A Solo Trip to India!!!! Leaving my Comfort Zone

Taking a solo trip to India was a welcome escape from the UK’s winter weather and long month of February (even though it’s technically the shortest month, lol).

India had been sky high on my bucket list for a very long time and I can honestly say it was everything I’d hoped for and more – even though I only experienced a tiny snippet.

It’s been a really enlightening experience, in more ways than one – particularly in terms of people’s reactions, revealing some poorly hidden prejudices, and unfounded fears.

Thankfully, these were the minority.

On an early morning safari trip in Ranthambore…..hoping to see a tiger!!

Why India? Seriously, Why not?

It’s sad when you express a desire to someone, to do something in life and they more or less knock it dead with a negative response – your joy is no care of theirs, they’re not really interested in what it means to you.

They can’t see beyond their own fears, bias or ignorant hang ups ย – they’re emotionally draining while you’re trying to keep a healthy mind.

Someone asked where I was going on holiday – when I said India, he just asked me if I was Indian – seriously, as if that was the only logical reason I’d be going there.

It’s ok to have reservations about certain places, it’s personal choice – but Wow!! This attitude in 2020!!!ย 

People with such a closed mind about the world still exist in the 21st century. Excuse meย while I take a moment to digest this. ๐Ÿค”

Ifย he’d said he was going to Scotland I wouldn’t have asked if he was Scottish…..the clue is in the word ‘holiday’.

Some people…. If you don’t want to do something, you can still be supportive to someone who does – that’s called caring, being a good friend, not being selfish, not being a killjoy.

Our tour bus

India.

Give me three good reasons why not…..

Why not experience a richly different culture to anything I’ve ever experienced before?

Why not witness some of the worlds most beautiful buildings and palaces?

Why not be humbled, and experience not doing everything the western way – there are other ways that are just as valid to the people who live accordingly.

Why not throw myself well away from my comfort zone?

Why not be more open minded about new experiences? Why not, if I want to?

Why not be amazed – India is amazing!!!

Should I go to India? Conflict vs Curiosity ๐Ÿง๐Ÿ“บ ๐Ÿ—ž

Then India pulled the plug on Kashmir’s long held freedoms, flag and property ownership law, pulling Kashmir more tightly into the Indian fold, despite protests from Kasmiris, many of whom do not identify as Indian.

I began to worry about uprisings and retaliation in India – Kashmir was on complete shutdown, the people like prisoners in their own territory.

The military were barricading Kashmiris to the point that they were unable to travel, communicate via telecommunications or the internet.

I couldn’t believe how severe the situation had become – literally overnight.

From what I gathered in the mainstream media, Kashmir was the only predominantly muslim region in India – the rest was more heavily Hindu.

The changes in control now meant Hindus would be able to buy property in Kashmir for the first time since India and Pakistan split in the 1940s – that’s a pretty big change.

India was getting bad press, mentions of the potential for nuclear war between Pakistan and India began to float around online and throughout the press; both countries have struggled to get along since their original split.

This scenario was bringing existing tensions to a new high.

I started to question my motivation for visiting, and whether it would be a wise move.

Whatever decisions a government makes, the majority of the population are usually just humble people trying to live an honest life, their beauty and culture are still worthy of admiration, despite their politics, surely?

India’s poverty levels are commonly known to be beyond rock bottom (this is what people seem to dwell on in the west), so I guessed my visit would help in some way – despite India consistently ranking in the top five wealthiest countries/territories in the world by GDP according to Wikipedia๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘€

More tourists means more money into the economy with a domino effect on the many who rely on it, though I can’t say confidently how far that domino line stretches.

My ‘political mind’ battled with my human instinct, both grating against the traveller curiosity that had first ignited my decision to visit India.

It seems there are no governments that please everyone these days, there is always a topic of controversy, dividing opinions and loyalties, whichever country we look at.

Did I still intend to go to India at this point. Yes, somewhat nervously, but absolutely ๐Ÿ‚

One of the many fabulous doors in Jaipur, India

All booked and ready to go ๐Ÿ•Œ

Contrary to some of the scaremongering advice I received, I headed off to Heathrow and boarded a flight to Delhi.

I booked this trip a year in advance – a ‘Golden Triangle Tour’ (so I suppose, not completely solo).

But seriously, heading off to a country as foreign to me as fish to motorbikes, was thrilling, exciting and a little scary at the same time – a recipe for a meaty travel experience, that was the plan…. ๐Ÿ˜

I donโ€™t think it actually sank in until I landed. Thatโ€™s when I thought โ€œflippin eck Iโ€™m actually in Indiaโ€ yikes!!! ๐Ÿ˜œ ๐Ÿ˜

After all the plotting and planning, I was finally within touching distance of strolling cows, wandering elephants and all that fantastic crazy Indian traffic we see in those traveller-type photos.

India cherrylsblog.com DSCN8793

 

One of the many tut tuk variations in India

The stuff everyone warns you about

“Don’t go to India by yourself” โ›”๏ธ ๐Ÿ“› ๐Ÿšซโ˜ฃ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘ณ๐Ÿพ

Apparently the men are out of control and will approach you in some of the most perverse ways – “they’re not used to women”….this is what a source pretty much told me.

Well I can tell you, Indian men have some of the most beautiful women in the world, right there in full glorious view.

In fact, some of those amazing saris reveal more belly and flesh than you see outside an average beach, so I’m not sure men are as ‘repressed’ as some of the stereotypes suggest.

Maybe this isn’t the case in certain areas/regions, and granted, some women have had disturbing experiences, I know people who have been unfortunate (but I’m pretty sure the UK, and everywhere else has its fair share of perverts too).

Men seemed to be pretty neutral really, I never felt uncomfortable apart from one or two situations where I felt I was getting mobbed my some of the sellers in the street – they literally encircle you and close in.

I had to indicate my arms as though I was swimming the breast stroke to get them to move aside and let me out – but I didn’t feel threatened or in any danger – my guide was close by as well as fellow travellers from my group.

This ‘encircling’ situation could provide a very easy opportunity for pick pockets – so beware of that. ๐Ÿšจ

Be vigilant and don’t put yourself in any vulnerable situations….

I got the odd selfie request and nothing but very polite approaches – both in the street and in the hotels, well mannered greetings, nothing inappropriate.

I think Indian people are either ‘not in the least bit interested’ (probably fed up of tourists lol) or they’re likely to be curious about you (the tourist, theย foreigner)ย and in some cases, they enjoy the opportunity to have a chat and find out a little about you, and tell you about their country – which they are very proud of.

Visit to a mosque in Delhi

“The mosquitos in India are ferocious”ย 

Long story short. I didn’t get a single bite – not one. Miracle!!!! ๐ŸŽŠ ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ™

I’d even skipped my tradition of buying a new perfume at the airport because I didn’t want to encourage the mosquitos to devour me.ย 

I’d been drinking ‘Moringa tea’ for a couple of weeks prior to departure (recommended to me by a someone who takes it in tablet form to ward of mosquitos when visiting the Caribbean and never seems to get more than two or three bites), I was also drinking it daily throughout my India stay.

However, I don’t think I can say the Moringa was responsible, because nobody else in my tour group got bitten either.ย 

“Be prepared for Delhi belly”

I. Did. Not. Get. Delhi. Belly.ย 

I still can’t believe it – not even a hint of it. ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿฅณ

I only ate in the hotels and the restaurants that my guide took us to – but I did slip up half way through and found myself brushing my teeth with tap water (big rule break), yet I still didn’t get ill – I think I must have been very lucky!!

I got henna on both arms in a Jaipur bazaar – next time I’m going to get my palms done, it seems to come up more vibrant on that area when dry.ย It cost me 300RP for half an arm on one side – I did four sides – 1200RP (roughly ยฃ12)

Walking through a hectic, tightly packed Indian bazaar and trying not to smudge my henna was a tricky challenge – but also a great way to stop me ย from buying stuff I didn’t really want or need…lol

Colour, chaos, community, artistry, beautiful and welcoming people, and so many wow moments (that the camera didn’t capture), India is a wonderful place, culturally rich and a lovely reminder to me of how ‘small’ this world is and how – we’re mostly all the same deep down ๐Ÿ’›

Before I went to India: I had a dream!! โ˜๏ธโ˜๏ธโ˜๏ธ

I dreamt that my flight to India was departing from Heathrow, London, in less than three hours time and for some reason I was up in the north of England wandering around an old house I used to live in. Random.

I knew I was going to miss my flight, I should have been checking-in at that moment and would never make it back to London to get my luggage and then to the airport in time.

What on earth????

Now in real life, ย this trip had been a growing volcano of nerves and excitement for the couple of weeks leading up to it, especially since it was a solo trip and my first time in that part of the world.

Nervous ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

I reckon thatย dream was the first real sign that the nerves were starting to kick in. I very rarely remember my dreams – so when I do, I really try to pay close attention to them.

I’ve never missed a flight in my life – I’m usually so chilled and on top of everything that this dream really rustled my feathers a bit!!

I’d only have myself to rely on – I couldn’t afford any mistakes, or missed alarms โฐ ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ˜ซ lol

Weirdly, about three days before my departure, it was as if my mind was playing games with me to get me to relax – I kept feeling like I still had another week to go, when I didn’t.

That was way too relaxed.

Thankfully I never did trust those ‘chill-out vibes’.

I’d already packed and was armed with last minute lists, airport hotel reservations, tickets, ATOL certificates, copies of my visa and all the rest….printed multiple times – probably a kilogram’s worth of paper, and they ask me why I don’t travel light!! ๐Ÿ˜†

So cute!!! We went through areas where these monkeys congregate, waiting for people to give them food – bless!

Let me take you there

As per usual with me – I’ll be sharing a series of posts from this India trip, hopefully you’ll enjoy them, the pictures, the anecdotes….

Maybe they’ll bring back some memories from your own trips (feel free to leave your ‘India’ trip’ links below, I’d love to read them – India is such a fascinating place), and hopefully they’ll inspire or prove useful for a future India trip.

Delhi sunrise, good morning India

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59 thoughts on “A Solo Trip to India!!!! Leaving my Comfort Zone

  1. boyversusworld

    This is really well written and honest without casting judgment. I think that is what people need to hear rather than a super biased version that feeds into the fears that are already going around about travel to India. I have not been to India….yet….but it’s on my list. Sometimes people fail to see that India, just like other countries, is a huge and you just can’t sum up a whole country based on a few experiences in the key touch-point cities that travelers/tourists normally go to. You also can’t always believe everything you hear/see in the media. You sometimes just have to go with your gut after doing your own research and not just going with hear-say. Thanks for telling a story..your story…along with the photos. Live life with no regrets!

    1. Cherryl

      Your points ring well with me, I guess it’s hard to be open minded if you’ve had a really bad experience ( you can’t help that) but most people have a positive experience – though it’s good to hear both sides.

      Before I went, I’d met people on holiday in other places that told me they’d been to India, and how much they loved it and recommended it – the more I heard the more determined I got.

      I tried to keep an objective head when planning this trip because I was hugely inspired by all the positive experiences (including blogs/vlogs) I’d come across – and thankfully the scales tipped the right way.

      For me, India is too vast and diverse to judge harshly on a single snapshot – and most people only gain a snapshot.

      I hope you enjoy your India trip when you go, I imagine that you will….and on your end note – not that I’m a wise one or anything, but it does seem to be the case that people regret more, the things they didn’t do/try, than the things they actually did – so go for it, embrace and enjoy the experience…

      Glad you enjoyed the post – thanks for reading.
      Cherryl ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. aliterarybent

    A very interesting read, and well written, thank you. India has been on my wish list, of places to visit, for years. I’m guessing that i may have to wait a while longer, until restrictions due to Coronavirus have ceased and things get back to normal….what ever normal will be.
    I’m a keen photographer, encouraged by the photos of professionals like Steve McCurry and Brian Brake, and am eager to capture the bright colours of traditional Indian life.
    Thanks again for keeping the dream alive.

  3. Pingback: A Solo Trip to India!!!! Leaving my Comfort Zone โ€” – Truth Troubles

    1. Cherryl

      Greetings from the UK Naresh!! ๐Ÿค—I’m happy to be able to share my experience, I hope it might help to inspire others to visit India too ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณThere are a lot of unhelpful stereotypes and opinions – but sometimes you have to ignore all that and make up your own mind – try to be balanced about it. I’d love to visit India again ๐Ÿ•ŒI don’t think it’s the kind of place that you can ‘tick off’ with just one short visit, since there’s so much more to see and experience. Best wishes ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. equinoxio21

    India? A wise choice. Don’t listen to the idiots. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am always curious about traveller’s reactions to India. My family lived in India for 200 years. British raj and all that.
    I was born in Pakistan, a few years after the Partition. Still speak a few words of Urdu though I left too young.
    Now that you’ve gone there, I suggest you read Arundhati Roy’s Ministry of utmost happiness, if you haven’t already.
    Cheers.

    1. Cherryl

      Some people don’t know what they’re missing – all because of a mindset, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I haven’t read ‘Arundhati Royโ€™s Ministry of utmost happiness’ but the book description sounds wonderfully enticing!!! It might be going in the Amazon basket…..I’m always on the look out for a good read, thank you for the recommendation ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿค—

      I”ve also picked up that tourism in Pakistan is on the up – Lonely planet have been predicting it to become a new ‘up and coming’ travel destination…. ๐Ÿ‘€ and someone I know, who is half Pakistani ask why I didn’t go to Pakistan instead of India (awkward)….honest answer – I’ve never thought of Pakistan as a holiday/travel destination, I guess because the leading tour/holiday companies haven’t jumped on it yet….but it sounds like that might be set to change!

      Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ”†

      1. equinoxio21

        A pleasure reading you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even when I go back there, I will go to India, not Pakistan. Not sure what the Indian immigration officer will say when he/she opens my passport. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        The ministry is dense book. You need to know or learn a bit of Indian history, but it is worth the read. You can also start with her first book, “The god of little nothings”. Not sure what the title is in English.
        Cheers.

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