One duckling temporarily leaves the flock

I'll come clean. I'm not proud of it but I booked a two-week group tour through North India because I was afraid of travelling alone. Remember the gang rape in New Delhi that caused nationwide protests and global coverage of the state of womens' safety in India? That happened last December. And what's happened since then? Even more rapes, including this recent one targeting a Swiss tourist. I was scared because of the news I was reading and even more scared because of the first-hand stories from fellow travelers ranging in topics like illness, groping, and aggressive touting. I might have been over-reacting but this was freaking me out at the time.

So I signed my soul away and joined the group on Sunday. I booked with a company called G Adventures because they have a reputation for attracting more independent-minded travelers. I realized this tour was not the right fit for me on the first day. I trudged through it with increasing disappointment for 3 days.

It turned out to be 15 tourists of all ages and comfort levels travelling in a giant bus with "TOURIST" written in white on the front windshield. The bus would stop here and there for 10 minutes to let us out and take pictures. Then the guide would corral us back on to go to the next stop. We'd break for meals in touristy restaurants where food cost twice as much as I think they should have. You expect me to pay $10 USD a meal in India? Ridiculous! In the words of a local I met in Delhi, I was doing the baby walk through India.

This is absolutely not a bash on G Adventures, it just didn't work for me personally. That giant white TOURIST decal turned into my scarlet letter and I knew I had to escape.

So last night, I got to fomenting. For the next 4 days starting today, I'll be completely on my own riding public transportation and staying at hostels at the much more reasonable price of about $6 USD. I'm in Jaipur heading East in the same direction as the tour group but at my own pace and style. We'll meet back up in Varanasi before heading into Nepal. Considering I can't refund the tour cost, I figured it was prudent to utilize the group where ever I needed - ie. at the border crossing.

I'm not so foolish that I don't know the preconceptions locals will conjure in their heads as soon as they see me, a lone Asian female tourist. Had I been born a White male, I wouldn't even have to bat an eye at the decision to travel alone in India. I'm scared as hell but hope this will turn out to be a good experience. At least one that's better than the last three days. And I've come to terms with my fear, it keeps me smart. It is possible to both be afraid and act bravely.

Anyways, with all that said, here's my 4 day itinerary away from the flock. Yes, I am writing this down in the cloud so the police know where to look in case I go missing.

Mar 28 - 30: Jaipur. Staying at a hostel called Chitra Katha.
Mar 30: Take the public bus from Jaipur to Agra in the morning
Mar 30 - 31: Tour the Taj Mahal. Stay at a hostel for one night
Mar 31 4am: Take a public or private bus to Delhi
Mar 31 10:40am: Board the Jetairways flight 9W 2423 from Delhi to Varanasi
Meet the tour group at designated hotel in the afternoon

My future phone number in India: +91 9587607802
Don't have a phone number in India. My sim card application got rejected because they think I forged my signature. Oh, Indian bureaucracy, you win again.

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