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Zip it…………

Many expats will tell you that they key to surviving Delhi is occasionally leaving Delhi. And one of the first places they will tell you about is Neemrana Fort. It is about a 2-hour drive from Delhi (of course, that is depending on traffic, so that is a give or take 5 hours guesstimate.). The Fort was built in 1464 AD and it still feels pretty authentic. That sounded kind of silly, huh? How would I know if it was authentic, right? So, maybe I should say it seems like it feels like a fort might have felt a trillion years ago.

The fort boasts 10 levels of the best hide-and-go-seek land in India and is really just a lot of fun. But just so you know, ten levels means lots and lots of stairs! Comfy shoes ladies! Neemrana claims to have all the accommodations of a 5-star hotel – I am not completely sure about that. It has a absolutely different feel than a Ritz or Oberoi – but it is magnificent in its own right. It is certainly clean enough and the food is safe to eat – but it’s not really what I would call fancy schmancy. Of course, to be fair, it’s no Motel 6 either.

The rooms have a nostalgic air about them – with the added benefit of a/c and lights. But the windows are not sealed perfectly. Windows are surely not part of the authentic atmosphere of the fort – but if you are going to claim 5-star status, you might want to add a window here and there. Because the windows are not super air tight, mosquitoes do sneak in – so bring bug spray.

The rooms all have names rather than room numbers and padlocks instead of key cards. Super, super charming. Most of the rooms have patios or balconies with spectacular views of quaint “downtown” Neemrana.

There are also a few activities you can enjoy during your stay.

Every afternoon at 5p, there is a tea/biscuits serving on one of the rooftops. Immediately following the tea, they open a cash bar and this guy performs with his wife. At least, I think it was his wife, she kept her face covered the whole time so I don’t really know for sure who was under there.

You can also ride a camel down to a 9-story step well. This is a pretty cool thing to do. It takes about an hour. If it’s hot, I would recommend not doing this in the middle of the day. Two people can ride each camel and I believe they can get up to 3 camels at a time. So, if this is something you are interested in doing, definitely make reservations at the hotel office. And if remember correctly, the cost of this was 200 rupees per person. Seriously, how can you pass that up?

This guy hangs out near the camels. While he might be their BFF, you can absolutely take my word for it that he is not on the welcoming committee. He apparently had not had his cup of coffee yet and was none too happy to see us. So, if you see him near the camels – steer clear – tee hee – get it? Steer clear! Isn’t he charming? I couldn’t swear to it, but I think this guy was giving me the horn. šŸ˜‰

This step well is where they dug and dug and dug some more for water. It goes down deep – nine stories – hence the very clever name – 9-story step well. And if you go down, just remember, what goes down must come up. Have a good breakfast first! You are gonna burn some calories!

Coming back up the 9 stories of steps.

You will pass by these villagers on your way to the fort. Some of the children called out for candy. If I did this again, I would definitely put a few lollipops in my pocket.

And then there is the flying fox zip line. This is uber fun and you won’t want to miss it. Kids have to be 10 years old to do it (unless your parents are willing to fib a little). And think twice about doing this if you are pregnant or really, really out of shape. I did it – so that sets the physical fitness bar pretty way down low but it is a good 20 minutes of hiking up a (very) steep hill. You get a resting break every 10 minutes or whenever you need it. But the reward is well worth the trek! And the early morning suggestion absolutely applies here too. This is not something you want to do in the middle of the day heat. They do give you (safe) drinking water to take with you.

This is me bringing up the rear making sure my kids safely make it up ahead of me and that no child gets left behind.

First you get a little training session. How to start, stop, and not fall off the zip line – all the things you’ll want to know before you jump off the side of a very big hill attached to a wire and absolutely nothing else.

And then you zip through the air like a flying fox. And you get to do it 5 times on 5 different lines. And if you anything like me, you are now thinking – “holy zip, batman, does that mean I have to hike up that hill 5 times?” Luckily, one climb up one big arse hill does equal 5 zips. You go up once and zig zag back down.

And the view is great from the top.

And, as with everywhere I go, there were gorgeous flowers every time I turned around.

And this guy jogging his donkeys round and round and round made me feel like I was walking through a National Geographic movie.

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you might remember that sometimes I add a “girlfriend’s guide” to the places we visit. Well here are some tips that might prove helpful…..

All of the meals are served as buffets (kind of expensive especially if your kids prefer plain pasta). Ask for the menu. They do not offer it to you and do not advertise the fact that there is one. But I have heard the french fries are yummy.

The rooms do not have tv, which is absolutely wonderful – unless you your kids are expecting a tv. Bring a deck of cards or a few board games. You won’t miss the tv a bit.

Bring a bathing suit – there is a pool and it’s likely to be hot.

Bring bug spray.

Bring some candles so you can experience what it would have been like at night in the rooms of the fort. Just remember to blow them out before you go to bed. If you actually want to light the candles, bring matches.

When you check out, check your bill carefully. We had a couple of charges that were not ours – that could have totally been an accidental one-time thing – but just in case.

When you check out and leave the entrance with suitcases, they will ask to see your receipt that you have paid the bill. Just have it handy.

Don’t miss the gift shop on the way out. It’s got lots of fun and different stuff in it that isn’t outrageously overpriced.

The literature tells you that you are not allowed to bring your own wine/alcohol into the property. This is where my philosophy of asking forgiveness rather than permission works very well. I didn’t find the wine list to be fantastic or reasonably priced at all – if I remember correctly, your only option is to buy the entire bottle of expensive, not yummy wine. So, do with that info what you will.

Wear comfortable shoes – there is a lot of walking up and down narrow stair cases – which is very fun – but not exactly conducive to high heeled shoes.

Have fun!

International S.O.S……………

Does that sound like I am calling out for help? Really I am not – but here is something you should know if you are an ex-pat living in a third world country or if you plan to visit an impoverished area.

There is an organization called International SOS and if you are ever traveling in a foreign and/or remote area, you will want to remember they exist.

Here is their web address


Who are they, you ask. Well this is what they say about themselves….

With over 20 years of experience, we help organizations ensure the health and security of their travelers and employees around the world. We are the only assistance company with the global presenceĀ our clients demand.

Working in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, we offer international standards of medical care where it is not available or where cultural and language barriers exist.

Huh, you say.

What this means is that if you are traveling to a village (or even a large city)Ā  in India (or China or Afghanistan or anywhere) and you get sick and that village/city does not have appropriate facilities and/or doctors to treat you, International SOS will step in to help you. That is very. good. to. know.

Many companies offer their employees memberships to International SOS as part of their compensation plan. But even if you are not a member – remember their name.Ā  It it my understanding that they can still be very helpful.

In Delhi, they are located near the Apollo hospital.

Remember that the availability of effective medical resources is never a given – I had always taken this for granted in the U.S. – but no more.

I went to a presentation at my children’s school andĀ  a representative from International SOS gave a talk on medical expectations in Delhi and India.

Here were some of his cautions….

Blood transfusions should only be accepted as a last resort – only when they are life-saving. Blood is not monitored that well here and some people are paid for their “donations”.

Apollo, Max, and Fortus are the only hospitals he really recommended.

He highly recommended getting rabies vaccines. When we were leaving the U.S. the rabies vaccine was not available as a preventive measure, only as a treatment once someone has been bitten by a rabid animal. But apparently it is available here in India. So we are going to get them here.

He also cautioned to get vaccines and prescriptions from the hospital pharmacies. It seems there is quite the pharmaceutical black market here and much of the medicine can be counterfeit. That makes it not only potentially ineffective, but quite possibly dangerous. And he cautioned us to ask the nurses to open any vaccine viles in front of you so that you know it has not been opened before. Whenever possible, get vaccines while you are on home leave.

Taking an ambulance to the hospital in an emergency might sound like a good idea – but they are not reliable and often do not have the medical equipment that would make it worth waiting for one. The presenter recommended practicing getting to the hospital before an emergency happens so you know what to do. He said it is particularly important to do a dry run at night.

In an emergency, he recommended calling the the hospital and asking how long it would take to get an ambulance to you. He said that they should be able to give you an idea of how long it would be. However, getting yourself there might be the best option and just might save valuable time.

He also said that calling International SOS might be a good idea – they have a staff there who can make multiple calls at once, which can reach out to multiple resources at once. If I remember correctly, they will stay on the phone with you until you have gotten help. Consider calling them from your mobile phone so you can remain on the phone if you change locations.

He highly recommended using bug spray that has a 35% concentration of Deet. It has been hard for me to find bug spray here – which is shocking- but I guess if it was more available, there would not be such a problem with Dengue fever and Malaria – bring a stock pile with you.

Road accidents present the greatest health risk in Delhi. Be very careful crossing the street and when riding on the roads.

He said it is important to get a general practice physician when you arrive. If you are with an embassy or international school, they can probably give you a list of doctors that have been recommended. International SOS also has a list of doctors they recommend.

Anyway, you know what is next – I am not a doctor and I do not play one on the internet. I will however pretend to have lawyer skills. This is information I received in a medical presentation and I am relaying it to the best of my memory – don’t quote me on any of it – do with it what you will. Obviously, you will have to determine for yourself what makes the most sense for you in a given situation.