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A month in India as independent travelers

A month in India as independent travelers

Old Feb 19th, 2008, 08:58 PM
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A month in India as independent travelers

My husband and I just returned from a pleasure trip to India. We are 68 and 71 years old and traveled independently for a month. I want to encourage anybody interested in independent travel to India that it is very enjoyable and interesting and surprising and safe. We traveled from New Delhi to Varanasi and then to Khajaraho by Jet Airways. The airline was dependable, efficient and pleasant as were the airports. We rented a car with driver from Khajaraho to Gwallior with an overnight stop in Orchha. Our driver suggested stops in Jansi to see the fort and the amazing headquarters of the Jain religion on the route.

From Gwallior we took first class train to Agra and then a second class train to Jaipur. Both were fun and interesting. You are more likely to have people talk to you in second class. A woman invited us to dinner at her home. The porters at the train station will take care that you get on the correct train and will find your seats for a small charge.

We flew the remainder of the trip from Jaipur to Udaipur to Mumbai to Kochi (stayed in a houseboat and in Fort Cochin) to Bangalore and back to New Delhi for the trip home to Newark.

Everything worked well. We bought our airline tickets over the internet before leaving home. The train tickets and car and driver we arranged in India through the hotels we used.

We reserved the hotels over the internet also. We used three and four star hotels which ranged from very western style to heritage hotels. All were really beautiful, with good food and great locations. My favorite was in Gwallior which was a former palace residence for visitors (Usha Kieran).

The autorickshaw drivers, the cab drivers, and the rental car driver made the trip worthwhile in seeing the country from the view of the local people.

I would never recommend anyone going to India and using a tourist bus as that causes too much distance from the life of the people and a visitor would miss much.

We were never sick, but ate only at our hotel.

I am writing this to encourage others to venture on their own to such an interesting, surprising country.

Also, I would not encourge a woman to travel to India alone. The attitude and behavior towards an unaccompanied woman was surprisng. I had my butt patted on one street corner when my husband was out of sight. (Remember I am 67). Also, whenever met by service people, they immediately fawned over my husband taking his bags, pulling out his chair, opening his door leaving me standing loaded down with bags, etc. It was rather funny and took a little experience before he started ordering the person to help me. I am assuming that it is considered incorrect to speak to a man's woman. Perhaps someone could clarify that behavior.

We had a wonderful trip and grew in our empathy for the Indian people even if we didn't understand all their actions.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 01:54 AM
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Brilliant post, Klam.

I agree absolutely, except for one thing. It is sad that your closing comments advise against women travelling in India alone. This is misleading and may discourage people who otherwise would take the plunge.

With respect, you did NOT travel alone. And really who cares if you get your bum patted or even if you get leered at. It's not serious - just ignore it. India is a man-centric culture. I've spent many hours on trains watching how Indian families interract. The little boy gets all the attention; the little girl is ignored.

That's just how it is (though it will change sure as eggs are eggs).

Meanwhile to any women thinking of visiting India alone and doing their own thing - DO IT.

I have made 3 trips to India (6 months, 10 days, 3 months) travelling independingly and winging it all all times.

There is a big culture shock factor - just take a deep breathe, truck on and within a little while you'll be fine.

If you have already done some non-western travelling, don't be put off. If you haven't, then the OPs comments may be valid.

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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 05:18 AM
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Great to hear that you went on your own Klam! However, I agree with chimani that single women shouldn't stay home - or look for a tour. I spent ten weeks traveling around on my own - almost entirely by train - and aside from getting tired of touts, and of all the bargaining with rickshaw drivers, had no problems. Since I'm now 60 (I was early 50s at the time) I'm delighted to think I can go back and do it again in ten years (if I don't get there sooner).
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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Thanks for the comments and opposite viewpoint on woman travelling alone to India. This is such a great forum for getting balanced ideas and experiences. Any traveler should now be able to judge and know what to expect. I agree that I was never fearful, and I was not traveling alone so perhaps my experience is not as valid as a solo female traveler.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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<i>I had my butt patted on one street corner when my husband was out of sight. (Remember I am 67). </i>

Part of me wants to say &quot;Well go girl! You still have it!&quot;

On the other hand no one should be subjected to inappropriate touching.

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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 03:50 PM
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Wayne, I love your comments. You can read it both ways!

Thanks for the report, Klam. It is encouraging for folks who like to travel indepentdently. Were you locked into a schedule before you left or did you make some changes as you went?
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 10:42 PM
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More on &quot;Eve teasing&quot; in India

I'd probably laugh if I thought the &quot;Eve teasing&quot; (term used in India when men behave inappropriately toward women, ranging from small offenses such as I experienced to major criminal acts) was the result of a lustful excitement upon viewing my presence; alas, this event was to insult me and to show that I could be dominated by any man and could be insulted at will by a man if I dared to roam about. Woman, especially the poor, have a very difficult time. I want to repeat that I was never fearful about my safety.

Since we went to India in high season (Dec.-January) we made our hotel and flight reservations while in the USA over the internet. We found no need to change them. The domestic flights were mostly full so a reservation made after arrival might have been a problem. We could have reserved the hotel rooms after arrival in INdia as needed except for New Years' Eve.
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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We are trying to line up a trip to delhi, Corbett, Haridwar, and Leh in June, but I am not getting answers from the Delhi travel agencies and taxi company that I've been emailing. Could you please give me some contact info. and advice? Do you have a Delhi hotel to recommend?

Thank you,
Ralentina
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