least it stopped them landing and taking a bite.

India - Jaiselmer_0004

“Don’t forget your water bottles and hats,” I said. There was always one who forgot if I didn’t remind them.

One of the camels grunted and made a loud whistling sound.

“Oh god. I think that camel farted,” Rosa said, waving her hand in front of her face.

“That will be your camel,” I said, attempting to keep a straight face.

Everyone laughed except Rosa, who pulled a face. “I expect farting is the least of our problems,” she said. “I hope I can walk by the end of the day.”

Shelley’s notes: I have very vivid memories of the mosquitoes and the dogs in Jaisalmer.  Between the barking and the buzzing around my head, I didn’t sleep a wink. I actually caught cerebral malaria on this trip and spent time in a New Delhi hospital. It’s part of the reason I look so skinny in the photos.

We enjoyed our camel ride very much but most of us walked like ducks the next day! Talk about sore muscles.

15 comments to “Wanderlust in the Middle East and India”

  1. Wow! So cool. What an experience. Although that’s a shame about having to go the hospital!

  2. Looking back, the hospital and malaria was part of the experience.

  3. That’s a heck of an experience. Would you go back knowing what you do now? I’m not sure all the buzzing and getting sick from the mosquitoes would make for a fun least to me.

  4. If I did it again I would have been a bit better about taking my anti-malaria tablets. They made me feel sick so I wasn’t good about taking them every day. I’ve done a lot of travel since that time and haven’t been sick again. Touch wood!

  5. You and hubby always have the most interesting experiences traveling. And you never know what will actually happen! Getting sick was no fun, I’m sure. Wonderful post.

  6. It was a good way to lose weight! Despite getting sick, it was still an awesome trip.

  7. That had to be a wonderful trip for you to be able to look your malaria experience in the face and say, “Despite you, I had a darned good time.”

    Thank you so much for sharing both photos and some of your Wanderlust – pun intended.

  8. A person can learn so much from travel. It’s a great education – in all ways :)

  9. Looking back across the years, I sometimes regret the paucity of photographic images of my voyagings. It didn’t seem important at the time and photographs capture only a moment in time, and that imperfectly.
    Even memories become vague in time, unless some thought sharpens them to vividness only I can experience.
    I was a selfistravelerer in many senses, usually alone, recording impressions in long serial letters I sent only to people who might value the information. Ships carried me from pace to place and out times in port were often extended by antiquated cargo handling (I remember loading scrap iron in Kittapore Dock with a line of dock workers carrying individual items up sloping planks and dumping them into hatches…it took weeks to load the eight thousand tons and I had to get special papers to travel up into the hill country by train and spent many hours discussing Kipling with a professional letter writer as the trail rattled slowly from stop to stop)
    I avoided malaria, but did get a bout dysenterytry to remember (Another way to lose weight rapidly)

  10. Memories do become vague in time. In this case the photos helped to jog mine.
    Ah, dysentery. That is no fun. Thankfully I’ve never been sick during my travels since the malaria episode. Sick and travel don’t mix well!

  11. What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing snippets from your story:)

  12. Thanks for stopping by, Tania.

  13. I can never get over how fascinating your travels have been. I envy you–but not the malaria. Hope it didn’t last too long.

  14. This trip was near the start of our travel addiction. It was our first overland trip, and we got the bug, despite the malaria saga.

    With the malaria I was sick for about a month and lost a lot of weight. It could have been a lot worse!

  15. Shelley forgot to mention that our trip was in 1990, the year Saddam thought he might rule over Kuwait as well as Iraq. Great time to travel to Jordan and Syria especially……no tourists! It was just before Desert Storm. We had Petra (Indiana Jones fame) along with so many other places of interest to ourselves.