During our 24 days in India we visited the cities pinned on this map:
We had pretty good weather- it was mid to high 70's for most of the trip, but as we got further into December and moved East, it began to get chillier at night (high 40's).
I think we hit all of the modes of transportation in India: car, train, bus, boat, bike, camel and tuk tuk. If you have ever wanted to have a near-death experience, just hop in a tuk tuk!
We are extremely happy with our decision to spend a little more money to book a guided tour through India. We used Intrepid Travel (an Australian company) because they had a tour that was in our price range and allowed us to see a lot in 3 weeks. India is unlike any other place we have been. I was hoping that spending 5 weeks in Africa would prepare us, and give Jeff a good glimpse into the 3rd world. However, if we had decided to visit India without a tour group, it would have been hard.....doable, but difficult. I think we avoided many arguments and awkward social situations by doing a tour. Most people here speak English, so the language barrier isn't too bad, but we would have had a hard time with directions and we probably couldn't have figured out any public transportation without significant help.
While I am extremely grateful that we got to experience this part of the world, I don't see us booking another trip to India. Jeff and I learned so much about Indian culture and religion. Some of it was hard to grasp at times, since it is so different from our own backgrounds, but beautiful in its own right. However, as an environmentalist, I am leaving this country with a broken heart. I know there have been initiatives to clean up the country- and I sincerely hope they continue, but this is the dirtiest place I have ever been to. How do you go about changing an entire culture where a significant part of the world's population lives?
The parts of Northern India that we saw were pretty smoggy, covered in garbage, cow shit, dog shit and sometimes human shit. It seemed acceptable for men to pee where ever they wanted (literally anywhere- in full view of anyone). Many cities we visited didn't seem to have any wastewater treatment (perhaps dilution is the solution?) and there didn't seem to be any municipal rubbish collection. When we stopped at a rest stop and put our trash in the bin, a worker immediately took the bin and emptied it in the grass behind the toilet block (also near where they were cooking lunch. Appetizing).
It hasn't all been bad! One of my favorite things that seemed to happen daily, was taking selfies with locals. Some Indians are fascinated by Westerners and wanted photos with us. Now we know how celebrities feel!
We also met amazing people through our tour group- Claire, Rita, Lauren, Laura, Lina, Sam, Adam and Shakti- thank you so much for being great travel buddies! We were able to bounce so many travel ideas off of all of you, and can't wait to visit you all in other places! Until then- travel safe!
But what about the food??????
Modes of transportation: car, train, bus, boat, bike, camel and tuk tuk
Total amount spent in India (including flight into India): $3841.85
Avg.: $167.04 per day
We ended up slightly under budget in India, despite getting some custom clothes made and shipping a bunch of our un-needed stuff home. So far we have managed to stay under budget and keep our overall daily average low enough that we should make it through the year of planned travel!