Hey everyone! It’s Cahner here, coming at you from Manila, Philippines. I’m just finishing up a 1.5 month post-graduation trip through Asia, all the while working remotely for Sapahn. How cool is it that I get to work for a company whose products not only come from Southeast Asia, but let’s its interns work from there too!?
I’m going to start this Asia travel series with a post about my first destination- India. I heard so many things about India before I went: you either love it or you hate it, the food is amazing, it’s dirty, the culture is unlike any other in the world, its overwhelming. I think all of those statements proved true for me. India is a sprawling country that would take you months, maybe years, to fully explore. India offers everything from 0 degree mountain weather to 100 degree deserts. It’s a perfectly blended mix between old customs and modern inventions, and the divide between the rich and poor is strikingly apparent.
I spent a total of three weeks in the country, and it was difficult deciding how to spend that time- there’s just so much to see! I finally settled on five destinations: Delhi, Agra, Udaipur, Mumbai, and Goa.
Serving as the capital of India, Delhi was probably the cleanest, most modern city I visited. In New Delhi, the streets are wide and nicely landscaped. Parks are frequent and sprawling, and we had a lovely time just walking around and visiting museums. Old Delhi is almost the exact opposite. Streets are narrow, dirty, overcrowded and loud with honking horns. Taking a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi is an experience in itself and a good way to see that part of the city. There are lots of markets you can walk through, but I don't recommend going alone. Even with a guide, Old Delhi was a bit overwhelming for us.
My favorite Delhi attractions:
Rickshaw ride through Old Delhi
There is only one attraction in Agra, and it’s a must- the Taj Mahal! The Taj is a mausoleum for the wife of emperor Shah Jahan, and was built in 1631. Aside from the Taj, Agra doesn’t offer much. You would think the town that sits next to the most famous attraction in the world would cater to tourists with shops, restaurants, and nice hotels, but in fact the opposite is true. The town of Agra is, in my opinion, a dump. The Taj Mahal is worth every bit of hype it gets, but only allow yourself one night and one morning in the area. See the Taj, then get out.
The small city of Udaipur came as a total surprise to me, and was without a doubt my favorite destination. The city is less crowded, easily walkable, and surrounds a beautiful lake that’s perfect for watching the sunset.
My favorite Udaipur attractions:
Temple of Udaipur
Lake Palace Hotel
Watching the bats at sunset
I have to confess, the only reason I wanted to visit Mumbai was because of the book Shantaram. If you haven’t read it, it’s about an escaped Australian prisoner who flees to Bombay (now called Mumbai) and dives headfirst into the India culture. This book will take you for a ride. I thought I would be alone in my pursuit of book locations, but I was happy to find that every traveler I met in Mumbai had also read the book. Other than seeing the sites from Shantaram, Mumbai doesn’t offer much. It’s much hotter and more humid than the previous locations (because it’s further south) and most of our time was admittedly spent inside or by the pool. Nevertheless, Mumbai is still a typical Indian city with many cultural activities.
My favorite Mumbai attractions:
Gateway to India
Goa is a beach region on the southwestern coast of India and provided a perfect, relaxing last stop in the country. I visited in May which was low season for the area. And when I say low, I mean low. The area felt like an eerie ghost town, but that also left the beaches feeling relaxed and secluded from India's normal hustle and bustle.