My Travel Shock: I’m In India, Welcome to New Delhi

“A face like mine, bereft of dreams, and white” – Nicky Wire.

My Travel Shock: I'm In India, Welcome to New Delhi

My Travel Shock: I’m In India, Welcome to New Delhi

Yes. I’m in New Delhi. I am in India! This is perhaps the biggest shock for me to date on my travels and I can’t explain it, it’s just the way it happens. From day one, I always said I had no intention of ever visiting India and 111 countries deep into the journey, change has arrived. I’m in real country 112, fake country probably 130 and it’s India!

Flight ticket from Frunze (Bishkek) to Delhi (India)

Flight ticket from Frunze (Bishkek) to Delhi (India)

People kept nagging me to visit India, I kept ignoring them and putting obstacles in the way. I cannot explain the reason why I neglected India for so long. I have turned down two fully paid for trips to India in the past, you couldn’t have paid me to go there before!! And I replied to many a hotel e-mail to turn down a stay in favour of backpacking through Chittagong in Bangladesh, Masar e Sharif in Afghanistan or Yangon in Myanmar. I flew over India about 40 times. I even secretly had a stop over in Mumbai Airport once and didn’t even want to admit that I spent 24 hours on the country’s land. I never left the airport that time though ;-), this time I will be. It just didn’t seem like a country I would ever see myself visiting.

Backpacking in India: My Day in Mumbai Airport

Backpacking in India: My secret Day in Mumbai Airport in 2015

Here are some of reasons I said I would never go to India.

  • I love China too much and I would always rather have had an extra trip to China than a first trip to India.
  • It just seemed too big, like a place I should spend 6 months in, rather than just a quick 2-4 week trip. I didn’t feel like I had 6 months at my disposal for that.
  • It’s too cliched in the travel blogging world. Everyone goes to India. I don’t want to be popular, or a follower. I’d rather backpack through Ladonia.
  • I forgot it existed.
  • I sided with some of its bordering and nearby countries like China, Tajikistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh.
  • Panny Yu told me she hated it and she is a good judge so that put me off ever going.
  • A few other friends told me it was a dirty sh*thole. Doesn’t inspire me that!
  • Toilet problems. I’ve had some bad diarrhoea down the years, and a load of bad excrement moments, often caused by Indian food outside India.
Arrival in Mumbai, India

My Arrival in Mumbai, India in secret in 2015

My first real arrival into New Delhi, India in 2016

My first real arrival into New Delhi, India in 2016

But hey, it’s a new day today and things change – again, the reasons why I am finally in India are mixed and varied, yes inspired by other travellers, the time of year and the cheap flight option from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan etc. But definitely inspired by my time in Bishkek where I met 6 other travellers that had been to India and well, every day in Bishkek I had to walk past the Indian Embassy!!! Eventually I knew I’d pop in and give them my passport and ask for a visa.

The Embassy of India in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The Embassy of India in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Yet another dander past the Indian Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Yet another dander past the Indian Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Here are some reasons for this change:

  • Holifest is on in March and has been recommended by about 5 other backpackers.
  • My friend Katia from Brazil is in India around the same time.
  • My friends Joel and Terri will be here early March.
  • The visa for India is only $35 US here in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
  • I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka so rather than repeat one of those, it seemed the right time to go to a bordering country.
  • I have a 2 month gap in my travels until my next planned trip – to Grodig in Austria to meet Lock In Lee Adams.
  • Geographically in my life, Kyrgyzstan is the closest base I’ve ever had to India, so it seems right.
It's decision time again, our love will stretch a little bit

It’s decision time again, our love will stretch a little bit

I love Kyrgyzstan though as you’ll have read and will still have my base in Bishkek, but I’m on a side trip to India. I have no exact details yet as my travels are spontaneous, but I would love to visit these places in India, given half a chance:

  • Holifest at Vrindavan
  • Gujarat and get the permit to drink alcohol there
  • Hippy Goa
  • Mumbai
  • Staying in the crazy main bazaar in New Delhi
Rupees at the ready, I'm off to India

Rupees at the ready, I’m off to India

And I don’t think I’ll be in India for long – it’s a single entry and my visa ends mid April 2016 but for now, as the backlog of travel stories continues, perhaps India will appear on Don’t Stop Living one day soon.

Travel Blogging in India (Mumbai Airport)

Travel Blogging in India (Mumbai Airport, 2015)

I'm in New Delhi, India

I’m in New Delhi, India (for real, 2016)

I have a cosy base here at the Smyle Hostel Inn in the heart of the Central Bazaar. It’s all manic and I’m embracing this joint. Let’s have it!

My room at Smyle Inn, New Delhi, India

My room at Smyle Inn, New Delhi, India

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

28 thoughts on “My Travel Shock: I’m In India, Welcome to New Delhi

  • Hey Jonny!
    I love your blog and have been following you from years, I have often wondered why you never visited India. I guess this post clears it!
    I am an Indian and live in Bangalore (DO visit if you have time to spare!) and I completely understand your worries about travelling through India. But as difficult as the journey may get, I assure you that it is one worth being on (hey! I may be biased but what the hell, aren’t we all?!).
    While Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat and Goa sound great, you may wanna make your way to Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Sikkim and Kerala as well. I assure you they are the farthest thing from sh*tholes and have beauty that can shake your insides.
    I hope you enjoy your stay, Jonny! And I truly hope you change your mind about India and come back again!

  • Hi Soumya, Thanks for your comment, nice to hear from an Indian. It’s just such a big country so I have to limit what I see on this trip and I have my own style of places I want to check out first. If I come to Bangalore I will let you know! Enjoying it so far. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hey, Jonny.

    I knew you would get to India at someday. So well done for getting there. But I must warn you, people will rip you off big time in Dehli.

    India was my 23rd Nation in 2012. I only spent 3 days in Dehli and I hated it because I got ripped off by my hotel, a tourist bus I was in broken down and every rickshaw ride I took I paid double.

    I even asked a Rickshaw Driver to take me to the location where Ghadi was cremated and he didn’t know where it was. That’s like living in Sydney and not know where the Opera House is.

    After I watched Michael; Palin’s 80 days I was kicking myself that I didn’;t visit Mumbai. I’ll visit Mumbai someday

  • Hey Jonny,

    Finally you’re in India, great to hear that. Welcome to India 🙂
    I still remember when you were asking everyone about your 100th company and I mentioned India, you said NO :D.
    You’ll love the Holi festival, it will be a unique experience. And all the lovely places you’ll be visiting soon.

    Hope you love your stay in India and have fun like you did in the other countries.

    Saabir

  • Hey Jonny,

    Finally you’re in India, great to hear that. Welcome to India 🙂
    I still remember when you were asking everyone about your 100th country to visit and I mentioned India, you said NO :D.
    You’ll love the Holi festival, it will be a unique experience. And all the lovely places you’ll be visiting soon.

    Hope you love your stay in India and have fun like you did in the other countries.

    Saabir

  • I watched an old Globe Trekker episode on Mumbai a few weeks ago. They literally just spent 10 days in and around Mumbai exploring the region as there is so much history and culture to it. Sure they did the “touristy” things, like check out Bollywood, but there were some pretty cool temples and fishing villages within 2 hours of the city that were worth checking out. I won’t be surprised if you go to any of them when you are there!

  • Hi Ray, good information and I will consider it. The weirdest thing for me is I arrived here about 7 hours ago and have had more requests to visit places in India than any other country before. There is no chance I’ll get to see all the requests on this trip!! Mumbai will be probably 2-3 days maximum, looking forward to Gujarat and Goa the most I think. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Saabir, thanks for the message and sorry I didn’t choose India for 100. Number 112 is OK for me, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who visited 100 countries and one of them wasn’t India before, but I’m here now and can’t wait to explore more of your country. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Martin, thanks for the comment. Yes it was about time I made it here. I haven’t been ripped off yet in fact the only money I’ve spent in the country so far is the metro from airport to city centre and my food (which was a set price) but I’m aware of the scams so will bear that in mind! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hey Jonny,

    Sorry I posted the same comment twice, didnt realise it!!

    No Problem, Its great that you’ve added India to your list 🙂
    I think its impossible to explore so many places in a short time but I’m sure you would like it whereever you go especially Gujarat because its one of the best states in India and then Goa which is also one of the most popular tourist destination.

    Have fun and enjoy India. Excited to see some of your posts related to India in the future 🙂

    Saabir

  • Another area of India you should check out in the future is the Tamil Nadu region in the Southeast part of the country. That place is truly “off the beaten path” – even for India – so it definitely suits your travel style! It’s predominantly a Tamil area with very little tourist infrastructure from what I understand. The only reason I know about it is that a Sri Lankan friend of mine has family there. But, I would probably save that for a return trip to India, especially if you go back to Hong Kong or Southeast Asia. Enjoy India in the meantime!

  • Hi Ray, Stop! Please stop. This is insane, I arrived in India yesterday and now almost 100 e-mails, comments, posts and suggestions from readers. Somedays I wish I’d stayed in Kyrgyzstan as nobody gave me this many ideas back then. In short, I simply don’t have time to do all this with a huge backlog which I keep adding to. Crazy times, I’ll enjoy India but I won’t be staying for 8 years to cover all the sights I’ve been recommended! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Understood. I wasn’t suggesting you should check out Tamil Nadu now because I know your time here is limited, but to keep Tamil Nadu in mind for the future if you ever decide to go back to India again. Thought posting here in your comments section made more sense as a reference point for you in the future. That’s all.

  • As for why you are being inundated with so many emails and suggestions about India, when you are so publicly adamant about never doing something in your lifetime, but then change your mind later on and do it because the time/circumstances make sense, (i.e. your reasons for going to India now after all these years totally makes sense), then expect to get this kind of attention. It’s human nature for people to want to be helpful if they can, which is really all that’s going on here. It’s not that India is this “amazing place,” but rather, your readers obviously want you to have a positive opinion of India since you spent so many years avoiding it.

    What you do have planned at the moment – particularly with meeting up with a few of your friends – is good enough for a first taste of India. Hope you enjoy these mini-Reunions and get a bit of overdue relaxation in Goa before you make it to Austria and then Euro Cup 2016 in June!

  • Hi Jonny,
    I understand your reasons in never having been to Índia. I thought the way men treat women was one of that too. I have planned to visit Índia many times, and it didn’t work out. I am glad I am one of the reasons of your change in visiting India. I am also excited in having the opportunity to spend some time with such a traveler like you. Thank you. Looking forward to meet you this Monday. I am sure we will have a wonderful time. See you soon. Kátia

  • Westerners do get ripped off in India. In Mumbai, unless you are shopping at the road-side stalls, you’ll be fine. Same goes for Goa. Delhi rips off Indians from other parts of the country too. Lol

    ENJOY!

  • Hi Ray, yes that’s cool. I had five things on my agenda in my time in India and am currently working my way through them. I will keep it in mind, but having to work between backpacking and long train journeys, time here ticks fast, it’s already been a week in India which is crazy. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Ray, thanks for the comments. Yes, you are right. I take that all onboard, it’s just been a bit overwhelming that’s all. Safe travels. Jonny

  • hey there.
    when we met at the “exotic rooftop,paharganj,New Delhi” strangers. you told me about your this trip and invited me for a beer or two. i had no idea what you were saying was really true :p. but now i think i could have listened more of your travel stories. 🙂

  • Hi Parinita, thanks for your message. Yes, I stayed for 5-6 nights in Smile Inn in New Delhi and I had some tea and food in Rooftops. Were you the lady who gave me a quick joint? That was a lovely evening and nice to meet you, I hope your life brings you joy 🙂 Safe travels. Jonny

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