Tuesday 25 November 2014

Travelling with locals

People often travel to Pushkar seeking a spiritual awakening or an intoxication of the senses brought on by heady substances known to be available here. I first visited this tiny town—located in the Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan—back in 2008. It was meant to be a mere detour during an ongoing Mumbai-Delhi road trip, but I ended up discovering a lot more than I expected.

Pink Floyd Hotel and Café
Pushkar is well known for its Brahma Temple, the only one of its kind in the world, but rarely is it spoken about for its intriguing coffee shops and shopping options. Walking around looking for a cosy spot to grab a bite, I started chatting with some locals. Being fluent in the local language of Marwari, since I am originally from Rajasthan, was truly helpful. A little boy told me about Pink Floyd Hotel that had a rooftop café. I had never heard of it before nor was I able to find it on the Internet. But I was intrigued by its name, so I set out to find it. The building looked dilapidated and unimpressive. I began to understand why it wasn’t listed on any guidebook or website I’d come across. I walked into the narrow vertical building and climbed all the way up the three floors. As I made my way up, I saw some of the rooms in the hotel. They were all named after different albums by Pink Floyd. Once I was up at the terrace I could see why this place was a hidden gem. The space comprised comfortable bamboo chairs, a great view of the town and a decent menu with a selection of coffee, cake and various meal options. The food may have not been too impressive, but I would most certainly go back for the incredible view. And I only have that little boy to thank. Without him I would have never found this place.

Introducing Withlocals
When it comes to travel, the best discoveries are the ones you make when you interact with the locals in the region. There’s no better way to explore a country and its culture and cuisine than by getting to really know its people. But it isn’t always easy to meet people whose recommendations you can trust. Plus, local language can also be a hindrance. Just recently, as I began planning my next trip, I was searching for a way to get in touch with people in Vietnam and I fell upon a website called Withlocals. They connect travellers with locals offering a range of unique experiences. You can opt to taste local cuisine at someone’s home; maybe even learn to make some dishes. You can also take part in activities or learn traditional skills like toddy tapping in Sri Lanka or carving silver jewellery in Vietnam.

Enjoy home cooking in Malaysia

Withlocals is currently present in Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, and Malaysia. When I got in touch with them, I found out that they are soon coming to India. I am particularly glad to hear this because they also have the option of hosting tours. I have hosted many friends from different countries, taking them to places in Mumbai they should see and also aiding them with suggestions to travel in India. I am looking forward to registering with them. I hope you do too :)

Check out these Withlocals experiences for inspiration: www.withlocals.com/locations/india/


Resorts Delhi said...

It is an amazing post!

Ruchika Vyas said...


Holi near Delhi said...

It is a great idea to travel with locals.