When I was younger, I found going into shops on my own daunting. It's only in the last couple years I've really found my independence and this summer I leaped out of my comfort zone and set off for India.
I'm in my final year at vet school so I went to do a surgical course, neutering street dogs to help control the population and control the rabies problem over there. You can read about the charity and the different trips they offer here. I highly recommend them if you're an animal lover :)
I knew people said it was a culture shock, but my goodness was it!! The driving was absolutely manic! There was no way I was getting any sleep on the mini bus.
There was so much to see as we crossed southern India; people selling coconuts on the side of the road, men chopping up raw pieces of meat swarming in flies, cages of live chickens, stalls selling spices, sweets and other goodies...and lucky for us, our drive over meant driving through the Mudumalai tiger reserve where we saw so many wild jungle elephants, monkeys, bison, wild boar and deer!
After 10 hours on a plane, a 6 hours wait at the airport and another 9 and a half hours on the mini bus, I arrived at the training centre. Our hot water wasn't working and all we had was a bucket so my 'shower' was basically the ice bucket challenge. The toilets were those dreaded squat toilets you find abroad. Electricity came and went throughout the day. It was a bit overwhelming, especially as I hadn't slept for 48 hours but by the end of the trip, I embraced this way of living! It really does make you appreciate how lucky we are!
I did two surgeries and two anaesthesias a day which included lots of puppy cuddling too! It was an amazing opportunity to build on my (basically non-existent) surgical skills and confidence.
My favourite day was when we visited the local villages to vaccinate the dogs against rabies. The houses were made out of all kinds of materials, a mix of beautiful colours and there was lots of climbing up and down ladders to get to them!
Can we all just take a moment to take in the cuteness of this little fella'!
We stopped for breakfast halfway through...and yes that is curry! Something I grew to love first thing in the morning and actually miss. Over there, they eat it with their hands so of course, do as the locals do!
On our day off, we got up super early and headed to the local tiger reserve. A huge bison walked right past the window of our mini bus! We also had a bit of an encounter with a monkey...it's a good idea to close car windows when near monkeys, just a little tip.
We also did a spot of shopping in Ooty where I bought sooo many shawls. I'm obsessed with them. I don't even wear shawls but anything with a colourful pattern will steal my heart. I have reluctantly given a few away as gifts to my family (love them for me please if you're reading this).
I've never tasted a samosa as good as this!
They know their stuff!
As well as chocolate, Ooty is famous for its tea. We ventured up into the tea fields and found ourselves looking down into a valley where there were lots of wild bison scattered throughout the trees. A local man had to guide us back to safety as it turned out we'd explored our way into a bear's habitat who had already killed two people!! Who'd have thought a little stroll could turn into an adrenaline filled experience!
I still get emotional now thinking back to how amazing the trip was!!! On the way back to the airport we stopped at Mysore to see the beautiful palace. We even went inside, and did the whole taking off your shoes to show respect thing.
The best part was of course meeting everyone in my group! I've definitely made some friends for life there :)
India. You are smelly, dirty and amazingly beautiful. You can't help but fall for the place.
Anyone thinking about travelling or doing anything outside of their comfort zone, I'm yelling at you now to do it!! You won't regret it!