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Leaving Wednesday - last minute India tips?

Leaving Wednesday - last minute India tips?

Old Nov 28th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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One small addition to the great advice here. If you buy cotton shirts for souvenirs for the men back home, buy extremely large. I bought three that looked pretty big but none fit the men in our family--none of whom are heavy, but they are tall and have muscles. These shirts all had very slim sleeves and they couldn't even get them on! However, the girls made out great--with shawl, kaftans, jewelry, more jewelry, punjabis, etc.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 02:54 AM
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Oh wow - what great advice. Thanks so much. I'm heading off to work so just skimmed this, but will enjoy it more fully this evening!
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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Cicerone, I checked out the shawls on the website you provided - they are gorgeous. I will definitely be bringing home a few of them as gifts (and one for myself, as well!).

The cultural activities on the trip include a puja ceremony in Orchha, a Bollywood flick in Jaipur, and a traditional dance performance in Khajuraho, so they have some pretty cool (I hope) things lined up for us.

That Scottish website is a little confusing. The map clearly shows northern India as a low risk area, but the text says:
Malaria precautions are essential in all areas below 2000m, all year round. There is very low to no risk in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir and Sikkim, which are at high altitude.

So I don't know. I already have some malarone, but not quite enough to cover the entire trip and 7 days after I return so I think I'll call my doctor tomorrow and see if I can get a reading from him. The US CDC does recommend malaria medication, so it's not quite clear. I'm up to date on all my shots, except rabies.

WRT food, I probably will stick mostly to vegetarian dishes - I like them so it'll be easy to play it safe. And water - yes, I'll stick to bottled (I did buy some purification tablets just in case).

And I always do ask permission to take pictures of people. I used to try to take candid shots several years ago and then I concluded it's not polite, so I don't do it anymore. More often than not, people say yes - sometimes expecting a tip, sometimes not. And I know what you're saying about people maybe wanting pictures of me. That happened to me and my daughter all the time in Egypt. I'm very open to conversations with people - I love the interaction.

One other question I meant to ask earlier. I'm terrified of snakes and am worried about unexpectedly coming upon a snake charmer or somebody handling snakes. How common is that? And will I usually know in advance (before getting too close)?
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 09:04 PM
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Cicerone has given you all the info you need, but I will add a few lines, do not miss visiting and eating at the Rambagh hotel in Jaipur, sit outside in the garden for a cup of tea, the taj hotel group gets their tea especially mixed for them. They also have wonderful vegetarian food and snack. As to gift items, shawls make much better gifts than costume jewelry. The only place we found good costume jewelry in India was at crossroad in Mumbai. Also visit Hot Pink at the Narain Niwas Palace hotel in Jaipur, they have very beautiful souvenir items which you will not find any where else.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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Wow, memories. We were in Fort Cochin and saw a guy playing a flute in front of a bsket and al of a sudden...out came three snakes!!
Not meaning to make you more anxious--the point is, at least in my experience and conversations, it's unlikely you will encounter a hidden snake charmer. They are there to entertain passersby, who will be keeping a sage distance. And unless you are staying in a remote village farm, it's unlikely you'll meet a snake out of the blue.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 11:03 PM
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Love love the Rambagh! On my first visit many years ago, I sat outside one sunny winter afternoon drinking tea and reading <i>A Princess Remembers</i>, which are the memoirs of Gateryi Devi, a former Maharani of Jaipur A good part of her book described here life in the very palace I was sitting in, and she was then living in a house at the bottom of the palace gardens. A ghostly experience. (She sadly died last year at the age of 90.)

Yes, you may see snake charmers outside some tourist sites. They will be sitting on the ground usually with a flute (and usually a mongoose). The snakes are usually in a basket (and I believe usually drugged). You don’t have to get close to them. I would not say there is a huge number of them at any site, maybe 1 or at most 2. You may not even notice them.

On the Malaria, I consult the map rather than the text, as the map spots areas where anti-malarial are advised and where there are not advised. The text is a general statement which would be subject to the specific recocs in the map as far as I see it. The text indicates that it is present in all areas, but the map shows the <i>risk</i> of contracting it within certain areas. The CDC does not get so specific; but remember that it is a US instruction and, for legal liability and other reasons, they tend to err on the very conservative side, as well as the very general side. (For example, they indicate that the water in Singapore and Hong Kong may not be safe to drink from the tap, something which completely mystifies me. Having lived in both for a total of 15 years so far, I don’t know what they are talking about.) The UK tends to be a little more pragmatic in terms of actual risk versus the theoretical, and as the Brits basically invented tropical medicine, I take more comfort from it. You can also look at the quite specific map done by the World Health Organization at http://www.who.int/malaria/publicati...ile_ind_en.pdf. The highest risk is a swath of central India. (I would also encourage you to read the US travel page of the CDC website, where you will see that that Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Histoplasmosis and e-coli infections are considered serious health issues. That may give you an idea of the conservative nature of the CDC. What would you tell someone from the UK who is planning to visit say NYC, New Orleans and New England and had consulted the CDC website?)

In all cases, remember that the statistics are based on the presence of the disease in the <i>total</i> population, and are not broken down by tourist versus native. A good bit of the native population in India is exposed in ways that you as a tourist will never be. You are not sleeping in the open or in houses without windows or screens. You are not living near pools of stagnant water. You are not working in fields or tending animals. You are not barefoot. It is also important to note that you will be there in winter. The few mosquitoes which survived the winter so far are unlikely to be able to get into your room (where windows will be closed). And at dawn and dusk, when Malarial mosquitoes are most active, you are likely to be warmly wrapped up to avoid the chill (or sleeping in your hotel room). The chances of your being exposed to a mosquito, let alone a Malaria-bearing mosquito, are quite low. You are not working in a village and/or living in conditions which would expose you to mosquitoes.

I would be more concerned about Dengue than Malaria to be honest. You need to wear mosquito repellent in any case to avoid Dengue, which again will ward off all mosquitoes.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 01:43 AM
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Blip is adorable! I'm sure he'll have a great time.

My favorite meals in India actually were at a hotel/guesthouse: the Ganges View in Varanasi. Really beautifully done veg meals.

You've received such great advice here from people with loads of experience, but I'd just like to add one thing: be sure to take some time to just...soak in. India is absolutely sensory overload, but some time just sitting at the Taj Mahal overlooking the river (or viewing the Taj from the little road across the river) or being out on a boat in Varanasi helps to balance that a little. (Here's my trip report: you might notice that it was a bit overwhelming! http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...rip-report.cfm)

Have a great trip, you and Blip!
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 03:00 AM
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Amy, thanks for the trip report link - I'll check it out this evening.

And Cicerone, I do agree with you regarding the conservative nature of the CDC and believe the British advice is probably much more pragmatic. I do plan take insect repellent, so I'll be in good stead on that front.

Ah, the additional recommendations and just the idea of soaking it all up sound fantastic. I can't believe I'm really going.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 02:30 PM
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Have a fabulous trip! We're hoping for a trip report.
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