Seven Month RTW Update: Rambling On To India

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Seven Month RTW Update: Rambling On To India

I’m in Bangkok, waiting for my upcoming flight to Bombay and catching up on projects. I’ve stayed in Asia a couple months more than I had expected — Vietnam and Laos both deserved more time than I had originally planned for. I’m glad I spent the extra time.

Laos proved to be my favorite country so far — it has that perfect mix of friendly people, amazing scenery, great food and a laid-back attitude that just seeps into your bones. When I first arrived, I spotted a tourism sign that read “Stay Another Day” and I think that’s the perfect slogan for Laos — I found myself falling in love with one quiet town after another and thinking “just one more day…”

But after seven months, I’m ready for something different and I think India will definitely deliver in that regard. It’s been eleven years since I last visited and I’m curious to see what has changed and what hasn’t.

India is not easy travel. It’s crowded, noisy, and dirty and the level of poverty can be soul-crushing. Every aspect of the human experience is not just on display, but right in your face — death, birth, disease, hunger, fear, hope… It’s not an experience that you can control or manage — you just have to dive in and surrender, having faith that at some point you’ll resurface intact. India is all about faith.

My Travel Plans Have Plans of Their Own
I had planned on flying into Calcutta and making my way north to Nepal before it gets too cold in the north. A couple of days before I was to buy my ticket, I discovered that the Durga Puja festival was in full swing in Calcutta, peaking the day after I arrived. It’s one of the largest festivals in India and draws millions of Hindus to the city to make offerings to the Goddess Durga.

At first, I was excited by my lucky timing, but as I learned more I realized just how large a celebration it was and found that most Bengalis go on holiday right after — most transport out of the city is booked up for weeks. As much as I’d like to see it, I realize that it would be the equivalent of arriving in Rio during Carnival with no hotel or transport arrangements — I could be stuck there for awhile.

So, instead, I’m flying into Bombay and making my way northeast to Nepal. I’d hoped to visit Sri Lanka as well, but India has tightened their borders and I was only able to get a double-entry visa. Maybe I can find a way…

Good News and Bad News
The good news is that I bought a new camera. The bad news is that I bought a new camera. I hated spending the money (a significant portion of my remaining budget), but my Canon Rebel XSi finally died. It refused to focus and the electronics were starting to act up. I’d been unhappy with the sharpness of the lens as well and had already resigned myself to investing in an upgraded lens.

Seven Month RTW Update: Rambling On To IndiaThe Canon service center in Bangkok could have repaired it for me, but they didn’t have the part and it would take two weeks to order one, meaning it would arrive long after my visa ran out. So I took the plunge and bought the latest, greatest toy… err… tool I could afford, the Rebel T2i/550D with an 18-135mm lens. The lens is a lot sharper than my old one and the low-light capability is astounding. I can’t wait to put it through the paces in India.

Still Going, Still Growing
The site continues to grow, with traffic increasing by about 20% per month which seems pretty good to me. JV has nearly 500 Facebook Fans, over 2,000 Twitter followers, 500 RSS subscribers, and around 7,000 unique visitors per month.

I’ve made a little money from selling ads on the site, but there’s a long ways to go if I hope to generate enough income to extend the trip. Monetizing the site is something I really haven’t spent much time on until now. I’ve got enough budget for another six months, but I’d like to go another year or more, so I’d best get busy.

Freelance graphic design projects have helped slow the bleeding from my savings account as well. (Shameless plug: if you’re looking to buy a new calendar for 2011, check out Calendars.com — they have thousands to choose from and they’re good people.) And if you need some web graphics created, drop me an email. I work cheap!

I’d like to thank you all for following along on my adventures so far and for all of the amazing support I’ve received. Every email or positive comment really makes my day and helps keep me motivated. Thanks so much!

-Wes

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Darcy October 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I work in a photography store and nearly commented a couple of times that it’s a shame you didn’t have a slightly better camera (the 450D is okay, but the 550D is so much better). It hurts me a little each time I have to sell a sub-par camera to people going on their trip-of-a-lifetime, so I’m really really excited for you and your 550D and even more excited to see the (surely excellent) results. You could even try your hand at a video or two.

Great to see you didn’t rush your time in SE Asia as well! Looking forward to your posts from India!
.-= Darcy´s last blog .. =-.

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wes October 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I thought the 450 was a decent body, but the kits lens was a bit of a disaster. Never a good idea to buy a camera right before a trip and not have time to test it out well beforehand. Lesson learned…

Thanks for the comment!

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sofia October 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I’m planning to buy a Canon 550D, and have had the fortune to borrow one from a friend for a while to test it out – it’s really one of the best cameras I’ve ever had my hands on!
Looking forward to read about your trip in India!

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wes October 14, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Thanks, Sofia! I can’t wait to give the 550 a real work out. So far, I love it.

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Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog October 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Hey Wes, i have loved your posts so far and looking forward to reading your posts about India. Would donate to your travel fun but I am a bit skint myself. Get a job as an extra in Bollywood movies. ( no lie, I read that somewhere.)if I remember where then I will post the URL here.
.-= Natalie – Turkish Travel Blog´s last blog ..To Travel By Bus Or Plane =-.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:44 am

Oooh! I love the extra idea — I’ve heard of that as well. I think it could lead to a fun story as well :)

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Michael October 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm

sorry to hear about the camera, but good to hear you are happy with the new purchase.
We’re getting down to the wire now, five weeks to go and have unfortunately fallen into the same trap of needing a camera close to departure. We’ve decided on the new Nikon D3100 with kit lens and will add a 55-200 Nikor zoom into the mix. I think it will be a perfect entry-level DSLR for us this time out and is right within our budget–can’t really afford anything fancier right now, incl. optics.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

That looks like a solid camera, Michael. And the video option is sweet as well. Doesn’t weight a ton either ;)

Have fun in Burma! Can’t wait to see the photos. Y’all be safe and eat something spicy for me, will ya?

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Marthinus October 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Hi Wes. Hope you enjoy the new camera. Thanks for all the tips you share and always replying to my emails. May you get enough money to travel longer. Cheers

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thanks Marthinus! Always glad to help, so feel free to ask away.

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ayngelina October 14, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Sorry to hear about your camera but lenses really make a difference. Looking forward to your photos!
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..The ethics of being robbed =-.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

Amen! I’d kill for some serious hi-end glass ;)

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Ainlay October 15, 2010 at 1:31 am

I’ve looked at tons of blogs while doing research for our family RTW which starts next summer but yours is the first I felt compelled to sign up for an RSS feed so I hope you keep going! Did you ever go to China? Your original itinerary says you were hoping to go from Tibet into India (which obviously didn’t happen). That is the way we want to enter India but are not sure if it will work with visas etc. so wanted to hear more about that leg.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:39 am

Thanks, Ainlay! No, I don’t think i’ll make it to China or Tibet. China wanted too much for visas, to be honest – there are other places I’d like to see that are easier to enter. I’d still love to see Tibet, but it’ll depend on the cost – it seems you have to go as a tour and I suspect that will be out of my reach as well. I’ll have to investigate while I’m in Kathmandu.

Have fun on your RTW. Are you going to keep a blog while you’re traveling?

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Christy @ Ordinary Traveler October 15, 2010 at 2:57 am

I LOVE that picture up top! Sorry to hear about your broken camera. I also just broke down and bought the T2i, not because my older Rebel broke, just because it’s such a good camera for under $1000! Now I have to figure out how to sell my old Rebel. :) I agree that Laos is a unique country and it’s well worth spending extra time there. I wish I had been able to stay longer.
.-= Christy @ Ordinary Traveler´s last blog ..Chasing Waves in the Land of OZ – East Coast of Australia 5 =-.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:37 am

Oh cool — glad to hear you’ve got a T2i as well. It does seem like a LOT of camera for the money. I’d love a full-frame, but that’s just out of my range (plus the glass you need to get the most out of it). I’m keeping my old body as a backup. It doesn’t focus automatically, but it’s better than nothing in a pinch, I guess.

Thanks for the comment.

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Nomadic Chick October 15, 2010 at 4:29 am

How long are you staying in India? Cause we need to meet! Grrr.. hopefully by the time I hit Sri Lanka the borders will be looser. I’ll be there in November!
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..Solutions =-.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

We gotta meet up! I’ll be in India for a month or so, pop into Nepal for 6-8 weeks, then back into India for another 2 months. I’m sure we’ll bump into each other. They should be scared ;)

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Jaime D. October 15, 2010 at 8:21 am

Congrats on month 7!!! I think i found you while you were on month 5 and I have been following along. Keep sharing your stories and pictures. I love them all~
.-= Jaime D.´s last blog ..Decisions Decisions Decisions =-.

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wes October 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thanks, Jaime! Very much appreciated.

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Sally October 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

So, I take it this means you won’t be coming to Chiang Mai?! I’m crushed… CRUSHED! But I look forward to your reports from India. I’m working my way up to India… I’m thinking in about 10 years I might be ready for it!

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wes October 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I won’t! *sniffle*…

I’d planned on it, but by the time I got my visa dealt with, got over being sick, etc., I would have just had to time to run up there and back. So I’ll have to save it for next time. Sorry to miss ya — we keep coming *so* close to bumping into each other. Bound to happen eventually…

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suzanne October 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Wes-
I have loved following you during your adventure. I am especially looking forward to Laos after reading your posts.
I love the photos & great stories. I look forward to hearing about India.
Cheers- suzanne

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Keith October 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Very cool to see you moving into a new region. Congratulations on the numbers game – looks very good.

Keep it up man, keep it up.

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Kirsty October 16, 2010 at 10:20 am

We had the exact same problem whilst we were in China, stupidly we thought we could stay whilst it was national week, what we didn’t research was the fact that accom shot up as much as five times during the week. Safe to say we fled to Vietnam!

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Amy October 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I like your words of wisdom about India. We are headed there in about two weeks and i have to be honest that I am nervous about traveling there. Oh well – it is all part of the adventure.

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Amy October 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm

By the way, enjoy your new tool!
.-= Amy´s last blog ..Observations about Race in South Africa =-.

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Dave and Deb October 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I hope you make it to Sri Lanka, it is amazing there. Congratulations on the growing blog. I know how you feel about the electronics. We just bought new camera equipment too. Good thing, yet hard on the old pocketbook. Have a great time in India

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