Oh Jaipur. What a slap in the face. Because this is my third time in India I thought I was ready for it, but Jaipur is chaos like I've never known it. Having come up from the south and its more chilled out pace, the endless honking of cars and motorbikes and tuk tuks, the astounding amount of traffic and fumes, the fewer friendly faces, and the intense, overflowing, bustling city was overwhelming. We booked a little airBnB apartment to stay in for the four nights that we were there, which ended up being a little way out of the old city in a very locals-only kind of neighbourhood. I'm not selling Jaipur very well, am I? Let's try again, Jaipur.

A guide to surviving Jaipur: expect anything and nothing. This is India at its most chaotic. Of the same chaotic calibre as Delhi and Mumbai. You can let it overwhelm you (and no matter how much you try not to be, chances are the overwhelm is gonna hit hard, especially if Jaipur is one of your first stops in India) or you can fall into it and let it all wash over you. Embrace the chaos. Find small spaces to retreat. Seek out the beauty, because its there waiting in amongst it all.

Some of the beauty we sought out during our time in Jaipur (we stayed for four nights, but I'd say three is more than enough) included a visit to the phenomenal Amber Fort, as well as to the beautiful and much-less-touristy Nahargarh Fort, and to the stunning Hawa Mahal in the city centre. We made a brief stop in at the Royal Palace but by that point in the day we'd lost our tourist mojo and bailed.

On our first morning in the city after a hectic tuk tuk ride from our apartment into the old city, feeling shaken we found respite in a sweet little restaurant called Ganesh restaurant where the owner made us tea and cooked up some fresh biryani right in front of us. It's a little difficult to find, up a tiny little staircase off one of the main bazaars near the New Gate, up on the city wall, but worth the hunt. Most lunches were had at a rooftop hotel restaurant called Sweet Dreams hotel not far from the New Gate, where they were super accommodating and happily made us curries without ghee. Rice, masala peas and mushrooms, veg biryani, mixed veg curry, and plenty of missi roti (roti made with a combination of wholewheat and chickpea flour) were our go-to order; just make sure to specify no cream, no curd, no milk, no paneer etc.

We also had an amazing meal at a place called Little Italy (weird, I know, but ask for their Indian menu) out in the new city. It's in a little shopping complex/building, but worth the hunt because their masala peas were divine and the missi roti was so fresh. Again, we asked for no ghee/no cream/no milk to be used and they were super nice about it. In the same building is a shop called Anokhi which sells beautiful, slightly more up-market prints, clothes, bags etc. They have a little cafe next to the shop which has a bunch of vegan options, as well as lovely teas and a few vegan cakes!

Here are a bunch of photos from Jaipur, taken on my Olympus OM-D. Enjoy!

Oh India, you crazy haze of chaos and wonder; I'm beyond excited to be back amongst it all. My first trip to India was when I was 13 years old and I remember it all so vividly; the chaos of the cities, the wondrous peace of the mountains, the colour and movement and life, intense and challenging at times but mostly just enthralling. If you've been following this blog for a while you'll remember my second trip to India three years ago now (...how did that happen??) which was a fleeting ten day trip before heading down to Sri Lanka. Ten days isn't much and if anything it was a teaser to see more of this country, which brings me here now. In India. With my boyfriend, my best friend, my camera and backpack.

We began our trip in the south of India, flying into Kochi where we were meeting up with Tess. I'd only ever been to the north of India before and had been told that the south has a very different pace and different vibe. Can confirm this. The locals are more relaxed and friendly, always ready for a chat, the pace is a lot more chilled out, the traffic not quite as chaotic, and the food... the food. So fresh, so good. We stayed in Fort Kochi, which is a beautiful little area of the city which feels more like a little town (I highly recommend staying here, or somewhere like Mattancherry). We spent our time wandering the lovely little streets or along the seaside, drinking iced teas in adorable cafes, and jumping in tuk tuks to take us to little fruit markets, to the ginger factory (a beautiful old building complex where they sort and dry out a seriously impressive amount of ginger each day) and to tasty little lunch spots. Mattancherry is an amazing area to check out, with a copious amount of beautiful arts and crafts shops, jewellery stores, traditional Indian wares, as well as a ridiculously old synagogue nearby.

In Fort Kochi, check out Loafers cafe (so hip, I can't) and the Arts Cafe, where they aren't in any rush to get your order out to you but the beautiful, lush cafe and art gallery space is the perfect place to wait. Also hit up Quissa cafe for some avo on toast and an iced green tea, which is probably all you'll want in the heat and humidity; just make sure you ask for no sweetener, because they go a little crazy on the sugar syrup. In terms of eating; go, go, go to Sri Krishna restaurant. Hop in a tuk tuk and ask for Sri Krishna and chances are they'll take you straight there. It's a very local joint, absolutely no frills, but the most delicious, authentic food there is. You'll be trying to manoeuvre the art of scooping rice with your right hand without getting food everywhere but your mouth, but that $1 thali lunch plate will be all so worth it. I highly recommend getting the masala dosa or the thali plate, which comes with a few different curries which they scoop onto you plate, chutneys, as much rice as you want (basmati, or you can ask for keralan rice which are delicious, fat, juicy grains of rice) (did you ever think you'd hear such a luscious description of rice??) and some pappads (or pappadums as you may know them). Also freakin' delicious are the uttapams, which are basically a fermented pancake made from rice flour and urad daal flour which you can find all over south India, which you can have plain (delicious) or with onion (delicious) or with a mix of veg and herbs (all so delicious, you can't go wrong).

Enough talk! Here are a bunch of photos I took on my Olympus om-d whilst we were in Kochi. Catchya in the next city.