India is a place you will either love or hate so my friends warned me. I however would go back in a heartbeat.
On my first leg of the journey I stayed with a colleague’s family in Hyderabad, which is the capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana. I was there for 5 days before heading up to Delhi to start my 22 day tour around North India. Whilst I was in Hyderabad I saw Charminar, Salar Jung Museum, Birla Mandir and walked around many of
their beautiful parks.
Working in the television industry I was intrigued to visit Ramoji Film City for a day, which is like going to Universal Studios in the States. Of course the day before I planned to travel there I came down with the unpleasant Delhi belly which brought back the thoughts of my
family and friends back home who warned me of this on many occasions before heading over to India.
As you would know this was not a pleasant experience and lucky for me the local family I was
staying with took good care of me and brought me back to normal in only 24 hours visiting a local
doctor and placing me priority late at night.
With luck on my side I took one pill and everything had
stopped and I was back to eating more delicious Indian dishes even eating street food and meat
dishes after a week. This isn’t to deter you from travelling there however if you plan to travel to
India I suggest to eat vegetarian meals, which I have to say are quite amazing and sometimes taste
better than the meat dishes. If vegies are not your thing I would seek your local doctor’s advice and
get the right medication to minimise the chance of contracting Delhi Belly.
Before I travelled to India a lot of my Indian friends back home advised me that it wasn’t safe to travel on my own being
a Caucasian female. Call me crazy but as a strong minded and confident person this made more
reason for me to book the North Indian trip.
At the end of my first week I felt comfortable walking around the streets on my own although I did something a little crazy that I wouldn’t recommend if you were not comfortable doing it, but I will elaborate more about this later down the track. In my tour group there was a French guy named Alex who told the group whilst roaming around in Jaisalmer (The Gold City) he was walking around and was talking to a young local who invited him
into his place and hung out with his friends for the day. Being the adventurer that I am, I wanted to have the chance to have the same experience.
After spending the morning in Jodhpur The Blue City everyone in the tour group decided to head back to the hotel however Alex and I decided to explore
some more. While walking the streets we met 5 young siblings so I started to give them paper cranes that I made throughout the trip and started handing them out to them, which they absolutely loved. One of the kids offered to take us on a local tour of the Blue City as a friendly
gesture. Being with Alex I was comfortable to go ahead and we were taken to some wonderful places even into a couple of his families’ houses. So here is the part of the story you have been waiting for.
When I was in Udaipur the White city or also known as the Venice of the East I decided to roam around the city on my own to take some photos. As I walking back to my hotel a sales man offered to show me some more of his cashmere scarves and we began to chat about his past living in Europe. After our chat I asked if he recommended any other sites for me to check out in Udaipur. He told me there was a natural lake on the mountain and that I can get up there with a tuk tuk for 500 rupees. He then offered to take me there on his motorbike if I was happy to pay for his fuel. I was a little unsure about the idea but then I thought why not! So he closed up his shop got his motorbike and off we went. I wouldn’t recommend for anyone to do this if they felt uncomfortable but I went with my gut feeling and I’m glad I did because it was a really lovely day out taking some great snaps.
The real highlight of the day was on the way back where we stopped in a small village for some chai and I had a few more paper cranes in my bag so I gave some to more local kids. Next minute I was swamped by them and unfortunately I upset a lot of them because I ran out paper cranes. I then asked the kids if they have any paper so I can make some more to which they did and I spent the next hour doing this, it was just such a beautiful moment. Like any country you go to there are a couple of things you just need to be cautious about.
Look out for little scams for example when in Pushkar the locals will offer you flowers to put in the lake as an offering and then ask for money, or beggars coming up to you for money or ask to buy them food but they have a agreement with the shop owner or even pick pocket you. There was one time at the start of our tour, our group was at the train station waiting for our overnight train on New Years Eve where a so called lady boy came up to our group speaking little English wanting to take photos with us with our own phones and then wanting money for it, however the tour guide acted quick smart and got us
out of the situation.
If you want to fully amerce yourself in a different culture India is for you. From the kind people i met on my travels and the children playing on every street corner to the southern cuisine and warm beaches. I hope to be back in the tea gardens with you very soon.