India for "clean-freaks", "glamorous", "delicate" and fussy people.
A year ago my husband got the opportunity to go to India, Hyderabad, for a conference. Because I am a "clean-freak" and fussy I concidered not going with him. I tried to brows the internet, to find out how to "manage" this trip, but all I found was from "backpackers" and people who stayed at hostels etc... However, I decided to go with my husband to Hyderabad and I now want to share some of my "hints and tricks" on how to survive.
Take the cholera-vaccination (and of course all the other "shots" you have to take). I don't know if it helped me, but in my opinion, it's better to be safe. I didn't take it agains cholera, but because it also helps against "bombay-belly" (diorrhea...:-)). I asked my doctor to get some anthibiotics just in case of a very bad diorrhea and we both got. When I asked when to take it the doctor said: "You KNOW when you need to take it, trust me!" :-D Hyderabad is not a malaria area, so we didn't need to take malaria-meds.
I began taking probiotics some weeks before we went and I also took some everyday in India. I had tons of antibacterial gel, wet-wipes, Imodium, insect-repellent, etc...
DON't try to save money when choosing hotel. We stayed at a 4-star business hotel, but after being at Sheraton and Taj Krishna I regretted I didn't go for that option. It didn't cost that much extra, but it was much nicer.
Don't eat street food and of course, drink only bottled water. When buying water, be sure the bottle is sealed.
We decided to be vegetarians in India, although we always ate at good hotels and at the conference. Of course, we only ate cooked vegetarians... Better safe than sorry.... On the other hand, the food and sauces was always very tasty so I never missed meat.
I would also recommend a little bottle of soap. I always brought it with me. Very often you could get water to wash your hands, but the soap was lacking.
The traffic was HEAVY. My suggestion is to not LOOK at the road when sitting in the car. It feels safer not to look...:-D
I never felt unsafe, but I never felt as free as I am used to be when travelling. Normally I am used to "explore" by my own as my husband is working. In India I stayed very much at the hotel. I was affraid of going out in the traffic and I didn't dare to take a taxi alone.
Be prepared for a "sight-seeing" when entering a taxi or a rickshaw. If you ask for a certain shop, they always take you to a friends, aunt, uncles etc... shop and tells you "this shop - much better".
I am sure I have forgotten something, but if anybody wants to know more, don't hesitate to ask! :-D You CAN survive but I found it stressfull and will not go to India again.....
Re: India for "clean-freaks"
Thanks for the post no-backpacker! I have to say, I'm not sure how to respond to this one. I'm generally a clean freak, but I knew that India would be dirty, and I dealt with it. A trip to India exactly one year ago was the best trip I've ever taken. It is a difficult place - exceptionally dirty in some areas, impoverished in many places - but the wonderful people, the over-the-top fabulous hotels, the gorgeous sights make it all worthwhile. I'm wondering if you were so turned off by your "dirty" experiences during a business trip in Hyderabad that you would not consider another excursion to India? Because the sights and experiences in Rajasthan, Varanasi and Agra (I could stare at the Taj Mahal all day for weeks on end!) make the inconvenience of filth and crowds well worth the trip. You planned very well in advance with all of the medications, soaps, antibacterial gels, etc. (all good ideas, by the way) and those could certainly help you for another round. I just hate to think you have written off India completely after a first experience in one (more industrialized) city during a business trip when you were a bit too overwhelmed to leave the hotel very often.
To others reading this, please take another opinion on this wonderful (and quickly changing) country. India is a country for a real traveller - one who is willing to step in a little filth to see something fabulous even when staying in one of the world's most wonderful hotels. The people, sights, history, food and shopping (!) make it well worth it. I believe it is well worth it. I can't wait to go back.
If you are really overwhelmed with the idea of travelling in India but want to see it (and, no-backpacker, maybe you would benefit from this) - use a tour company to do a custom tour where you are accompanied by a guide the entire time. That way you can have the flexibilty and independence of being on your own but can have the assurance and comfort of being with somebody who can get you around easily, knows where to go, knows the language (although most people in India speak English) and can ease you along the way. By the way, traffic there is bad but no worse than in other similarly-developed Asian and Middle Eastern countries!
Re: India for "clean-freaks"
Classenam, Yes, I don't think I will visite India again. There are so many other places I would like to visite. For me India is like: Been there, done that. I love Indian food and I really loved all the "over-the-top-luxurious" hotels, but it just isn't enough. I know a lot of the other people we met in Hyderabad had some days before or after the conference and traveled around. I didn't regret we didn't do it as I think it would have "stressed" me too much. I feel a little bit "guilty" of saying this, as so many people love India, but I didn't fell in love. I have the expression you either love India or hate it. Or maybe it's a love/hate realtionship and some happen to end at the "love" side and some at the "hate" side? Ehm... I struggle with my English here... did it make sence?