These are my last few days in India, before I head to Bali and spend 5 or 6 months in Southeast Asia.
I’ve loved almost everything I’ve experience in India. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’ve appreciated their India experiences more and more after they had left. But, I think I have got the most from my visit whilst I have been here. There have only been a few bad moments, but many more good ones.
India is a tough place to travel. There are lots of hassles and issues such as poverty and oppression are hard to see and deal with/ignore everyday. However, amongst the filth and frustration and moments of amazement that make India what it is.
I would recommend a visit to India for anyone who has a little backpacking experience, but I don’t think it’s a good first time backpacking destination. You need time in India though. A few weeks isn’t long enough to get into the flow, which is essential to appreciate this amazing country.
My favorite moments of India have been
- Chatting to the locals – when you get past the tourist chat Indian people have a lot of good things to talk about. I am always fascinated with their options about India, and their perception of the world outside of India. Their perceptions are normally a big surprise.
- Food – I’m a Brit, so more accustomed to India food than most, but almost everything I have eaten and drunk in India has been fantastic. In particular the vegetable samosas have been a highlight. I have recently been eating breakfast and lunch at the street-stalls. My stomach seems to have no problem with that – it’s mega cheap, and it’s normally possible to get a good conversation going with the locals. The best restaurant food was at Mountain Palms on Patnem beach, where I stayed for 10 nights at Ramnath’s excellent beach huts. His chefs are great. My favorite Indian food experience has to be at Ali’s house in Agra though. Traditional Indian home cooking, and nobody could stop eating until they were fit to burst. Thanks to Ali’s wife and mum, fantastic. I have also fallen in love with Indian chai.
- Colours – perhaps no where offers the amazing contrast of grey/brown dirty, dusty roads and lanes with vibrant fruit & vegetable stalls, or groups of women wearing saris of every colour of the rainbow. Even road signs and buses are often so brightly painted that I can’t help but stare.
- Children – in India the kids love to wave (and some of the adults do too), and I love to wave back. The young kids love to come up and talk, trying out their English. Unfortunately a lot also try to get money and pens from you.
- Goa – it’s not typical India, but it’s a wonderful place to relax and enjoy elements of Indian life, whichever of those you chose to participate in. Goa does have a magical spirit, and you can experience that if you interact with the locals.
- Kerala – the backwaters are a fantastic, unique experience of traditional, and often fairly isolated village life. Where canoes replace cars, and traditional crafts still dominate modern money making practices.
- Taj Mahal – A wonderful monument, set in wonderful grounds. I, and a few friends, also had a great time at the market in Agra – real, tourist free, Indian life.
- Varanasi – A bit of a gem. I’d read much about Varanasi, and found the city itself dark and a bit joyless. But, my dawn ride down the Ganges, away from the touts and hawkers was a spiritual moment.
- Orchha – The palaces were impressive, but my favorite moment was standing in the Hindu temple in town, and being swept away in my life’s most spiritual moment.
- Mumbai – I ended up there simply in transit, and had one of my best cities stays ever. I didn’t want to stay much longer than a few nights though.
My least favorite moments have been
- Sunali – the border town between Nepal and India offered practically nothing. But, I, and the people I was with with made the most if it, and with a little help from the hotel manager, who got us beer, we ended up having a great night. Good can come of all that seems bad.
- Riff off prices – Prices get jacked up so much that I often found myself paying more for things than in England! It’s ridiculous how much some people push things. A couple of times I got caught out and paid to much, but normally would just walk away, in the hope this will held the situation for the next tourist.
- Beggars – Persistent beggars can make INR100 per day, in a few hours. A hospital administration working in India makes INR50 per day. India has a massive beggar problem, and many tourists fuel it. There are many worthy recipients of donations (those who have lose limbs, lepers, etc.) but many are simple lazy. Sorry, but it’s true. Every hard working person I met in India was doing well for themselves…
- Taxi drivers – money grabbing idiots. Either they don’t have any change (in which case I make them get some) or they deliberatly go a way they are not permitted, and when turned away by the police they try and increase the fare. They are the drivers, they should know where they can drive. Not my problem….
- Delhi – I just didn’t find much interesting to do. Maybe next time?
Thanks India, I’ll see you again soon.. 🙂