Jun 26, 2012

Best of India, Short Film

Two month travel through India and more than four hour long raw material resulted in this four minute video. We hope you enjoy it. Your feedback is always welcome!

Jun 19, 2012

High-end and Budget Rooms in India's Hotels and Guesthouses

Accommodation in India varies greatly. High-end hotels tend to be as expensive as in Europe or USA and provide exceptional service. Mid-range and budget rooms, however, can get very cheap and still remain good value for money. Touristic locations are pricier and do offer additional services like AC, Wi-Fi and laundry in return. 

Pictures below should be a good indicator of what one can expect in terms of price and looks. Prices are given per 1 night and tend to go down if you stay longer and if you are good at bargaining. Off-season prices can get even 5 times cheaper (check out our Mussoorie trip). Some hotels have fixed prices, others (especially family run entities) often make up a price based on how you look. 

Hotel Sheel Gopal Vision
25 USD (booked via Agoda) 

Hotel Satkar
550 INR / 10 USD (booked via Cleartrip)

Courtyard Mumbai International Airport
Complimentary (Marriott Rewards Program)

6000-20000 INR / 110-360 USD (whole houseboat + crew + cook + food)

Outside view 

Some hotel
500 INR / 10 USD

Mickey Homestay
600-850 INR / 11-15 USD

700 INR / 13 USD


Oasis Beach Resort
700 INR / 13 USD

Terrace View

Rooftop view

500 INR / 10 USD

Indian Railway
AC 2nd class
Price depends on distance

400 INR / 7 USD

300 INR / 5 USD

400 INR / 7 USD

600 INR (offseason price, season price 3300 INR) / 11 USD

Anand Prakash Ashram
1200 INR / 22 USD (complimentary yoga + food + library)

Train Station
150 INR / 3 USD (4 hours)

Rest room on steroids :)

McLeod Ganj
Pink House
660 INR / 12 USD


Eros Managed by Hilton
Complimentary (HHonors program)

Jun 12, 2012

10 Things You Will Hate About India

If you consider to travel to India, you might have heard a lot of opinions about it. Commercials show Incredible India, while Youtube is full of Indian trains. Your friends could be saying it will be an adventure, others might say you are insane. What to think about India? And should you go there in the first place?

India is a very big and diverse country, where first time visitor will definitely experience a mix of unimaginable contrasts. It is definitely not a place for the fainthearted, but with a proper expectations management, we believe anyone can enjoy it. 

In order to prepare you for the worst, we have created a list of 10 most annoying aspects of travel in India. We don't want to make judgments about India or its people. We only have our travel experience to reflect upon. Besides, we personally enjoyed many aspects of the list, especially at the beginning of our trip!

1. You will be overcharged
Taxi drivers, street sellers, handicraft shop owners, tour operators and friendly locals - at some point it feels like everybody wants to take advantage of you. Even though price will still be low for Western standards, you might become disappointed once you find out that locals are charged two or even five times less. It gets tougher in touristic places like Varanasi, where a random passerby unasked will accompany you to your hotel to collect a commission for attracting a customer. Therefore, it's better to know the price in advance and to be ready to bargain.

2. Delhi Belly (traveler's diarrhea) 
No matter how hard you try, there's a 40-70% chance of having a loose stomach, while traveling in India. Buying bottled water and peel-able fruits is a safe bet, but there's not much else you can do about cooked food, when you go out (no matter how basic or posh the restaurant is).  Some warn, that foreigners shouldn't eat at their hotels 2 days before departure, especially in North India, since owners tend to poison the food to keep guests longer. 

3. Spicy Food 
Food in India is rice and bread (parantha, parotta, naan, chapati, papad, roti, bhatura, puri etc.) based. Rice is usually served with cooked lentils (daal) and cooked vegetables (sabzi). Served food is generally processed (boiled/cooked) and spicy (with chilly) for a reason - no bacteria can survive it. And if you fancy non-Indian or raw (not processed) food, it must be a trusted location. Besides, forget about spoon or fork, you will have to use your own hand (preferably right)

4. Chaotic Streets
Take one billion people, cars, bicycles, rickshaws and scooters in one place, add some cows, make everybody use a horn and move in every possible direction, add more cows and you get a typical Indian street. Loud, polluted and heavily congested streets here work as a road, marketplace and a restaurant. Once you figure out the rules, you might start enjoying this perfect chaos.

5. Extensive Attention
Unless you are invisible, people will stare at you. Most will smile at you, many will talk, some will approach  to make a picture of/with you, some - to shake a hand and some might even try to kiss you. Travelers usually enjoy this type of attention at first, but at the end of the day being Brad Pitt is not easy. Being Angelina Jolie in India, however, is even harder, since female harassment is very common. As a result, for safety reasons there are seat sections reserved for female passengers in trains and buses.

6. Pollution
Unless you travel in a box, sooner or later you will see/smell dust, car fumes, waste, urine and feces. While street trash is being stockpiled and burned by the shop-owners first thing in the morning, nobody takes care of toilet-like sidewalks - people walk on roads instead. Diesel-run busses, trucks and rickshaws, however, produce enough exhausts for a unibrow on your face within an hour

7. Climate
Even though India covers vast area of land and several climatic zones, heat dominates most parts of the country whole year round. By the end of march temperatures reach +30C (86 F) and in some areas exceed +50C (122 C) in Summer. Sunscreen and a lot of water is a must.

8. Liquid toilet paper 
Aside from contemporary homes and expensive hotels, most of the toilets in India are holes-in-the-floor with a can of water and no paper. And if you travel in India, you might find instructional video on how to use a toilet in India by Wilbur Sargunaraj somewhat amusing and very useful at the same time.

9. Animals
Cattle are considered sacred in Hinduism, as a result many cows hang out on the streets as they please. Besides these beautiful, calm and sometimes stubborn creatures, streets of India ensure peaceful coexistence of dogs, pigs, monkeys, rats, cockroaches, lizards and even elephants

10. Poverty
Begging is widespread. And while most travel guides suggest to abstain from donations, moral pressure is always there. We fell prey to entrepreneurial beggar once, who would order only the most expensive items from the menu while dining with us. Inevitably you develop a cold-blooded attitude. And when you think you've seen it all, Kolkata punches poverty in your face and your heart is broken again.

Jun 7, 2012

Dangerous India, Trailer

Trailer for an upcoming short film about two month long journey in India.

Jun 4, 2012

Party Life in Delhi

Night train from Pathankot took us back to Delhi - last stop of our trip. We didn't visit any touristic places this time whatsoever. It was too hot and we were looking for more authentic experience.  Right after stepping off the train you can enjoy all the high-end pleasures

Porters are real jackals in Delhi. We had some hard time explaining we will carry our luggage ourselves

Hilton is always cozy, especially when you are Diamond member

Third course of breakfast

Val is always eager to demonstrate his recently learnt yoga skills

For the first evening in Delhi we were kindly invited for dinner by our Couchsurfing friend. On our way we met this gentleman, who turned out to be former ambassador of India in North Korea

Dinner with Rishi was one of the best spiritual experiences in India

Concierge welcomes us back home

The plan of the next day's afternoon was MTV pool party, where we were invited by another outstanding member of Couchsurfing community

At the beginning everything was calm and decent

Shy girls and young men

Some tired ones as well

Teacher's new drink

A lot of food and barbecue

Hot chicks

And next thing you know - the party explodes

Helen (with a surf-board in the middle) couldn't resist the temptation 

Few photos of crazy fun - what real Delhi pool party is all about

Hey, DJ 

Lifebuoy IS important at the pool party

Since I don't smoke, I decided to grow a mustache - it is better for the health

New friends

The party was fun and turned out to be best farewell event for us in India