Monday, February 12, 2007 India India

Incredible India

Lovely. And we were at the FRONT of the hotel, not round the back where presumably the really bad views are. But the hotel itself was spotlessly clean, which is why we came back on our return to Delhi. [IMG_1010]
View from our room in Old Delhi [Enlarge]

This post is going to be a short one. We are so sick of India's filth and top-to-bottom corruption that we are quitting and getting out of here! Our plans to visit north-east India, Nepal and Bhutan have had to be shelved.

Jaipur was just as disgusting as the other cities, and smellier. The difference compared with Delhi was that our hotel was also dirty. We took the train back to Delhi as planned, and have booked two one-way plane tickets to Bangkok overnight on Wednesday night. From Bangkok we plan to tour south-east Asia before moving northwards into China. We will hopefully get our Chinese visas while we're there. Unfortunately, it is another city that people seem to either love or hate—we hope so much that we end up in the 'love' category.

India's main tourist website at (challenge: spot a single piece of rubbish or freshly laid turd in any photo on that site!) describes Jaipur as

Settled in the rugged hills of the Aravalis, Jaipur is the pristine jewel in the desert sands of Rajasthan. Jaipur is as remarkable for its marvellous architecture and town planning as it is for the lively spirit of the people who inhabit it. The city presents a unique synthesis of culture that has to be experienced in order to be appreciated.

Let's just say that we disagree. In the words of a wise traveller we met, "When you start hating a place you just need to get out and move on."


Map of Day 079

Day 079
Jaipur to New Delhi

This map shows the route we took in this post. Click it to see larger maps of our whole route at flickr.

Maps are taken from the CIA World Factbook.


Hero Hiralal said...

First, let me say that I absolutely admire your will to leave all you have to travel around the world. Hopefully I'll be able to do something similar.
I'm just sorry to know that you missed some of the most unique landscape, people and culture of a very prominent country of the world. Maybe you could've used some tips from a real person rather than websites like LonelyPlanet. Judging from your experience at hotels, you probably stayed in some of the cheaper ones. Those can be tricky. When traveling to India, unless you know how to judge a hotel, it's better to stay in the expensive brand name ones. The luxury is just out of this world. Travel is the same - air and luxury trains are a lot more reliable and luxurious, while still being cheap. You should've stuck to those. The real sights in India, and the real warm people are not in the cities around tourist hangouts, but off the beaten path - you've gotta be a little patient to get there, but the hospitality will just overwhelm you.
Secondly, you did well in holding your ground, though I must tell you that you got ripped off by most people that you thought you bargained very well with.
I hope you find some friends who can tell you about the real India, and how to see it - for it is an experience that you'll return to once you've experienced it

Glenn Livett said...

Hi, thanks for your thoughtful comment.
I agree with some of the things you say, but not everything. Firstly, the parts I disagree with.
Yes, we stayed at cheap hotels. There are two reasons why we don't stay at expensive hotels: (1) We can't afford it, and (2) They are the same all over the world: someone who stays at the Grand Hyatt New Delhi cannot say they have stayed in New Delhi in my opinion.
I'm afraid I can't agree with you about the luxury trains either. We found them to still be filthy and woefully late. But we weren't complaining about that! We want to see the 'real' country and if that means waiting for hours on dirty trains, then so be it. Absolutely no problem.
We are also OK with touts and scamsters—Thailand is full of them, and it's one of our favourite countries. What we couldn't stand about India is that the corruption is utterly endemic and institutionalised. As our experience at New Delhi station showed, the security guard (supposedly there for passengers' protection) was in on the scam. The authorities are well aware of this and yet do nothing. And that's why we chose to leave and spend our money in an honest country instead.
Where I completely agree with you is that finding the real warm people outside the touristy areas is the key. India was our first 'difficult' country and we were too impatient with it in this respect I guess.
Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to comment, and I hope you have the chance to do something similar some day. It's great!

Kashif said...

I am an Indian American who just returned from a 3 week journey to India, my first in 13 years. I totally understand what you went through. I am fluent in Hindi (although Indians can tell a foreigner -- even someone from another province -- from a mile away and will take advantage of this whenever possible), I obviously look Indian, dressed the part, but found the dishonesty, corruption, and filth of the country to be overwhelming. I can only imagine the hardships that a non-Indian would face because they easily stand out and are, unfortunately, a target of many scams and unsavory people.

I ended up leaving a week early and scrapping my plans to visit the South because I was fed up with the same things you got sick of. Luckily I was with my cousin who is from the Madya Pradesh, and I stayed with locals an Jaipur -- so I actually found that city to be the best out of all the places that I visited. Of course, it was still full of issues, but relatively speaking, it was the best city.

Hopefully you will get the chance to go back either (1) when the people clean up their act (I know that sounds condescending, but a bit of respect towards your fellow man, yourselves, and the environment would go a long way); or (2) when you hopefully have the means and have saved up enough to take a tour and stay in hotels that isolate you from all the crap I mentioned above. I am not optimistic about (1) happening any time soon, but I may just opt for plan (2) when I myself have saved enough $$$ and have the time again. Best of luck to you. I'm sorry your experience was not as you hoped, but know that you are absolutely NOT alone in this!!!

Glenn Livett said...

Hi Kashif,

Thanks for your comment. When we went to Indonesia we saw locals being ripped off by the scammers and we realised then it's not just the white foreigners who are targeted. Obviously it's the same in India too!

You're right that it just kind of saps your energy and eventually you just think it's not worth it any more, and quit.

But we definitely want to go back one day to try again.

Anonymous said...

What a shithole. No wonder USA's economy is going into the toilet. You get what you import.