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Highlights of India

INDIA | Tuesday, 6 October 2009 | Views [725]

It is now to the end of my whole 6 months trip round the Asia. A very excitement feeling, knowing that I would be back to comfy zone, seeing my family and friends, and also feeling uncertainty about back to work, about my future. The whole trip has covered 7 countries, which included Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, China, Nepal, and India. This has been my first longest trip and also the most adventurous trip, and the best part of this trip is about learning the different people and their cultures.

Among all countries covered, I voted India as the most interesting country. As a saying, either you like it or you hate the India. Despite a month staying in India, I yet to like it or to hate it; it’s just neutral. But India is truly what many travellers claimed, you really have to be careful, watch your stuff all the time, touts everywhere and they are annoying, make sure you lock your big backpack with a chain when you boarded a train, rubbish everywhere, cow has a good life there.

As myself, I see India as the best with its cultures and colours, the tough dealing with its people, the uncertainty of up and down emotions every single day.

1.       Crossing Nepal India border – “Where is the immigration office?” I was walking past the Nepal’s immigration office to India’s border and turn back to look again. India is a sauna, I was sweating whole day, and for first time this trip, and I drank the most water and wouldn’t need a toilet.

First impression of India; India has very obvious class system. I was at the immigration with one big boss sitting in a chair drinking chai tea. The others, his servants came to us, brought us the form to fill and put everything nicely in front of that self-thought big boss? He isn’t doing anything but just sitting there for few minutes drinking his fucking chai tea. We were just sitting there waiting him. “very efficient, huh”  

2.       Varanasi – 41 degrees, it was no jokes for such a melting day - you just wouldn’t do anything.  It is a holy place for Indian, a place they taking the bath and even swim in the river, the place they cremating the body and throw the remains to river. But, the pregnant, children, with diseases, bitten by snake are to be thrown and sink to river. It was uneasy to see the corpse everyday on the street, cows eating the rubbish, open public toilet in middle of public area with no drainage.

Day 2: an early morning boat ride by river, watching crowds taking bath by river. A gruesome boat ride when we spot a floating corpse, just few metres away from crowds.  Apparently local were used to corpse floating by riverside and they were okay to swim with corpse floating next to them. They would usually leave the body floating or pull the corpse to the other side of riverbank to decay.

This town is easy to get lost. For first time ever this trip, I have failed to find my ways back to the guest house again and again. It is a beautiful old city but it was too much for me.

Varanasi to Agra – First time boarding the Indian train. It has few classes, 3 AC, SL. Indian’s train was very different from China’s train. For sure China’s train is far more comfort, faster than India – which they stopped a lot – single track vs. china’s double track. Met a few Korean and Japs on train, saw an English expat locking her bag with chain, telling that it is a necessary as theft is common on train.

3.       Agra – Arrival time printed on ticket is 6.10 but we were an hour behind. Agra is hot, again sauna. It’s Friday and I was told Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. So, just a chill out day. The best part was the walk to the river behind Taj Mahal and cross the river for Rs50 only. It probably saved me Rs200 - rickshaw fares, Rs100 and admission fee thru front gate, Rs100. This part probably even better than go in to Taj Mahal and pay Rs750, super expensive admission fee. But anyway, once in lifetime, just got to do it.

Agra fort is the first I seen in India – quite something, amazing but expensive. Baby Taj (worth skipping at least for me) is really nothing compared to Taj Mahal.

4.       Delhi – “No thanks, NO…, Alright, back off, F***, I say back off now …” A tiring evening and sick, I was very impatient against touts.  I was shouting at 11 pm but none of these words taken seriously or they were just stubborn. They follow you to every guest house with hopes to get commission and guesthouse would raise the price higher to pay them at your expenses and some would just say its full house when the tout said something to them in Hindi, how annoying was that?

Really enjoying the mango shake, my favourite drink so far in India.

Delhi is just about the red fort and big mosque. Red fort is nothing as I seen one in Agra. The biggest mosque was not worth the camera price I paid.

5.       Udaipur – “Where is the lake?” A drying land, but city palace and Lake Palace are amazing. The town itself is really nice and worth staying. This is first town I like in India so far.

Udaipur to Mumbai – “Full train, no seat to Mumbai, I can arrange you the sleeper bus”.  My first mistake; never trusted any travel agent – always check with train station yourself. I have bought the sleeper bus but been downgraded to seat, non-ac, a nightmare and sleepless night. Damn!

6.       Mumbai – Second best city so far. This is massive city but people are far friendlier than Delhi. Here, it’s just so easy to talk with locals with no hassle and taxi driver won’t bother you. No hard-deal touts, city is cleaner too, and things are more organized.

The Udaipur – Mumbai bus dropped me of nowhere, and a university student came to offer his help. Without him, I probably would have paid expensive taxi to Colabra. Walk along the Taj Mahal Hotel, tour agent came to offer his tour, not in annoying ways, we later had a friendly chat even I didn’t take the tour (too pricey). Met 2 Indians, walking by riverfront, have a friendly chat for the night while waiting for my train to Goa.

Stay with Salvation Army shelter, first dormitory in India, ok but shower room is a mess. No complaint for the price of Rs195 and it’s a good place to meet travellers. (Can’t beat the hostels in China though).

Sigh, can’t resist my first beer since Nepal – Chitwan National Park. Okay, first beer after 12 non-alcohol days.

Mumbai has good places for tasty Indian food.

7.       Goa – It can’t beat with Thailand but still my favourite and the longest stop in India. The best of Goa is Palolem beach and second is Anjuna. The weather wasn’t pleasant at all; it was raining most of times. 

I did my laundry and came back with smelly clothes and missing garments. Food is expensive but they made good food.

It was a monsoon – low season, everything was just so cheap, big bike for Rs200, beach-front room for Rs100 per day, quiet beach, but no party scene.

Renting a big bike was a good choice; it was a nice riding from a beach to another.

8.       Hampi – My favourite small village. It reminds me of Angkor Wat, a small village Siem Reap and the temples surrounding it. But Angkor Wat is far more awesome than Hampi. The weather was very unfavourable, it was really hot and the heat made me uneasy. I rented a scooter for Rs100 per day and pumped in petrol for another Rs150. Also realised the technique Indian used to cheat me over petrol. They first pumped in petrol for another bike, when finished, another guy came to distract me, chatting with me, then, without resetting price to 0, he pumped to my motorbike, I was paying Rs50 for Rs20 fuel. How ridiculous? How would I trust those Indian in India?

9.       Bangalore – According to lonely planet, “...crazy traffic, associated pollution...will fast drive you demented” I still can take that but Bangalore is really nothing. Nope, it is just nothing to do. Staying a lazy day in a coffee shop online, and having a fine dinner on 13th floor, overlooking the IT town was a great way to spend my day (it has been the most expensive dinner so far in India). 

Hey, I found out a very unusual sign, “Government work is God’s work”

So far, India has been the toughest country I ever been. It was not the country but the people.

- Indian women are more honest than men (if you dealing with money) – “India was having overnight inflation; the water I bought had price increased from Rs 15 to Rs 20 (same shop)”. Oh well, the night before was probably his wife but second night was the husband. Proven that women are most trustable than Indian men.

- Sikh people are the most trustable people in India (if you dealing with money). If you need auto-rickshaw, taxis, and other money related, find Sikhs.

- Indian children are more realistic – first word, money, money!!! Even 5 year-old street kids can ask you for money. “Photos sir, take photos of me!” Don’t be fooled, they would chase you for money later.

- The poorest area is surrounding train station and rail track. I was boarding night train a lot and seeing lots of children, homeless sleeping on platform. The poorest residents were living next to rail tracks with rubbish disposal area, open-air toilet just outside their houses. The saddest part of India.

A lot beggars can be found nearby the train station, and most of them are children.

India has the most annoying drivers. They horn every single minute they driving.

- Auto-rickshaw drivers are very stubborn

- Overall, Indians are very friendly.

Tags: india

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