here, there, everywhere

Off Again

In India on May 4, 2009 at 1:58 am

It’s been almost two years since I went off to travel the way I like which is usually to a place that looks completely unlike the one I grew up in and might be a little dirty.  This time it’s India for a quick three weeks.  Unlike some tourists who pack it all in and see everything there is to see I’ve opted to check out a few cities and sites and take my time getting from one place to the next.  Partly because I like to get the feeling of a place rather than just the flavour, but mostly because I’m tired of having a too-packed schedule which doesn’t allow for any deviation from the intended path.  I have no itinerary other than landing in Delhi with two nights booked at a budget hotel sans a/c.  After that it’s up to whatever the train/bus schedules permit.

Last time I was there in 2002 I was finishing up my overland trip and we were getting around by the truck we’d traveled in from Turkey.  I was always with Jim and Arnout while we explored new places so unlike other travelers’ stories, I got around fairly easily and was never harassed by men.  That will probably be different this time as I’m off solo and don’t have a personal vehicle at my disposal.  I’ve been getting mentally prepped for this, checking out what traveling sites have to say and by far the biggest thing to be concerned about is how many times the locals try to take the tourists for a ride on the swindle system.  For example, every guide book says when you’ve booked your hotel make sure you tell your taxi/rickshaw driver where you’re going and don’t let him convince you the hotel’s been burnt down or it’s full or that it doesn’t exist or that there’s a riot in the neighbourhood and it’s unsafe.

When I was there before I had booked a plane ticket at a shop in one neighbourhood and had to back a week later to pick it up.  I asked the first rickshaw driver how much the trip would be and he quoted me 10 times the price, adding “There’s a riot in that neighbourhood today.”  Remembering what I’d learned from what everyone warned me about, I went to the next rickshaw driver who charged the same price and used the same excuse.  By the third driver I was getting ticked off and told him not to rip me off.  He said he’d take me up to the neighbourhood but not into it as it was unsafe.  When we got there, there actually was a riot in progress and it did look a little messy.

Whatever happens I’m looking forward to it all and will update my blog whenever I get the chance.  As a wise friend did a few years ago, I’ll use the correspondence to gauge my tolerance and happiness levels inspired by my travels.  It’s not the easiest country to travel in and it tests the patience of the most saintly person, but I’m sure there will be many more highs than lows.

First stop is Amsterdam for 20 hours and dinner with friends, and then it’s off to Delhi and the 45 degree heat that awaits…

  1. Hey Ali,Hope you had a good flight!Enjoy India.Grtz,Arnout

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