So that’s it! We’re out of India! As I write this, we are cooling off in our budget hotel room in Sri Lanka (already loving this new country), and have had time to reflect on what we’ve seen, experienced and spent over the last 5 and a half weeks in India.
Even during the more challenging times, December absolutely flew by and while it felt like no time at all, looking over our pictures highlights just how much we crammed into a relatively short trip in ratio to the size of the country!
India is without a doubt the most incredible country I have ever visited but it is also the most testing. There’s a lot of staring, a lot of bad smells and a lot of unsuccessful haggling.
But the longer you stay in India, the more accustomed you become to the locals’ way of life and can start to appreciate everything amazing about the country; the religions, the colours, the scenery, the food, the markets, the people – everything.
We barely scratched the surface of India, but here’s just some of the things we’ve discovered and observed since being there for only a short amount of time (in no particular order…):
- Every city is different from the last
- Everything is colourful – from the markets, to shrines and to the cities themselves
- Food is delicious and diverse (illegedly changes every 100km)
- Being gay is illegal in India, even taboo (men holding hands are usually friends or family)
- There seems to be no rules around how many people can fit on a motorbike
- Women in particular are fantastic at side saddling motorbikes whilst balancing things on their heads / carrying bags
- Indian drivers overuse their horns
- The route from Varanasi to Agra by train is always delayed (usually by a number of hours)
- Once on the train, the stations are not announced so you need to be on the ball!
- Chai tea from the north is so tasty and about 20p a cup (although very sugary)
- Watch out for watery curry…
- Street food is super cheap (only about £1-2 per meal) but go to one that has customers and keep an eye out for good hygiene
- Spitting is common in India – only places it is disallowed are touristy areas or hotels etc.
- Speaking of spitting, Paan / Betel is chewed by some locals and is similar to chewing Tobacco. Many people use it and it stains their teeth, gums and lips red (no, they haven’t been in a fight). This is then spat out when they’re done with it
- There is a lack of awareness of personal space
- The ‘Indian Head Wobble’ is a little shake of the head from side to side, which doesn’t have a single meanings, but acts as a term of endearment and friendliness (can be unhelpful when you want a yes or no answer)
- Travel with a local if you wish to get better rates or avoid the touts
- Goan fish curry is yummy!
- There’s a surprising number of pigeons in the north and crows in the south
- The location of a woman’s bindi can be both religious and symbolise whether she is married or not
- The further south you go, the more relaxed you seem to feel, which the locals agree with!
- Cows get right of way. Always.
- There’s a tradition of burning a statue of Father Christmas (known as Papaanji) in Kochi (Kerala) at New Year to symbolise burning of the evils from the previous year
- Christmas is celebrated across India, but the south really gets into the Christmas spirit by putting up decorations, nativity scenes and carols
- Bring warm clothes if you travel to north India during their winter!
Having travelled over Christmas and New Year, we have missed some home comforts of course and I’m definitely ready to move onto the next chapter of the adventure, but we have made some very happy memories and had some incredible experiences together in India – all within our budget of £1,000 a month.
Speaking of which, here’s an approximate breakdown of our costs in India:
5.5 Weeks: £980 TOTAL SPEND
🚂 x 5
🚌 x 2
✈️ x 2
🚕 x 40 (Tuk Tuk and Taxis)
⛴ x 5
(We could have saved our pennies on travel but, given our timeframe and the availability of some trains, we opted for flights and more taxis than perhaps those with a tighter budget)
🍺 x 3 days (over Christmas)
🐯 x Tiger Safari
🚶 x Walking Tour of Varanasi
🛶 x River trip in Alleppey
DAY TO DAY
🛏 x 31 nights Accommodation
🍴 x 100+ Meals
🎁 x Treats
Hope you’ve enjoyed keeping up with our whereabouts and posts so far – now onto Sri Lanka, Singapore and Indonesia!
📍Find us in: Marissa (8th January)
Jess and Ed