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Help Us Decide: Three Choices for First Trip to the East

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Jan 26th, 2009, 07:36 PM
  #1
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Help Us Decide: Three Choices for First Trip to the East

Hey guys! I'm cross-posting this in the forums of each country my husband and I are trying to choose between for our first visit to Asia (only ever done Europe and North America).

To start, here's a little about us: Young (ages 26 and 35) married couple, he has a degree in anthropology and I minored in it. For our vacations we are most interested in culture, history, and beautiful/unique landscapes.

The following are three trips we are trying to choose between for our first venture to Asia. Beside them, I have listed our concerns as to why we are unsure about choosing one over the other.

Option 1. Turkey and Jordan combo tour: We worry that Turkey might be too similar to what we've seen in Mediterranean Europe (namely Italy) already.

Option 2. Bhutan and Nepal combo tour: Concerned about safety of flights within the countries and doubt about our physical ability (fit my American standards only -- not athletes) when it comes to seeing things like the Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan.

Option 3. India. Concern that the sensory assault (smells, poverty, stomach issues) will severely impede our enjoyment -- even though this was my area of interest for my anth. minor. We are also concerned about picking up something nasty like leishmanaiasis (sp). The hassle and cost of vaccinations.

So, for those of you who've been to one or more of these places, what do you say for our first trip to Asia? Feel free to add pros and cons or dispel unrealistic concerns. Thanks so much!
Rachellia is offline  
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Jan 27th, 2009, 01:25 AM
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Culture/history etc etc., can't beat India, can you?

I think you are being too paranoid. You'll be fine!
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Jan 27th, 2009, 01:36 AM
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Isn't leishmaniasis carried by the sandfly? Shouldn't be something you encounter as a regular tourist, I would imagine. And I've never heard of anyone catching this on holiday. Actually, I've never heard of any of my family living in different parts of India suffering from this either!

I agree with Hari, sometimes a little information is more dangerous than a lot and you've scared yourself paranoid!

More relevant to a regular traveller are malaria and gastric problems, both of which you can guard against. For the former, make sure you take prophylactics if in malaria areas. For the latter, you can carry prescription drugs from your doctor, something like cipro, see what he/she recommends.

India is an incredibly exciting place to visit and the assault of the senses is one of the wonderful things about it. Yes, the poverty can be difficult to deal with but this is the reality of the world, and there is much of great wonder to see as well.

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Jan 27th, 2009, 05:27 AM
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Turkey also has sites (and sights!) that are unique. Cappadocia, with the cave cities and cave churches; Mt Nemrut, with huge statue heads on top of a mountain; And even though I'm sure you have seen Roman ruins in Europe, Ephesus is outstanding in that you can get the impression of the entire ancient city, rather than just individual buildings.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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By the way, regarding Jordan: I was blown away by both Petra and Jerash BUT we learned very little about the peoples behind both. If you do go to Jordan, I would recommend either booking a top quality guide, one specialising in anthropological history as well as archeology and/ or working through relevant reading materials in advance.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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#1 - the Romans were everywhere, as far north as Hadrian's Wall in England and all along the North African coast*... and then way out east thru Turkey. I never get tired of these ruins, that we've gotten to the point of jokingly referring to them as ABR's (another bloody ruin) and still fascinating.

*many of what most consider Phaoronic Egypt is actually very much Roman.

All three destinations are so very different and unique, choosing can be difficult, so I can't help there. Have only been to Turkey and Jordan. However, if I might add to other comments, some of your fears are misplaced. Of course, you should always be aware, but many of your concerns can just as easily happen in your home country.

Regardless the country/destination and how good the guide/s, I never leave home without having purchased a detailed guidebook. Great also for in-depth discussion with your guide/s.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 02:25 PM
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I'll muddy the water by offering several other possibilities. First, my travel background in the countries you mention: I've been to Istanbul, but no where else in Turkey; I have not been in Jordan. I have been in Nepal a number of times, but never to Bhutan (although I have seriously investigated traveling there); I have been to India so many times in the last forty years that I can't keep track of all my trips.

From your self-description, Bhutan and most of India might not be good vacation destinations for you. Nepal would be a good choice. Go not only to Kathmandu, but places like Pokhara and maybe Chitwan National Park. As a historian, I enjoyed Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, but you might not be so inclined. If you want to see more than Nepal, why not throw in western India? You'll probably fly in and out of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi enroute to Kathmandu. You could just as easily fly to Jaipur, Udaipur, and other places out around the Thar Desert. The culture shock would be less than in many Indian locations, but you would still get a good idea of Indian life.

Now, I'm really going off the deep-end and suggesting that, for your first visit to Asia, you don't go to any of the places you mentioned. Instead, go to Thailand! There is lots of everything you mentioned and you'll have a good time. ZZ
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Jan 27th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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>>go to Thailand! There is lots of everything you mentioned and you'll have a good time.<<

I'd second that and the prices can be very attractive.

You can even pop over to Cambodia, Siem Reap for Angkor Wat (and other temples)... even into Burma. Just be prepared for the heat and humidity!
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Jan 27th, 2009, 08:47 PM
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Re: Zambezi.

Well, we are certain that we do want to go to India (and also Bhutan for the well-preserved Buddhist culture) at some point, but I just don't want to be so unprepared for those things that we're unable to see all the fascinates us about the country (namely the history, the culture, etc.).

I wondered if travel to only slightly more adventurous (compared to Europe) places first might better prepare us for when we do take on India. Or, I wonder if some of the travel blogs I've read about India exaggerate and it's not going to be as alarming as I've read (people dying in the streets, open sewage everywhere, 24/7 badgering by someone trying to sell you something...I fear that dealing with that constantly might be overwhelming, even though neither of us are particularly delicate people). I've met just as many people who loathed India as loved it, and I'd hate to feel the former about a country I've learned so much about and love so much in theory.

I'm fairly bored by Europe, I don't feel out of my element (which I like), things are too familiar (which was a concern with Turkey), nothing appears wondrous and alien...plus I just have a voracious hunger to see and experience as much of the world as possible.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 09:16 PM
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India is different - unfortunately, it's the picture portrayed on Tv and the movies that all of India is that ........ not true at all.

Research more on the parts of India you wish to go to and focus on what might or might not appeal to you. India is a vast and diverse country - and not all of it meets the stereo-type portrayed by the media or in the movies.

You can see and stay in palaces and 7 star hotels just as much as you are likely to encounter the other side of things.......
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Jan 28th, 2009, 01:46 AM
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What Hari said...

If you DO want to go to more places in Europe, how about somewhere like Tallinn? We ventured outside of the little jewel of a medieval centre into the stark Stalinist suburbs.

Or Berlin, that's somewhere I'm looking forward to visiting. 20th C history has always been of particular interest to me.

St Petersburg (perhaps combined with Moscow) has plenty of history and an interesting culture.

Italy is full of historic cities whether you're looking at the big cities such as Rome, Venice, Florence or areas such as the Neapolitan Riviera (offering Naples, Pompeii and many beautiful smaller towns along the coast).

Andalucia in Spain offers a cultural and historical experience too, not to mention some great food!

If you want something more exotic and yet not as overwhelming as India, you could look into Morocco. Marrakesh is fascinating but very used to visitors. Fez is slightly less touristy. Both are fascinating.

Funchal in Madeira is somewhere I've enjoyed. Historic, certainly, also relaxed, genteel, very beautiful and the island is great for walkers and nature lovers too.

Other European destinations on my list include Gdansk, Warsaw and Wroclaw in Poland, Bratislava in Slovakia, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Zagreb and Dubrovnik in Croatia...
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