After my South Korea trip, I'm actually thinking Japan or India for my next destination. Since I haven't got my new ITR yet (that would possibly cause my visa to be denied), then I chose to visit India first. As they say, India is not for the faint-hearted so might as well do this India trip while I'm still young, or rather while my body still can. =P
Taj Mahal is 4,646 kilometers away from Manila
Summary of my India Trip:
○ Philippine Airlines offers direct flight from Manila to New Delhi, but this costs P33,000. Obviously that's too expensive for me so I opted for another route. Air Asia offers cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, but these airlines will not land at New Delhi. India only allows India-based low cost airlines to use the newly built international airport at New Delhi. Fair enough.
I have no doubts I wanted the Manila - Bangkok - New Delhi route, so I booked a Cebu Pacific's piso fare to Bangkok, for P4,000 (no baggage allowance).
For my Bangkok - New Delhi flight, I originally planned to take IndiGo airlines, one of India's newest low cost yet efficient airline, for the price of P12,000. Unfortunately, I tried all the cards I have but my bookings cannot be confirmed. To make the story short, I ended up booking a flight with Air India. The cost? P15,000 for a two-way ticket. Not bad specially meals are included and it was a comfortable flight. Could be cheaper only if we booked this months ahead or if only we chose to travel on a rainy season. Oh well, we experienced India with a very nice cold weather and this route is still way cheaper than a direct flight - P33,000 vs P19,000.
a comfortable and morning flight from Bangkok - New Delhi flight via Air India
○ Indira Ghandi International Airport is amazing! While most people talk about India being dirty and chaotic, this airport stands as their pride. It's so clean and efficient. Yeah, I wish we could improve our main airport too.
Indira Ghandi International Airport (arrival area)
Indira Ghandi International Airport (departure area)
mas maganda, in character pa!
○ So aside from I wanted to land at this fabulous airport, I chose New Delhi as my port of entry because of the Visa On Arrival service. I do not have time to prepare my itinerary, what more apply for a visa. This Visa On Arrival is so efficient compared to securing my visa in Manila.
Visa on Arrival is offered at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata airports only
○ Even getting out of the airport is efficient. They have bus, metro, and free transfer to domestic terminals.
Free Inter Terminal Transfers
just present your boarding pass
○ I tried to find a money changer here in Manila that sells Rupees. Unfortunately, none of the money changers I went to have this currency. So we bought USD instead and exchange them in India.
1000 rupees = 700 pesos
○ The Golden Triangle (New Delhi - Agra - Jaipur) is the usual route for tourists, but instead I planned something different. My route is New Delhi - Udaipur - Varanasi - Agra, so my point of entry which is New Delhi is perfectly located at the center of it.
If there's one place I really wanted to see in India, that's the Ganges River in Varanasi. For some reasons, Im not actually crazy to see the Taj Mahal.
my route is New Delhi - Udaipur - Varanasi - Agra in 10 days
i would love to include Dharamsala, Amritsar, Khajuraho and Mumbai if I have more time
○ New Delhi to Udaipur via train would take 13 hours, so we chose to fly instead. Same thing we did for Varanasi which is also 13 hours if we did it by train. For domestic flights, we booked flights with Spice Jet, a low cost carrier. Don't believe the bad reviews, this airline is mostly on time.
the airfare from New Delhi to Varanasi costs the same as a First Class train ticket
○ Varanasi is definitely the highlight of my trip. The experience is amazing and there's nothing like it. The holy river of Ganges is where the locals dump the cremated bodies, wash clothes, take a bath, pray, and everything else! Despite being polluted, all Hindu wish to die around this river in belief reaching heaven. If you want to experience the rich culture of India, go to Varanasi.
the burning ghat of Ganges River
saw at least 3 bodies being cremated that day
..and i cannot miss the chance of soaking my legs into this holy river
pinaghandaan ko yan, di ako nagpapedicure for 2 weeks para sure wala akong open wound! haha
○ Udaipur is a lovely city, far different beauty from Varanasi. This is my 2nd favorite spot, particularly the the Jain Temple in Ranakpur. The marble carvings are so great! This is much better than the interiors of Taj Mahal.
Khumbalgarh Fort, the 2nd longest fort after Great Wall of China
opcors, di namin yan inakayat. ang layo!
there are 144 carved pillars and amazing ceilings in the Jain Temple. carvings are made intrinsically
○ Indian Railways is so efficient. Tourists will have no problems traveling from the northern to the southern part of this country. Booking your train tickets is a pain though. Thank you Marx for letting me use your cleartrip account.
Lots of scams happen at the train stations. Basta wag lang maging tanga at uto-uto, and you will be fine.
First Class seats to Agra
meals are served
○ Agra is lucky to have the Taj Mahal in it. Hehe There's not much to see except this world famous landmark. Hehe kidding! But I must admit I got breathless the first time I saw this. Entrance fee for foreigners is 750 rupees. Local fee is 5. Some locals will ask to have a picture with you. To stop this, tell them you charge 10 rupees per photo. Haha
living in a postcard moment at the majestic Taj Mahal
○ New Delhi is the capital of India. Getting around is easy because of the metro rail. Fare is cheap! Don't worry about the number of people because trains arrive every 5 minutes or less.
Delhi Metro route map
○ As expected, people here are more modern. Women go to offices. Anyway, being fed up with temples and forts, we decided to have a break and visit an entertainment area in Gurgaon called Kingdom of Dreams. Afterall, what's an India trip without experiencing a live Bollywood musical show?
the indoor streets of India at Culture Gully
Kingdom of Dreams
So how much did I spend for this 12-day India trip?
P30,000 for the airfare + train tickets.
P25,000 for the hotel, food, tour, and misc expenses in India.
P2,000 for the departure tax and terminal fee at NAIA.
P3,000 for the 2-day Bangkok shopping and lots of food!
Total budget for this trip is around P60,000. Of course it depends on which hotel you will stay, and what food you will eat. Could be a lot cheaper too if you will take AirAsia and be sure to book a promo fare.
Is it okay to bring a luggage instead of a backpack?
Absolutely! I never felt that bringing this luggage is a hassle. Even locals carry a trolley on the train stations. Gumagana ang elevator at escalator sa kanila so walang hassle. Hehe So, if you prefer to carry a luggage, do so.
no more big backpacks. just a handcarry luggage for this 12-day India trip.
What should female tourists wear in India?
Basically, the rule is that "you are a guest and you need to make the people around you comfortable". As long as you dress up decently (having your legs covered at all times), then you'll be fine. No need to wear extreme cover ups from head to toe. Hehe It's totally up to you. As for me, I had 2 long sleeves, 2 tshirts, 2 loose tops, 2 tank tops, and 2 jackets. Short or skirt is a big no. I haven't seen anyone who wears short, not even males. I brought scarfs with me but in reality, I was not required to wear them. I just use it as a sun shield. I cannot find a single store which sells umbrella! Actually, I didn't even see a person who uses an umbrella in India. Hindi uso. ^_^
And for the record, there is no dress code in Taj Mahal.
what I actually wore in India
again, scarf is not exactly required. I only use it in Varanasi as a sun shield.
Realizations, Tips, Interesting Finds and More!
○ India is not for the faint-hearted. If you cannot control your fear, then India is not for you. Im a carefree person, but I admit I felt at risk when we walked down the alley towards the rail station at 10PM. To add, you will be dealing with men 95% of the time. In Udaipur, Varanasi, and Agra - women just stay home. Men are all around the markets, streets, ghats, restaurants, etc. If you go paranoid when these men talk to you, then I'm not sure how you can survive India.
there are 1.21 billion people in India and 655.8 million are males
and for the record, isa lang ang nakita kong bakla. hehe
○ It's absolutely unfair to generalize that India is an unsafe place. Yes there will be people who will try to scam you, but scams are everywhere in the world! Indians are actually harmless, they are not even violent. They drive recklessly but I haven't seen a road accident or even two drivers screaming or fighting with each other. Again, wag lang maging tanga and uto-uto, and you will be fine.
○ It's unfair to tag Indians as dishonest people. It's so heartwarming that the vendors actually gave back the excess money I paid them. Yes there would be abusive drivers but more people are genuine to help you without asking for anything in return.
○ Hindi mabaho sa India! This is a common false belief. Well it's time to educate yourselves and never say na mabaho sa India unless you have actually been there.
○ India is not as dirty as what other people say. Ang aarte ng mga nagsasabi neto. Imagine Manila, ganyan ang kalevel. There are places which are dirty, and there are places which are clean. Difference is - India has an impressive airport and efficient railway system. And oh, gumagana ang mga CCTV nila.
wide and clean road in New Delhi
○ I cannot count how many times I've been warned not to use my camera. As a tip, bring a digicam so locals wont be bothered to see you in your big bulky camera. I ended up not taking any photos and just enjoy India with my own eyes. Afterall, India's most photographic people, scenes, and characters can never be captured thru my lens. It's so much different when you actually get there. India is "for your eyes" only.
India's most photographic scenes are not the landmarks but the interesting people on the streets
○ Women are not pampered in India. Don't ever think that males will give way to you in the train station or the elevator. To avoid being pushed, get out of their way. Well lucky us, women are pampered in Pinas!
○ Arranged marriages are so common that ladies are being advertised in the newspapers!
daughters are advertised in the newspapers
○ Mehndi or Henna is typically applied during special Hindu weddings and Hindu festivals like Karva Chauth, Vat Purnima, Diwali, Bhai Dooj and Teej. In Hindu festivals, many women have Henna applied to their hands and feet and sometimes on the back of their shoulders too, as men have it applied on their arms, legs, back, and chest.
nakikiuso lang ^_^
○ I love Indian food. We had countless orders of biryani, masala, curry, roti, naan and some more. But of course, I got tired of having the same taste after 9 days. By the way, milkshakes are the best! I had coffee milkshake, banana milkshake, vanilla milkshake and mango milkshake when I have the chance! These tasted excellent.
And for the record, hindi kami nagkasakit! Ang tibay ng resistensya namin! Haha!
home-cooked meals: cheese naan, biryani, eggplant something, and spinach something
"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home" - this stays true with India.
Only if you can ignore the faults and look at India in a different way, then you are ready for India. It's a totally fascinating country that you cannot even capture its character in your lens. All you need is to keep your eyes wide open + an open mind to have a whole new world experience. ★