flying to India in September

Though I’ve spent well over a year traveling the subcontinent, I’ve never been to the hiking mecca of Ladahk.  I land in Leh September 11th, 2015 to do Markha and more.

LehAT A GLANCE

  • Markha Valley is the most popular hike in Ladahk, northern India, bordering Tibet
  • easy access out of Leh
  • 6-8 days
  • 111km (69mi)
  • early June to mid-October
  • moderate-demanding
  • big risk of altitude sickness
  • 2-3 high passes (4900m-5200m)
  • several nights at very high altitude

This is the Tibet of India. 🙂

by lupus alberto
by lupus alberto

 

India hates tourists … less

New. Announced November 2014 for tourists wanting to travel to India.

e-Tourist Visa. Online. US$60. Good for 1 month. Single entry.

Here’s the application page (I hope). I’ll try it for a trip September 2015. Wish me luck.

Original post from 2014 ____

I’m in Nepal. Visa on arrival. No hassles. Nepal loves tourists.

India still requires a visa in advance for Canadians, a stupid and time consuming process from the days of the Raj.

Though open-for-business Modi promised Obama it was coming, it’s not yet here.

Modi

India is working on a proposal for visa on arrival (VoA) facility for US tourists, one of the big-ticket announcements expected to be made during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile visit to the US beginning September 26. …

Times of India

Since 2010 visa on arrival was available for citizens of these nations: Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and South Korea.

Yet they cannot bloody add more nations to that list? 😦

UPDATE – The list has been expanded to 43 nations including the USA. … But NOT Canada. NOT U.K.

related – India hates tourists (2013)

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

Not great, despite prizes and rave reviews.

The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga.

It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year. The novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy. In detailing Balram’s journey first to Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, the place to which he flees after killing his master and stealing his money, the novel examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty in India. …

white tiger

Amazon

I did like the vision of modernizing India as seen through the eyes of one of the poorest Indians.

But – as is the case in many prize winning novels – there is weirdness for the sake of being original.

The protagonist is writing to the Premier of China. Admitting to murder.

Why?

In order to be considered for the Man Booker. It’s stupid. Makes no sense. I won’t read his follow-up novels. 😦

India hates tourists

You still need a visa in ADVANCE to visit India. Getting one is a pain.

I spent hours in a Kafkaesque office in Calgary, trying to get the paperwork right.

WHEN is India going to improve the process for applying for a tourist visa?

In Canada you are recommended to go through a 3rd party – BLS India. That helps. A bit.

All foreign nationals except those from Nepal and Bhutan need a visa to enter India. But the following nationals can probably get what we all want — a visa on arrival:

Finland
Japan
Luxemburg
New Zeeland
Singapore
Vietnam
Philippines
Laos
Myanmar
Cambodia

Rishikesh
Rishikesh

India is fascinating, once you finally get a visa.

On arrival at Mumbai International terminal, I changed cash at Thomas Cook.

US$200 got me … 11,250 rupees (“Trans Fees, Service tax, Education Cess., Higher Education Cess., etc)

Google (same day) told me $200 was worth 12,410 rupees.

So I lost 9.35% by going through Thomas Cook. Par for the course, I believe.

Using my Visa card cash advance was, the Thomas Cook agent told, was going to cost me about 16%.

There seems to be no good way to get cash when traveling abroad, these days. My plan in future is to try not to exchange currencies more than once. You get burned each time.

Bhaktapur is wonderful

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a 55-window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. …

Here’s the view out my window. ($6 / night)

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Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.

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There are more French international tourists than any other nationality.

Surprisingly, there was also a very large group of Chinese tourists here today.

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It’s not difficult to spot the Chinese. 🙂

Lunch at my home away from home, Shiva 1 Guesthouse.

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$5.50 including a pot of coffee. 🙂

more Bhaktapur photos

Bhaktapur is relatively CLEAN … for the sub-continent.

The $11 entry fee is used, I hope, to keep the suburb like Kathmandu 1970 something …

related – FILTHY INDIA – NOT FOR SENSITIVE VIEWERS! (47 PICTURES)

Some Californians just back from Pokhara, Nepal told me it’s now just as polluted as Kathmandu. 😦

It was paradise last time I was there.

train out of Dehradun, India

My train ticket wallah delivered my ticket to the hotel. It’s complicated to purchase a train ticket yourself in India.

Delivery fee $1.60.

I caught the 5:10am Shatabdi 2nd Class non-AC Dehradun to Delhi. About 6hrs. If all goes well, I’ll connect to my flight to Nepal.

Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand state in north India is on nobody’s tourist radar. Yet I managed to spend 4 nights here. 🙂

A few pics.

The Clock Tower.

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There are far more toilets in India than the last time I was here, 14yrs-ago. Some Hi-Tech.

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Garbage disposal system has advanced more slowly.

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Ram Rai mausoleum, one of the few downtown highlights.

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more Dehradun photos

I stayed at the Hotel Relax. Recommended. I found it through Trip Advisor, a service I’m using increasingly over Lonely Planet.

worshipping monkeys

Hanuman is a Hindu deity, who was an ardent devotee of Rama according to the Hindu legends. He is a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and its various versions. …

Hanuman participated in Rama’s war against the demon king Ravana. According to Jain texts, Hanuman is a human of vanara clan whose emblem is the monkey. …

Hanuman Rishikesh

One of my photos from Rishikesh, I should submit that for postcard consideration. Postcards are still popular in India.

I’m spending a lot of time studying monkey antics.

Rishikesh monkey

Mean, smart, incredibly agile.

visiting Mussoorie

Tourist town on a ridge.

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Mussoorie:

… This hill station, situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, is also known as the Queen of the Hills. …

Being at an average altitude of 1,880 metres (6,170 ft), Mussoorie, with its green hills and varied flora and fauna …

The main promenade in Mussoorie is called, as in other hill stations, the Mall. In Mussoorie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace at its eastern end to the Public Library …

During the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, the Central Tibetan Administration of the 14th Dalai Lama was at first established in Mussoorie before being moved to its present location in Dharamsala …

Now, Mussoorie suffers from overdevelopment of hotels and tourist lodges, given its relative proximity to Delhi, … and has serious problems of garbage collection, water scarcity and parking shortages, especially during the summer tourist season. …

It has a nature walk known as “Camel’s Back Road”. …

I stayed on the Camel’s Back (the best part of town) at Lonely Planet darling cheapo, the Broadway Hotel.

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Here’s the view out my door.

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Spiritualism is important in India. Check the impressive hospital just off the Camel’s Back.

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Education is important in India.

Woodstock School is a Christian, international, co-educational, residential school located in Landour, a small hill station contiguous with the town of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India.

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One of the best schools in the nation.

Trash disposal is not high priority in India. Mussoorie is better than most other towns, however.

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Like most tourists, I enjoyed Mussoorie. 🙂

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