For many people India is a place they dream of going to in a lifetime. Making up such a huge part of the world, it is a place where I felt I really needed to visit in order to really claim my “travel expert” status.
I was right! I cannot give myself such a title without having traveled this country of 1.4 billion people. The first word I could use to describe India is frustration, but don’t worry I learned it was just part of the traveling experience.
My first stop was Delhi and having been to Delhi before and arriving in the early morning, I knew that I should pay 30 times what a taxi would cost in order to get to my hotel in a safe manner. I think the amount of people gathering around you at one time would cause any foreigner a type of frustration; however, you do get used to it. I like to tell people that India is not a country that you should visit if you are looking for a relaxing holiday, instead it is a cultural and humbling experience.
I arrived at Delhi just in time for the Holi Festival, which I did not plan my trip around, it was just luck! Many people warned me about this holiday and about the “shake” (bhang) that locals would maybe drink.
Feeling adventurous, I decided to head to the streets with my friend. Locals started out being friendly, giving hugs, adorning us with color and wishing us a Happy Holi. It wasn’t until a group of young boys realized that foreigners had taken the streets.
At this moment my Holi experience was ruined in the fact that I did not feel respected as a woman, let alone a tourist. I immediately got a rickshaw and went straight back to the hotel. As travelers we sometimes put ourselves in situations that could go wrong, so I tried to avoid this. I did not want to be swarmed by people and have a ton of people touch my face with colors. What can I say? It was an experience.
In India I feel you kind of learn by doing and this was the case when I took my first rickshaw ride. While timidly crossing the street, a local man asked to guide my way across. I was thankful and then I happened to ask him how much to pay to get to my next destination. He told me a maximum of 30 rupees which I couldn’t believe. This is when you learn by doing. If a driver offered a price for 300 rupees, I would probably have thought that 100 rupees was a good deal. This then set the stage for how I would travel and how much I would pay. Thank you to that man helping me across the street.
Delhi is an interesting city – it goes from modern to complete old school. Driving around through the embassies you feel you could be in any city in the world. I enjoyed the wide streets, cleanliness and modern charm this part of the city offered.
Then it is crazy that within a few minutes you can be in Chandni Chowk – quite possibly the craziest place I have traveled too. What blows my mind is that I can go from this old town to having cocktails on the rooftop of the Oberoi. This to me is also why India is frustrating. You can ignore parts of it and live the life of luxury or you can experience all parts of India. However, as a traveler these things don’t make sense to me. A friend of mine took me to visit the best restaurant in India, India Accent. I’ve never experienced such flavors which was a meal full of Indian Fusion. I’ve been to places around the world and this definitely is one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Delhi is a fascinating place and although it is chaotic at times, there’s always a park or rooftop you can escape to and experience the sites, smells and sounds in a different way. I’d definitely recommend staying a few days and from here you can get adjusted before continuing your journey through India.About the Author
Ashley Colburn is a two-time Emmy award-winning TV producer and host. Colburn is a California native who calls San Diego home when she is not jet setting around the world. She began her career as a host, producer, and writer for Wealth TV in 2009 where her first travel show ”WOW Croatia!” was awarded Croatia’s Golden Pen award (Best U.S. media) and won an Emmy in 2010. Following her success with the Croatia show, Colburn created “TAKEOFF with Ashley Colburn” a travel series that premiered in 2010 on WealthTV and took her to over 25 countries on 6 continents over 2 seasons.
Since late 2011 Colburn has run her own production company, Ashley Colburn Productions, with the aim of “Finding the Wonder in the World. Wonderful People. Wonderful Cultures. Wonderful History. ” Ashley Colburn Productions filmed her original series WONDERS (Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia and Switzerland) and has distributed the series worldwide. Currently Colburn is filming WONDERS OF ASIA which includes episodes in Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, China, Nepal and India. After nine years on the road, Colburn has filmed in 40 countries and visited 60!
Colburn received her 2nd Emmy in 2012 for her work in “Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu.” Her production of “TAKEOFF: Thailand” was awarded a Telly as well as the Silver prize in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.
With more than 20 trips to Croatia behind her, Colburn is Croatia’s biggest fan and decided to call it home for half of the year. After filming the entire country, her knowledge and interest continued to grow since her first visit in 2009. Colburn started arranging tours to Croatia for Americans, is writing a guidebook and creating video guides. She is also learning the language which she will admit is not easy. Colburn started a travel journalism study abroad program in 2016 and spends a couple weeks teaching students how to create documentary films, start blogs, write articles, etc. You can visit www.ashleycolburnscroatia.com and book one of her exclusive trips to learn more about her love for the country.