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There and back again: a conflicted (and reimagined) India Trip Report

There and back again: a conflicted (and reimagined) India Trip Report

Jan 28th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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I'd still like to know if you ate lunch with your guides, or did they eat separately with the driver. Thanks!
barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 11:59 PM
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barefoot, we only did twice, I believe...and always for lunch. We certainly tried to get them to join us more but there was definitely an awkwardness about what felt, to them, like 'crossing the line'. guides and drivers everywhere (that i've experiences) usually tend to feel like they're supposed to always leave the client alone--and i think there's an unspoken rule about joining for dinners. but, in a few instances, we really got on with our guides/drivers and insisted they join us for lunches.

curious why you ask...
filmwill is online now  
Jan 29th, 2015, 03:53 PM
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Because in China, we also booked with a local tour operator (China Highlights) and in Beijing, our guide joined us for two lunches and we loved speaking with him. But afterwards, the guides always ate with the drivers after ordering our food for us ( excessive in quantity) despite our invites to join us…and several we had become quite friendly with. Think perhaps they need a break too. In these cases, our lunches were included with the cost of our private tour.

Since they're not included with C& K, then in makes sense that we could specify where we'd like to eat. Was wondering if the reason the guides pick places to eat for lunch that aren't that great is because they have to pay for their own food…I'd like to specify the restaurants now that I've read several reports about the lunch selections being just OK.
barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 05:57 PM
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I think honestly the reason that they choose those restaurants has a lot more to do with the fact that they're "safe" for Westerners. My impression is that their biggest concern was that you would get sick, throw up all night, and then go back and blame the local agency for all your woes.
filmwill is online now  
Jan 29th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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filmwill, I think you're right.
The driver we used the longest seemed quite sincere when he tried hard to steer us away from some restaurants we wanted to go to, saying "They're not good for tourist's stomachs". A couple of them we ended up not going to, but a couple we did, as those ones looked clean to us. I know, one can never tell for sure, but we chanced it. And we never did get sick.
rje is offline  
Jan 30th, 2015, 04:09 AM
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Has anyone gone by the recoms of "Love Jaipur" or "Love Delhi" author Fiona Caulfield? She has written a lovely guidebook series with a very personal touch…..born in Australia, but living throughout the world, she now lives in India. I was planning to choose restaurants based on her descriptions…and I'd think she'd be susceptible to tourist diseases as much as we'd be which should factor in her reviews.
barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 07:38 AM
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I also think that there is an assumption in the Indian sub-continent that "westerners" don't like spicy food. In Sri Lanka we had to keep insisting that it was what we wanted to eat. In a way the buffets were easier because we were able to choose to eat the food that was aimed at local guests; we didn't like it all but most of it was outstanding.
annhig is offline  
Feb 1st, 2015, 02:34 PM
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Enjoying your report as I plan my second trip to India, this time with my Number One Son. Mr. Pearl is no longer able to trek around India.
indianapearl is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2015, 03:18 PM
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In many countries where drivers and guides are common, we've been told that the drivers and guides get a free lunch in back when they bring tourists into the restaurant.

I'd also guess they like having a break from speaking English all day, especially if the driver doesn't!
lcuy is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2015, 10:12 PM
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so far as we could tell, there were special parts of restaurants where our driver went when we were eating - I assumed that he was able to eat more cheaply there and have a natter with his mates, or even a sleep. Some of the hotels that we stayed at had quarters for the drivers and guides; in other places he said that there were hostels where they stayed and this was covered in the price of hiring him. I found this out when we moved accommodation unexpectedly; we decided that we'd prefer to stay in Galle rather than outside but I was worried that he wouldn't have anywhere to sleep - he said it didn't matter as he was going to be staying in the drivers' hostel anyway. I hope he was telling me the truth!
annhig is offline  
Feb 5th, 2015, 01:30 PM
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In several cities our driver pointed out the hotel/hostel where he was staying. He was pleased with the places.
Elainee is offline  
Jul 29th, 2015, 03:14 PM
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Filmwill - I'm re-reading old threads and came across yours again. Did I miss part 3, your wrap up of highlights. We are planning a southern India trip in February and I'm most curious about your backwater experience - would you recommend your particular boat and if so, which company did you use? Please give me your thoughts on Cochin and kumarakin as they are two places we will likely visit. Loved reading this thread again. Hope you are still lurking out there.
dgunbug is offline  
Jul 29th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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Thank you for all the great observations and ideas.

Especially the information about fog and flights in and out of Delhi - we will be flying home to San Francisco from Kolkata on Emirates in February after four weeks in India. The Emirates flight schedule from Kolkata meant a nine-hour layover in Dubai in the middle of the night, so we had decided to fly to Delhi on a regional airline and connect from there in the evening. Yikes - I can just see it - fog delays forcing us to miss our flights back home - and having to rebook and pay bigtime. I just switched us to Kolkata to San Francisco - we can just suck it up at the airport in Dubai. Had to pay a change fee, but the peace of mind will be well worth it.

Thanks for a really entertaining and informative trip report!
scdreamer is offline  
Jul 29th, 2015, 08:47 PM
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Dgunbug--I realize your question about the Southisn't directed at me, but i'll take the liberty of adding my IMOH anyway
Cochin-- if you don't mind paying the way higher than average price, consider a Old Harbour Hotel Yes, it really IS s wonderful as all the reviews on TA say. I think February is past high season, so it should not be too costly.(I posted pix on tripadv site, under same name as here). It's one of those hotels that manages to be classy, subdued, friendly and casual all at the same time, with the most wonderful atmosphere, and in a perfect location for Fort Cochin (although there are many terrific homestays in the area that are equally well-positioned).

Kumarokom--we stayed at Philipkuttys Farm Homestay yrs ago. Relatively expensive then, likely more now. A wonderful place, but there are less costly alternatives in the backwaters (also a lot of expensive hotels).

Please, please, please check out description and reviews of Dewalokam, also Kerala waterside, tough not in the Kumarokom area.I had to miss out on this place (long story) but my trip-mate, who's traveled round India for numerous long trips--as well as my totally trusted India travel planner/agent--said it is amazing! It is "budget" priced.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 02:10 AM
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Definitely following this thread -- South India is somewhere we plan to get to within a few years.
progol is offline  
Jul 31st, 2015, 12:04 AM
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Progol--It's worth the waiting and dreaming!
CaliNurse is offline  
Jul 31st, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Calinurse - jump right in anytime. Could use all the help we can get sorting this out.
dgunbug is offline  
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