Hi all, I have reached a point of exhaustion in every facet of my life, and while the idea of a good vacation is an unlikely panacea for all that ails me, it certainly could hurt. I’m headed off from mid-December until mid-January. The only condition is that it is a warm place, as I live in Russia and would like to avoid the blistering cold for a few weeks if possible. I was thinking about India, but India seems to overwhelm me. There is just so much to see, so much to do; I’ve never been before and I’d be traveling before. Frankly, I wouldn’t even know where to start. It goes without saying one would need a lifetime to explore India, so I wasn’t sure what kind of balance one would keep so as to see enough to not feel like you’d missed everything while also not spending the majority of your vacation on trains (though train rides can be a glorious thing.) People have also warned me against going to India if I am looking for some type of rejuvenation, as it is said to be a hard place, even by Russian standards, though it is a different type of hard. I was also thinking about Sri Lanka as a possible alternative. But really, it could be anywhere. What a vague, non-pithy, non-to the point question! So if anything I wrote makes any sense, I’d be grateful for some advice!
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It sounds like a break is exactly what you need. First of all it doesn’t matter where you go getting that balance between seeing new places and not rushing through them is essential. In just one month sticking to one country is a good idea, of course you aren’t going to see everything -especially in a month – but you can see a few of the best highlights and still take time to explore and rejuvenate.
Now, India is an absolutely amazing country. Yes there are places in India – Delhi for example – where you don’t get culture shock as much as a culture baseball bat to the face – but there are also so many relaxing serene places too, take a visit to the Rajasthan countryside or the desert for example, or head to a yoga retreat?
Have a look here for some inspiration on India http://bemusedbackpacker.com/destination-guide/asia/india/
Or for another idea how about south east Asia? Thailand or Malaysia would be perfect for relaxing and rejuvenation too?
If you’re not wanting to be at every step of most ways, India can be difficult. I’ve been here in India a while, and I think the single most difficult thing for non-Indians/Asians is that they lack the patience to appreciate it. And if you’re while trying to view the Taj Mahal, Red Fort or other, it’s really difficult to drum up that patience.
On the other hand, and really not trying to be flippant, and also knowing that this may be the last thing you’d ever want to do:
“India Lighter Than You Can Imagine”….
Go to a Goa village like Benaulim (my favorite) and one side of most business cards are in Russian these days. So if you want a beautiful beach, great food, cold beer, and the ability to speak Russian when you wish, this’d do.
However (always good to re-read a post when replying), your dates are the worst possible for Goa. I’ve been there at Christmas and never will again. Goa after Jan 5th-10th is great.
A car & driver is a better choice for that time frame and doing the “tourist” circuit of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Udaipur, wouldn’t hurt at all. That is perfect weather time, 25C daytime, cold at night in the north (can get to 0C).
And before I close this, one thing that most don’t do, and you might be here then, is the Kite Festival in Ahmedabad on January 14th. Ahmedabad is unique in that there are few foreign tourists except at Kite Festival time – http://www.gujarattourism.com/showpage.aspx?contentid=483
“is an unlikely panacea for all that ails me”
On the bus back from Udaipur yesterday, I saw apartments for sale near Ahmedabad named Panacea. Unsure if they were thinking of you when they named it, but ya never know
I have heard that about India, it being a place of extremes (much like Russia) that does not lend its lessons without first asking for a pound of flesh in return. I myself am not Russian, but have lived and worked here for 6 years. A series of work and personal issues have put me on the brink of something, so as I wrote, I am looking for both inspiration, but also spiritual rest, if such a thing is possible. I realize of course this is not a movie, there is no vacation from myself, but I’ve also learned from experience that we can get burned out, and enlivening experiences can help us find the will and desire to carry on.
@Michael Huxley, I’ve been to Thailand 3 times for a total of 5 months, so that is a country I love, though this time around I was looking for something new. Malaysia I’ve never been to and never really considered. Is there something specific about it that sets it apart from other South East Asian states? I guess the better way to put it is, what to your mind is unique about the Malaysia experience?
@PirateAt50 Your answer is informative, though it tended to reinforce my fears about going to India! My Russian colleagues have recommended Goa to me, but I am not really big on the Western hedonistic enclave, although I might be judgmental in writing Goa off as that. It might be much more, I simply don’t know. But I could possibly check Goa out after the 5th of January. I was also thinking about doing the spiritual site circuit (including the Taj Mahal). Though I will have to consider, from Christmas to New Years, the peak of tourist season, is being with throngs of people to see stunning architecture what I’m looking for? I hope the spirits were sending me out a message, an arrow leading to a Panacea perhaps! Still much to think about…
What is the unique Malaysian experience? That’s a tough one to narrow down! It is perfect for nature/wildlife lovers, lots of conservation efforts. Multiculturalism certainly springs to mind! More so than many other of it’s SE Asian neighbours. I think two words about Malaysia that will apply to your own needs are easy and relaxing. Malaysia is extremely laid back, relaxing, friendly … perfect if you want to recharge your batteries. The tourist/transport infrastructure is amazing and it is easy and cheap to get around and explore. Compared to somewhere like India (which is still worth visiting) which can be challenging at times, like Pirate says you need the time and the patience to let India reveal herself to you.
You say that you never really considered Malaysia, well not many people do (compared to Thailand for example) so it never seems quite as touristy/backpackery (is that a word?) than Thailand does, but there are just as many amazing experiences.
If you are looking to recharge and rejuvenate yourself, Malaysia would absolutely be an excellent choice.
Thank you Michael, I will definitely have to keep that in mind. I’m quite embarrassed to say I hadn’t even realized Malaysia was bifurcated completely and totally into two different parts, it’s quite interesting. At the moment I’m leaning towards India, but I’ll keep Malaysia in mind.
@PirateAt50 I had a question for you if you found a moment to answer. Lonely Planet has a central temple itinerary which starts you off in Kolkata, takes you through Bodhgaya, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Orchha, Sanchi, Bhopal, Jalgaon, the Ajanta Caves, Udaipur, Ranakpur, Pushkar, Ajmer, Jaipur, Agra and then Delhi. It seems quite daunting logistically I guess as someone who has never been to the country. Would you recommend even attempting to book all the accommodation and tickets before arriving; it seems like it would really put me on a more regimented trip than I’d want, though I’ve heard at this time of year accommodation and train fare can book up. If you find a chance to reply, thank in advance, and if no, no worries!