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Posts Tagged ‘India’

It’s almost inevitable that you will get sick (pretty much inevitable) while travelling in India. Lifestyle conditions, letting down your guard and other factors will guarantee it. India’s standards are a lot different than ours so when you’re planning your trip, it’s best to be prepared. How can you travel through India and avoid Delhi Belly? That’s an excellent question, one which I can definitely answer. (I’ve had my share of “Beaver Fever” and Mexican Maladies)

It’s not something a lot of people thing about before buying their flights to India, nore should it scare travellers away from doing so. You have to really get your body ready for the foreign microbes about to hit you a top-speed before your tip. While you’re there in India, make sure you follow some basic precautions and you won’t be one of the foreign travellers dropping like flies or taking up the toilet all day long.

1) Avoid the tap water by all costs.

Simple enough, right? Keep a bottle of water ever-ready for when thirst strikes and when brushing your teeth, don’t use the tap. When buying bottled water, make sure the cap is still sealed to avoid any Slumdog Millionaire-type mishaps. You know that ice in your drink? That’s likely made from tap water so request your cold beverages without it.

2) Go vegetarian, avoid meat.

India is a nation of vegetarians. If you’ve never tried going a whole day without some pork in your beans, start now. India food is flavourful, protein-ful and delicious. Contaminated meats are the main cause for gut rot, so avoid your curry with a side of lamb.

3) Fresh cheese is a no-no.

I know what you’re thinking…but! cheese is a humble host for microbes that will split you in two. Avoid cheese that hasn’t been cooked, for example parmesan over pasta. Pizza cheese should be fine, as is Paneer, a local Indian cheese used in curry.

4) Eat in upscale restaurants.

I know, pretty much the opposite of what I always preach on here… eat like a local, follow the local’s footsteps, bla, bla, bla… but really. This time I’m saying different. Eat at touristy restaurants because they usually have a good reputation, steady clientèle and are most importantly hygienic… or else they wouldn’t find themselves in the pages of Lonely Planet year after year. Street food is not for the weary… what the locals can handle may not be what you can handle.

5) Wash your hands and trust your gut.

Washing your hands regularly before eating is always a good place to start. If there is no soap/warm water available, use a disinfectant (something you should carry around with you). Since everyone’s system is different, in the end, the best advice is to trust how you feel. India is overwhelming, so just go with the flow. You might still get sick after following my advice to the tee, but you might not. Take it easy if you do, Gravol will be your best friend.

Do you have any of your own tips to share?

This photo is from jonrawlinson, Flickr Creative Commons.

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Delhi street (sxc)

Delhi is a city for the senses, all of them. It can be overwhelming and exciting, new flavours and new sights, everything is unfamiliar and even what seems familiar also seems to be completely Indian. The streets are loud and fragrant, spices filling the streets all day long from little restaurants and street-level houses. The women pass wearing scarves of every colour of the rainbow, embroidered with silver and gold threads, little gems and beads.

This city can have an overpowering effect on travellers that have just arrived. Take it easy, take it slow. Get to know this city one district at a time. The main streets are overcrowded with donkeys, carts, cars, bicycles, rickshaws and people. Duck into a side street and you’ll be surprised at the gorgeous and glittering monuments you’ll find off the beaten tourist path. I’ve always dreamed of India, travelling through the countryside and cities picking up phrases of Hindi and Punjabi, getting by with English. It’s an extremely romantic idea I guess but there is something so intriguing about this land of spices and culture that has attracted Western travellers since the 1950s. All of the great world explorers went to India, visiting the East and coming home with stories that were more exciting than the ones in books.

Maybe one of the most attracting things about travelling to India right now are the cheap flights to Delhi. It is a great place to start a trip to India from. Delhi is a city of division, like many other capitals and it’s well worth exploring New Delhi and Old Delhi. New Delhi was built up by the British and is much more spacious than the Islamic counterpart. Take a tour of both to experience the contacts which make up this great destination. I think it’s easy for anyone to experience culture shock and a sense of time travelling once you hit the medieval-style bazaars and market places.

Curry spices (sxc)

What everyone is really raving about in Delhi though, is the food. It is the gastronomic travellers dream destination. Flavours from all over the world, thanks to global trading (or unthanks?), come together in this city to create a unique fusion of tastes and styles. You can find regional foods from all over India including delicious curries and rice paddies, influences from other cultures are welcomes, creating pizzas and Italian classics like you’ve never tasted. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’ve even heard that McDonalds sells all of the classics, but in Indian style! It’s crazy but actually makes me curious…

You can find little bits of the entire country in this city, handcrafts included. Some even suggest saving your shopping until Delhi, where you can find it all in once place and you don’t have to worry about trekking around with it your entire trip. Sounds good to me. I’m taking a look more at some of the holiday offers in Delhi and there are so many more places I’d love to go than just Delhi: Mumbai, Goa, Bengalore, Madras…

Have you ever been to India? I’d love to hear back from you about some of your favourite places or some travel advice. Leave me a comment, I promise I’ll get back to you!

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