Incredible India – Lessons Learnt
My second visit to India! I decided to make a quick stop ….. while going from seoul…. to Bangkok…. just a minor diversion….
This time we were only there for 9 days, visiting Delhi and Jaipur.
Many travelers i have met have a pretty low opinion of delhi, but to be honest i think it is one of the best areas in India.
yes, there is alot of crime and corruption, but once you learn to smile and nod and pretty much refuse anything anyone offers, its not such a bad place!
You really have to research alot about what you want to do and how to do it, otherwise people will take advantage and your already small budget will become near non existant!
Lets get the DOWNSIDES out of the way first…
The first time i arrived in Delhi (about 3 years ago) i didn’t really know anything, what to do, where to go, but luckily i was with someone that did know at that time.
She knew alot of the cons that went on and how to get things done on our own, and after a few days she even took my money from me (i really struggled with the poverty… i mean the poverty in India, not the sudden lack of money i had afer she took it) I couldn’t stop giving money away to the kids running around in rags begging for pennies, or the crippled elders sitting along the side streets.)
I saw it as – i have money…. they don’t, so i SHOULD give to them. But this was a very weak and naive way of thinking.
Although i couldn’t see it at the time, the money we give just goes to a higher power anyway, someone that controls alot of the people on the streets, who the kids have to give the money to. In a way giving to them just means we are funding this type of crime…
Plus, alots changed since i was first there. This time when people where begging i could see that they weren’t hungry, weren’t desperate, it was just habit for them to beg.
I saw one American guy take a whole family from the street and treat them all with a McDonalds, which is fair enough, but 30 mins later i was walking down the street and saw the same family begging for food again.
Similar to many things i saw in India it was just another con…
Its also ridiculous how many people approach while you’re wandering down the road and try to get you to go to “the Tourist Information Center”. They all say they are government approved, but NONE of them actually are.
These supposed friendly Indians, that “just want to help”, all get a commission on whatever over priced tour you inevitably end up booking.
I highly recommend just finding one of the many TukTuk drivers that roam the streets, go somewhere not too far away with them and see what kind of person they are. If they seem friendly enough (not creepy weird),, then ask them if they would mind taking you around to various sites the next day for a fixed price.
Depending on your bartering skills (mine aren’t great) the price for the whole day can vary – the first time i was there (about 3 years ago) the whole day was about 200INR, this time it was at least 600INR (i found alot of things have gone up in price drastically, doubled if not tripled).
But in the end, well worth it – you dont have to worry about bartering everytime you get a TukTuk to the next site, and you get to see everything in one day – Winner!
Plus, after you’ve done this you don’t have to ‘umm’ and ‘Arr’ about whether to hear out what the mass of hawkers and touts have to say, you can just go by saying ‘done! Seen! Cheers! Bye!’
Finding accommodation can also be a problem.
In my experience, it really is where you sleep that makes the trip.
I used to just go for the cheapest places and make do with the crap that would follow – the ‘one drip one second’ freezing cold showers, the questionably stained bedsheets, unbearable humidity, lack of safety and comfort.
Now i know better. I will always look for something abit more mid range thats still cheap but not a complete hole.
They’re easy enough to find if you take some time to look around and inspect a few rooms, plus with abit of bartering you can usually get a nice room in a decent place for the same price as a “room” in one of the holes you just left behind.
the nicer places get more business in the long run and so don’t seem to try as hard to rip you off.
Once you have a nice place to sleep, you can leave your belongings without worry and you can sleep with ease without wondering if you will wake up with some kind of virus or infection. all in all you can feel alot better and enjoy your time in India.
Now – Some Pros to visiting India!
Although alot of people may get down by all the above cons (and alot more that i havent mentioned!), but they are easy enough to overcome. You just have to research thoroughly!
Once you’ve got into the swing of things, smile and say ‘no thank you’ while you KEEP walking (dont stop or they’ve got you!) to the various touts and hawkers, and feel confident that you know what your doing and how to do it, you can have a good time in India!
Taking a trip around both New and Old Delhi can give great insight into the various aspects of Indian life, as well as getting the opportunity to witness an evergrowing economy.
I also recommend reading some of Arivand Adiga’s books (especially ‘The White Tiger’), great reads that give you some insight into Life in India.
And of course there are many historical sites to visit and Bazaars to shop at.
All in all I highly recommend a trip to India.
You can gain a better perspective on your own life, witness how others get by with obstacles that need to be overcome in their everyday life.
and if nothing else, Wherever you travel to after India, will seem like a breeze! (the KL airport was like a paradise after i left India! Everywhere was so clean… and there was a Starbucks!! lol)
Summary of Lessons learnt!
– Its where you sleep that makes the trip!
– Research thoroughly! Don’t trust what people who “just want to help” say, know yourself what is best for you to do.
– Smile, nod, politely decline, never just ignore. If you are nice to them in return they will be less forceful and hostile to you.
– Don’t give into beggers (i know its hard).
I plan to write my next post about Train travel in India and Jaipur….. whenever i get the chance!
Thanks for reading!