What scared you most before your first visit?

View Poll Results: What scares/ scared you most before your first visit?
coping with the poverty 9 24.32%
trying to make my money last 1 2.70%
wondering if I'd like the food 1 2.70%
buying train tickets 1 2.70%
handling the crowds 3 8.11%
keeping in touch with home 0 0%
the hot climate 0 0%
getting tricked or robbed 6 16.22%
getting sick 13 35.14%
other... 3 8.11%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

#1 Sep 29th, 2002, 21:58
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#1
For people who haven't been yet to the sub-continent: what's weighing most heavily on your mind about going there?
For those with experience: what was it that bothered your head before you got there?
#2 Sep 30th, 2002, 06:20
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#2
I checked 'other'. I think my biggest concern on the way to India for my first trip was whether the VW van I was travelling in was going to make it. My vision of India was pretty vague -- this was 1969 and I met some people when travelling around Europe who said India and Goa was the place to go for the winter and we'd all meet up in Istanbul in September for the trip across.

No one else made it of course, but met a couple of guys at the Pudding Shop in Istanbul that were looking for a passenger or two to share fuel to Kathmandu and it seemed like a pretty good idea. Things went pretty well through Turkey, but we shook the bejesus out of the tired old bus on, what was then, the several hundred kms of gravel wash-board road from Tehran to the Afghan border and were on three cylinders from then on. As it turned out, we made it to Lahore before realizing we could not get into India without a carnet de passage, the bus was sold, and I think I've gone beyond the necessary in explaining my 'other' vote.



mike
#3 Sep 30th, 2002, 06:30
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I will bet anything that the VW Van is still running somewhere today in Pakistan. Nice dry climate like that...they will last forever
#4 Sep 30th, 2002, 07:58
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I think my biggest fear about going to India, for the first time, is that when I get there I'll be hassled by every person that sees me and that it will be dirty, smelly and ugly and I'll wonder just what the hell I went there for.

I'm sure these fears aren't justified. Or maybe they are, but that is what I true first timer is thinking about. Hopefully, I'm off for a week in Calcutta in March.
#5 Sep 30th, 2002, 08:36
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Before I went I was most scared about getting sick. What scared me the most when I was there were those kids dressed up like Hanuman in Madurai - the ones with the enormous rubber lips. They seemed pretty evil. I also recall trying to remember the words to the Lord's Prayer during a bus trip in the north - winding roads, night and torrential rain. My friend got charged my a cow in a Varanasi alley and then a rat ran over her foot. Using the toilets in the trains is also kind of scary. Um, that's all I can think of.
#6 Sep 30th, 2002, 13:28
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#6

Unhappy it was the trains for me

They say what you fear most will eventually come to haunt you, and it was so for me in India with the trains.

Back then, there were no computerised reservations. Queuing and waiting, more queuing and more waiting were the methods of doing it. Before I reached India I'd read about the horrors of standing in the wrong queue. You could wait for hours in a slow-moving queue - the wrong one - and get nothing when you reached the window, only to be sent to the end of the monsterously long "correct" queue.

Yet I was lucky (or so I thought), when I reached Calcutta. The Tourist Office fixed me up with a ticket to Darjeeling while I was obtaining my "All India Liquor Permit" (I just wanted the Permit to sell later, not to buy booze). Instead of queuing for hours in the grim surrounds of Sealdah station, I got my ticket in twenty minutes.

When I reached the train that evening, however, I found that the pleasant Tourist Office chap had not wired my details through to the Railways. I had no reservation - or at least, the seat number on my ticket was occupied by another passenger. I spent my entire first trip on Indian Railways wedged under the fold-down berth of another passenger, crouching like a soiled pixie in the gloom.

After that episode, I made sure I always went personally to the station, even if I had to stand for hours in the queue!
Last edited by Midnite Toker; Sep 30th, 2002 at 16:48..
#7 Sep 30th, 2002, 16:56
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Well, it's boring old fart time. Like -m2-, I have clicked 'other'. Thinking back I can't remember being apprehensive about reaching India or anywhere else. At the age of 26, after 4 years working as a teacher in a small town in Ireland, I was actually doing something I had thought about for years, travelling overland to Australia, apart from the wet bits that is.

Every day was a new high as we travelled by bus down through the Middle East, and across Iran and Afghanistan, sleeping in tea-houses or under the stars. We discovered in Afghanistan that the Indo-Pak border was closed to vehicles so the bus was sold in Kabul and it was local buses down the Kabul Gorge and the Khyber Pass to Peshawar, then a train to the Indian border.

Nothing that I had experienced to that point prepared me for India. India was so different. It's unique blend of religions, cultures, food, art and architecture made every day a magical mystery tour. After the first few weeks of travelling around India I knew I would soon be back. I'm still hooked and like a migrating bird, destined to return, until it's no longer possible.
#8 Oct 24th, 2002, 16:23
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I had to vote for 'trickery and/or robbery', with getting sick a very close second. I was a bit concerned about making a wrong move somewhere, and winding up in a bad place after dark. Chalk it up to Yankee paranoia. I was also so paranoid about getting the dreaded trots, that I barely ate for the first few days. When I had no choice but to dive into some roadside fare, I realized my fears were unfounded, and had a great time and many great meals. Never once wound up in a 'bad place'. After reading some og these old time tales, I really feel like a bit of a candy a** when I think about what that first hippie wave went through. And I thought Anoop's was roughing it...
'Walk the Earth, Have Adventures'
#9 Oct 26th, 2002, 16:33
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#9
On my post above I said I most feared getting sick and I did. Vomiting and diarrhoea in my third day, a fainting and vomiting episode in Goa, and giardia just as I was leaving for Nepal. That was in 1995. When I went back to India last year I was a bit paranoid but I didn't let that stop me. I wan't careful at all about what and where I ate but this time I had no stomach problems. My travelling companion got amoebic dysentry, however - go figure...we ate in all the same places. I didn't escape completely f though - any little scratch got infected. At one stage I had these boil things under my arms and one on my forearm, scabs on my lips and a sty in my eye!!! I didn't feel very attractive or sociable for a while and spent a lot of time in the environs of my room - did have a beachfront balcony in Kerala though so not so bad! Plus the fact that you can buy very, very strong painkillers over the counter in India was a bonus. Changing dressings in the toilet of an Indian train didn't seem very hygenic though! I put it down to being very run down.... this time I'm going to take some multivitamins with me.
#10 Oct 26th, 2002, 18:13
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#10

Question the fear of getting sick

Getting sick is currently well in the lead as a "fear."
Don't misunderstand me on this, as I'm not trying the belittle the obvious suffering you go through being ill in India, nor proclaiming that people who fall sick are somehow "careless," but I wonder how strong the fear factor is here. Could the fear of getting sick actually predispose one to the illness?

Well, all I know is that in my limited personal experience there seems to be something working. Some friends of mine (a man and woman travelling together) had a robust fear of becoming sick while travelling in Asia, and took all manner of precautions with hand-filtered water and so on. They carried a first-aid kit that could have serviced a small village pharmacy for a month. Yet they were both sick as Arctic Shags when travelling in China and India.

Or does resistance to disease also come with learning what works and what doesn't after the first trip?
#11 Oct 27th, 2002, 02:02
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I wonder about this too, Toker. I think a regular traveller builds up some immunity to some things over time. I lost perhaps 15 pounds my first trip and seem to recall never having a solid dump for the whole time in the three or four months on the sub-continent. Two subsequent trips (in the '70's) I had several mysterious, but non life-threatening, illnesses including hepatitis which I think I got in Kashmire shortly before heading back to Europe overland (the worst trip, EVAR). Between the health issues, transportation hassles, and discovery of how much easier things were in SE Asia, I didn't get back to India until '93. By then I had also had Giardia, roundworms, and Guilline-Barre Syndrome to add to my travel health experiences.

To get to the point, I still travel every winter, and I have had little or no problems for the past several years. Yes, I travel a bit more sensibly -- avoiding overcrowded trains by travelling only with reservations and ac class when possible, more careful with food and drink and where I stay, but I do not take extreme measures and my shots are not even up-to-date. I do believe that one does pick up some immunity and perhaps working through some mild illnesses is not a bad thing.

Things have improved a lot in India over the years -- the insane railway station line-ups, public health much improved (even smallpox and polio irradication is very recent), changing money, availability of State operated guesthouses in key places where there was little private accommodations, to name a few items.

BTW, thanks Alan and 'anonymous' for your overland tales -- brings back lots of memories, mostly good but even the dodgy ones mellowed by the passage of time .

mike
#12 Oct 27th, 2002, 02:03
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#12
"Could the fear of getting sick actually predispose one to the illness?" - definitely.

My theory is that when people are too anal about what they're eating, and the hygiene involved in its preparation, then they aren't exposing themselves to the low level doses of local bacteria they need to build up a resistance. Of course, I am in no way medically trained so I could be talking total s--t.

I also follow that theory of eating the local yoghurt for at least a week when you first arrive. I like curd anyway so it's not a problem. Once again though, I have no idea if there is any real benefit in this.

I'm not scared of getting sick anymore.

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