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Old 10 March 2017, 00:12
Kip Kip is offline
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Lots of good info in the Udaipur, India thread, but I figured I would see if there is any new(er) info out there. Definitely plan on registering with State while I'm there, even though I'll be with a tour group.

I'm booked on this group tour on June 16.

This will be my first time in Asia, so I have no frame of reference for what to expect.

Planning on going to the health department next week for immunizations.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10 March 2017, 10:15
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I spent a month in Andra Pradesh in a remote farming village and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The people were incredibly warm, friendly and hospitable. Traffic was scary as shit though, rolling from village to village on the back of a motorcycle

I didn't spend any time up by where you will be. So all I can say is have fun, enjoy the food, don't drink the water (unless it's safe where you're at) and have the time of your life!
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Old 14 March 2017, 16:52
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Kip,

I'm not necessarily knocking it, but why go through a tour group? For the activities it looks like they have planned I think you could create a similar itinerary for a cheaper price. Besides, half the fun of travel is determining your own pace and finding things that are special to you.
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Old 14 March 2017, 17:20
Kip Kip is offline
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Kip,

I'm not necessarily knocking it, but why go through a tour group? For the activities it looks like they have planned I think you could create a similar itinerary for a cheaper price. Besides, half the fun of travel is determining your own pace and finding things that are special to you.
Long story short, I was planning on doing a two-month solo backpacking trip around Europe(see the thread I started a few months ago), and my parents freaked the fuck out because of the solo thing for various reasons.

My dad said I "could go anywhere I wanted"(his words) if it was with a group tour, so to keep the peace since I'm still living with them and they're paying for school, I started looking up group tours through a couple companies and picked out half a dozen that sounded promising.

I told myself that as soon as I got an e-mail with cheap flights to any of those destinations, I'd book it. India was the first one to pop up.

My dad stills thinks I'm "traveling for the wrong reasons", whatever that means.

My parents love Europe and I've been a ton with them(have a cruise out of Amsterdam to the British isles planned for this May), but they have no interest in going to a lot of the far-flung places I want to see.

That Europe backpacking trip solo is still on the table for next year, though, whether I find someone to go with or not.
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Old 14 March 2017, 17:38
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Drink bottled water only. Cholera is there. You are close to the state of Gujarat, not sure how it is now but the British palace in Jamnagar was cool. Hot, humid on the Gulf of Kutch. If you are flying into Mumbai, check out the Lela Hotel. It has been some time since I was there but driving in Mumbai was interesting to say the least especially at night. Very little lighting, zero traffic light, stop signs etcetera. If it can be avoided do not fly Gujarat Airlines. Perhaps the shitting fields next to the taxi-ways are gone and the rats in the airport. I have heard Goa is cool. My travel there was limited, for the most part, to the Reliant Petroleum Refinery. Cyclones are not to be minimized if one gets close. In 1998 Cyclone 03-A, the Gujarat Cyclone, passed right over the refinery and it was miserable for the living for about a month. There are Leper colonies scattered about. I wish I could tell you about cool things, but it sucked more than anything that has ever sucked before.

My info. is very dated.
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Old 14 March 2017, 18:06
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Enjoy the trip, Kip. I'd add to Expat and Balls' advice the following:

1. As much as your heartstrings are tugged, don't give the kids money. It'll be pretty brutal to process at first-- if you aren't affected by little kids at your window pantomiming eating and begging for money then you probably don't have a heart. At the same time, know that it is fairly likely the money you give them is going to a criminal who runs the child-begging racket. It's better to find a reputable charity and contribute whatever you feel comfortable contributing after the trip.

2. Scams. You'll be hustled from minute one. That trip to a "traditional" gem polishing/woodworking/tiling shop? Yeah, the tour operator gets a cut of what you spend, and none of it is as "authentic" as they claim. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to say no. Politely and with a smile, of course.

3. Don't be afraid to try new food. Yes, you'll probably have some stomach issues, but the food is amazing. Biryani, chicken tandoori, chaat, etc. Absolutely amazing.

4. Don't watch TV and don't take naps. It sounds like a stupid tip, but you'll be tempted to take a nap during the trip. Don't. Soak up every minute. Don't go to sleep until you're absolutely staggered. Meet new people and have drinks with them. Take every opportunity to make the most of the trip.

Happy to answer any specific questions you have about Udaipur, New Delhi and Agra. I haven't been to the other places listed.
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Old 14 March 2017, 19:39
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I'm from that general part of the world.

Temper your romantic expectations with the stark realities of a third world country. I assume you don't look the part so you will stick out like a sore thumb and be a target for both scammers and more nefarious individuals the instant you step out of customs / passport control. Shit - even within customs and passport control.

Make sure your voice / data plan is good to go - or know what buying a local phone involves - and have the USEMB number on your contact list.

Non security related - If I were you? Ditch the tour group and head to the Garwhal Himalaya. Take a train from New Delhi to Kanyakumari and see shit along the way. There's a lot of adventure to be had in 15 days without being tied up to someone's idea of one.

Good luck.

Oh - and stay the fuck away from the Pak border.

Last edited by MountainBum; 14 March 2017 at 19:44.
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Old 14 March 2017, 22:54
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Originally Posted by MountainBum View Post
I'm from that general part of the world.

Temper your romantic expectations with the stark realities of a third world country. I assume you don't look the part so you will stick out like a sore thumb and be a target for both scammers and more nefarious individuals the instant you step out of customs / passport control. Shit - even within customs and passport control.

Make sure your voice / data plan is good to go - or know what buying a local phone involves - and have the USEMB number on your contact list.

Non security related - If I were you? Ditch the tour group and head to the Garwhal Himalaya. Take a train from New Delhi to Kanyakumari and see shit along the way. There's a lot of adventure to be had in 15 days without being tied up to someone's idea of one.

Good luck.

Oh - and stay the fuck away from the Pak border.
Dude, you say all that like it's bad. Fucking nuke tests on the Pak/Ind. border were fun. MB speaks the truth.
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Old 14 March 2017, 23:24
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There are a bunch of reasons that I should hate India, but I dig it there.You are going to have the time of your life.

Maybe stay away from the Pak border.
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Old 15 March 2017, 08:45
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Spent several months backpacking through India (mainly the northern half) on two occasions....though many years ago.

Have fun...........

Plan on getting the runs pretty bad at least once.

Definitely a hard place to travel through, but some real adventures and one of the most exotic places I have been. India is unique in that it seems half of the country is in the 21st century, the other half is in the 14th century.

Trains are pretty good, as others have said. They use to have several seats reserved for foreigners in 1st class. Pay the extra and go first class on the trains...not much more and worth it.

Remember, in India more than any other place I have travelled, more people will be begging from you, trying to cheat you, trying to scam you and rip you off.

Overland's. MB, Balls, and Expatmedic and other's posts were very good good.....good advice....concur.

Need to get up to Darjeeling one of these days.
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Old 15 March 2017, 11:00
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Happy to answer any specific questions you have about Udaipur, New Delhi and Agra. I haven't been to the other places listed.
I have an entire day in Delhi after the tour ends because I put in the wrong dates when I bought my flights. What do you recommend that isn't already covered by the tour? How easy is it to find a day-tour with an English-speaking guide to possibly go somewhere noteworthy outside of Delhi?

Agra - is it as much of a shithole as I've read about online?

Quote:
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e / data plan is good to go - or know what buying a local phone involves - and have the USEMB number on your contact list.
Was planning on buying a local sim card for my phone and using Skype/Viber/whatever to call home. I have an unlocked iPhone 6.

Good plan, or should I skip the sim card and just add on to my plan with AT&T?
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Old 15 March 2017, 11:16
Hostile0311 Hostile0311 is offline
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Stay away from the Aghori's and CNN reporters who eat human brains. You'll likely get threatened with decapitation and poo flung at you as a bonus.
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Old 15 March 2017, 11:48
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Was planning on buying a local sim card for my phone and using Skype/Viber/whatever to call home. I have an unlocked iPhone 6.
Should work.
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Old 15 March 2017, 11:50
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Since you hvae been in those parts before the culture shock may be a little less. Your itinerary is pretty generic and a 1 on a threat level of 5 being highest. The largest beggar/bothersome times will be Delhi and Agra. Jaipur is a great place and a place for real rugs if toy can find a local to help. Amber Palace is impressive. I did not see any hotels listed in your itinerary? The infrastructure as improved 10 fold in the 15 years.
Back in the day We would always see if the Marine detachement needed anything and watch American football on Sundays. If I ever see another Cricket match it will be too soon. Have a great trip !!
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Old 15 March 2017, 16:02
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Agra - is it as much of a shithole as I've read about online?
It was a shithole in 2000; I can't imagine it's gotten better. On arrival day, driving to our hotel, there was a dead camel on the side of the (major) road. It was still there 10 days later when we left.
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Old 15 March 2017, 16:14
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Originally Posted by Kip View Post
I have an entire day in Delhi after the tour ends because I put in the wrong dates when I bought my flights. What do you recommend that isn't already covered by the tour? How easy is it to find a day-tour with an English-speaking guide to possibly go somewhere noteworthy outside of Delhi?

Agra - is it as much of a shithole as I've read about online?
The Qutb Minar, India Gate, and Red Fort are worth checking out, as is the mosque in Old Delhi. There is supposedly a new road to Agra that makes the trip a lot quicker but yeah it's pretty bad. Depending on where you're staying it's pretty easy to get a cab or tuk-tuk for the day for 30 bucks or so. All of the drivers know the stuff you will want to see, be advised that almost all of them will want to start or end the tour at their brother-in-law's souvenir shop.
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Old 15 March 2017, 16:16
Kip Kip is offline
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I did not see any hotels listed in your itinerary?
The starting/ending hotel in Delhi is the Hotel Clark International. I don't know where I'm staying any other time.
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Old 16 March 2017, 08:47
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I went to India with my wife and MIL (from NZ, but of Indian descent.) It was eye-opening to say the least. Traffic was fucking insane, and yeah I agree about the beggars. We had the benefit of my MIL speaking Hindi fluently. I would potentially think about going back under different circumstances. Only time I got sick was after eating the food on the train.
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Old 18 March 2017, 18:56
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I'll try not to repeat anything from the Udaipur thread you read:

- June 16 is right on the cusp of the Indian monsoon around the mid half of India. Sometimes its early, other times late. As such, be prepared to deal with downpours, verify weather and check locations you're going particularly with transportation. When those rains come, transit can get disrupted. Since it'll be hot and humid, take a bottle of Monkey Butt powder with you. The calamine based powder will help.

-If you're set on doing a tour, that's ok. In general though, picking a theme and structuring your trip around that for India is probably more beneficial - each state speaks a different language, has different cuisine and culture. The subcontinent is a pretty diverse place (language, culture, religion, norms, environment, history....). Hence, my recommendation on picking a theme and generally sticking to a region. For a example, Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra are the typical tourist locations and focused more on Mughal and Rajput architecture. Himalayas are a different animal from Ladakh through Darjeeling, can be very cold or wet depending on the time of year. Deserts of Rajasthan (Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer) are always popular with tourists and more Rajput in culture and architecture. Central, eastern, and southern India are all very different. Do you want really old archeological stuff, medieval, or British Raj era? Near beaches/tropical environments? A safari? Hiking? Resort type tour? Depending upon the answer, different places in the subcontinent fit the bill. Don't assume or generalize much from one area to the other. Each state will be like a different country (think of Europe as a better analogy). Wikipedia tends to be pretty OK at giving a top level overview of each city/region.

- As suggested, taking trains is a great way to see a lot of India if you're looking to explore and travel by yourself. Very doable. Check Israeli forums as India is or at least was a popular destination for backpackers from Israel. The Shatabdi/Rajdhani express trains run faster and are all AC in a business/first class type configuration. Trains do run relatively full but there should be seats in first class/AC sleepers reserved for foreign tourists.

- Call your visa/mastercard credit card company and let them know you'll be in India so they don't freeze you out. Uber is popular in places like Mumbai to get around and you can hop around on local airlines too if you're looking to save time (Jet Airways is the best locally).

- For food/health, the Udaipur thread has good info. Hot food or packaged food is your friend. Pepto, Immodium, Cipro, Tylenol, anti-malarial (Malarone), DEET, wet wipes, TP and wipes/santizer should be part of your med kit. Take disposable dust masks with you or buy some local cotton handkerchiefs. Air pollution in Delhi is really bad and lots of people get upper respiratory infections due to the irritation caused by pollution. Countryside is fine, just the air quality in the major metros is really bad.

- Get a local simcard with the appropriate data plan. If possible, buy a cheap burner phone from here or there. Set up a whatsapp thread with people here so you've got comms (can make video, voice, text calls). Google Maps tracks in India pretty well.

- Good hotels will have reliable transit information/services. Some of the five star hotels are amazing, but will cost you an arm and leg.

- IMO, best time to visit the subcontinent is late Jan/Feb or Nov. Cheap tickets and decent weather.

- Ensure your money and IDs are always secure. Don't stick it in a bag and let a porter or someone else handle. Take your passport and passport card (not valid for travel there, just a secondary American ID) and keep them in separate spots.

Good luck.

Last edited by smp52; 18 March 2017 at 19:07.
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  #20  
Old 21 March 2017, 04:04
navman navman is offline
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I lived in New Delhi for three years when assigned to the USDAO there. Traveled all over the continent. It looks like the topic of travel and care has been covered pretty well in both threads. If you have any specific questions feel free to shoot me a PM.

On a personal note, Goa and Cochin are two of my absolute favorite places in India! June is exceptionally muggy and, as has been mentioned, is right at the start of monsoon/rainy season.

Do not be afraid to try the local street food, however bottled water is a must. Be very careful about the bottled water you purchase on the roads, some of them are simply refilled with local tap water and "resealed" by the seller.

I had amoebic dysentery and Giardia 5 times while in India, cipro was my friend but be very aware that it is a poison and kills ALL bacteria in your gut, good and bad. Use it cautiously and be sure to take pro-biotics after the regimen is finished to replenish the good bacteria in your stomach.

Chennai...yuck. We were down there when the 2004 tsunami hit and it flooded all the way into our hotel lobby, chest deep.

I highly recommend going to the Sikh golden temple in Amritsar, Amazing experience.

If you can get permission, and have time, visit the house boats in Dall Lake, Srinagar. I am not sure if that area is still off limits, but the lake and the food are excellent.
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