15 September 2013

India - Preparation - Visas and Injections!!

Having taken the plunge and booked our flights and accommodation, it now comes down to the nitty-gritty of visas etc. It appears that all is not equal in this area of tourist visas to India.

Different countries have numerous visa requirements and one cannot argue with these as they all have to consider their national security.

For India, I was told on the Internet what was required as a South African Passport holders.
We complied with all the info and set off to the Visa agents appointed by the Indian Consulate.

First hassle - not all the documentation was in order. Why? Because there are different rules for Cape Town and Johannesburg! Both cities are in South Africa, so why would there be different rules? Nobody seems to know.

At this stage, full praise must go to the staff at the Visa offices - friendly, very helpful and obviously just as confused by this strange rule as we were.

Next problem....my partner has lived in South Africa since 1978, has full citizenship and a South African Passport. However, as he was born in Wales therefore a British Passport is required for an Indian Visa! Pray tell me what would have happened if he had allowed his British Passport to lapse? NO ENTRY TO INDIA!!!!! NO HOLIDAY!!! Money Down the drain!!!!!

This is Number One lesson - check all the visa requirements BEFORE booking accommodation or flights.

So I went off to add all the extra documentation and my partner went off to do the same plus pay a different fee (as a British Citizen!) for a visa in his British Passport.

It seems totally daft - however, we only found this all out AFTER the air-tickets were purchased and the accommodation was booked.

Cheap destination? Maybe not!
As South Africans, we pay a very high price for international travel as our Rand is worth so little.
For example, see the exchange rate below taken off Forex Exchange site on the same day:

1 ZAR = 6.38957 Rupees (this is even lower now!)
1USD = 66.4459 Rupees
1Euro = 88.9722 Rupees
1GPB = 103.321 Rupees

Needless to say, foreigners to our shores are able to have an incredible holiday in South Africa!

Now, having being scared totally sh......less by the many blogs on diseases in India, we visited the Travel Clinic to get some protection from all these horrid bugs and germs lurking around our chosen destination.

WOW - at what price - we could have bought another International Air-ticket for the cost of all these horrid jabs. The lady at the Travel Clinic was most apologetic for sticking those needles into our arms but that did not soften the pill of the astronomical costs.

It must be said that only Yellow Fever is compulsory, however the following are recommended:
Hepatitis A&B, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio. Malaria Tablets are recommended for certain areas of India - this info is available on the web.

Or you can save your money and take a chance on being bitten by a monkey or rabid dog!!

Spread over 3 whole weeks - one arm week 1, both arms in Week 2 and then a merciful break for 2 weeks until the last lot, again in one arm.

However, all this still does not prevent Delhi Belly, the very real threat in India, given their apparent unhygienic conditions. Stories of people wishing they could just die as they were suffering so much, makes one cringe in terror.

So why on earth have we chosen this destination?

Perhaps it was a weak moment and the fact that my son said "Please go somewhere other than Europe or UK this year, Mom" A Clinical Psychologist should surely know better than to send his mother off into the wilds of India where it seems the germs abound, just waiting to attack these silly foreign tourists?

A 101 things to avoid in India - did I really need to see that information on line after paying all this money? NO!!

Do we cancel and lose all our hard-earned cash or do we put on a brave face and meet those mean, alien germs head on?

Travel is, after all, an adventure into the unknown and this will certainly be one for us.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained so bring it on!!

We are determined to look only at the positive side from now on - friends who have visited India who rave about the place, books relating to Indian travels which start off hating the dirt and grime, horrid toilets, crowds and yet come away with lovely thoughts and memories.

It seems a country that is so diverse and so "in your face" with total sensory overload, that we are excited to become part of an extraordinary journey.

Holding thumbs, ankles, toes and anything else on the body!

PS - We enjoyed an incredible 4 week holiday in India - with some simple precautions, we escaped Dehli Belly, we loved the people, the food is incredible and the country is mind-blowing in it's diversity, total traffic mayhem and noise. A must on your Bucket List!!

© Judelle Drake

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