Got a bucket list? You should definitely consider adding India to it.
Most people think, "Man, traveling to India seems intimidating."
The truth is, India is one of the most fascinating, spiritual, and exciting journeys you can take as a newly sober person or a booze-free veteran. With yoga retreats, sacred temples, and a generally dry population, India is up and coming on one of the top wellness destinations for those who are feeling adventurous.
Kaila and Kiki discuss their experience traveling to India working with the Indian tourism board. They talk about their experiences at the airport to traveling in an $8,000 per person luxury train across Southern India. They also delve into what it was like traveling to India as a sober veteran and only 2 weeks sober.
In this episode, you'll hear:
- How to maneuver through Indian airports
- Why Southern India is a great part of India to explore for first-timers
- All about the wellness and health benefits of Indian food
- Sober dance party on a moving luxury train
Kaila: Hey what's up guys. It's Kaila and Kiki, and you are listening to From Hell to Wellness. And today we are talking about one of our favourite sober destinations, which is India and we went there for the first time, it’s definitely a bucket list destination that everyone should visit, but getting there was definitely an experience. It was kind of interesting because I know we have a lot of friends that are solo female Travelers, but I'm kind of a chicken - I don't feel like I could ever solo travel to India, it is advance for sure. Going together with friends totally fine, but we got to the airport this one time, where was it Delhi?
Kiki: In New Delhi yes.
Kaila: These guys in uniforms young guys they were like maybe early twenties or something. Tall stern looking dress in uniform. They stopped us as we were walking up to the immigration desk and started interrogating us. So I don't even remember what they asked, but they were like where are you from and they were asking like really rudely.
Kiki: And it was like on the side, we were just in line.
Kaila: They were dressed in uniforms so then that's why, you know we really don't know how the hell things work in India. So he went on and he was like what are you guys visiting for and like this and that and just asking a million questions. And then the questions start to get weird because we were like we are travel writers, and he was like so what's your Instagram.
Kiki: And he goes how many Instagram followers do you have, and then I was like what, and then you were amazing, you're just like what does this have anything to do with anything, and then he was like okay fine.
Kaila: He got really mad about it at first, and then like remember his friend like some other guy approached - there were what like two or three guys interrogating us, and then suddenly like this fourth guy walked up and he was kind of like what are you guys doing.
Kiki: He was like what the fuck are you doing basically, and then he was like and they kind of shoot him off. The guy was just like okay and then walk away.
Kaila: Basically we were just like what are you asking us and we walked away, but I don't understand what the ending was. And then what like we would start crying and be scared or something.
Kiki: Maybe he thought we were hot, that was a crazy ass moment. And like they had warned that there was some like sort of sexism in India, but that was definitely the moment where I felt it. Also do you remember when we went into security and there was two lines?
Kaila: Yes, I remember this it was the lady that was really mad.
Kiki: She was pissed and there was two lines into the security and it took fucking forever, we had the next flight and I remember we were running. And they separate the two lines and I thought okay maybe because they have to touch up so they've got to get a girl and a guy. But our line kept on getting people cutting in front of us, and kept cutting in front of us, and kept cutting in front of us. And then finally this lady who said she had been in India a couple of times before. She stood up and she was like listen - we can't let people cut in front of us we need to go, and so we finally went through.
Kaila: Well whatever happened, maybe I just miss the fight because I didn't really understand what was going on.
Kiki: Yes, it was really strange and I think it has to do with the sexism that happens. People kept cutting in front of the female lines and they kept sending dudes in front. And then she rolled her eyes and goes like this. This happens every single time I am in India you have to watch out for it. And like I don't want to put a bad light on India because India was like.
Kaila: Well I think it's good to warn you about like not to detour you from visiting, but just so you are aware so it doesn't make it a negative experience if you experience it without the knowledge.
Kiki: Yes, because I was kind of thinking this is going to be a really bad trip.
Kaila: Oh my God. I remember riding in the car and I was like that was tough, and then we got to the magical paradise in the hotel. And like they greeted us with hot towel and like a welcome drink and we are so welcome in. Well we stayed at this amazing hotel and we will add it to the show notes afterwards. It was so cute, we showed up to our bedrooms and we had pillows that were named like embroidery.
Kiki: Yes, and it was legit because it wasn't Kristen it was Kiki, so they handmade those things. They don't have like the back stock of Kristen's you know what I mean. That was really cute I still have that pillow somewhere.
Kaila: Mine is somewhere too, that's something that you keep forever.
Kiki: That was really sweet, and honestly it was such a contrast between the airport experience and the whole trip itself. And like everybody there is so kind and so helpful and so willing to make you feel comfortable. It was a really, really good experience.
Kaila: I think as a first-time visitor to India, I really recommend going on a tour or taking a train, because first of all you go and you get to know everybody on the train. I don't know there's like maybe 50 people there so everybody knew each other. So you are traveling with a big group of people and you're kind of - you know I wouldn't go to India and just wander around my first time around - like I would want to visit and get to know it. Maybe now I would be more comfortable, but I think for your first time it's good going on a train or a tour.
Kiki: The cool part about trains too is that in terms of getting to see as much area as possible in one trip. And all of the transports are there for you so you don't even have to deal with driving and getting on other transport or other planes to get here to there. You literally go to sleep and you wake up in a new destination. There is food on the train that and it's safe, you don't have to worry about the water. We brushed our teeth in the sink and it was completely fine. So it was an amazing experience, a great way to get introduced to India's whole South Terrain.
Kaila: Yes, the food was quite delicious. I think the good thing was that there were authentic Indian options and then some Western options. And you know I hate Indian food 80% of the time I was there, but once in a while you just want something Western, so it's good to have that option available.
Kiki: I love the Indian food but at sometimes you know you get the spices and you get that feeling, but sometimes you want to cleanse your palate with something and then you can go back to the Indian food - or sometimes you just want something familiar.
Kaila: Or just like you want eggs and ham for breakfast or something, and then you will have Indian food for lunch and dinner. Oh my God I am looking at some photos of the food from the train and I was like damn it I miss that.
Kiki: Oh yes, oh my gosh what was that the doll right?
Kaila: Yes, and then there was these set menus with all kinds of different curries and dipping sauces. I actually so want to eat that right now.
Kiki: In the South, Indian food is a lot different than the Indian food that you get out here in LA or in any Metropolitan City.
Kaila: Straight up I couldn't eat Indian food after I got back. It was so, I still cannot really eat Indian food - I mean it's so good there.
Kiki: It's so funny you said that because also my friend she went to India and said the exact same thing as well. She was like I cannot eat Indian food now because like the standard has been set. It is so good that nothing will ever be as good as the moments that we had in India. Oh my gosh, but you know what's crazy that was 2 weeks into my sobriety.
Kaila: I can't believe you went to India - well actually India makes sense because that's a great place to be sober. It is an advance travel destination.
Kiki: Definitely, that was a yes mam moment.
Kaila: Well you couldn't have said no to that, a trip to India on a train.
Kiki: It was $8,000 worth of Glory. But actually there were times when, and I am glad that it was that trip too, because there was so much stuff to do and so many things to see. We had a pretty regiment schedule.
Kaila: We had a packed schedule.
Kiki: It was like 8 a.m. to 12 every single night, then we would wake up and it's 8 a.m. again.
Kaila: And it was like walking, walking and running around touring.
Kiki: Yes, and getting the bus to go here and go there. Lots of temples - so many temple, but the temples are cool you know you'll get some good IG photos there. But one thing I have got to say there was a moment. I know we have discussed this, but I didn't really feel the need to drink most of the time because it was so active. But there were two moments in that trip. One of them that stood out to me was the Safari.
Kaila: Oh my God the Safari was fucking hilarious, but say what you're going to say first because I want to talk about the Safari. Wait what are you going to talk about first?
Kiki: So we went camping at the Safari and they have these gorgeous little like cabin structure, they were so adorable.
Kaila: Oh those cute little structure that we had, like we each had our own structure.
Kiki: They were almost like tree houses.
Kaila: Yes, it was very glumly, but glamply in the way that I like for the bathrooms in the cabin.
Kiki: Yes, it was legit. Basically it was like a cabin but then you could go outside and it was a complete like Indian Safari jungle. And the part of like after we did all our Safari, they decided to have a campfire with food and drinks. And I remember one of my fondest memory is going camping and drinking like a fish.
Camping and drinking is like you would go out to like, you know [9:58] or go wherever and then bring the hookah and then just drink all night. And you know just crash in your tent and you wake up and you are ready for the next day. I remember they were serving wine, like unlimited wine and beer and I was like oh my God. And because they are so kind and daunting. He kept asking me if I wanted a refill in my drink and I didn't have wine - but he kept on asking me because you know he's asking everyone.
Kaila: I don't feel like I kept getting asked.
Kiki: I kept getting asked and I was like - maybe because I was like thinking about it. And there are moments in there where I was like I could just drink and restart the sobriety when I get home because it was only 2 weeks in, but I didn't I stopped it.
Kaila: Can you imagine if you got wasted on that trip - it would not be a good place, because in India that's like found up on too. Not that you can't drink but like.
Kiki: And be hammered, yes that would be terrifying.
Kaila: Okay so we were at Kabini at wildlife sanctuary at the Banda Por Wildlife Sanctuary and we were there to see tigers. So we had to wake up - I think we had this delicious authentic meal right and it was delicious. So then we had to wake up the next morning at 4 to get on these, what are those called?
Kaila: And it was freezing, I had no real jacket and I think I pulled a blanket from the room. Okay it's fine, so we are out there looking for tigers, looking for tigers and not seeing any tigers, tots of deer's and stuff. And then we hear that there's a guy that's been working at this Sanctuary for like 10 years and he has never seen a tiger. Do you remember this?
Kiki: I don't remember that.
Kaila: I was like how anybody else see a tiger if this man who has been working here forever has never seen a tiger.
Kiki: That's freaking insane, so do they even have tigers?
Kaila: I don't know but with or without tigers it was like, you know we saw some monkeys and it was fun being out there. And you definitely did not want to be not sober at 4 a.m. in the morning. I don't know about some of the people who had been drinking heavily in the night.
Kiki: They couldn't have done it; it was a bumpy ride too. That was honestly like my favourite thing, and honestly that's actually a great way to go on a sober destination, is to do something like a Safari, because it keeps you active and there is no excuse, you cannot wake up at 4 a.m. hungover and be on a bumpy Jeep ride, like you don't want to be that person.
Kaila: And also India is such a spiritual place. I feel like if you are drunk or high you really can't get that spiritual. Unless you're on one of those drugs that's supposed to get you spiritual. I don't really believe in that; I feel like that's the antithesis of being spiritual is being high. There are endless gorgeous temples to check out, and you have to be very respectful and cover when you visit. So where is definitely not alcohol available, neither would you want to be doing it at a sacred temple in the daytime. So that's another reason why it's a great sober destination.
Kiki: Also I will say, there was some drinking but there wasn't a ton of drinking.
Kaila: I mean people were having wines with their meals, we are having wine afterwards or whatever, nobody was getting crazy. Although I did hear that they had like a weed session in somebody's cabin that we were invited to.
Kiki: I've got to say, there was that one time where they had that dance party. And like I have never been to any dance party or dance, I mean I barely went to the high school dances - like I have never been.
Kaila: Oh my God [13:34] legit dancing.
Kiki: You're legit dancing and I was like you know what I am going to force myself to be uncomfortable in a situation. And I think that was a big pivotal moment in my alcoholism too. I remember I was like fuck it I am going to stay out here. Everyone is drinking, not heavily but drinking here and there and then dancing. And I'm like I am going fucking stay out here. And I stayed out there and I was like I am not going to drink but I did feel like - that was the moment where I really almost got a beer, because like you know you weren't there, I could definitely get a beer and no one would know.
And then I was like no I am not going to do it, and like people were offering me beers too so it was really tough. But I fucking danced in a train car with a bunch of random people and also a child. In that moment I was like this sucks this is terrible and I was sweating. But then I was like oh wait this isn't that bad, it's really not that bad and I think that gave me the strength to continue my sobriety, because I was like I don't need alcohol to do stupid shit like this. I could actually just do it and feel okay.
Kaila: I mean I have some sober friends, such as Tyler who can act a fool and like, you know they don't need to be drunk to be silly or like have fun.
Kiki: That's true but he's definitely an extrovert though, he is a full blast extrovert. But I think it's good to surround ourselves with people like that - [15:10] the other day.
Kaila: But there is no such thing as an introvert extrovert?
Kiki: It was like introverts don't make friends they just get adopted by extroverts.
Kaila: Oh the extrovert life. So the trip that we went on was in Southern India, especially if you are doing sober travel, it's a little less I guess intimidating than the North which is a lot more populated and just - there is just less people. So I think that if you are deciding where in India to go to first for you are very first time, that's a good place to start.
Kiki: Most people associate with like south of India, and especially in the UK, Goa is the party spot. So a lot of people think oh God but we went to Goa sober and it was completely fine.
Kaila: Goa is a party destination perhaps but it's also just a beautiful beachy destination
Kiki: Totally beachy and beautiful, and you can just do the resting relaxation. That one hotel was amazing, we kind of just dropped in for the day and it was located right on the beach. It was so beautiful and like they have a crazy fool, we actually jumped in and slam a little bit, super-super cool.
[16:30] destinations there are kind of like party central but you can still experience those areas and try different things, like take a day where you do a spa day or just you know enjoy the food and taste the local foods around you. Go to bed early is always a good idea, don't stay out too late.
Kaila: Well we had spoken about this recently for our segments that we did for KTLA, and we covered Siri Longo which is right next to India, but they specialize in ayurvedic cuisine. And I had to practice so many times to say ayurvedic. It's really hard to say but basically what they believe is that the body is made up of different elements, and you want to make sure these elements are well-balanced.
And when you are experiencing stress or anxiety it means that something is off balance. And what they also believe is like different lifestyle elements and different foods you eat can balance these elements. So for example, turmeric is a spice that can kind of give you more energy, and different cardamom can do something different.
So why India is a good Wellness destination is that a lot of these food - first of all the food is heavily vegetarian, which is already healthier. And it's made fresh from local ingredients and using these ayurvedic spices. For The Culinary aspect India is a great sober destination.
Kiki: Totally. And also the food in India -I was reading somewhere but this is several years ago. This man who's like 98 years old and still running - not like full marathons but he's still running like long distance at 98. And they asked him what is your secret, and he says I just eat vegetables and lentils, I eat really, really healthy. And like you said they have access to all of this really healthy but also delicious foods.
Kaila: The food is really flavourful.
Kiki: It is so good.
Kaila: I feel like here in America they haven't mastered vegetable. Because Chinese food oh my God I could eat vegetarian forever.
Kiki: How do you say that the Black Bean, or what is it the Chinese broccoli with the oyster sauce - what is that in Chinese?
Kiki: Is that what it's called?
Kaila: I am not sure, Chinese broccoli.
Kiki: Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce oh my gosh it's so good. And eggplant Chinese eggplant oh my gosh.
Kaila: I mean literally every vegetable they can make delicious, and then tofu, which is like my favourite thing ever I don't understand how you don't like tofu.
Kiki: You are a monster if you don't like tofu. But what the heck is wrong with us, I mean they consider potatoes vegetable and then just fry everything. Something is terribly wrong.
Kaila: I feel like for these other cultures that have mastered vegetables - it makes vegetarianism so much easier.
Kiki: Definitely, and in the long run it's good for your health.
Kaila: India is the birthplace of yoga and meditation and just mindfulness. So if you are looking to the go to the root source. This is definitely a good place to explore, there is a lot of amazing yoga or meditation retreat. And just things like different energy when you are visiting there. I don't feel like you are going to India and be like I want to drink. That's not the feeling you get when you show up in India. It's not like Germany or something.
Kiki: Actually I really enjoy going to the [20:19] coffee plantation does you remember that?
Kaila: That was a lot of fun yes.
Kiki: That was really amazing.
Kaila: Because we took a forest bath. Have we talked about this yet?
Kiki: We did.
Kaila: Okay Forest bathing is like apparently a thing in Japan, but to me it just sounds like walking in the forest. Maybe I am not understanding it to the fullest, but I'm for.
Kiki: I like it, I like it and I just think it would be better if there was [20:51]. But honestly the coffee plantation was amazing, because one the coffee there is super delicious.
Kaila: And they do this pouring thing.
Kiki: Yes, they pour it like from all the way up here. And I think when countries aren't heavily based on alcohol they go to the next best thing which is coffee. And so the coffee plantations are actually amazing, you can walk around and see how the coffee beans are harvested at different stages of the coffee beans. All of the different flavours of coffee beans, and the smell is absolutely freaking delicious and aromatic. And the food there, do you remember that we had an Epic Buffet?
Kaila: There is so many buffets [21:31] so much buffets that were so delicious.
Kiki: I think that was my favourite one though by far. I think they had some Chinese options too.
Kaila: And for some reason there was always pasta. But yes, I feel like in India it's a good place to go for one week and you can do a digital detox, and just you know if you would like to drink just don't drink for a week in India. I don't think you are going to miss anything because you want to be mindful, it's a place of mindfulness. So I think it's just a great sober destination.
Kiki: The thing I loved about India was all of the cows.
Kaila: They are just walking around everywhere. Do you remember when we were walking and there was a guy walking like 100 goats at some point?
Kiki: Yes, that was insane. That was a really good Temple because we got into this like bus, do you remember that bus it was like a [22:23] but they got a name for it?
Kaila: Yes, that was the day that we stopped by like some Lake situation right, and there was this dog that was harassing another dog.
Kiki: Oh my gosh, I try to adopt that dog like for the day and be like friendly to it, do you remember. And then he started biting me and I was like yo you are annoying. Apparently don't try to go to India and adopt a dog because you don't really know, like I've learned that traveling the foreign countries like dogs mean different things to different people.
In Peru dogs are meant to be outside, I mean there still always going to be beautiful and awesome animals. But don't expect them to be like pets at home, because I was just trying to pet him and then he just - he wasn't biting me hard but he was nibbling and I was like yo stop, and then he kept nibbling at me and I was like oh my God this dog.
Kaila: That was a pretty amazing day.
Kiki: That was a cool day it was a pretty long walk I remember.
Kaila: I feel like I didn't mind the walks there like it wasn't a thing, it's just like we are going to walk and that's why we can eat three buffets a day.
Kiki: I lost weight there to be honest, I legit lost about like 5 lb.
Kaila: But plus everything that we were eating were like freshly made. Do you remember when we first got to that hotel at the beginning and they showed us how they are making a whole bunch. Here is the thing about India that is not here in the states. The level and selections of their breads, I mean we just have none basically. But there was like this bread that blows up into a bubble - I forgot what it's called but it was so good.
There’s these little mini breads that you could hold in your hand and put a doll in the middle of it. And we were at the first hotel and there was a chef there just making all of these Indian bread that I have never encountered before. And we have some video of it so I will post it down below, but yes it was so good. And then there's this garlic naan. I've had garlic naan here but it was like covered in little pieces of garlic and just like - it was so garlicky.
Kiki: Do you know what I love about it, it's like their cheese is actually really legit.
Kaila: Indians are known for their particular cheese right.
Kiki: Exactly, they have goat cheese it is so freaking good. I think they call it paneer.
Kaila: Paneer is like one of my favourite dishes.
Kiki: It's the best right like it's so good, I could literally go vegetarian eating that specific - and tofu you have got to throw the tofu in there. But Indians don't really eat tofu do they?
Kaila: They don't, why is that it seems like it would really fit very well into the cuisine. Southern India in particular is great sober destination, we totally highly recommend it. I feel like everyone needs to visit India at least once in their life - it's like a requirement. If you want to hear more about travel destinations, if you want to hear more about sobriety. We want to know what you want to know. So yes always if you could subscribe and share the podcast, and leave a review if you enjoyed what you heard.
Kiki: Alright guys take care and bye-bye.
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