February Updates from That Backpacker

Hello from Kolkata, the final leg of our month-long adventure in India!

It’s been a great trip filled with desert landscapes, ancient sandstone fortresses, cows roaming down the streets, and thali sets big enough to feed a whole family, but at the same time my body is begging for a break. Don’t get me wrong, we visited some beautiful places and had a really fun month travelling with Sam’s parents, but anyone who’s been to India knows that this country can wear you down.

Halfway through my time in Varanasi I got some nasty food poisoning and my cold returned with a sweet revenge, so this last week has felt like I’m just dragging myself to the finish line: the airport and 3 back-to-back flights home.

Now here’s a look back at February:

Where I went

Nepal: Pokhara and Kathmandu

India: Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Kolkata

February in review

HIGHS: I feel pretty lucky that I get to spend lots of quality time with Sam’s parents on their annual winter escape. We’ve now done trips together around Southeast Asia, South America, India, and I hope there will be many more in the future! Getting to see the Taj Mahal with them felt like the culmination of our time in India and it was a real highlight of the trip. Some landmarks can be a bit underwhelming, especially if you’ve built up your expectations, but the Taj Mahal in Agra was even more wondrous up close than I could have imagined.

LOWS: Not knowing whether the creature I saw scurrying across the bedroom floor was a gecko or a mouse… (Spoiler: turns out we were sharing the room with both!) We booked some great properties for our month in India, however, our last stop in Kolkata was a total bust. We were put in the ‘Old Wing’ of the hotel which did not match any of the photos listed online when we booked the property. Instead we were met with mouldy walls, cigarette butts on the bathroom floor, and I found mouse droppings under my pillow. I would have changed hotels under normal circumstances, but I arrived in Kolkata with the above mentioned food poisoning and a cold from hell, so I basically curled up on the bed and waited for time to pass.

FINDS: Souvenir shopping in Jaisalmer was a lot of fun and I may have gone on a bit of a rampage ‘collecting’ items for my future home. My favourite souvenir find of the trip was a collection of hand painted motifs on old postcards. I loved the look of bright peacocks, elephants, and songbirds painted against the weathered cards with old messages on them.

READ: I’ve been reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris on my Kindle for the last couple of months now and I’m already planning to get a hardcover once I’m home. There is so much food for thought in this book and I found myself mulling just a few sentences for days at a time. The book pulls together snippets from interviews that Tim Ferris has done with businessmen, celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists and artists, where they each share the routines, tactics, and pieces of wisdom that have been imparted by mentors. It’s one of those books that you’ll end up highlighting from cover to cover and revisiting over and over again.

LOLs: The following conversation while walking along the ghats in Varanasi:
Man: You want boat? I have boat. You want boat ride?
Sam: No, thank you. We are walking.
Man: Oh, smoking? What you want: hash, opium, marijuana?
That’s got to be the worst lost in translation moment, or the best sales pitch.

Cool travel opportunities

NZ looking for tech talent

If you work in the tech industry and are looking for a new job and a change of scenery, New Zealand might be the place for you! New Zealand’s tech scene is growing and they need people to fill the job demand. That’s why they have launched Looksee Wellington, a dream job application, where 100 of the best tech candidates will be flown into the country for 4 days of interviews and some sightseeing around what could be their future home! You can read through the FAQ’s here.


Canada C3 Expedition

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday Canada C3 is inviting a group of Canadians to take part in an epic 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. The trip has been divided into 15 legs ranging from 7-12 days in length, and Canadians can apply to join 1 leg of the expedition. This once-in-a-lifetime expedition is free of charge and applications are open until March 24. You can read through the FAQs here.

Travel writing scholarship + a trip to the Balkans

World Nomad’s 2017 travel writing scholarship is now accepting applications. If you think you have a knack for storytelling and you’d like to explore the world of travel writing, you have until March 21st to submit a travel story. The winners will spend two weeks travelling through the Balkans and being mentored by a professional travel writer.

What’s next?

CANADA!!! We’ve had a busy month in India (and it’s been 7 or 8 months since we were home!) so next up is a trip split between Ontario and New Brunswick. I’m looking forward to meeting my new pup-brother Togo the German Shepherd and Sam is excited for quality time with his cat-brother Hobie the Maine Coon, plus family, of course!

How was your February?