You’re headed out on the adventure of a life time: Semester at Sea… or even on a quick backpacking trip through INDIA. Need some friendly tips? Itineraries? Advice? Then you are at the right spot. India is absolutely insane. After my first visit, I had to go back. The second I was finished Semester at Sea, two weeks later I hoped on a flight and went straight back to India for another six weeks. I’m hopefully going to go back again within the next two year but until then, let’s start planning your trip!
If you’re on Semester at Sea, you probably only have around five day’s in India. Which is by no means, long enough. You can barley taste the country, but the impact is tremendous. Also, if your a SASer, you will learn the importance of no sleep, cheap budgets, and packing in as much as possible in the short amount of time you have.
- With five days, you can really on hit two sweet spots. Start there. What is the number one thing you have to see in India? and wheres a spot you have always dreamt of visiting? This is where you are going.
- What’s the deal with the Taj Mahal? overrated. It’s a must see on everyone’s list, on mine too, but once you pay the over priced entrance fee, get your free bottle of water, and snap one picture. You’re ready to go. Secondly, it’s very out of the way. You either take a connecting flight from Delhi to Agra, or drive five hours from Delhi to Agra to see it. In such a short time frame, the best way to do it, is go on a SAS trip, or be really stupid like me, and don’t sleep. (I’ll tell you my trip later)
- Use every method of transportation possible, and when you have a plan A, make sure you absolutely have a plan B
- Only pack a tiny back pack, you will never have an opportunity to put it in ‘your room’, it will always be with you.
WHERE DID I GO ON MY FIVE DAYS IN INDIA?
The ship docked in Chennai and picked us up in Cochin. From point A to B we could go anywhere in India. My friend and I choose the Taj Mahal and Goa. Why? Because we HAD to get that picture (seriously overrated) and because we always dreamt of the beaches of Goa.
(1) we docked in Chennai, spent the Afternoon, visited the malls and saw a few sights, go accustomed to the rick shaw and the culture. (2) The we got on a flight to Delhi. Flew the beautiful 5 hours up, read our entire Lonely Planet book and tried to figure out how we were going to get from Delhi to Agra.
- Plan A: Take an over night train, be in Agra by morning
Our flight was delayed, our taxi driver got lost, and we missed the train by two hours. In a panic, we weighed our options. We could either (1) sleep in the train terminal with all of the locals on the floor until the next train, or (b) find a hotel somewhere and wake up early for the 6 AM train.
- Plan B: Find a hotel and take the 6 AM train, get to Agra by early afternoon.
We must have been all kind’s of stupid because we never made that 6 AM train. In fact, we missed the 7 AM one and 9 AM train too! Local’s quickly picked up that we were lost at the crazy train station, (which was much more wilder in active hours than it was during the quiet night time- all those people sleeping and scattered across the floor, were up and running, and moving around). One local pulled us aside, and told us to go to a tourism agency, he put us in a rickshaw, bargained a price for us and sent us on our way. To this day I thank the kindness of this man.
- Plan C: Book a car from the agency and drive down to Agra
Within ten minutes we had booked, paid and got in a car with a 25 year old local who drove us five hours down to Agra, and five hours up to Delhi. All in the same day. He was a nice guy, took us to off the highway reststops/ restaurants for the best food all of India had to offer. For 3 people we had a feast and paid $1.19 USD total. (The real prices on India, not the tourist attractions).
- Something important to note: THE TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON A FRIDAY.
Yep, we went on a Friday. I swear, every odd was against us to go see our ‘Must-Visit in India’ attraction. Thankfully our driver knew this and took us to the back of the Taj, where we could get a really good view of it from across the dried up river. (It’s all lush in the wet season, and completely dried up in the dry season). Success. Took the photos, and got back in the car for another five hour drive to Delhi. Hopped on a flight the next morning down the Goa. This part of the trip, was completely unplanned– not like the first part was.
Frantically on the plane we tried to figure out what beach we wanted to visit, where we should sleep how we would get there. I met a young girl on the plane sitting next to me, she was fifteen and going to Goa for a school trip. She was going to Baha beach… so that’s where we went. Rented a car at the airport and got a driver to bring us to Baha, two hours later he asked us… “what hotel?”
All we could muster up was: “drop us off on the main street, and we will figure it out”. That did not go over to well with him, but after a long conversation, he finally let us out and we walked up and down the street into every hotel to find the cheapest deal. 40 minutes later we were in a tiny shack, chipped paint, wooden bed, and two cock roaches in the shower. We only paid $5 bucks for it… a deal really.
- Plan A: Get to Goa.
We spent the next two days exploring, beaching, and scuba diving. Yes, I scuba dived in India. Then it was time to pack up our bags and head to the airport again. Hello King Fischer Airlines… back down to Cochin to meet up with the Ship.
Back in my room my roommate already made plans visit Elephants at 6 am on our last morning, so off we went, had a magical time and that concluded my five day trip in India.
A quick list of doable highlights on a short trip through India. For many people, the Taj Mahal still is a must-see, so if you make the voy
- Taj Mahal and Varanassi
- Taj Mahal and Jaipur
- South of India through Pondicherry