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By SUEP
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July 4, 2006 – A journey to General Tips, India in Asia


A Few Closing Notes On Traveling In Rajasthan, India

So far, it seems like many of the "backpacker" types of things we'd do in most countries, we have not done here in India. Hiring a driver is one prime example. Another is eating at a hotel restaurant instead of a regular local eatery (in fact, most restaurants are actually attached to hotels here in Rajasthan). I had a hard time finding any restaurants around, especially in the smaller towns (many are closed during low season, and also due to lack of fresh ingredients). Another miss was that we haven't had the chance to try any of the street food. Well, there wasn't much of any to begin with...

Another side note: if you want spicy, you'll need to request it. They tone it down for foreigners. I still think Indian food is much more flavorful and spicier back at home. Maybe I'm not eating at the right places or ordering the right dishes?

I had the preconception that India would be rather easy on the wallet. But this is not so – prices vary wildly. India is expensive for foreigners to travel in. Dining out is almost comparable to dining out Indian in the States (and I mean normal restaurants, not fancy Indian restaurants). They also have different entrance fees for Indians and foreigners. They have separate prices and menus for everything for foreigners.



this meal costed around $16 USD at a restaurant called Chicken Inn in Delhi - similar to the States


Tip/baksheesh – everyone from the bell boy to the door opener to the guide to the driver all expect some kind of handout, whether as tip or baksheesh. Every time I went out, I felt that I looked like a walking donation machine.

Barely any foreign tourists travel during the low season in Rajasthan. That sounds like a dumb comment, but I did see quite a few in Thailand, Peru (Inca Trail), and a few other places during the low season period there. The only time I saw groups of tourists were at the main tourist sites on the Golden Triangle route (Jaipur, Agra, Delhi). But I didn't see many of them walking around on the streets in those cities. Maybe it was the heat.

I realized that whenever you have guides (they were included for us surprisingly), they will always try to take you to some shops afterward. Most of the time we refused, but sometimes you get tricked. For example, a guide asked us if we wanted to see some fascinating antique Indian jewelry. I was thinking he'd be taking us to a cool, unknown museum that most people haven't heard about. He took us to an overpriced jewelry shop. Another guide had us visit a Guinness Book of World Record's artist's home. Again, yes it was his home, but it was also an art gallery shop. Hard not to be duped here. Have to be extra careful. Learn how to outwit, outplay, outlast. Ha!

It's hard to tell who's truly being nice to you versus who's trying to scam you here – from the guides to hotel staff to shop owners and so forth. It's a game you unfortunately have to play everyday if you're on a budget and don't want to lose your wallet completely.

So far, my impression of physically traveling in India is really challenging. But I can't imagine how many more challenges we probably would've gone through if we tried to backpack the country by ourselves in low season (not to mention the heat). Besides those issues, the culture, history, people, and sites of India can be incredible and fascinating.




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