India really is a country of contradictions – you have to super friendly people who want to rip you off on every possible occasion as well, chaos everywhere but also bureaucracy everywhere, and the fantastic food which can make you sick any moment. It is not easy to travel in India, and it isn’t for sure a destination for a first time Backpacker. But once you get used to some things, pay attention to others and have some travel experience you can have an amazing time here. The following is my impression after two weeks in India.
People are super friendly
I’m surprised by how friendly people are in India. Most of them speak English, which also helps a lot to get in touch and get to know some locals better. To be honest, I was a little scared before coming to India because you mostly find negative things like the scams and criminality. But I do feel super safe and welcomed here, and people try to help wherever they can. The only thing you have to do is to follow your gut feeling to separate people who want to help and people who want to make money off you. If someone comes to you on the street and tells you randomly about other cities you should visit, you know it’s a scam, and you can just walk off. But if you approach people in your hostel and ask them for advice, they do everything to help you and make your time amazing here.
Yes, there are scams and rip-offs
Multiple times people tried to rip me off already, especially rickshaw driver but you only have to speak up, and then everything goes pretty smooth after – believe me. I took a rickshaw from my hostel to the airport, which was not too far, and I knew the fair and how fast the taximeter should run. After a few minutes, I noticed that the meter was running way to fast. In the middle of the motorway, I asked the driver what the fuck this is? He didn’t give me a response and continued driving. So I started shouting and making a gigantic scene, that big that another woman next to our rickshaw asked if everything was ok. Both of the Rickshaws stopped, and I explained everything to the women. She talked to the driver, and her body language was saying “Bad, bad driver stop this shit” (I ‘didn’t understand the exact thing, but only by reading her body language I knew what she was saying). So she made the driver restart the taximeter, and after that, the meter was running way slower at its average pace. The best way to not get scammed is to inform yourself before about the common scams and then pay attention. When you’re in such a situation speak up, the louder, the better because other people will hear it and they will come and help.
Food is incredible, but there is always this fear of food poisoning
Indian food is just incredible; I live into the day just waiting for my next meal, and I’m thinking 24 hours about which amazing delicates I’m getting next. To be honest, I guess of all the cuisines, Indian is my number one now. But then there is always this fear of getting sick, so I stick to good and more expensive places. I had already two food poisonings and I ‘don’t want a third one. And it’s undeniable that the Indian people just don’t have the right feeling for hygiene, that makes me always worry when I’m not in one of the top-rated restaurants in town. But then again, there are ways to avoid bad experiences. Always google the restaurants beforehand and if ‘you’re not 100% sure just stick to vegetarian food. Every restaurant has vegetarian options, and they are incredibly tasty and reduce the risk of food poisoning a lot. Pay attention to the water they serve in restaurants, and if you’re not sure just ask if it is filtered.
The chaos and streets make you crazy
Other then in other countries I try to not go too far for dinner or activities as I try to avoid traffic by any means. The constant horning and the traffic really ‘get’s you some severe headaches at times. After one week in Bangladesh and two weeks here I kind of got used to it. Still, I catch myself from time to time at yelling at people who unnecessary horn my ears out of my head. In Southeast Asia, people also use the horn a lot, but there it seems to have a purpose, here in India I mostly ‘don’t even understand why they horn. I guess the chaos in the streets is a thing you just have to get used to. Traveling in Asia before and getting acclimatized helped a lot, I guess.
My first two weeks in India were dominated by my lost bag, and the search for it (Thanks again Spicejet…) and by escaping monsoon. However, I somehow had a good time, and I ‘can’t wait to go to the Himalayas and explore the mountains. If you plan on visiting India as well bear in mind that ‘it’s not a destination for your first backpacking trip but if you get along in Southeast Asia the I highly recommend to come and see the chaos and contradictions for yourself.
- Total countries I visited until now: 40
- Planes: 25
- Busses: 48
- Trains: 19
- Boats: 24
- Km driving: 8000
- Km running: 3155