It's hard to say whether or not one can actually love touristing in India – maybe even like. There are some highs – some great sights, some nice people, and great food. But most of the time words that come to mind are garbage, scams, spit, excrement, obnoxious, scortching hot, and filth. Of course we have only been in the North Central thus far. We have found that there are some genuinely nice people but you don't really see any of them. Any places that are easily accessable to us are filled with people who are out to make a profit.
Even for the most experienced travellers, it is nearly impossible not to get scammed. They are excellent at getting money out of your pockets and getting you into questionable situations. One guy was really facinated that Amie knew french. Before long, Amie was translating a short French paragraph. Following this, we were pressured heavily into a tour package. Sometimes it is nice to get a picture together – some people want money in return if you hand them your camera. Another rickshaw driver took us to an overpriced hotel with the same name as a guest house (the one where he got commission at). There are also scams where it is cheap to get some place but expensive to get back.
Aside from the travel hassles, we have had some great experiences. The Taj Mahal was amazing! So have some of the other experiences exploring ancient forts. We have had great experiences in restauants eating real Indian food that is much better than we have ever had before. Unfortunately, Amie and I both woke up with some Delhi belly this morning. We had to opt for some western type backpacker restaurants in order to hold it down.
So we're in Rajasthan after spending our 2nd anniversary at the greatest love monument in the world, the Taj Mahal.
I'm still unsure what I really think about India. It certainly is difficult to get a straight answer from anyone…being white certainly doesn't help as we are walking dollar signs flashing in peoples' eyes. But I can't compare it to anything else I've seen.>
Stinking, dirty, dry and dusty Rajasthan with its princely heritage and fantastic monuments. Rickshaw drivers and commission touts who will rip anyone off to make a buck. Gorgeous saris fluttering in the wind, taking our minds off the polution and the overwhelming sent of urine in the streets. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced. And it is hard to determine whether I love it or hate it since I swing back and forth on the pendulum ever 2 minutes.
Transportation is otherworldly in the great Indian Universe. Steve and I spent an hour trying to find the right ticket counter at the Jaipur train station last night. When we finally got into the right line piles of people were squishing in and budging to the front from the sides. Finally we got to the front and bought our tickets, ran to the platform only to find that the train already left.
Stayed in a hotel last night, got sick this morning, took off on a bus for Pushkar where are now…a small, holy town with a welcoming backpacker's atmosphere.
It's all part of the experience, I suppose. The scams, the commission hounds, the rickshaws waiting like sharks to devour poor travellers. But it's something you've got to do…because India is changing us…I'm just not sure how yet.