Wednesday, June 20, 2007

India Experience

G'day to you all from Australia, I wrote on my last post about giving some tips through my experience travelling around India for five months. All of the information that I write is only what I came across on my travels, as you all know every single person on this planet will have a different point of view and a different experience to what I had.

Where do I start? I guess first off I believe it is best to have a bit of a plan when travelling to any country especially a country like India. Have a rough idea how long you want to go for and some of the places you really want to see and allow everything else to happen naturally. Some people don't like to plan anything and some people are to rigid in their plans, like everything, there is a balance. If we go with an open heart to a country and allow the whole process to unfold without to much control, I feel we will have an easier and more fulfilling journey(I forgot to apply this now I'm back in Australia). Just writing this reminded me of how I was living before I went to India and how I travelled around most of India, I allowed the universe to direct me to where it was best for me, not where I thought I should be(there's a big difference).

Next is a big one what to do about your health, do we use the conventional doctor or do as I did and go to a homeopathic/natural path?. Well that ones up to you, if you choose the conventional doctor and your going to a country with malaria and other diseases, you will be given needles and malaria tablets. Now things can sometimes go wrong with the injections in some cases and if your doctor is a good one they will inform you of the many side effects of taking malaria tablets. If your going for more then three months then the doctor will tell you to get off them, which isn't much help. I think it is best in this area to sort through all the pros and con's on your own accord.

The way I did it was to have some needles for certain diseases and take herbal medicine for malaria, all the stomach bugs and a few other minor things. Now I was very fortunate to come across a man who believed in his work as a homeopath, there was no doubt in his mind that if I took his Asian mix as he called it and colloidal silver I would not get sick. Now there could have been a bit of mind over matter in play here as well, because I fully believed that I wouldn't get sick, that has got to help in some way. You see before I got onto this man I had rang three maybe four other homeopaths in the area and not one of them could guarantee me that I wouldn't get malaria if I took their mixtures, old Wal was the only one, so naturally I went to him. As some of you know, I ate everywhere and anything, had even drunk a bit of the local water and not once did I get sick in five months. If any of you are thinking of going the natural way I can put all the details of what was in the mix that I took.

Now as most travellers know there are some wonderful books out there to give you all the information you need whilst travelling around, for example probably one of the most popular of them all is the 'Lonely Planet'. These are fantastic guides and I stress here guides, I like alot of other people treated it like the bible and I realized after a couple of months that it certainly wasn't that(I travelled through Peru with the Lonely Planet and everything seemed OK). Maybe the guide books are fantastic for most countries in the world, I found that India maybe was changing to fast for books that were a couple of years old and this was the latest edition that I had. Like I wrote earlier these books are written by people who had there own experience in certain areas of the country. I read about places in India that came across in the book as fascinating, beautiful places and when I got there, I and other people I was travelling with found it quite the opposite. What I did from then on was to ask as many fellow travellers what they thought of certain places I was interested in and then went on my own intuition.

What I and my friends also found was that most of the accommodation that was mentioned in the Lonely Planet knew that they were in the book so they put their prices up and if your on a budget that's no good. So it's another tricky one and it's another one that can work good for some people and not for others. What I did was if I was arriving very early morning or late at night and I knew I was going to be tired, before getting on what ever transport I was taking I would go through the Lonely Planet and find a good guesthouse, so when all the touts came rushing at me if I said I already had a place to go they'd leave me alone. Now if you don't mind having a bit of fun with touts so you get a better and cheaper place then the Lonely Planet, go for it, also know that you might get lead around in circles and it ends up costing more in the long run. After a while you get a feel for whats going on, when your more confident and as I've said before the Indians some how sense that they cant rip you off you can find bargain places that are very nice.

What is the best price to pay for anything, when travelling through countries like India? well that's up to you again, know that in a place like India most of people are very poor, so they'll do anything to get as much money out of you, we would describe it as though the Indians just see us as a dollar bill walking around with arms and legs. I often asked when I knew they were lying through their teeth to get a sale,'what religion are you?' and nine times out of ten they would say 'Hindu', then I would ask 'isn't a part of the Hindu religion based on Karma?', 'why yes sir, it is','then why are you lying and trying to rip me off?', (this was said in as loving way as possible), I was just trying to point out to some of them, that if they are going to follow their religion then they best follow one of their main principles.

I believe that there's a right price for both parties concerned, I saw a certain group of people that would not even go near a fair price for the seller. Most of them were quite aggressive in haggling and I could see in the Indians eyes they were never happy with what was going on(oh but was that the Indians Karma for ripping off other customers?) I found the best way to bargain was to always remember what you would pay in your own country and to take into account how much mark up is on the price(sometimes it could be ten times the amount even more) because your a foreigner and in between that is a fare price for both of you. I think I used to say what ever price they give halve it and then its up to you if you want to go just under half or pay a little over half. Don't get me wrong if you can get them down to the real price or just above that's fantastic especially if your travelling for along time, but I feel if your only there for a short trip then why not give a little more.

One of my favorite books talks about haggling and how it is not good for both parties. I cant quite remember how it was written, but I think it was saying something along the lines of if the seller is asking for a higher price to see if they can trick someone into to paying to much, then they are saying 'you are not worthy of a fair price brother' and that means, if we are all one then we are actually ripping ourselves off in a way. That goes for the buyer as well, if you try and get a very cheap price for yourself, are you not saying that 'you are not worthy of getting a good price for your goods, so I'm going to not pay you a fare price, because you don't deserve it', when you look at it, it certainly is a huge form of separation and that's sad.

Here's some of the pictures I didn't get in.

This was taken in one of the rooms in the Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur.

You can see elephants just about everywhere in Rajasthan, unfortunately this was one of the experiences, going for a ride on an elephant I didn't get to do, this was taken in one of my favorite places in India, Udaipur.

I cant remember where this was taken, I saw that many temples and forts in five months, after a while some of them looked the same.

I had placed a black and white photo of this wonderful old man in a previous post. He was seated outside the Jagdish Temple, Udaipur.

I took this photo of this monk in Mcleod Ganj, I had seen his face before, but didn't know where. A president of a country I've never heard of was at this ceremony, an Irish guy and I just happen to be out the front of the Dalai Lamas residents, when the president and his entourage came out. After I took this photo this monk came over and stood next to me, I glanced across and smiled at him he smiled back and nodded his head. After the interview in which me and the Irish guy were right in the middle of, I turned and asked one of the press photographers, who the monk was, he looked at me quite puzzled,'why he's the prime minister of Tibet, Samdhong Rinpoche', 'oh, I knew I'd seen his face before', the man then said, 'hey are you press?', 'no I said', now looking back at him with a puzzled face,'what are you doing here?, your not supposed to be here, only the press, you can get into big trouble being here'. I looked around and noticed that the whole area had been cordoned off, and was surrounded by heavily armed guards, well it was perfect timing I got to listen to the interviews, stand next to a president of a country and the prime minister of Tibet. Right at that moment they all started moving so I just casually walked off, one of the guards looked at me, I just nodded my head as though I was supposed to be there and went under the rope, to easy.