Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why We'll "Do" India Again.

We depart today back to Bangkok, and on to Ko Samui, Thailand. We didn't get to see everything in India we wanted, largely because we've fallen behind and didn't make certain reservations ahead in southern India's most popular season.

Oh well. We'll be back. Before we came, a friend told us that India stands for "I'll Never Do India Again." But I think India gets a bad rap, travelwise, and we certainly will come back. Here are some reasons why:

1. We didn't get to cruise the backwaters of Kerala, and we didn't get to Pondicherry. I'd also like to see more of Rajasthan, including Udaipur.

2. Travel in India, even cheaply, isn't that hard. We frankly found China much more difficult, particularly train travel there. Probably the most intolerable thing is getting harassed by "touts" trying to sell you everything from a massage to a rickshaw ride. It helps to remind yourself before leaving the sanctity of the hotel that you spent more just to get here than most Indians will make in an entire year.

3. India has a colorful, exotic culture.

4. The food is amazing. We've eaten almost exclusively vegetarian and found the food to be the most inventive anywhere.

5. The availability of freely roaming livestock. This sounds strange, but I personally like sharing the sidewalk (where it exists) and roadway with roaming water buffalo, cows, camels, pigs and goats. Maybe there's a farm somewhere in our future.

6. The people of India are warm and welcoming. They are proud, even in their poverty, which I find inspiring.

7. Travel in India is extraordinarily inexpensive. Next time I'm "on the lam," I'm going to fly to Goa and rent a beach shack for like $5 a day.

8. We made friends in Varanasi, Gaya and Bodhgaya (especially "Bob's Kids") to come back and visit.

9. India is the most spiritually harmonious country we've visited. With little exception (relating mostly to border disputes), Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Jainists seem to coexist here peacefully.

10. Heather never got to stay in an ashram.


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