Car, Train or plane from Delhi to Agra

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May 17th, 2009, 11:27 AM
  #1
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Car, Train or plane from Delhi to Agra

My husband has a business meeting in Mumbai the first week of June and I've been invited to go along. We are leaving on May 27th for Delhi, Agra, Kerala and Mumbai. We arrive in Delhi at 12:30 A.M. on Friday the 29th. We want to go to Agra later that day, spend the night and see the Taj Mahal early Sat. morning and then back to Delhi that afternoon for 2 nights before flying to Kerala for 2 days and ending up in Mumbai.

A business associate from India has offered to arrange a car and driver in Delhi to take us to Agra and back and says the trains are not the best way to go. I would prefer not to ride another 4 1/2 hours after that long flight the day before and would appreciate some feedback on train travel or should we fly to Agra? He says the driver and car will cost us approx. $300, but I'm not sure that is a necessary expense, especially if he's not acting as our tour guide.

Also, we've narrowed our hotel in Delhi to The Imperial, Oberoi or Shangri La, any comments? I considered the Trident Gurgaon but feel we should leave our bags at our hotel while we go to Agra and I'm not sure of the location of the Trident for the 2 days we will be playing tourist in Delhi.

We will be doing a backwater cruise for 2 nights in Kerala at the encouragement of our friend, however I read in a forum that one night on the boat is sufficient. Has anyone done this type of cruise and can provide feedback?

We appreciate any comments and suggestions you may have, so we can finalize these reservations and itinerary soon. Thanks so much.
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May 17th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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For loads of info on train travel in India see seat61.com/India.htm . For schedules see www.indianrail.gov.in . A lot of people do the Taj as a day trip from Delhi, using the Shatabdi Express trains. If you can spare more time a car and driver from Agra could take you to Fatehpur Sikri and the Bharatpur bird park.

Riding an Indian train is an experience you shouldn't miss, and will be a lot cheaper than $300.
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May 17th, 2009, 07:53 PM
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Well, let’s first clarify your arrival date, as you indicate that you arrive at “12:30 am on Friday the 29th”. To me, this means just past midnight early Friday morning. The reason that I want to clarity this is that the Taj is closed on Fridays, so if you are planning to go down to Agra on Friday morning after your arrive, then you would be disappointed to find the Taj closed. If you mean that you arrive early Saturday morning, May 30, then you should be OK.

I assume you are arriving in Delhi from your international flight, and not after a week in Mumbai, which is why you believe you will be tired. Therefore, my first suggestion is that you reverse your itin and see Delhi first, so you relax a bit after the flight, and then go to Agra after that. With a 12:30 am arrival, by the time you get through Immigraiton and get bags and get to your hotel, it will easily be 2 am or a bit later. I don’t think you want to get on a 6 am train, or into a car at 8 am for a 4 hour drive in the heat (even an air con car). I know I would not.

As far as going to Agra, I don’t know why your colleague in Mumbai would tell you that trains are not the way to go. The early morning Shatabdi Express is certainly a good way to go down, has a good on-time record and will save you about 2 hours over the car journey. I would say that his cost estimate for the car with driver is correct, and this driver will not be a guide, just a driver for getting there and back. It’s not cheap going to Agra for an overnight. First class on the Shatadbi is about US$30 round trip. If you take the train, you can arrange for a hotel car to collect you at the station in Agra. In Agra overnight I would stay at the Agravilas (as your budget seems to be good), so you can walk to the Taj and also walk around the old town areas near by to it, and you can then hire bicycle rickshaws as you want for the day.

I certainly would try to make time to get out to Fatephur Sikri, about an hour outside Agra, which is the well-preserved ancient capital. You could do that during mid-day or late afternoon, but do watch the heat (see below).

For Delhi hotels, I love both the Imperial and the Oberoi, the Shangri-La gets good reviews; I have only been in the restaurants, but seems quite nice. The Imperial is a great location as you can walk to many things, which is also to be said of the Shangri-La. The Obeori has wonderful service and some good views from its rooms (ask for golf course side) and a great spa. Note that there is a new Aman which just opened about next door to the Oberoi, might be worth looking into. The Oberoi is better located for getting to Nizamuddin station, so if any of your Agra trains go into or out of that station, that would be a consideration. (The Shatadbi from New Delhi station). The Trident is a great hotel but you are correct that it is not well-located for sightseeing in Delhi.

For the houseboat, I actually would prefer more than 1 night so you can really get into some of the more remote backwaters, but I can see that many people would find one night to be sufficient. But I love boats, and can float forever and watch all the life going on on the riverbanks. But it will be quite hot for you at that time, and the boats do not have air con, so one night may be enough in the hot weather.

Another thought is to save Kerala for the end of the trip, assuming you plan to go to Mumbai for the week in any event. You may find flight schedules to work better from Mumbai for getting down south, and you also can have a little vacation at the end of a week in Mumbai (when you will want one for sure.) If you are planning on spending a week in Mumbai, you might want to look into whether you want to take any side trips by yourself, esp to someplace like the Ejanta/Alora caves. Mumbai would not be a place I would recco for a tourist to spend a whole week. There are some things to see, and some great shopping, but lots and lots of traffic and its quite hectic. Where are you staying in Mumbai? Another thought is to do the entire vacation at the end of the week in Mumbai, but then you may be running into monsoon rains at that point, it’s a toss up.

I assume that you know that June is he hottest month in India, esp north India as it is just baking in the sun waiting for the monsoon. As you seem to have a quite light schedule there, you should be OK, but really temps will be over 95 F every day and over 100 and 105/110 F on many if not most days. I live in Asia and like heat, but cannot express to you how hot that is. Bring an umbrella for the sun, a hat and drink lots of water. Go out early in the day and try to spend the hottest parts of the afternoon either inside museums which are air conditioned or at your hotel (even poolside is not much of a relief really in my experience). If the rains come early, you might have a good bit of rain too, which would be a relief of sorts of course.
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May 18th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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Hi, we stayed at the new Aman Delhi on April 25th, unfortunately for only one night--the place is fantastic! We were in India for 2 months and passed through Delhi several times, staying at the Taj (which was OK). Then we met the manager from the Aman hotel and he convinced us to spend our last night with him--although certainly pricey, it is the most amazing place.

We also took a train from Delhi to Agra--our group was 4 adults and 7 children, and we caught a train at about 11am, which took about 2 hours. Train was a big hit with the kids and made a nice change from driving. I suppose a car gives you more flexibility, as you are trying to fit a lot into a short time, but there are various trains going back and forth all day as well. Booking trains is also very easy and can be done on-line.

Mumbai is my favorite city. We stayed at the Four Seasons for 6 nights, which had fantastic rooms and facilities, but is in a slightly awkward location. I would recommend staying down in Colaba, but not at the Taj (we stayed there 3 nights and the rooms are disappointing, since the Palace section is still closed for repairs)--maybe the Intercontinental, which is in a lovely position on Marine Drive and doesn't look overly huge. It's true that there isn't much in the way of museums or tourist attractions in Mumbai itself--we spent so much time there because of relatives.

We took our 4 kids to Ajanta and Ellora, which I had visited 35 years ago. The flight from Mumbai was short and easy (we found flying domestically in India very pleasant; many new airports, easy check-in, not crowded, good air fares) and I was pleased that the kids appreciated the caves. My memory was that Ellora was the more impressive of the 2, but this time I definitely preferred Ajanta! Could be due to the lesser crowds--Ajanta is a 2-hour drive from Aurangabad, while Ellora is only 45-minutes. We devoted a day to each place, but if you are willing to take the heat you can do both in the same day.

Hope you have a great visit!
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May 18th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Definitely the train. Very comfortable, food included, fast, clean. Take the 6:15 AM, Shahtabdi Express.
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May 18th, 2009, 02:16 PM
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Wow, thanks so much for all the information.

Cicerone, We are indeed arriving just after midnight on Friday morning after 20 plus hours of travel. I like your idea of switching our itinerary and staying in Delhi for a day or so before going to Agra. I did know that the Taj is closed on Fridays and just figured we would do Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort one day and the Taj the next. We hadn't considered the bird park, but will look into it. We will definitely stay at Agravilas and take the train. It will be a great experience. Thanks for the link thrusdaysd.

I had seen the Aman Resort mentioned in previous posts, but will now add it to our list, thanks.

As far as Kerala, unfortunately, we need to go there before Mumbai due to the scheduled business meetings for 3 days, then we are leaving for Hong Kong for another week (part business/mostly pleasure). I am hoping to take some side trips while my husband is working, but those and the hotel are being arranged without our input. I'll suggest the Ejanta/Alora caves and hopefully will get there.

Our friend has suggested The Paul as our hotel in Kerala and is leaving the accomodations (which include the houseboat option) up to us. We'll look closer at that property and what the various room options include, keeping in mind your suggestion for 2 days on the boat. I too wish it were after Mumbai.

We are aware that it will be HOT in June, but we didn't choose the dates, they chose us. I've purchased light weight linen and cotton to wear and have my hat and umbrella packed too. I grew up in Las Vegas and am used to hot, but "it's a dry heat" and so different from humid heat. We'll take it slow, Thanks for the warning.

Any suggestions for a hotel in Hong Kong for 3 nights? We will be sailing with friends for 2 days and going to Macao for 1 day, the other 3 days are up to us and we haven't had any time to research it.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and input. It is truly appreciated.
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May 18th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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I'm not sure exactly where the Paul is, but it looks like it's on the water. If you've just spent time on a houseboat, you might like to stay in Kochi instead. I haven't been there in several years, but I loved the Malabar House in Kochi - www.malabarhouse.com . I did two nights on a houseboat, but since it didn't have electricity it was decidedly hot when we parked at night. I think some of them now have electricity - you might want to check. I was ready for a rest, but otherwise, although the backwaters were fascinating, one night would probably have been enough.
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May 18th, 2009, 02:40 PM
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i simply can't imagine going to agra for one nite after having just come off a long flight.... but i also understand time constraints....any chance to do delhi first and travel to agra at the end?

the drive would kill you for that short time...
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May 18th, 2009, 03:25 PM
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Houseboats in the Kerala backwaters now have AC and electricity, if you want to overnight. We were there about 3 years back.

For us one night was more than enough...think of the luxurious houseboat as a wonderful overnight camp out...then it's fine. The best part, of course, is the ambiance in late evening including the sunset, and observing the village come to life in the early morning. Enchanting. Definetely, do an overnight.

Ajanta and Ellora are wonderful caves to add to your schedule...well worth it.
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May 18th, 2009, 03:38 PM
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We really liked Ajanta and Ellora but it was already quite hot in mid-February. There's a lot of walking in Ajanta and I can't imagine going there when it's really hot.
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May 18th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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I don't think I'd try to do Ajanta and Ellora on the same day, especially in the summer heat. I preferred Ellora, and you certainly shouldn't miss the Kailasanatha temple, carved down into the rock. It was hard to see the paintings at Ajanta when I was there, but the site is certainly more impressive than Ellora.
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May 18th, 2009, 08:43 PM
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LLeary, if you have to include Kerala on the first leg, I think you may have to go to Agra first as you originally planned, as I believe that your only flight option from Delhi down to Kerala are the early morning flights on either Kingfisher or Jet Airways to Trivandrum. As those flights depart between 7:30- 10 am, you won’t be able to get up from Agra on the same day by train or even car. (I would not drive that road in the dark.) If you have some other flight arrangement or are going elsewhere in Kerala, let me know, but Trivandrum is the major airport and I am assuming that is where you are going.

I therefore think you may have to go back to your original plan of going down to Agra on Friday and then seeing the Taj on Saturday and going up to Delhi on Saturday afternoon or evening. This only gives you one day in Delhi, which really is quite short and IMO may not really be worth it, but that is up to you. You may just want to stay down in Agra until mid-day or later on Sunday, then take a train up and stay at the Trident near the airport overnight. This might give you more time to just relax at the hotel in Agra. (You could also then stay at the Trident on your first night and leave you larger bags there. It’s about an hour into Delhi train station from there, but if you are taking the 6 am Shabtabdi you won’t have any traffic when leaving that early in the morning.) Note that there are other fast trains to Agra, for example the Taj Express departs at 7 am, and there are some like the Kerala Express that leave at 11:30 am; these all take about 3 hours versus the 2 hours which the Shabtadi takes, but may be more attractive to you with such a late night arrival the night before. See http://www.indianrail.gov.in/ for schedules. You want to arrive at Agra Cantonment station, often abbreviated Agra Cantt. You can depart from New Delhi station or Nizamuddin station.

I suppose another way to do this would be to stay in Delhi for Friday and Saturday and take an early evening train down to Agra on Satruday, stay overnight and spend the day Sunday in Agra (see sunrise at the Taj and possibly sunset) and then take an evening tain back to Delhi on Sunday. This would be feasible if a little rushed in Agra, but also just gives you 2 days in Delhi, including a first day when you will have arrived rather late, which is a bit rushed also. A good bit of running around, but possible if you wanted to do it. You would also miss seeing the countryside by train as the trips would be in darkness, which is part of the attraction of the trip to me. I know everyone who goes to India feels compelled to go to see the Taj Mahal, but due to the location of Agra, this often means other things have to be sacrficied, in your case it may be time in Delhi. Unless you can add more time to the trip.

The Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and the bird park in one day in the cold season would be a bit too much for me, and I can’t imagine doing it in the hot, but see how you react and be flexible with your schedule. In the dry season at the bird park, you may not see as much as in the wetter/cooler seasons.

With regard to the houseboat, yes I suppose some would come with air con, had not thought about that really, but you have to look over boats carefully to see what you like. Again, just leave some room for flexibility on this one, perhaps even while you are ON the boat you could decide if you want another night or not. You are there in the low season and you may not need to commit to confirmed bookings, so can take advantage of that. Note that the Oberoi has their own boat that plys these waters, but it is not a traditional converted wooden boat and may not be what you are looking for, see http://www.oberoivrinda.com/Hotel/Hotel-Overview.aspx. I have not been on it. I think you have to commit to a minimum 3-night journey.

With regard to the hotel in Kerala, I believe your friend is referring to the Kumarakom Lake Resort which is run by the Paul group. I know that hotel. There is lots of hyperbole as you can tell from the website. I would say that the level of luxury on their website is a bit exaggerated, but it is a very comfortable hotel. The belong to Small Luxury Hotels which is generally a pretty good sign. The group which owns and operates them are not one of the prime local hotel operators in India (of which Oberoi is the leader, with the Taj group running a few good ones and then some very average ones, and Leela operating a few very good ones and some average ones. The Imperial is truly a one-off boutique hotel owned by a family who has no other hotels.) But Kerala is not nearly as developed as other places and India overall is not nearly as developed as far as hotels go. See if there are any reviews for the hotel on tripadvisor.com. The above suggestion of staying Kochi is a good one also, and the Malabar has been recommend here by others and I believe is also recommended by http://sawdays.co.uk/, which I find to be useful (click on the book for India). You can also buy the book, Special Places to Stay India, but the website will give you a very long list of hotels to start with. I think there is a hotel called the Boathouse that might be worth looking at too.

For Mumbai, I am going to assume that they will arrange day tours for you like the dhobi ghat, the hanging gardens, the thieves market/Crawford market, the house where Gandhi lived briefly, a drive alone Marine Drive, perhaps a Parsi temple. All perfectly fine and interesting. The Prince of Wales Museum (the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) is quite good if you want to do something on your own.

For hotels in Hong Kong, I actually live in Hong Kong, and have some views on the subject. If your friends have suggestions, I would certainly consider those, esp. if ease of getting to wherever you are sailing from would be something they think is important. (I can’t imagine it is, as Hong Kong is quite small and has excellent public transport and inexpensive taxis.) Otherwise, the perennial debate is over whether to say on Hong Kong Island side versus Kowloon side. Here is my two cents on the subject: when you see a picture of Hong Kong it is invariably taken from the Kowloon side and is that wonderful shot of the harbour, the tall buildings on Hong Kong Island with the backdrop of the mountains behind the buildings. There is no doubt that that view is spectacular, both day and night. However, very few people actually have that view from their Kowloon hotel. Most people have a view of the office building 50 feet from their window, or of an air shaft.

In addition, you are going to do most of your sightseeing, most of your shopping and, if you want good food, most of your eating on the Hong Kong side. The Hong Kong side has the Peak and the Peak Tram, Central, Stanley, Aberdeen, Wan Chai (i.e. Suzie Wong but now upscale restaurants and good street markets), the Hollywood Road antique area, some very colourful local street markets, and the bar and restaurant areas of Lan Kwai Fong, Soho, Hollywood Road and Star Street. There are also some spectacular and easily-accessible walks, including several from the Peak and in the Stanley area. The Kowloon side has the View, the bird market, the flower market, the Hong Kong History Museum, a tiny handful of good restaurants and tons of mediocre touristy ones. However, those attractions are no reason to stay on the Kowloon side, as you can easily get over by the very scenic and pleasant Star Ferry. So what it comes down to for me would be this: if you don’t have or don’t want to pay for a harbour view room on the Kowloon side, then I would stay on the Hong Kong side. I would then go over to Kowloon for a meal at night at one of the harbour view restaurants, or during the day for a walk along the Esplanade, a visit to the Jade Market or Flower Market, and a visit to a temple or two (but plenty of temples on the Hong Kong side too).

As your budget seems to be good, for the moment I will just suggest 5 star hotels. If you want others, let me know. Try the Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons or the Intercontinental. Really could not go wrong with any of those if you are willing to spend the money. The Penn and IC have The View, the Four Seasons has some very decent ones and is well located, the Mandarin has history, service and the best location (try for a harbour or Chater Garden side room for a bit of a view). Also try the Mandarin Landmark, which is a block or two inland behind the Mandarin Oriental in Central on Hong Kong Island. Rooms are very nice, no views at all, but IMO the location is excellent. Take a look at mandarin-oriental.com. (They also operate the Excelsior which is significantly cheaper, it’s their 3-4 star, however the location is in Causeway Bay, I am not a huge fan of staying there. But take a look. This would be a very good location if being near the Hong Kong Yacht Club is important, it’s walkable.) The complex of the JW Marriott, Island Shangri-La and Conrad at Pacific Place a few blocks east of Central is also worth looking at, a quick walk to the Peak Tram, on an MTR line, tram line and major bus line, walkable to some great restaurants in Wan Chai. I don’t like the location of the Grand Hyatt and would not recco it, too isolated. There are several Marco Polo hotels near the Star Ferry pier on the Kowloon side, in a shopping mall called Ocean Terminal/Harbour City, I think they vary in quality and price, but take a look at http://www.marcopolohotels.com/index.html. All are OK in terms of walking to the Star Ferry etc. Views I think would be a bit obscured, may be more of the container port area and any docked cruise ships, I am not sure it is worth paying for a view from the Marco Polo hotels. Other than hotels on the tip of Kowloon like the Penn, the Intercontinental, the Marco Polos and the Sheraton on Nathan Road (starwood.com), I really am not a fan of staying of paying for a luxury hotel for Kowloon side, i.e. the Langham hotels. One other place to consider is Hotel LKF. It has a good location in the heart of the bar/restaurant district and Hollywood Road area, and is about 5 minute walk from the main area of Central, about 10 minutes to the Star Ferry. It is quite funky and modern. Views would be good, not great, but interesting city and some harbour because it is such a tall tower. It is next door a funky restaurant and dim sum place called Dragon-I and several of my other favorite Hong Kong restaurants are with yards or close walking distance. I’d say its more of a good boutique hotel than perhaps a true luxury hotel in the same class of a Mandarin or Four Seasons. Take a look at http://www.hotel-lkf.com.hk/. Please avoid the W, as the location is quite awkward (no pedestrian access at all) and their views are almost completely blocked by the office building in front of it.
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May 18th, 2009, 10:15 PM
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In terms of your hotel in Delhi I can higly recomend the Imperial. Lovely hotel, the finest rooms, service and meals. I am going back there around the same time as you and also investigating Agra. Thanks
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May 19th, 2009, 05:42 AM
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We have decided on the Imperial in Delhi and Amarvilas in Agra. We'll go to Agra on Sat afternoon and back Sunday evening. Thanks for the input on the boat situation in Kerala. I think I'll call the hotel and discuss our options directly.
Thanks for all the information on Hong Kong and hotel suggestions. I've really got my work cut out for me today.

SHOTS???? Where can I find out what shots are necessary/required for this itinerary? My husband said several; Yellow Fevor, Hepatitis, Malaria, etc. are suggested, but don't appear to be required. The travel clinic has a long list of shots they want to give us and his travel office is not much help either.

Gifts??? Is there anything in particular we should take to give as gifts/trinkets to our guides, drivers, etc.

Thanks again for all your help.
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May 19th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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Hi LLeary:

The Imperial? I checked out after three hours having been poisoned by the reek of aromatic oils. If you're very lucky they'll place one of those spa burners right outside your room. Ask for Room 312 for the full effect. There's even a secret electric pong machine in your bedside drawer. My clothes stank of the place for days. I even paid full rates for the privelage of escaping. THAT'S how much it bothered me. You'll find out what I mean, within about ten seconds of checking in. Everybody else, of course, thinks it's wonderful.

Shots? Have you considered not having any at all? Or will you feel more comfortable pumping your body full of toxic, unnecessary chemicals a week before you travel? Looking at your itinerary, I'd suggest your chances of contracting certain death are quite small. Minute, actually.

I will, of course, be howled down for even suggesting this. But I am Australian. The pharmaceutical fear industry isn't as active there.

Gifts? I want to be there to see the look on your driver's face when you present him with a gift instead of a tip. I think you should try it. You might learn some interesting Hindi swear words. It's time to break the cycle.

Tips? Just don't. Not in your hotels, anyway. It won't make a jot of difference to the level of service you'll encounter. You've already paid for the grovel. I'll probably be howled down for suggesting this, too.

Why not save up all your tips and give the lump sum to someone with no legs living in a rubbish tip? Just stop the car, leap out and be an angel from Heaven. Then go. I want to be there to see the look on THEIR face, too.

Well, actually, I've seen that look. It's better than the Taj Mahal.

You'll have a great time... I'm sure the India you expect to find will be delivered to you. If you're lucky, some of all the OTHER India's will be revealed as well. I hope you write a trip report. cheers
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May 19th, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Just re-reading this I realise I sound a bit snitty and sarcastic. It's not my intention. We Australians call a spade a shovel. I'm not trying to offend or cast any judgement at all. Not remotely, believe me. I just shoot from the hip.

I think you'll love India. Well, I damn well hope so. You deserve to.

So just imagine all the above is delivered with a smile and not a snarl, eh?
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May 19th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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Health issues: take a look at www.cdc.gov/travel.

If your travel med clinic is recommending immunization other than those recommended by the cdc, I'd be cautious.

Unless you are arriving from a yellow fever endemic area, there is no need for a yellow fever shot. There is no yallow fever in Asia.

You might find a couple of posts about travel immunizations on my blog to be helpful: www.travelindependently.com
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May 19th, 2009, 07:31 PM
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A Yellow Fever shot for India is quite unnecessary. There are only a handful of countries which have Yellow Fever risk and these are only in South America and Africa. If Yellow Fever for India was recommended by a doctor or health clinic, please find another doctor or clinic quickly who actually knows their tropical medicine. See something like the World Health Orgnization at http://www.who.int/ith/en/ for some accurate information on Yellow Fever and travel health. As your trip is in June, it’s probably too late for you to start any Hepatitis series shots (which you should have as a normal adult in any event no matter where you live, see something like the Center for Disease Control’s list of routine immunizations for adults at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/sch...-schedule.htm; also see their travel health pages). Please get an updated Tetanus which you should have anyway, I would also get an Polio booster (again, something any adult should have.) But I would not worry overly about any shots in any event for a trip to India, IMO the health “risks” there are quite overblown. I travel to India frequently and do not take Malaria meds, but it’s quite a personal decision and you have to be comfortable with what you decide. You are staying in good hotels with air con so encountering mosquitoes at night while sleeping (when they are most active) will not really be an issue for you. (Dogster, I wonder if that is what you are referring to as being the gizmo in your room at the Imperial, many hotels have electric mosquito coils.) You will be on a houseboat in Kerala which might be your only issue, but even Kerala from what I understand is not considered a Malarial area, or is a low risk area, see the Scottish NHS which has a very useful travel health website at http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/home.aspx (see esp their Malaria page). The UK of course has been dealing with tropical diseases, and with tropical diseases in India, for centuries and so is pretty good at it, so I find their information more helpful than other websites.

I would generally agree that merely tipping guides and drivers is all that is necessary, but if you want to present a gift as well that is fine. You might consider music CDs of your favourite music, esp for drivers. These are easy to carry, and CDs can be expensive and some US titles can’t be found in India. DVDs of movies would work, but there is a language issue, but things like old MGM musicals might be good, more music and dance than actual dialogue, and sort of our version of the typical Bollywood musical. (If you can find any with Hindu as a subtitle option, so much the better.) Otherwise things like key chains with your city or state flower or other emblem (if there is such a thing, i.e. Empire State Building for NYC or Obama key chains I am certain would be welcomed) might be good. Food items can work but can be hard to bring along with you, but jams or jellies are an example. Unlike China, there are almost no bad luck gifts for Indians (other than pork or leather products for Muslims and Hindus respectively). Premium brand whiskey is almost universally appreciated (some Muslims do not drink of course) but again hard to bring with you.

Dogster, you sound like Peter N-H discoursing as an “expert” on China, which is of course the ultimate insult I can think to make to someone. Are you about to publish a guidebook on India that we don’t know about? I’d smack you on the head with a rolled-up newspaper if I could.
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May 20th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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lol lol Cicerone. The ultimate insult indeed! Smack away.

No, no guidebooks in the pipeline - unless it's 'The Idiot's Guide To India'. I could certainly write a chapter or two for that. You probably haven't wasted your time reading my copious reports on the subcontinent but I think it's fair to say the subtext of all of them is 'Dont Do what Dogster Does.'

I'm an expert on getting myself in - and out of - bizarre situations in India, that's about all - but, over three long trips, I have spent seven of the last fourteen months there. Add in Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Kathmandu - nearly nine months in the subcontinent.

Just let me know when I'm qualified to comment...

I'll try not to sound lofty in future. God help me if I end up on Cicerone's hit list.
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