reflections and plans: Taipei to India


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May 15th 2011
Published: May 15th 2011
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I'm an American living in Taiwan. I've been here since 1989. Yeah, wow. Summer vacation for me means the month of August off, and every year I plan a good long trip ( and then start planning another good long trip for Chinese New Years). Last year it was a return to Italy, which I hadn't visited since I was ten. Almost no matter where I go, there's a planned stopover in Thailand. Gotta hit Bangkok a few times a year. Years past have seen Sabah, Borneo, north and south Thailand, of course Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Macau, Singapore, Penang, and Boracay, to name a few. Hey, what's the point of living in Asia if you don't travel around?
This year it's India. Ouch. Everyone keeps asking me, "Why?" It will be rainy season. I will probably get sick. I will need to get a dozen shots before I leave. I have already made the mistake of reading all the warnings from other travelers. But the decision has been made, and I'm psyched. To make this a complete travel blog, I've decided to include all the prep work. For me, paranoid and a bit manic, the prep work is exhaustive.
Tickets are looking good. I've already bought the tickets to Bangkok, round-trip, and have checked out the AirAsia website for the tickets to India. Cheap. It's like US$80 to fly into Calcutta and then US$100 to fly out of Delhi to Bangkok. I plan to go BKK to Calcutta and then fly out of New Delhi. Normally this would be more expensive, but AirAsia sells their tickets by leg and not round-trip, so there's no difference. I can also have a few days in Bangkok before India and perhaps five days there on the way back. You might think it would be cheaper overall to fly Taipei-Calcutta, but it's not. Not at all. Bangkok's the hub, AirAsia doesn't fly TPE-BKK anymore, and I'd want a stopover in BKK either way. I checked, and my way the ticket is Taiwan dollar $20,000 and a round-trip ticket to Calcutta is tw$26,000.
I have a friend, Taiwanese, who just came back from India. He didn't get sick there. He laughed at me when I asked him before he left if he planned to get shots. He had a plan. He was told to take lots of garlic pills you get in Costco. He did. His travel companion didn't and got diarrhea and had lots of stomach problems. He came back and extolled the virtues of garlic pills. A week later he was in the hospital with hepatitis A. No joke. I plan to take lots of garlic pills hoping they will help me stay well (the claim is that they are naturally antibacterial) but I will also get my hep shots before I go. Good Ganges, the guy actually bathed in that river without a hep shot? Also, activated charcoal pills are supposed to work, and, although expensive (a pack of thirty is tw$2500!) it will be worth it if they help me avoid that stomach bug.
I've bought the Lonely Planet India book, kindle edition. Can I take a kindle dx to India? It's true that kindle is not the best platform for reference books, can't flip around or mentally arrange the sections or search easily, but it's not terrible. Will I crack the screen getting on a train?

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