Visiting family and exploring South India!

When were we there
19 days, November 19-December 7

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Singapore to Delhi
🏨 Sheraton New Delhi Hotel
✈️ Flight from Delhi to Lucknow
🏨 Renaissance Lucknow Hotel
✈️ Flight from Lucknow to Kochi
🏨 Kochi Marriott Hotel
🚗 Drove from Kochi to Munnar
🏨 Parakkat Nature Resort
🚗 Drove from Munnar to Kodaikanal
🏨 The Carlton
🚗 Drove from Kodaikanal to Madurai
🏨 Heritage Madurai
✈️ Flight from Madurai to Delhi
🏨 Novotel New Delhi Aerocity

Wedding in Delhi
Snacks at Shangri La hotel
Visiting family in Lucknow!
Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house
Bara Imambara: Muslim shrine and complex with a maze inside
Views of tea plantations in Munnar
Crashing a kid’s birthday party in Kodaikanal
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Madurai

Our India stop was a disappointment. We had a great trip to India a few years back, but it seems once you leave the heavily touristed Golden Triangle and Taj Hotels, hospitality quality drops off *fast*. It felt like India has actually gotten worse since our last trip!

  • The traffic and pollution is really bad.
  • Service quality sucks. We had to complain or argue constantly just to get basic service. Food orders were almost always wrong, we were overcharged many times. I spoke Hindi so I know it wasn’t a language barrier. People just don’t listen or don’t care.
  • It’s impossible to pay for anything. No one takes credit cards. It’s hard to get cash from banks (we were there just as the prime minister cancelled two bank notes). It was infuriating.
  • It’s tough being a woman in India. Bathrooms are dirty. People stare at you. It’s not safe to be out on your own. In most places, we saw tons of men and NO WOMEN out and about. Even women’s clothing stores are staffed entirely by men. It’s really weird.
  • India is obsessed with bullshit security. Hotels and malls have metal detectors and pat downs. Airports are nuts. But the worst part is that they aren’t actually doing a good job, it’s all for show!
  • India is the least connected place we’ve been. It’s hard to get a sim card. There’s no free wifi. Even Skype is blocked. Again all this is because of security and “terrorism”. It’s absolutely awful.

It wasn’t all bad. We had a great time in Lucknow! We saw a bunch of family and ate great home cooked food. We also visited Bara Imambara, a large Muslim shrine. The walls are hollow with stairways, creating a labyrinth that you have to solve to get out!

In South India we had a driver take us around for about a week. We visited many beautiful temples, lakes, and gardens.

On our last night in South India, the executive minister of the state we were in died of a heart attack. It was well known that operations in the state would shut down, people would strike and riot, and borders would be closed. Our driver asked if he could leave us a day early to get home to his family. Of course we let him. In the morning the hotel recommended we head to the airport at 4am, 8 hours before our flight, before rioters hit the streets. Luckily we got to the airport ok and our flight departed on time. But, ugh.

What all this boils down to is that india was exhausting. Nothing went as planned and it seemed like every day some new issue would come up. Now having been to other developing countries (Vietnam, Cambodia), and other THRIVING countries (China), we can really see how India isn’t moving forward with the rest of the world.