So, I’m home now. Here are some parting thoughts on my stay in India, along with some travel tips.
I felt like Sylvestor Stallone looking at the 3 sea shells the first time I found myself sitting in a bathroom stall devoid of toilet paper, staring at the 2 buckets. Fortunately, I had a pocket pack of tissues on me (thanks, Mom!), and after that I stole toilet paper from the hotel, which I carried in a Zip-Lock baggy (thanks again, Mom!). Pro tip: If you’re ever in India, either learn to use the two buckets, or bring your own toilet paper. Yes, I did try the buckets.
It was so weird. Back home, you have to worry about your glasses fogging up when you come in from the cold. In India, you have to worry about the same when you go out into the heat! Bizarre for someone born and raised in Alaska like me.
If you are travelling internationally and can travel Emirates Air, do it! Even if it adds a few hours to your travel, it is worth it! Even flying coach, the experience was actually pleasant - très bizarre for an American these past decades!
I don’t care what your travel agent says, you need at least 3 hours in your first port of call (also known as an “airport”) in the US, even if that’s just a quick layover before your next flight. You will be required to retrieve your checked bags, have them screened by US Customs, and then you’ll have to check them again with your next airline. I had 2 hours, and was lucky I made my flight - got to the gate just as they were announcing final call for my flight, and only got that lucky because the gate wasn’t 20 feet past security.
Sea-Tac doesn’t have power outlets. Nope. None. You can find charging stations that cost a (honestly reasonable) fee for your cell phones, but don’t expect to be able to plug in your laptop. Also, their pay phones take credit cards, but keep your long-distance calls short - trust me! Use a calling card instead if you’ve got one.
Speaking of calling cards, make sure you get the international access number for the card(s) you’re carrying before you leave. Also, be aware that even then you may not be able to make a call unless the phone allows international calls to begin with!
A 12oz can of soda costs around 40 cents US in India, and a 1 liter (glass!) bottle costs not much more; and it’s made with real sugar! My hosts never could understand my excitement over that last little tidbit, but then again they’ve never heard of high fructose corn syrup, and I’m sure my explanation of the substance was biased.
The water in India is not potable, so do not try to drink it. Bottled water is very easy to obtain, though, and isn’t the extravagantly over-priced luxury item it is state-side.
I’ve got a few photos, which I’ll post later, but I stupidly managed to reformat my camera’s flash card while messing with settings, so lost most of them. Pro tip: Copy your pictures to your computer daily, and then e-mail them to yourself just to be safe. Also, don’t play with your camera’s settings unless you have just done this. Seriously.