- Check out a place before you book. Many places advertise a good price but are infested and have wires hanging out of the walls.
- In Varanasi the Ganpati Hostel was really great. They had Gange River views, a beautiful courtyard, nice staff and free wifi.
- The train system in India is nothing like Thailand. You are better off asking a local to book for you. And make sure you book ahead or you will find that all most seats have been taken.
- Also on many trains they have a maximum on foreigners. So check in advance.
- According to what we’ve heard, third class nonAC seats are incredibly crowded. People pushing often preventing people from getting off. If you try this out make sure your assertive.
- Second class seats or sleepers, are ok, still a bit intimate and the length of the sleepers are not made for tall westerners.
- In our experience first class seats were the best. They serve food, breakfast, lunch or dinner and the seats are comfortable and reclinable.
- Local buses are great. They come frequently and you can ask locals were they go. They are generally cheap but watch what others are paying because some times they see foreigners and try to rip you off. But not always.
- Also be aware that person space is not considered important on one of these buses. Close contact is unavoidable but watch how everyone helps you out. They don’t mind squeezing 3 to a seat made for one. They will hold things for those standing…even babies and no space is too small for another person to sit.
-Food and Drink you can get anywhere:
- Obviously depending on where you are you can sample local cuisine at almost any restaurant.
- Street food in India is more of snacks… Not meals like in Thailand. Although you can have a meal of samosas, its nice to head to a restaurant and have a curry and rice.
- Make sure however to get street food that is cooked in front of you and is fresh to avoid getting Delhi Belly.
- Masala Chai (tea) or just chai (normal tea) is delicious and you can get it almost anywhere. Even shop owners offer it to customers as a courtesy.
- Has many types of street food. Try the paneer roles and dhal balls.
- In Varanasi there are samosas, fried bread, and much more. Our favorite street food was the mango drinks. There are several stands but one in particular near the main ghat was delicious.
- Also try the brown bread bakery. Its down an alley way but not hard to find. They focus on organic, and charity. The money goes to help women of the community. (there is also a Brown Bread Bakery in Delhi in Paraguage). They have a delicious buffet breakfast with fresh curd, fruit, eggs, bread and granola.
- In Rumdula there is the Buddha cafe. Has all your non-Indian food cravings. Including pretty good pizza, and falafels.
- Specifically Mcleod Gang has many choices of places to eat.
- Our favorite was a Tibetan restaurant on Jogiwara Road next door to the Four Seasons restaurants. They have delicious momos, chopsuey and chowmen. They also serve breakfast porridge, barley and pancakes.
- There is a Japanese restaurant further down on Jogiwara road and they serve soups, sushi, and set daily meals.
- In Norbilingka is the Norling Cafe that has delicious Thanthuk soup. Its a traditional Tibetan dish.
- Spiti Valley and around:
- on our travels through the Spiti Valley we found that passing through Batal there was a small place to eat. Served by a couple with love and care. The food was delicious and the portions are a good size. All for 25 Rupees.
- There are many languages spoken in India. The north and east generally speak Hindi but English is national and many people understand it. If you do learn some Hindi and couple that with dressing like the locals you will be accepted much more and appreciated.
- Wear modest clothing. India is generally hot but it is not usually ok to show to much skin. Keep your legs covered with a skirt, or pants and keep your shoulders covered.
- India has traditional clothing such as a Punjabi Suit or Sari. They are easy to have made for you and the locals will appreciate you more and accept you.
- Men, in some areas, wear a duti but its not customary everywhere.
- Give way to cows. The cows will not move for you and you shouldn’t expect it. Cows are sacred animals in India and they openly roam the streets.
- In Rishkesh go water rafting on the Ganga. Its an amazing experience. The Ganga waters are ice cold but refreshing. Don’t go in the rainy months when the Ganga is swollen and can be very dangerous.
Love Alexandria and Family.