A travel and lifestyle blog

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Things I wish I'd known about India before I got there

I love India and had a really good time there. The country is so beautiful, the buildings are intricate and it's just all round incredible, but, having said that, there are some things it would've been really helpful for me to know about before I got there. I research places before I go but I still had no idea what to wear and to avoid being culturally inappropriate I ended up taking loads of long sleeved loose clothes and having to lug my backpack around everywhere with aching shoulders. I thought it would be useful to put together a list of things I'd wish I'd known before I went for anyone who is planning to go because I would have definitely loved for this to have existed before.

1) What to wear in India
If you are a man you can basically wear what you want provided you cover your shoulders. I think it's a good idea to wear knee length-ish shorts but really you can do whatever. If you're a female it is totally different and you should cover up completely; cover your chest, your arms, your shoulders and your legs. You might not need to cover up to that extent for getting into temples but I felt pretty uncomfortable because even when I was totally wrapped up like burrito there was still a lot of uncomfortable staring so I felt a lot better wearing more. The best thing I had was loose trousers (seersucker type), a loose vest and a lightweight shawl wrapped around my chest and shoulders. It was comfortable and I fit in with what most other people were wearing. If you're travelling on your own as a female you probably want the shawl to be quite long- it can be nice to wrap it over your hair to draw less attention to yourself, especially if you're blonde like me! At the time I was travelling in India a governor spoke in the papers about how females shouldn't wear skirts or dresses or walk alone at night if they don't want to be attacked; I wore long skirts because I had brought them and had no issues but it was pretty concerning to hear at the time... 

2) You will be stared at
This is definitely going to happen if you look like a tourist. It's really awkward but just ignore people who stare at you. I know that sounds rude but if you are polite and make any conversation, even if you are asking to be left alone it makes it worse. This isn't true for places that are more out of the way but for Delhi and Agra just be prepared. People aren't being rude and glaring at you or anything, it's just normal there to be a bit stare-y. It is super uncomfortable but I just think it's better to know what to expect.

3) The people are lovely
Okay so having said all the above I just want to put a little disclaimer in here. They were nice overall I just think there's so much poverty that people are a bit desperate and that's why things can be a little stressful. You will get approached by beggars, children and sellers all the time. Remember they are people too so don't be rude but do be firm and walk away.

4) It might be stressful
Personally, I found India to be one of the most stressful places I've ever been but it was worth it. The difference between poverty stricken areas and the amazing temples and hotels you see is insane. It can be quite hard to get your head around what you might see so prepare yourself. If you have been to China, Thailand, Egypt etc. then India is a little like those places but exaggerated.

5) You will need malaria tablets
This is dependant on where you go but I went to the golden triangle (Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) as well as Goa and I needed them. If you have left it too late to get them from a doctor like I did then you can get them online. Make sure you remember to take them after you've left the area until the course is finished. I know I sound like such a grandma saying this but I worked with someone who had malaria once and it was really bad- they were in hospital for a long time, lucky not to pass away, incredibly weak during their long recovery and were on a ridiculously strict diet for ages afterwards (they could only eat raw fruit and vegetables and once when they chanced it with some meat they were sick for days). It's just not worth potentially ruining the rest of your trip for the sake of some tablets.

6) Haggling is key
Haggle. You have to haggle for almost everything so be as confident as you can and be prepared to walk away. It will feel a little bit like you are seen as a walking ATM and you're bound to pay more than you should but if you haggle at least it wont be as excessive. The government run market in Delhi is fantastic for being less hassle-y than other markets so if you're finding India a little full on, but want to buy some souvenirs then this is the perfect place.

7) If you're travelling with a man you will probably be ignored
I found I essentially got ignored by people greeting us or speaking with us when I was with my boyfriend; Apart from in Goa, where I was addressed before him. This was pretty irritating but at some points was kind of nice because there were just so much hassle all the time it was almost good at times not to have it directed at me, as selfish as that sounds.

8) People will ask you for photos
I actually loved this. Taking photos with families and with their babies was the cutest thing ever.

9) It's going to be amazing
I was actually scared before I went, especially as a female. Be careful but you will be fine. More than fine, in fact. You're going to absolutely love it. Remember that you will not be the first or last traveller on your own in a different country. You can do it!

10) There are cows everywhere. You'll be walking down the street and see them, it's quite fun. At one point we were feeding some monkeys bananas, turned around and there was a cow there waiting for some banana as well haha.

11) Get to the Taj Mahal as early as you possible can. Get up at silly o'clock and force yourself out of bed. It will already be busy waiting in line for the temple to open, but if you're towards the front of the queue it will feel like you have the place to yourselves. I've got some fun photos I will dig out soon where it looks completely empty!

Have fun.

p.s. If you have any questions, you can message me and I will try to fill you in,



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