Thursday, November 28

What to Wear in India for Women Travelers

Prior to this trip, I had a hard time selecting my wardrobe for the whole duration of our stay.  I admit I had apprehensions proceeding with this voyage since the onslaught of several violent cases against women starting from the 2012 Delhi gang rape. Almost each month thereafter, the media did not fail in delivering grim news about local women and female travelers alike. Either from a simple child molestation case to devastating gang rape stories. Such incidents, no matter the scale, should be treated and dealt with equal fervor. Somehow I turned a blind eye from all of those events.

A year before, there were supposed to be five of us. However, three did not push through for whatever personal reasons they may have. Since I have already purchased non-refundable tickets and truly fueled by my secret desire to finally lay my eyes on Taj Mahal, I went ahead with friend Marx as planned.

Scouring through many travel blogs and Indian forums, I somehow got a rough idea on how women visiting this colorful country should dress up.  Most advise I have read were to dress modestly which emphasized on the do-not-expose-too much-skin topic. If possible, you can dress like the locals if you are comfortable about it. A Salwar Kameez is worn by almost all local women, in the cities and far-flung provinces alike. Kurta for women are also worn just like what I am wearing below. However, as an alternative, you may create your own ensemble. Of course, you can still wear the usual jeans and shirts. Just always have a shawl/scarf ready around your shoulders. I opted to not choose the latter since I wanted to blend in.

Kurta for women: bought this pair in a local bazaar in Jaipur
In my case, I bought several loose pants/fitted leggings and matched these with colorful, long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops with matching head scarfs. These attire may not be comfortable for all but it helped made me at ease in my movements since we were out touring all day. It greatly helped covered a woman's gentle curves. Avoiding form-fitting and glitzy outfit would help minimize lewd stares and ward off unwanted attention. Remember, that being a foreigner alone, you will be stared at no matter what. I think blending in the culture not only helps in your safety but also as a respect to the local culture.

Photo op in front of one of the mosques inside Taj Mahal complex
The loose category definitely helped in regulating my body temperature and protected my skin from direct sunlight exposure. I chose to wear flat shoes good for walking in all kinds of weather. A scarf does not only serve as sun protection but it is also a must-wear in entering some religious sites.  
Varanasi women in vibrant saris
For daily activities, best to bring your travel essentials in a small body bag or bag pack. Mine was equipped with a bottle of alcohol, wet napkins, face powder, tissue, comb, my wallet with small change and a bottle of water. You may secure your more important travel documents like passport, ATM cards/credit cards and cash closer to your body.  
At Humayon's Tomb, New Delhi
All in all, my stay in India was chaotic, harried, colorful but memorable.  A lifetime's worth of memories which can only be achieved by being there. By experiencing the obvious first hand.  I believe that taking the necessary precautions and doing intensive research, women can still safely travel in this incredible country.

Other parts in this series

Part 1   How to Apply for an Indian Tourist Visa
Part 2   Smyle Inn :-)
Part 3   Karan's Guesthouse: Your Home in Jaipur
Part 4   Kolkata's Sunny Sunflower Guesthouse
Part 5  Goa's Little Secret
Part 6  One Night in Kuala Lumpur
Part 7  Brave in Bangalore
Part 8  Ghost of Goa
Part 9  Magnificent Mumbai
Part 10 You are on it!
Part 11 Romantic Udaipur
Part 12 Israel, Morocco and the Fort of Chittorgargh
Part 13 Pondering in the Pink City
Part 14 New Delhi Baby!
Part 15 The Red Fort
Part 16 Whirling Emotions
Part 17 Varanasi's Traditions 
Part 18 Kolkata and Calcutta
Part 19 Off to Pattaya!
Part 20 India Trip at a Glance
Part 21 India Trip Backpacking Expenses

Thursday, November 21

The Other Way to Pagsanjan Falls

After my arrival from India a few weeks earlier, I found my feet becoming itchy again.  I agreed to my friend's invite in visiting the famed Pagsanjan Falls.  I have been to Pagsanjan town a couple of times but never have I laid eyes on the actual falls itself.  Who was I t turn down such an invite?  And so me and my seven friends enjoyed its cool waters one very happy Monday.

Among seven of my travel buddies, I only know three of them personally.  I missed Chino so much that the moment I saw him I guessed I ignored the others to whom I should have said hello first (#peace!).  I smiled at Jherson's and Arjay's familiar grins.  Then I admired the online stars in the persons of Jeffrey and Glen. Lastly, two young men were initiated in our loud circle of travel bloggers sitting at the corner of McDonald's Sta. Cruz, Xander and Richard.  Their muse arrived a little late, but not too late. 

We headed towards Pagsanjan town proper to meet Kuya from the local tourism office. We bought packed binalot lunch and top-loaded towards Pueblo El Salvador Eco Park in Tibatib, Cavinti, Laguna.  It was my second time and the 30-minute ride towards the falls was a very enjoyable experience for all of us.  I suddenly remembered my very first on-top-of-the-world ride back in Camarines Norte.  Incidentally, that was when we were also heading for waterfalls.

Back:  Xander,  Richard, Glen
Middle:  Arjay, Chino
Front:  Glen, Jherson and me

Monday, November 11

Magnificent Mumbai

We took a local plane from Goa to Mumbai which left at 7:30 am.  After about an hour's flight, we reached Mumbai and dared to reach the city center by taking the train. Carrying all our heavy bags, we bought our tickets but did not know on which platform we were supposed to be heading.  Our arrival coincided with several trains' arrival so people were rushing to the exit. Tired and quite overwhelmed by what we witnessed, Marx and I just decided to take the cab.  About an hour later, we reached our hotel with the skies threatening to cry.

We stayed at Travelers Inn located in a side street a few blocks away from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus famous .  I was struck on how beautiful and the intricate this structure was. If this was not located in the center of a busy intersection, I'm sure that I could spend an entire day taking snapshots of her different angles.  However, we did not spent much time since we only have an afternoon to explore the bustling city.

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus panoramic view

Monday, November 4

The Ghost of Goa

After completing our first full day in India, next on our list was the once Portuguese-ruled town that is called Goa.  We hopped on a sleeper bus at INR 800 per person, arriving at the following day at noon time.  Our host , Sand Castle guest house instructed us to take a taxi from the terminal. From there we alighted in front of Novotel Resort and finally reached our home for the next two days.  We rested for a few hours after having lunch and headed on to the nearly deserted Candolim beach which was just a five-minute walk from our hostel.

Dog prints everywhere!
Late afternoon at Candolim Beach