Travel to India – Basic Tips
- Drink sterilized water. This is critical for traveling India. As a reader has pointed out to me (thanks Sonja), carrying a steripen so that you can purify your own water rather than create waste in the form of plastic bottles is a good idea. But, if you do go the bottle route, make sure that it has not been tampered with. Make sure that the cap is intact. Some bottles have a plastic covering. Check inside. The cap was not intact on one that I bought. I took it back to the stand and they replaced it with one that was – no questions. Imagine the profit margin on taking an empty water bottle and filling it from the tap then putting a plastic wrap on it. Watch all water you buy carefully.
- Patience. Not everything will work on your timetable in India but, in my experience, it all does work. Like the traffic, India operates on it’s own inner logic.
- I.D. – keep your driver’s license handy. There are times such as on the trains where you may be asked for I.D. With your passport tucked away, it’s handy to have a driver’s license available.
- Travel Agents – It seems that Internet cafes and the like will set themselves up as travel agents with no official status. They simply understand how Indian rail works, etc., apply their knowledge to get you what you need and add a surcharge to your purchases. In one case I was charged 60 rupees per train booking, in another 100 rupees. The problem is that they are booking you on their rail account. If you change your mind you don’t get your money back. The upside is that the amount of money lost is rarely significant in western terms.
- For foreigners – At the Taj Mahal and other locations there are separate lines for foreigners. At most places there are different prices for foreigners even if there are not different lines.
- To be left Alone – If you want to be left alone (and this can be a challenge at train stations and the like in India) act deliberately. Even if you’re simply looking around to figure things out, do it as if you’re looking for your driver and annoyed that he is not yet there.
- To be left Alone (2)– If (as a woman) you are being annoyed by a man offering you a rickshaw or tour of the city, look to the ground and say that your brother does not allow you to speak to strange men. I can’t believe that I resorted to this tactic but I did and it worked like a charm.
Cities in India:
Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the capital of Indian state of Rajasthan and its largest city. The city was built in the 18th century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city, and today it’s a major tourist attraction amongst Indian as well as international tourists.
Kerala – the land of the coconut palm
Kerala is a state in South India on the Malabar coast. Coconuts, tea,coffee, cashew and spices are the main agricultural products. Do you like the taste of a coconut? Or have you ever climbed a coconut palm tree? During Kerala Blog Express 2016 29 other bloggers and me visited a banana and coconut plantation. We were lucky to climb a coconut tree but to be honest it was not that easy. Some of us almost got stuck but the locals were there to give us a helping hand. Check out the video and see our climbing skills. We might not be professional climbers but we gave it a try. This was a trip of a lifetime for all of us!
Meditation and camping amidst the tea-gardens of Munnar
The oldest city in India, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is frenetic and intense, colourful and chaotic. It’s also an exhilarating and captivating place to visit once you get past the initial culture shock. Also known as Benares and Kashi, Varanasi is famed for its ‘ghats’, giant steps leading down to the river, where Hindu pilgrims come to cleanse their souls of sin in the waters of the River Ganges. Hindus believe that Varanasi is an auspicious place to die – dying and being cremated here offers moksha, liberation from the endless cycle of rebirth. These rituals of cleansing and cremation take place in full view on the riverbank.