Drink only bottled water
As with the whole of India, only drink bottled water and use it when you're cleaning your teeth. I kept a bottle with a bit of water in it beside the sink so as to remind myself to use it. Also, avoid ice and salads as they will probably have been washed in dodgy water. Its all common sense really but if you stick to it, you limit the chances of getting ill. A litre of water only costs from between Rs10 and Rs15 so its cheap and available everywhere.
stay away from the ganja!!!
whist shopping (within one of the typical souvenier shops, i hasten to add) & making a very long story short, one young salesman asks me if I smoke? I tell him yes, at which point he pulls out this big hunk of hashish - and asks me if I want some!! (this is following our having discussed that I was a Police Officer!!) He tells me that it is "really good stuff" becase of the fact that Kolkata is on the border of Bangladesh, and though he pays about 900Rps (just over US$20) for it, he can sell it to Westerners for as much as US$100!! (though he is not a 'dealer' - according to himself) I kindly declined, but was curious as to the consequences of being caught with it in one's possession. according too him, it entails a journey to the Police Station, where you call a family member or friend, who then bails you out (at a fee) which goes directly into the pocket of the arresting Officer. There is no record of the arrest and everyone walks away happy, assuming that you, the arrestee, don't get lumped-up in the process. I was informed that Police beatings are frequent here in India - and the Police do not, generally, have a very good name. Actually, that's an understatement... i got the distinct impression that they are loathed... & seen as terribly corrupt.
it goes without saying... use your noggin... stay away from obvious trouble... and you'll be fine!
- Budget Travel
Travel Within India
Travel Within India:
1. If not taking a prepaid taxi or a metered taxi/rickshaw, negotiate the fare before taking off.
2. If spending a lot of time with a taxi driver (or any driver), it helps if he speaks and understands basic English.
3. Don't drive on highways at night.
4. When travelling by train, chain and lock your luggage under your berth. Don't keep anything valuable near the window. Carry plenty of water and fruit, and don't eat or drink anything offered by a stranger.
5. Be aware of travel warnings. Some areas are considered unsafe for foreigners.
6. Always carry your passport with you. Put a sticky note inside with the local telephone number of your Consulate.
7. Keep a copy of your passport/visa separate from the original.
8. For women, where available, use women's only areas/compartments on public transportation. NEVER ride in the general men's compartment.
9. For women, if travelling alone on the train, request to be accommodated near other women travellers.
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
Safety & Police
1. Within India dial 100 or 108 for police.
2. Within India dial 101 or 108 for medical or fire emergency.
3. Be aware of your surroundings. Report any suspicious activity/packages, etc. to police.
4. Although it is common in India, do not offer bribes. If anyone asks for a bribe tell them you will report them to the Anit-Corruption Bureau or the nearest police station.
5. Always carry your passport with you. Put a sticky note inside with the local telephone number of your Consulate.
6. Do not buy, sell, or use narcotics. You do NOT want to end up in an Indian prison!!
7. Be aware of travel warnings. Some areas are considered unsafe for foreigners.
8. Never accept a ride if there's someone accompanying the driver in a taxi or rickshaw.
9. Chain-lock your door when inside your hotel room.
10. Don't flash jewelry or large sums of money.
12. Be particularly careful with your belongings (including wallets/purses) in crowds.
11. See my separate Warnings for Women.
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
When you approach them, they are so happy to see you and for a chance to rip you off. I reason though that these men are poor (many don't even own their own rickshaws but rent them and make little to no money), and their prices are still remarkably cheap. For example, it costs just $1 to go from one suburb to another, definitely not breaking the bank! What annoys me though, is that in their pursuit of cash, they will say they know where they're going even when they don't. Sometimes they'll stop in the middle of nowhere, with your view undoubtedly obscured by trees or buildings, and tell you that your destination is just around the corner. I fell for this once, but from now on will not leave the rickshaw unless I'm certain.
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Dont you ever drink water from...
Dont you ever drink water from the public water filter. and I have been puke and left my empty stomuch of all the good meal I had last night before depart. wierd, as I have a very good meal in a very good restaurent. I cant help it.
This picture was taking while me and cecile from Belgium do the hiking to Kudlee Beach. Amazing, there was an Old Temple standing on the hill side.
Unprecedented Bund or Flash Strike in Bengal.
I never wanted to write this tip but I decided to write after four years of my Kolkata page as now it seems it does deserve a place here. Please be warned before coming to Kolkata, please check whether there is a Bund declared by any political party. Bund means all closure of activity , transport, airport, office, school etc, in one word it means to paralyze life in the city, district or state.They think , it's a very effective medium to protest their grievances to the Ruling Govt. But what happens the Ruling party calls for Bunds 3/4 times in a year! Every one knows it's a nuisance, all the political party denounce it but they themselves call Bund in the slightest of provocation or attack on their interest.
The two major political parties Trinamool Congress led by Ms. Mamata Banerjee and Communist Party of India led by Biman Basu in West Bengal and their associates even Indian National Congress are in the habit calling Bund every now and then. They have really mastered the art of calling Bund. There are at least 5/6 Bunds in a year in West Bengal or in Kolkata city. Not only this , they are in the habit of programing it in such way that the day is clubbed with the weekend , so the Lazy/ Crooked people can three days a Paid holiday at a stretch! It is unbelievable and unheard of in the other parts of India. When a Bund is called it is always for 12 or 24 hrs, everything is closed or the goons from the political parties will ensure that you remain indoor. Once Bund is called, all running trains comes to halt, aircrafts do not fly, taxis do not ply, all shops, restaurants, business establishments are closed. They say hospitals are exempted but in almost all the Bunds declared by the these parties , ensured that the patients suffer and doctors do not go to the hospitals or do not attend the patients. On the recent Bund this month ( May2010)called CITU ( Trade union of Marxist govt of West Bengal) put a lock on the airport toilet. This was inhuman and this the real ugly face of West Bengal.
Let us condemn them, this was not present before communist came in power in seventies.
Although the people of...
Although the people of Calcutta are generally very friendly and helpful, it is still a very poor city. As such, you may be constantly bothered by beggars and tricksters - personally I found it really annoying, but it is not that different from any other part of India.
Kolkata is reasonably safe, and in general the people are more friendly and helpful than in many of India's other large cities. One noted problem is the drug dealers around Sudder Street. However, as the dealers obviously do not want to draw undue attention to their activity, they are generally not persistent and rarely a threat.
But still you just have to take your chances, you have to carry your cash, passport, and cards in a secure money belt, with only enough cash for a few hours at a time in your wallet or other acccessible place. Some travelers recommend carrying an expendable wallet with a few ten rupee bills in it in an obvious place such as your hip pocket as a decoy to Delhi's ubiquitous pickpockets.
As a general rule, expect anyone handling your cash in Delhi to attempt to shortchange you; you may be favorably surprised once or twice during your visit. Learn the currency, count out your payment and change carefully, and be insistent in any dispute.
Traffic is absolutely ridiculous here. Makes Shanghai look almost organized. We're talking incessant honking and literally bumper to bumper traffic. If you're one of the lucky ones walking rather than inside a car, bring a cloth to cover your nose/mouth. I couldn't take the exhaust fumes after a few minutes and I could actually feel the burning down my throat.
Avoid Sudder Street - it is really nothing more than a gathering place for retro hippies looking for drugs and you are likely to be entrapped - or at very least harassed by touts. Local people resent this level of tourist.
Howragh Train Station = HELL
I make my way to Howragh train station, to find out some facts about train travel to Varanasi the next day. It is incredibly daunting the first time around, there are people everywhere and upon first appearances, it resembles a refugee camp more than a train station. After spending some time here, I decide that it is in fact hell on Earth. The food options are limited, the ground is littered with rats and garbage. The smell of human waste is overpowering. This is a stifling and unforgiving environment, I figure to hell with it - the travel agent can get his commission fee of 50 rupees. I just want to get the hell out of here.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Advance Booking with full payment at Bar b q
Guys beware. Book Bar b q, kolkata in advance and paying full amount at your own risk. The managers at Barbq, thinks they have every right to mistreat such a person. I had one of the worst experiences of my life, today. My sister had lovingly booked a dinner for me and my wife on our first anniversary. One Mr. peter, who by his own admission is the God of Bar b q, treated us as if we had come uninvited. I had politely asked him to shift my seat to a different table to which his curt reply was that I have to take that table only and no other table can be allocated to me. When I argued that its illogical, his reply was that either I take that or leave. All this while even though I was talking politely, he was hell bent on making me leave the place without having my dinner. I said that I wanted another table and I am willing to wait. His first reaction was that then I have to wait for 45 mins. When I agreed , he told me that there are few other tables upstairs and I can go there. When I reached upstairs I was informed that this place is not for family. I still had my dinner since I was in noo mood to spoil my first anniversary.
The experience had left me shaken about the quality of service offered in Bar b q. I would really like to narrate my tale to the owners of Bar b q (if there is any1 beyond Mr. Peter) and appreciate if anyone can lead me to him.
1. Double-check all hotel and restaurant bills for errors.
2. Don't leave cash and valuables in your hotel room. Use room safes where available.
3. Keep daily cash in separate pockets.
4. Don't flash jewelry or large sums of money.
5. Never pay for anything upfront - including drivers.
6. Avoid touts!
7. Don't exchange money on the black market.
8. Get a receipt when changing money at an authorized establishment.
9. Carry small bills (Rs 10, 20, 50, 100) for tips, public transportation, etc.
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
Crime in Kolkata
Kolkata is reasonably safe according to the hotel reception. And it is not dangerous to walk at nights, even though there are many people sleeping in the streets.
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