Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Indian travel

I thought I'd get this down before the belly was fully better and while the rash was still bothering me (so pardon the sarcasm if you will).

After my Oracle bootcamp we plannedto hang about, travel and see the main sights (like the Taj) in India. We initially thought we'd just wander about on a day by day basis, because trains were easy to get. However due to some turmoil in the regions (the gujjar protests over issues have crippled transport). So we engaged a local travel agent and made a 7 day plan.

The travel agent (not quite liars denied that there was any problem and dissmissed my assertions that there were any ... however lets not get into that issue here) made a plan with us which seemed pretty good.
  • Leave New Delhi for Agra
  • Spend one day / night there to see Tajmahal and red fort
  • then on to Jaipur and Ranthambore national park for two nights
  • then return to New Delhi and fly home.

Seemed reasonable and minimized the time in travel. Sadly (after we'd paid and settled the payment of account) they came to our hotel late at night (just as I was retiring) with a 'revised plan' ... double back everywhere, spend more time in the car, less time at locations, be hassled and not get to spend more than one night anywhere. The bastards. Still, you get used to the lying and cheating in India .. (so I'm told).

If I had my time again I'd force them to cancel the contract and start again with a new plan in which they actually acknowledged the things I knew were happening in the political landscape. Still 20:20 hindsight is wonderfully clear .... other travellers we spoke to said that this re-negotiation after the contract happened to them, so perhaps its common practice. So if you're negotiating anything over there be firm ... no be so firm as to nearly be rude. Seems to be the way there.

Traveling in India is unlike traveling in most other countries I've been to (Australia, Canada, South Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Finland, England). Using taxis for longer journeys actually works out not much dearer than a train when longer trips are called for. For example for about 1000 rupee we could have a taxi for an entire day tripping or traveling. Considering that a sitting train fare for about the same distance was 700 rupee its not worth hassling with trains if you are traveling in a pair or a group.

So, our trip (including hotel accommodation) was about 28000 rupee for the two of us for 7 nights. This is not a bad price (remember we were already in India, so no international flights are part of this). You also need to consider how hotels are ... things are NOT the same as in Europe, Nth America or Australia. Some things are just that little different. For example, you won't see much of this on the brochures

so remember you really do get what you pay for ... sometimes less '-)

However, since you're now going in with your eyes more open, I can say that my trip was generally wonderful and we had a great time. Especially Ranthambore, Amber fort and Jaipur was the nicest part of the experience.

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