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A visit to India is a whirlwind, a whirlwind that is an assault on every one of your senses. Before our visit I spoke to many people, read so many books and guides in order to try to prepare myself for what to expect on my first visit to India. Having been to many other Asian countries I thought I would know what to expect – I can now tell you I thought wrong. India is truly like nowhere else on earth and I believe that is what makes it so special.
Things to expect from your first trip to India
You will experience every emotion possible.
Hopefully, other people will agree with me on this one, but India was an absolute emotional roller coaster for me. I had days where I wanted to catch the first plane home followed by never wanting to leave the next day. I felt anger but I also felt overwhelming feelings of being elated as well as serene. It is what I like to call the India effect, and it is something I have not felt in any other country I have visited.
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The people are some of the kindest you will ever meet.
I can hand on heart say I did not have one bad experience with any person I met in India, in fact, quite the opposite, the people are so wonderfully kind, genuinely interested and helpful people. I hope this is something all first-time travellers to India find.
Delhi belly is real, except it can happen anywhere in the country.
If it is your first time visiting India it is likely you will be shocked by the lack of sanitation in various parts of the country, I certainly was, it was probably the biggest culture shock for me despite reading a lot about it before visiting. Despite eating vegetarian, avoiding street food, being obsessive with hand hygiene at every opportunity, I still got sick. I missed out on nearly two full days in Munnar due to being unwell and when I say unwell, it was the most unwell I have ever been in my life, I could not have left the bed if I had wanted to. In hindsight, I probably should have sought medical attention of some form, but after two bed bound days out I powered through and thankfully managed to get over it. It completely drained me.
Cows are everywhere
Expect to see cows EVERYWHERE. You’ll find these large fearless creatures meandering along all over the place, even in the middle of a busy road. At first, it is alarming but it soon becomes as normal as a pigeon in London and you will soon be shimmying around them in the market without batting an eyelid.
Personal space rarely exists
At present India has a population of 1.3 billion people. Europe is 3 times bigger than India, yet India’s population is 1.8 times larger than the whole of Europe’s. I think that says it all. Especially in the bigger cities of India, such a Delhi, you will constantly feel surrounded by people, at times it does feel a bit claustrophobic but I found rooftop terraces and bars the perfection solution for when it all got a bit too much down on the ground.
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You will see some of the most diverse landscapes across one country.
From the rolling lush green vegetation in Munnar to the bustling often claustrophobic streets of Delhi to the beaches of Goa or even seeing experiencing seeing wild tigers on safari in the Ranthambore National Park, India is so incredibly diverse in the landscape. Each place you visit you will encounter new cultures, new foods, a new way of living, it is like a little bit of magic which keeps your excitement in India constantly going.
India is far from a relaxing holiday but if you experience it with an open mind you will find an endearing country with so much to give. I felt like I barely scratched the surface on my trip, one day I am sure I will head to back to discover more, but as of right now part of me feels like I am still recovering.