Guest post by Laura Best
Laura Best and her husband Barry are professional videographers and travel bloggers who blog at www.worldlynomads.com. About a month ago they released their video of India visit (titled "An Indian Adventure: Why you should visit India once in your life". As they sought some help from me promoting the video, I felt that I should give my readers a perspective on India from the eyes of an outsider. However much I write about India, it won't be from the perspective of an international tourist, who would have certain pre-conceived thoughts and concerns about India. As Laura and Barry fell in love with India during their visit, I requested if Laura could write a bit about the misconceptions she had about India and other tips she would have about India trip for fellow international visitors. She gladly agreed and here is a post written by Laura Best, about their India visit. It really helps international tourists shed some inhibitions about India and visit India with right spirit. Photos used in this post were also supplied by Laura. Over to her ---------Shrinidhi
Misconceptions about India
Like a lot of people who have never traveled to India before, it’s difficult not to have some misconceptions and even some nervousness about going to India for the first time, mainly due to the way it's portrayed by the media.
Personally we were nervous about a few things including the notoriously dangerous roads, getting sick, staying safe, being constantly stared at, and the general intensity of the place. However as we've learned on so many of our travels, preconceptions usually turn out to be misconceptions and that's exactly what happened with India. We loved it almost immediately and any nerves quickly changed to excitement within a couple of hours of arriving to our first destination (Kerala!).
Of course this doesn't mean that we weren't careful and sensible about the way we traveled (for example we avoided going out late at night or drinking too much and stuck to mainly vegetarian options to avoid sickness), however we quickly realized that, as with most countries we've visited, the vast majority of people were welcoming, friendly and loving and wanted us to fall in love with their country as much as them. As a result people went out of their way to help us, including one wonderful guesthouse owner who drove us 3 hours to our next destination when our taxi didn't show up! There weren't many negative experiences to speak of. In fact I’m actually struggling to think of many now and we didn't get sick once!
Don’t get me wrong, we found India to be an intense experience, but usually in a good way. We quickly realized that most people don’t wish to judge you but are instead simply intrigued about you and want to get to know you (when you’re asked 20 questions after just meeting them for the first time on the train station platform)! If you consider this and see it as an opportunity to learn about that person and their culture too, it can make for a rather fun and interesting discussion rather than an intense interview!
We had so many positive experiences in India and would encourage anyone holding similar misconceptions to set them aside and instead prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!
Planning our trip
We like to plan our trips around experiences rather than particular sights or landmarks and typically avoid the big cities when possible. For example we’d rather spend a few days challenging ourselves to a big hike, learning a new skill or getting to know a local family through a homestay than ticking off every monument or museum in a city. So when it came to planning our India trip, as usual we looked into the best experiences or things to do and set up a route / itinerary based around them! Of course we make exceptions for famous landmarks when it comes to the Taj Mahal however!
Our top experiences in India
There are so many wonderful experiences to have in India and I’m sure everyone has a different list, however these were our favorite experiences and ones we’d highly recommend!
· Cruising peacefully around the beautiful backwaters of Kerala on a private houseboat
· Witnessing life and death on the Ganges River in the holy city of Varanasi
· Joining the locals to celebrate the colourful festival of Holi in Rajasthan
· Spending the night sleeping under the stars on the sand dunes of Jaisalmer desert next to our camels and hosts
· Touring the amazing forts, palaces and old cities of Rajasthan, the land of Kings!
· Watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal
· Enjoying lots of delicious tea in the home of tea plantations in Darjeeling (with a view of the Himalayas)!
· Relaxing on Varkala beach on the south west coast
· And finally, trying and loving so many delicious curries and foods!
It was tricky deciding the best route to take to include all of these experiences so eventually we chose to start in the South state of Kerala (for the backwaters and relaxing beach time), then travel North to Rajasthan followed by East to Agra for the Taj Mahal then further east to Varanasi and finally Darjeeling. Obviously this is quite a significant distance to travel so we tried to go as slow as possible and broke it up with a variety of transport (including trains, planes & occasionally private taxis). We typically spent a minimum of 3-4 days in most places and longer in some to ensure we didn't exhaust ourselves too much!
If you would like to read more about our specific experiences and highlights, click here or watch it below It's hard to explain the vibrancy and uniqueness of India which is why we created this video. We hope it captures the energy and spirit that we fell in love with!
For us, India is a magical place full of enthusiasm and aspiration. It’s intense, brash, exciting and captures the heart all at once. Our time was full of highs and challenges and we hope to return again in order to try new experiences and share these to inspire others to visit this wonderful country!