India. Wow what a country!
So before I start let me just say how much I loved the experience of travelling in this crazy, wonderful country. However if I’m honest I can’t say it was always great.
It was what traveling is about, experiencing the good and bad things the world has to offer and it was definitely 50/50.
The countryside is beautiful with its extraordinary expanse of fields, hillsides, lakes and rivers. The locals love to tell you about what’s growing in each field and give you a great deal of information on what everything is. They are very proud of their country especially the agricultural and products they produce. In general they just seem to love to share their knowledge of their culture.
The city’s were just insane, so busy and alive with such a surprising blend of small shops, small restaurants, street vendors, people selling stuff from unfinished buildings that have no front alongside bigger well known western retailers and restaurants.
The temples and places of worship are just mind blowing, spectacular buildings that can be seen for miles around. You step inside and it’s like stepping into another world, as soon as you enter the world just yards away seems like a million miles away and the dirty hustle and bustle of the outside world instantly turns to a calm clean place of worship.
I’m not a religious person so forgive me but I can’t really understand how such magnificent things are built at this scale in such a place. I mean we have grand Churches and Mosques in the UK but these Temples, Mosques, Palaces and towers built by Kings with something to prove are huge. Surrounded by gold statues, massive marble blocks with embedded intricate hand crafted designs made out of stones from all over the country. Yet outside these walls the roads, shops, hotels are nothing to admire nothing comes close to the beauty of these wonders everything else is just what the people make of it.
There’s just such an obvious difference here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, for instance in Thailand religion is also prominent and they also have great temples and palaces but they are smaller and fit in with the surrounding area. Again forgive me if there’s something I’m missing or I’m being naive this is my opinion from my short visit and limited experience in India. Couldn’t they build smaller ones however and give some of that money, time and effort to the people in the impoverished area right next door?
Everyone wants your money. Obviously! But it gets frustrating. Happy optimistic Tour Guides will show you around a place that at first looks interesting but you will quickly realise they are leading you into some elaborate scheme. They will try to sell you something and when you don’t buy it the mood quickly changes and you start to feel uncomfortable with the situation.
People will try to grab your attention constantly whether you’re on the streets or relaxing on the beach everyone wants to sell you something. Being British and polite it’s hard to ignore someone asking your name or where you are from but you have to because you know they just want to try and sell you something and it gets stressful.
India is dirty. No beating around the bush, I want to be brutally honest here it needs a kick up the arse. They need to put some real effort into waste management and to try to educate the people to not throw their waste out onto the street. I know that there are parts of India that don’t have the infrastructure or manpower to make such changes, but I’m not talking about in the slums or areas way out in the countryside, I’m talking about big cities and towns where you’d expect some sort of waste management to exist. Everywhere we went we could visibly see rubbish, it lines the streets, it’s on the beaches, in the seas and rivers. Plastic bags, cups, cans, bottles everywhere. You regularly see locals simply dropping food packaging on to the floor after use even with a bin within a few paces. I know we are totally different cultures and I know it wouldn’t be simple to change the country’s ways overnight but some simple changes could be made. Some educational advertising and warnings of fines would be a good start. I simply think they don’t know the issues we are facing with our plastic problem or maybe they just don’t care I like to think it’s the latter and they would help to fix the problem if they were educated how and why.
I wasn’t going to write so much about this issue, I was originally going to state that it’s dirty and has a few hygiene problems and that’s just how the culture is in India. However I began to notice that while travelling Indian tourists would continue this type of behavior despite being in other countries. There was one time that really annoyed me and it influenced me to write a little more about this problem.
So we’d left India and were settling into Thailand, what a place: beautiful beaches, clean blue seas and we had treated ourselves to a boat trip to Phi Phi Islands. Part of our trip took us to a spectacular bay it’s the location where they filmed “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. We caught a speed boat over with roughly 25 other tourists. About halfway across an Indian gentleman had become sea sick and wasn’t feeling great so he moved seats to sit at the back next to me. He obviously hadn’t taken the advice to take the free sea sickness tablet they were giving out prior to setting off. One of the staff members gave him a plastic cup of water and he proceeded to drink a little and wash his face then without any hesitation threw the plastic cup off the back of the boat into the water! OK well he’s not feeling great let’s give the guy a break. So then comes the sick, luckily the staff find him a few small plastic bags to catch it with. So off the back of the boat the plastic bag goes into the nice clean water for some sealife to get wrapped up in. At this point I’m biting my tongue I had noticed some of the other tourists grow frustrated at his actions but Lis had told me to ignore it and not say anything as to not cause and argument so I hold off. I can see the coastline coming up so I get out the 360 GoPro fusion camera because wow the view of the beach cove and vertical mountains that surrounded it where simply incredible. Then once again just as we are approaching the beach in goes a nice bag of warm vomit for us all to swim around in. I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer I had to say something. I’m polite and say something along the lines of “You do know you shouldn’t throw plastic in the ocean like that, there’s a bin behind you?” he doesn’t catch what I say and I repeat the question and ask him if he understands me. He responds with “I’m sorry I will try to remember” I thank him and offer him my sea sickness tablet I’d pocketed just in case but he declines stating it wouldn’t help.
All in all India was great and I enjoyed travelling there. We saw some great, random, crazy things that can only be seen in India and I’m so happy I’ve been. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants to experience something different, it’s definitely a country I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on visiting!