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> Southern India Starter Kit, Everything you want to know about Southern India
sharon1306
post Jun 16 2007, 06:26 AM
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sorcerer.png Sharon Dias says:

Just want to quickly introduce myself to the forumÖ I live in Goa, India and I would be happy to answer any questions with regards to travel in India, especially the southern region. Please let me know if I can be of any help smile.gif

Below are some tips for a first time traveler to India:

Iím going to try to keep it as brief as I can, but let me start by saying India is a difficult country to travel in, more so if you are coming to visit for the first time. No matter how much you prepare, India is an assault on the senses. The sights, smells and sounds are overwhelming. Having said that, I am also fairly certain this will be one of your most memorable trips, one that will stay with you always. I guess tips, as such, would vary depending to the region, because India is extremely diverse in many ways. It is a country that has so many different kinds of people, religions, languages, cultures and even landscapes. But generally. I guess I would say:

1.Come with an open mind. You will find dirt, filth and probably more poverty than youíre used to. You have to deal with that and not let it get to you. The touts are sometimes aggressive and so are the beggars. It is best to ignore them. Lots of traffic, lots of people, lots of noise. But that is also what makes India fascinating. It will take you a few days before you learn to cope. In one day your experiences can range from extremely frustrating to extremely magicalÖ

2.The benefits of travel in India definitely outweigh the negatives. You will find India chaotic at the surface, but it really is organized chaos and it takes a while to get used to it. Getting the simplest things done might take more time and effort than youíre used to, but itís definitely worth it in the end. Be careful about what you eat or drink. Drink only bottled water, eat hot foods, avoid ice, desserts and salads and wash your hands. Its good to carry a hand sanitizer for when you don't have access to soap and water, insect repellent, water purification tablets and toilet paper.

3.Just go with the flow. Thereís a lot of craziness around but thatís what makes the country special. Make an effort to strike up conversations with people. Most people are very friendly and open and will be willing to help you in any way they can.

4.Be respectful of the culture and customs. Lots of religions are practiced in the country so some areas might be more sensitive than others. Take lots of picturesÖ It hard to take a bad picture in India, with all the faces, colours, scenes.

5.Donít think about it, just go. India is a very culturally rich country, which engages you with its fascinating art, history and the sheer numbers of everything. There arenít any Ďdangersí as such you should be aware of, just petty annoyances.

This is one trip you will find hard to put behind you, because when you experience India, it seeps into your pores and itís very difficult to just forget about it once you get back home. India is a challenging country to travel in, and you will be taxed mentally and probably physically, but it will also be one of your more memorable trips, if nothing moreÖ

Sharon
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bloomer
post Jan 14 2008, 04:46 PM
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Goa is a great place to get acclimated to India, it's pretty tourist-friendly and easy to negotiate--sort of like India "lite." Most people speak English, and if you want to impress them, learn a couple of words of Konkanee, the native language. I found that most there don't really speak much Hindi, but in the north almost everyone understands. Some Tamil and Kannada will be helpful as well for tamil nadu and Karnataka, respectively. Once you get out into the villages, almost no-one has any English except "What your name," and "what your country." It's really fun to fire the same questions back at them in their own language, they really love it!
As far as the south, no trip there would be complete without seeing some things inland--Hampi is magnificent, and there are cool towns in the ghats, Munnar, Conoor, Ooty and others. Kerala is just great, lots of ashrams there for meditation and yoga that cost more like 10 dollars a night instead of 300. Also the southern ghats have a few wildlife preserves you can drive through and see elephants, spotted deer, and all kinds of other creatures. There are many tea plantations tucked away on the Tamil Nadu/Kerala border area as well.
Varkalla is breathtaking, a cluster of cool little restaurants and guesthouses clinging to the top of the cliffs, and a hundred stairs later, a beach at the bottom. Watch out for the riptide though.
Kaniyakumari has the distinction of being a place where in one day, you can see the sun rise and set over water from the same place.
Chennai is one of the cooler cities I visited there, lots of palm trees on the streets, and a beach that's about a mile wide, filled with little stalls you can buy all manner of things in.
Two of the most delicious dishes are also southern India specialties: Dosa and Puri Baji. Puri Baji is a great breakfast!
The south is a little less "uptight" than the rest of India, but it would serve you well to keep your shoulders covered (unless you're in Goa), wear light long trousers, and if you're a woman, stay away from large gatherings of men. They get a little fresh, as their impression of western women (thanks to hollywood) is that they're a little "loose." Unfortunately, this sexism makes it tough for women to travel solo, it's best to go with a group, or at least a pair (once again, it is much safer solo in Goa and Kerala).
I went to south India for 18 days, it turned into 5 months and 10 days of riding a motorcycle solo from Kerala to high in Himachal Pradesh. I don't recommend that though, unless you were born on a motorcycle like me. It is extremely challenging and dangerous in the backcountry on two wheels!
I would say, keep your plan VERY loose. India is the country where everything is possible, but just not right now. Let it flow, and you will love it. Expect things to be timely, or even extant, and you will just be frustrated. The way will open itself to you if you open yourself to the way. Take off your Western lenses, and you will see!
India will pull you in, and once Mother India touches your heart, you will be in love forever. I write this as I'm booking my ticket for another two month's time, leaving in two weeks.


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Posts in this topic
sharon1306   Southern India Starter Kit   Jun 16 2007, 06:26 AM
whereshegoes   Great to meet you Sharon! Thank you for volunt...   Jun 22 2007, 08:43 PM
sharon1306   I can understand why you would feel a little nervo...   Jun 23 2007, 07:12 AM
whereshegoes   Hi Sharon THank you so much for the quick respons...   Jun 26 2007, 12:08 AM
wakingdream   Whoa. It better be a damn good spa! :P I ch...   Jul 1 2007, 08:21 AM
sharon1306   Whoa. It better be a damn good spa! :P ...   Jul 2 2007, 06:20 AM
sharon1306   Hi Carmella, Sorry for the delay in response, I w...   Jul 2 2007, 06:15 AM
whereshegoes   Hi Sharon Thankyou! You know, just talking to...   Jul 2 2007, 07:36 AM
sharon1306   Hi Sharon Thankyou! You know, just talking t...   Jul 6 2007, 06:37 AM
whereshegoes   Hi Sharon, At the moment I am practicing Bikram (...   Jul 13 2007, 05:50 AM
sharon1306   Hi Sharon, At the moment I am practicing Bikram ...   Jul 18 2007, 08:01 AM
fourloves   Hi Sharon, Looks like you're the proud helper...   Sep 14 2007, 08:08 PM
sharon1306   Hi Mack, Just saw your post:) Been recovering fro...   Sep 19 2007, 07:49 AM
lauraexplorer   I have heard so many things about travelling Ind...   Oct 4 2007, 04:11 AM
roseyben   [quote name='whereshegoes' post='28933' date='Jun...   Oct 13 2007, 09:38 PM
lighthouse   :hyper: Greetings Sharon: I've been ask to com...   Oct 13 2007, 07:26 PM
lauraexplorer   [quote name='lauraexplorer' post='34375' date='Oc...   Oct 14 2007, 05:16 AM
effie123   Hi, My name is Becki, Iím 25 and from London. Ií...   Jan 10 2008, 03:18 PM
sharon1306   Hi, My name is Becki, Iím 25 and from London. I...   Jan 17 2008, 06:45 AM
effie123   Money. Depends on how much on a budget you are, I ...   Jan 17 2008, 07:55 AM
sharon1306   Hi, How much is your budget for accommodation per...   Jan 17 2008, 07:58 AM
effie123   Hi, How much is your budget for accommodation pe...   Feb 6 2008, 07:09 AM
cindib   I am hoping you'll give me some elementary ti...   Jan 13 2008, 04:34 PM
effie123   I am hoping you'll give me some elementary t...   Jan 16 2008, 04:54 PM
sharon1306   Hi Cindi, Great to hear you are headed to India. ...   Jan 17 2008, 06:59 AM
starlagurl   What do the other people in your group say?   Jan 14 2008, 10:57 AM
bloomer   You can definitely find lodging in Delhi for 3 pou...   Feb 7 2008, 08:00 AM
tiag   Hello Sharon, I will be studying and the Universi...   Mar 21 2009, 12:37 PM
c.i.222   :sorcerer: Sharon Dias says: Just want to quick...   Feb 17 2010, 01:39 PM


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