Whoah!! What an eventful past two years we have had. I know that the rest of the family have had a great time as well. This is our overall review but I can say, at leat for me, that this is only a brief summary of some of the best two years of my life! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as we had writing it!
Best Trip or Country?
Mum: Ok, so I think I am going to focus my answers on what we have been doing this 2nd year away as I want to capture those memories , mostly our time in India as I have written about my best bits from elsewhere before. So, with that in mind I am going for
Best trip: Skiing in Kashmir.
I feel this was definitely a once in a lifetime trip. Unfortunately, since this trip Jammu and Kashmir have become very politically charged and all travel has been stopped .There is something so different and special about skiing in India! The country you envisage hot, sweaty and dusty. The skiing was insane, so much effort for one or 2 runs but it was the hardest, most off piste I have ever done, I managed OK I think. We went with great friends, the kids really enjoyed themselves too, so overall was a fantastic memory.
Dad: I really can’t pick out one country. There are so many great places out there. The USA was incredible for its history and amazing and varied countryside. The Amazon jungle was tough but unforgettable and of course India will always have a place in my heart.
Alex: I really enjoyed Japan and it was definitely one of my favorite trips away, we stayed in a really nice hostel. Tokyo was such a nice city to visit with so many amazing things to do. I really enjoyed the parks and restaurants that Tokyo had to offer, as well as the temples and shrines dotted around the city. Hampi was also great fun as I went on a school trip for 5 days and we saw some incredible monuments. America was awesome as well as South America, but India was my home and will always feel like part of who I am. Overall I cant really can’t choose just one.
Georgia: We have been to so many countries, it’s so hard to choose just one although India (although may not be my favorite country) will definitely stand out in my memory. But I could never just choose just one.
Dylan: Umm, I liked Japan because it was very clean in Japan, it was very modern it had lots of Japanese arcades and stuff and was just like I would have imagined it. The hotel was very nice and they had nice bakeries.
Mum: We laugh a lot! Just yesterday I was laughing so much I thought I might wee myself a little…..but even now I can’t even remember what it was! Haha, the kids just reminded me, it was Georgia walking like a crazy woman!
I guess, in India, sometimes seeing the shock on peoples faces to see this big, tall white family is pretty funny. There have been many many times when people have literally nearly fallen off bikes, mopeds and had full, mouth open shock when they have seen us wandering around the more rural places …we always smile and wave in a very British way and we usually get a smile and a wave back once people have recovered….. We always get many many photos taken when we are out as a 5!
Dad: The time we walked up to ’Big White Jesus’! We decided to walk up to Christo Redentor in Rio to save a bit of money and get some exercise. We were halfway up when we came across a cute Tamarin monkey and her baby. They were quickly joined by several more Tamarinds and became slightly less cute and more menacing. We had to walk under a branch where several had congregated, G led the three kids under the branch, D was following behind very closely and was carrying a stick, the stick then hit G on the head who thought it was a Tamarind, she immediately screamed and turned to head back down the hill bumping in to Dylan and Alex who thought they were being attacked by the monkeys as well, they all started screaming and flailing about, it was hilarious to watch!
Alex: I can’t really choose the funniest memory as there have been far too many to count although constantly seeing crazy things in India, like goats in bags on motorbikes make me laugh, dads comments whilst driving always makes me laugh as well. Georgia is funny when she eats as she will take a tiny nibble at something then make a hilarious face then try and eat it again, sometimes she will not eat it then just sit there looking like she wants to cry just because the food has a tiny bit of veggies on it.
Georgia: Whenever anyone in the family calls Alex the beast, it’s hilarious. The reason we call her the beast is because if anyone wakes her up before 8:30 then she will be so mad and shout and scream and we get scared. It’s so funny.
Dylan: We have had some funny memories, one of the funniest was watching Alex walk into a glass door at the Statue of Liberty and watching all of these tourists laughing!
Mum: Very difficult to choose just one meal! We love all the indian food and I could now eat Indian breakfast, lunch and dinner. I guess I probably love the simple ,street food the best and Matt and I LOVE a Hyderabad Shwarma and Biryani. We tended to have at least one every weekend! Other highlights have been the boozy lunches at Westin Sundays; Amazing wine and dinner at the Falkukalama ( A huge Hyderabad palace) and some of the lovely relaxed family meals we have had at Dr. Evita’s house near Fernandez Hospital.
If I was going to break my rule about only sticking to India ( which I kinda want to) I would also include a fabulous lunch we had at Elements beach restaurant, Bernieres beach on a big family holiday in Ibiza this year for my Mum’s 60th. The meal was just us 8 adults, all of our family and we laughed , ate, drank and generally reminisced about the 20 years + we had all known each other. Very very special times.
Dad: I think it was the rodizio, (all you can eat meat), in Rio. It was quite expensive but the restaurant was really smart and there was so much choice of meat! The leg of lamb even had its own trolley that was wheeled to our table for carving! Awesome!
Alex: I really have liked to many meals to count, but going to the Westin (a 5 star hotel) for a Sunday, all-you-can-eat buffet the first time was really nice as we had loads of food that we hadn’t had in ages! Pasta with REAL bacon in it, and STEAK! It was really nice as we went swimming and played with some of our really good friends. Also the rodizios in Brazil and Argentina were really nice! When we went to Ibiza for my Nana’s 60th we went to an amazing restaurant on the beach and I had a really lovely burger with lettuce and sauce and cheese. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it! We then went swimming with all of my cousins and we played in the sand and in the sea!
Georgia: I have enjoyed many of the meals we’ve had and really enjoy getting to see the different citizens of different countries. Taste-wise I think my favorite meal was the one we had for Alex’s 12 birthday. It was steak and PASTA two of my favorite foods on a plate together. Although the steak in Argentina was amazing as well as the Rodizio in Brazil and the BBQs in national parks in America. Oooh and the tuna in Goa , as well as the tuna and pesto burger in Ibiza. Overall I think we have had lots of incredible food and some amazing meals although they were the ones that stuck out the most. (but if we were including Thailand I would choose the Italian in koh pang yang )
Dylan: I really enjoyed the pizza that Mum, Alex and I had after we had walked all the way to Machu Picchu. I liked the pizza as it was really nice and it was really cheesy and saucy, the crust was yummy too.
Mum: Too many to choose! Overall having the opportunity to explore, discover and generally get to know ourselves as a family and all corners of the globe. Working in a job I love, making a direct difference to those who need it most. Feel incredibly lucky to have these opportunities. Enough said!
Dad: It has to be the time we went surfing at Hirakatia beach in Sri Lanka. The waves were perfect and a guy showed me exactly where to catch them from so I got some really good waves! There were turtles swimming about so close you could almost touch them. We also had a lovely lunch at a really nice restaurant and just chilled at the beach for the whole day. A nice drive home in our own Tuctuc ended the perfect day!
Alex: I have had some amazing experiences but Paragliding in Chile was awesome, as well as the first time I caught a wave by myself in Sri Lanka when we were learning to surf. Also all of Ibiza, hanging out by the pool with our cousins and going to the beach was really fun. We also hired pedalos with slides so we would slide off into the water off them! We had a lovely meal with my grandparents whilst watching the sunset where my mum used to live that was really nice as well.
Georgia: Paragliding in Chile last year was incredible it really felt like I was flying. This is one of the memories that stand out when I think about our travels, especially South America I also loved learning how to surf in Sri Lanka which was great although there are so many more.
Dylan: I really enjoyed Paragliding last year in Chile as I felt like I was on top of the world and I will never forget it.
Mum: I’ve got to go Alex , although we all have lots of strops all of the times! Luckily we usually just laugh and make up pretty quickly too! Most recently , on our 2 years away anniversary Alex had a HUGE strop, basically because the waffle shop we wanted to go to was closed…..she treated us to her first teenage F*** off! We all thought this was hilarious and rolled about laughing, this obviously enraged the beast further. She tried to wander off but we were on a direct seafront so no where to go and after about 5 mins a small cluster of local indians took an interest and she decided to rejoin the Stringer team!
Dad: I have lost my shizzle a few times on this trip! Can’t remember a specific one but I’m sure Kate and the kids will remember it! I do remember Kate getting cross in our local supermarket in Hyderabad. She was trying to organise the kids’ dinner and they were nagging at her. I think it ended with her throwing a pack of noodles in the ground and storming out of the shop! All the staff thought it was very funny!
Alex: There have been too many to count and I think that everyone has had at least one huge strop that was really funny for the rest of us!
Georgia: Alex. ALWAYS. Like I can’t think of one day where she hasn’t shouted at least one of us.
Dylan: Alex was hitting her self one time in Hyderabad because she was angry it was hilarious.
Mum: Try to be trustfull and open. Sometimes its hard when people, places and situations are unfamiliar and things feel odd and challenging BUT we are continually humbled, impressed and touched by the way local people go out of there way to help you when you need it most and usually have a truly genuine and unselfish desire to help people out rather than scam and hassle you!
Dad: Never arrive in any new place in the dark and hungry. We NEVER follow this tip BTW!
Alex: Treat yourself, if you think you can do it without you are wrong. It is really hard but it is rewarding at the same time although you will need to take some breaks and have a nice meal together.
Georgia: I don’t really have a top tip apart form don’t do what we do because mum and dad are a bit extra and we do a lot of stupid stuff.
Dylan: When you go to Hyderabad, if you order food make sure you order no spicy, NO SPICY, NOO SPICY. Because Hyderabad is known for spicy .
Worst Memory or Thing?
Mum: Nothing stands out as a worst memory but I guess throughout all our travels the challenges and distress that will stay with me is the inequity of the world with our time in India crystallizing these challenges. The disparity between rich and poor can at times be heartbreaking to see. Other huge challenges in India for me have been work situations. I have had to witness obstetric violence and abuse towards vulnerable and desperate women in their most vital moment of need. Although there are fantastic examples of individuals and organisations trying to improve services for women and children in India, there is still a massive gulf to fill. The desire to improve services for those who need it most will stay with me and drive me for the rest of my life.
Dad: In my two years of traveling I have learnt that, quite often, the times that appear the ‘worst’ turn out to be the most memorable. You learn something about yourself and others or at least have a great story to tell at the end of it.
Alex: umm there have been quite a few but at the end of the day they turn into funny memories that we will never forget!
Georgia: Santa Clotial hostel and town is still my worst memory by far it looked like a set from a horror movie/ torcher chamber. Although falling into an anaconda invested swamp is up there too.
Dylan: I was really sick in Rio and threw up, yes. I woke up throwing up at the side of Alex bed. It was horrible and then I threw up in the bathroom about 6 times. It was horrible. I was sick because I had too much desert last night. Drop the mike. Dylan out.
Favourite Memory of India?
Mum: As Matt says we have had so many brilliant memories. The people, the work, the food! One stand out memory for me must be our Goa trip last year. We really needed a break from the busy , hectic hustle of the big Indian city. Many friends had told us about the special place that Goa is but tbh I just couldn’t imagine it. We loved Sri lanka and as much as we loved India, everywhere I had been so far in India had been loud, full on and full of people! Did quiet calm places really exist in India?? Well yes they did! The sea was crystal clear, the beaches spotless and we stayed in a great beach shack , right on the sand. I was so relaxed we didn’t wander anywhere from our shack and ate in the same restaurant ( incredible seafood) every night! Plus one morning , Matt, Dylan and I woke up really early and went out canoeing. As we were floating along we heard the ‘ whoosh’ of a dolphin and immediately as we looked around there was a pod of dolphins swimming right by……so special and beautiful to watch. Can’t wait to go back to Goa again soon.
Matt and I also had a really special trip to Varanasi and it was everything I had imagined it too be. Spiritual, colourful and very moving to see the fire puja at night. Definitely recommend.
Dad: We have done many wonderful and interesting things in India but my favourite memories will be of the friends we made and truly wonderful people we met. Their kindness and generosity was always humbling, we couldn’t have survived here without it.
Alex: I have had so many great memories in India, but the highlights have all been associated with school. The production was really great as I had so much fun and felt really proud of myself afterwards. ISACI swimming (a swimming competition) in Delhi was fun as i was hanging out with my friends and I beat my personal bests in all of my races! Hampi was really great as well as I got to know all of my friends better and learn a bit about ancient India. Finally skiing in Gulmarg, Kashmir, with my family was great as there was so much snow and I kept falling over but also getting back up and I kept going! I was so proud of myself when I made it down the mountain (even if I was really tired) and at the end of the trip I could ski in powder.
Georgia: My favorite memory of India has to be all the times I spent with my friends taking photos whether it was in the swimming pool, in someone’s bedroom, in b-dubs or even on a flight to Delhi for ISACI (as well as our math class photoshoot ) we always had so much fun. I swear over 50% of my camera role must be filled with pictures of me and my friends.
Dylan: GOA. I love Goa. Thanks Bro, for that great insight! :^)
I hope you have gotten an insight into the last two years and stay tuned for some more blogs on the way! Thanks for reading!