1. Black, pollution filled boogers that start in Kathmandu will only increase with severity as you head towards Delhi. Bring an abundance of anti-bacterial wipes and shove those bad boys straight up your nostrils as needed.
2. As an American tourist traveling in a group of non-Americans, be prepared constantly to defend, apologize for and explain the intricacies of your crazy ass country.
3. If you think you are in the Lonely Planet's highly recommended Brown Bread Bakery in Varanasi, India - you know, the one that donates its proceeds to a local school for disadvantaged youth, then you are probably in the FAKE and extremely dirty Brown Bread Bakery that is literally 10 yards away from the real thing. The fake Brown Bread Bakery preys on your benevolence and keeps the proceeds all for their damn selves. The real Brown Bread Bakery looks delicious.
4. Public urination. Get used to it.
5. The kids are cute, friendly, and excited to practice their English by conversing with you. Bring pens and hand them out to the local kids as you go. It's an inexpensive and appreciated.
6. The foods I swooned over...tomato sorba: a thin soup filled with hot spices, toasted cumin seeds and cilantro. Gajar halwa: a grated carrot desert resplendent with butter, cream and spice. Poori: the most delicious fried bread in the known universe. The ginger lemon honey, which is, you guessed it, a hot drink made with fresh lemon, honey & grated ginger. And my personal favorite: a traditional mulled wine, the perfect way to warm up after a day of trekking on the cold evenings in Nepal, especially great to drink by the many open fires that virtually every restaurant in Pokhara had in their backyard patios.
7. Riding on elephants gives me the sads. That was one tourist experience I had to pass on.
8. There are many times when I was in the poorest sections of India that I struggled to justify why I would travel to a place with such dramatic poverty for my own amusement.
9. Which leads me to...I suck at haggling! It's hard to haggle someone down from $2 to .50 cents for a yak wool blanket I'd probably pay $25 for in the States.
10. Two hotels I'd return to without hesitation: Orchha Resort in India and the Sapana Lodge in Chitwan National Park. At Orchha Resort we stayed at luxury tents located behind a set of gorgeous historic temples. Sapana Lodge was centered in a gorgeous village and had tons of activities from elephant washing to energetic bike rides through the national park. In addition to charming facilities in a beautiful setting, Sapana is a non-profit that uses the proceeds to benefit the local villagers through a variety of community development programs, so you can feel good about splurging on an after dinner hot chocolate under the stars, or learning to make momos from their onsite chef.
The Kathmandu to Delhi tour was courtesy of G Adventures. You can read more about it here.