TRAVEL IN INDIA: PROS AND CONS
Occupation: Bank clerk
Major: International Economics and Trade
Birth place: Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
Current residence: Beijing
India, a mysterious country with a long history, greatly appeals to people like me who loves going sightseeing. Some say she is mysterious and of great antiquity while others say that she has a new look now. The collisions between antiquity and advanced technology have made the present-day India a beautiful and amazing country. Though India is characterized with wonderful scenery, negative reports online about India’s strange events and dirty environment make me a little bit scared amid hope.
Independent tour will be my choice if I travel to India. When leaving Beijing, I’ll first reach Varanasi, where I can enjoy the cultural scenery along the Ganges River and visit the divine Golden Temple; my next destination will be Agra, where I can enjoy the beauty of Agra Fort, from where the outline of Taj Mahal will be in sight. And I’ll also visit the renowned place and have a close look at the astonishing structure of the “India’s Pearl”; next I’ll visit Amber Fort in the Pink City Jaipur, enjoying the beauty of Water Palace.
An independent tour to India has many advantages. First, it is cheap. You can have a good trip in India without spending too much. The snacks in India are cheap and delicious. Second, the local customs, beautiful scenery and cultural scenic spots are really attractive, which are ideal for tourists.
However, independent tour to India has problems such as dirty environment, crowded train carriages, simple taste food and dangers to girls who travel alone. Those problems have stopped me from travelling to India.
India is a nation with a splendid culture and tradition. People who are fond of cultural scenic spots can go there with friends. All problems can be solved after full preparation. For example, travelers should know local customs and be alert against cheating.
India’s unique beauty attracts every traveler.
TRAVELLING IN INDIA IS NOT EASY
Occupation: Freelance work
Major: Chinese Language and Literature
Birth place: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
Current residence: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
I went to India with my friend in 2013. Starting in New Delhi and ending in Calcutta, we traveled through northern India in 22 days.
Chinese tour groups are rarely seen in India. One major reason is that few Indians can speak Chinese, so tourism companies with Chinese guides are scarce. Besides, Indian tourism has no selling point which can attract Chinese tourists; for instance, luxuries in Europe are cheaper than in China, and the travelling experience there can be used to show off. Therefore, travel agencies in Chinese mainland don’t pay much attention to India. Except for a few tours for study, photography, yoga, or Buddhism, tourists from Chinese mainland usually travel to India by themselves.
New Delhi and Agra are the main destinations for Chinese tourists. As capital of India, New Delhi is the tourists’ gateway to India. It has the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Tourists who travel to India for the first time must go to Agra, which is renowned for Taj Mahal. Generally, the short sightseeing route (within 7 days) starts from New Delhi, through Agra and Jaipur and finally ends with returning to New Delhi. Those who stay in India longer will choose other scenic spots they like. Varanasi, where the Ganges River flows through, is always a popular choice.
Transportation is the major obstacle for Chinese tourists in India. Inter-city transportation in India relies heavily on rail. And booking train tickets is not easy. Indian train carriages fall into four categories: AC1, AC2, Sleeper and Chair. And those who take the Chair won’t get their tickets checked, so it is equal to taking the train free. As a result, enormous number of passengers take Chair. Some video online shows that many Indians sit on the top of the train carriages are actually sitting on the top of the fourth kind (Chair) of carriages.
The other three kinds of tickets should be booked on the website Cleartrip about half a year in advance. To book train tickets an Indian phone number is needed. The inspection on SIM cards is rather strict and the process is cumbersome, making it difficult for foreign visitors to get one. My solution was to buy a ticket at the station. If no seats were vacant, I had to sit on the carriage corridor for a whole night, and I spent two nights sitting on the carriage corridor. Moreover, there is no station reporting on Indian trains, and foreign visitors should ask Indian passengers now and then about whether they have arrived at their destination.
In conclusion, as far as I’m concerned, Chinese tourists who want to tour India may encounter lots of problems, so full preparation is needed before setting out.
CHINA FASCINATES YOUTH IN INDIA
Major: B.A. Economics
Birth place: Patna
Current residence: Delhi
I have not been to China but I would definitely want to visit the country. China is our neighbor, and we have a love-hate relationship with the country but we are ever eager to learn from China. China fascinates me a lot. We use goods made in China, from large electronic devices like televisions to simple toys like remote control cars, which show the presence of China in our everyday life. Like India, China has a very long history and is very rich culturally. Besides, it is a communist country, egalitarian in its social structure. It has emerged as the fastest growing economy of the world over the past two decades, breaking the neo-liberal macro-economic thinking that government’s extensive interventions in the economy do not set country on development path. China fascinates me as it has had its own idiosyncratic approach to development during the post Maoist period. All this makes China a very interesting nation for me. I would like to learn about the life of common Chinese people, their way of living, etc. I would also like to particularly know about the education system at university level. I, as well as several of my peers, are eager to know more about China.
If I get a chance I would like to visit Beijing first. Beijing has several tourist attractions like the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and some parts of the Great Wall of China, as well as Grand Canal and the Tian’anmen Square. Many of these are UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. I understand, Beijing is a city of cities, full of traffic snarls, hustle-bustle, and functional chaos. Being a Delhite, Beijing excites me as a city, and I wonder how the city governance handles so much and with such efficiency. I also want to visit Tsinghua and Peking universities and interact with students on the campus.
I would prefer to travel with my friends and arrange for private transport, and a guide with good English. This will offer us comfort and flexibility. I might develop more insight this way than travelling alone or in a group of unknown people. It would be more adventurous too. I understand that Beijing offers tourist’s glimpses into China’s history and has got good tourists-infrastructure. It is for these reasons I would like to visit Beijing.
Some of my worries while travelling to China relate to spoken language and food. Although it is popular in India, Chinese food can be unpalatable for me if there is animal fat/oil in it or if there is lot of garlic and chilli. Traffic conditions in Beijing are also a worry for me. I would not like to lose time in traffic jams. Also, I hope that the city is friendly to foreigners and tourists.
A CHINESE CITY WITH AN INDIA CONNECTION
Major: MA in Mass Communication and Journalism
Birth place: Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir
Current residence: New Delhi
It is the city of historical pagodas, magnificent sunsets, and tea fields running into thousands of acres. In ancient texts, the city is known to have places named “Upper India”, “Middle India” and “Lower India.”
The city I’m talking about, however, is not in India at all. It is a city nestled amidst hills and a picturesque lake in China.
While reading Tan Chung’s book Across the Himalayan Gap: An Indian Quest for Understanding China, as a child, I discovered this lesser-known connection that Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province has with India.
An ancient Buddhist monk in the year 326 came from western India to Hangzhou and after seeing a hill next to West Lake declared that the hill had been brought there from Magadha (modern-day Bihar). The hill was then named Tianzhushan (Indian Hill) and Feilaifang (the peak that has flown from India), ultimately leading to the names “Upper India”, “Middle India” and “Lower India” on the Chinese map of Hangzhou.
Being a history buff, I wanted to visit this city and see for myself the object of this curious connection between two countries. I got the opportunity this year when in June I travelled to China as part of a media delegation.
The first place we went to when we reached Hangzhou one misty morning in June was West Lake. Celebrated by poets and artists since the 9th Century, the lake encompasses islands reachable by boat, temples, pavilions, gardens and arched bridges.
I was awestruck by the scenery, the high peaks and the dewy lotus leaves on the ground, caressed by the fog and playing hide and seek with the eye.
But what can possibly divert your attention from these breathtaking views?
Hangzhou, famous for Chinese calligraphy and seal carvings, is also home to renowned museums. I visited the National Tea Museum, National Silk Museum, and Zhejiang Provincial Museum where ancient textbooks, life-sized exhibits and cultural relics in dim, flickering lights created an impression of being transported back in time to China of yore, where sharp-eyed merchants along the Silk Route haggled with buyers and princesses sipped hot tea poured from delicate Yixing clay teapots.
While one can visit China on their own, since the country is safe, even for women, travelling in a group affords a sort of comfort that you might need in a foreign land where most people cannot speak your tongue. The people, however, are warm and hospitable, and despite the language barrier, will do their best to help you.
Once, when a cab driver who I asked to ferry me from our hotel to Qiantang River Bridge quoted us double the normal fare, an old man within earshot quickly started walking towards me. His knees wobbling and head shaking vigorously, the man held his fingers to indicate to me that the driver was charging too much. I smiled and nodded. Here we were, two complete strangers who will never see each other again, united briefly, as the result of a kind act. Such is the power of travel, of kindness.