We learned quite a bit after travelling in India for two weeks. To some, this is not nearly enough time to explore this massive country. We can agree to a certain extent, but we think India is a bit like Marmite; you love it or hate it. We can’t say we fell in love with India, though we did see some amazing temples, views and ceremonies.
Here’s our list of learning points and suggestions based on our brief experience here.
#1. Never ever ever come here in the summer time (June) unless you like to be punished by extremely hot weather.
#2. Everyone wants your money! We only met a small handful of people that genuinely wanted to have a conversation and share their culture with us without reaping a financial reward from it.
#3. Get good at bartering and saying “NO” to people. It is pretty difficult to say no to a kid, but if you give your money away to every kid that asks, you’ll be broke in no time. Also, pretty much everything is negotiable, so make sure you barter along the way.
#4. Queuing doesn’t exist here. Wow, this was hard to get used to. People push and cut rather than queue. So hold your ground and get stuck in, otherwise you will be waiting forever.
#5. We didn’t get ‘Delhi Belly’ and here’s why. Stay away from all fresh foods. Because our trip was short, it was easier to do this. If you’re there for longer I’m sure you can ease in the fresh food. We decided to stay away from it all completely. Oh, don’t drink any tap water- ever. Eating veg curry and staying away from meat, the meals still taste great.
#6. Traffic here is mental! There are imaginary lanes within lanes, entire families on mopeds, honking is the national soundtrack of India, cows and other animals roam free on the roads, bicycles and pedestrians share the roads too. Magically it all seems to work. Still can’t figure that one out. Sometimes crossing the road is like plying a game of frogger.
#7. Waste management is nonexistent. The streets in India are filled with litter. The place this was most perplexing was in Varanasi where people put their rubbish straight into the Ganges. We still can’t wrap our brains around the contradiction that the river is considered so holy and spiritual, yet it’s used as a receptacle. Hmm.
#8. Handmade crafts are spectacular. We wish we could have bought more from the people of India. The crafts here are extraordinary and affordable. The textiles, jewellery and other crafts are gorgeous. It was hard not to fill our bags. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were only two weeks into a long trip and that we needed to save our dosh.
#9. Curry, curry, curry. The food was delicious. It’s way better than the westernised version of Indian food. It’s a vegetarians dream, as most of the restaurants are pure vegetarian. Really enjoyed the cuisine.
#10. Unless you’re there for a long time, booking a tour is worth it. We were pulled in off the streets by Ishak who helps run Invicta Tour & Travels in Delhi. We were quite skeptical about talking to him as we had already booked our full itinerary for the two weeks.
Ishak (pictured right) suggested alternative options to us on where to go in India and for how long. We were a bit overwhelmed at the time as it was only our first day. We did end up purchasing a small tour package from them and you can see from our previous posts what we got up to.
We had the same driver during the entire tour. Neeraj (pictured left) was so nice! He always had a smile on his face, which was very comforting. Neeraj gave us insider tips on where and when to avoid the hustlers- which to be fair was pretty much everywhere, what to eat, etc. He is a highly skilled driver who surprisingly manoeuvres his way through Indian traffic safely. We were able to be honest with him when we did or didn’t want to do something.
Ishak and Neeraj are ace! We enjoyed sharing Marsala tea with them and would definitely recommend Invicta Tour & Travels. You really can be honest with them and negotiate. We were able to contact them for help during the trip. Better yet, they are keen to keep in touch.
Hope this helps anyone planning a trip to
India. Next stop SE Asia.