IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Due to the ongoing challenges arising from COVID19, we are unable to take bookings for this tour at present.
We are now postponing this tour to a later date, and it will go ahead when conditions are safe to travel. Please visit our Blog page for the latest updates or contact Sally for further information.
Our Holiday Guide and Travel Advice
Maximum 12 Travellers. Minimum 10 travellers
Outward journey: London – Kochi via Dubai – approx 15 hours, including a 2.5 hour lay-over in Dubai airport.
Return journey: Bengalaru – London – approx. 11 hours. British Airways direct flight. Bengalaru – London via Dubai with Emirates – 15 hours
Air conditioned Tempo Traveller extended minibus. Longest journey time approximately 5 – 6 hours.
British tour leader and English speaking local guides throughout the tour.
Breakfast throughout the tour.
Lunch included on days 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19.
Dinner included on days 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18 and 19.
PRICES PER PERSON (Excluding Flights)
£2,990 per person based on 2 PEOPLE sharing a room. This price is exclusive of flights.
A deposit of £299.00 will secure your place on this trip. This deposit is payable at the time of booking.
Enjoy two discounts off your trip!
– 5% Discount if you book within 3 weeks of the tour going on sale.
– 5% Discount if you book with a friend.
See the booking form to enter discounts.
5% of your holiday price and a percentage of any profits from this tour will contribute directly to supporting promotion and development for the artisans we visit on our tour.
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
£800.00. Travelling Solo & Single Supplements: Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Textile Travels tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the tour.
- All accommodation and meals as set out in the Meal Plan above.
- All transport including all Airport Transfers to the hotel on arrival in Kochi if required, and from the hotel in Bangalore to Bengalaru International Airport if required at the end of the tour.
- Dedicated driver to accompany the tour throughout
- The services of English speaking local guide/ interpreter in each state visited.
- The services of a knowledgeable British tour leader.
- All activities as set out in the itinerary, not listed as ‘optional’.
- Three hands on workshops as set out in the itinerary.
- All filtered and bottled drinking water on the tour.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- International flights, Visa’s and airport taxes.
- Any excursions stated as ‘optional’ in the itinerary.
- Any Ayurvedic treatments and massages booked whilst on the tour.
- Any meals not specified in the Meal Plan above.
- Personal spending money throughout the tour.
IS THIS TOUR FOR ME?
This tour is for you if:
- You have an adventurous spirit and you love textiles.
- You want to learn more about handloom weaving, natural dyeing, batik, block printing and hand spinning
- You would like to help support the skilled, local artisans struggling to make a living from these traditional crafts.
- You’re happy to go off the regular tourist trails and spend time among local people.
- You’re happy to eat simple traditional Indian food.
- You’re OK with not having a glass of wine with dinner in the evening, although a beer is often possible!
- You have good mobility, can climb uneven steps and are happy to walk on unpaved roads, paths and tracks at times.
- You are happy being part of a group and travelling in an air-conditioned mini-bus with three journeys of 5-6 hours, with breaks of course!
- You love shopping for fabrics!
We trust that you will thoroughly enjoy your holiday and sincerely hope that the experience will ensure that you will book with us again. We have detailed below some guidance notes that we hope will help you to enjoy your time with Textile Travels.
Please read the Booking Conditions carefully as this forms the terms and conditions of the contract between you and Textile Travels. The Booking Conditions detail our responsibilities to you, and yours to us, and provide guidelines to cover circumstances which may arise. Crime against people and property are a fact of life throughout the world and hence it is important to be extra vigilant when visiting foreign countries. You have the same responsibility for your personal safety and possessions abroad as you do at home. Avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewellery, carrying expensive camera equipment, publicly displaying large amounts of money etc. Do not leave valuables unattended, and, where possible, store them in a safe. Always respect local customs, standards and
sensibilities especially in areas of cultural and religious importance, as failure to do so may offend local inhabitants.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
You will need to obtain a visa to travel to India. Depending on which country you are resident in, may be able to obtain an eVisa which is downloadable online, or you may have to apply for an In-passport Visa which takes longer to process. Please check your local Indian High Commission for full details. If you are applying from the UK, an e Visa is the easiest option. You can apply for one at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/
Here is a sample of a completed e-visa application form from the official Indian Government website to give you guidelines on filling the form in successfully. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/images/SampleForm.pdf
Please apply for your eVisa at least three weeks before travel. An Indian eVisa application can be quite daunting, so work slowly and carefully through it, noting down your TEMPORARY REFERENCE NUMBER carefully once you have finished the application and submitted it. You may need it later.
Photographs – The Indian visa requires a square format passport photo that I always have taken locally at any high street photography shop. They should be used to the format required and the cost is minimal. Plus, you will receive three more photos to bring with you to India. (See Connectivity) Alternatively, you can take your own at home to the requirements and upload it as required. Remember that the date the visa commences is the date that you APPLY for the visa, not the date that you are entering India. With this in mind, please apply for the twelve month visa with multiple entry, it doesn’t cost any more than the 30 day visa, or the three month visa and you never know, you may love India so much you may want to return within the 12 months!
You should receive an email within 3-5 days informing you that your visa has been approved. Because there are so many pitfalls in applying for the visa, you may be asked to submit further information or you may have filled something in incorrectly, so be prepared for your application to be rejected the first time and for your fee to be lost! This is why being thorough when filling in the application form is so important.
If and when you receive the approval email, your visa should be attached at the bottom of the email as a separate document that you can download onto your computer. You will need to show this document at check in/ baggage drop at your departure airport, so PRINT IT and keep it with your flight
tickets. You will also need to show the printed visa at immigration on arrival in India.
If you do not receive a visa approval email from the Indian High Commission within 3-5 days, please check your VISA STATUS on the website https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/StatusEnquiry using your TEMPORARY REFERENCE NUMBER. This will tell you if your visa has been approved, is being processed or if there is a problem. If approved, you can download the visa straight from this section of their website. This situation rarely happens, but it happened to me once, so it’s not unknown.
Before arriving in India you will be given an immigration form to fill in on the flight. Details of how to fill in some parts of this will be sent to you beforehand with your trip documents. On arrival at your place of entry into India, you will be taken through immigration and your visa will be stamped into your passport once you have shown your passport and your PRINTED VISA. Then your biometric details will be taken. These are your thumbprint and your iris pattern. This is all quite normal in India. Be prepared to queue however.
This all sounds very daunting but if you take your time and double check all your answers then it should all go through OK. Please contact me by Email email@example.com or phone +44 (0) 7866 431789 if you’re having any difficulties with filling in the form.
All passports are now required to have 6 months validity from the date you RETURN from your trip.
You must also have at least two blank facing pages in your passport.
Please bring three copies of your passport and visa, along with three passport sized photographs. These are required for checking into hotels and obtaining an Indian SIM card if you wish to do so.
It’s against Indian law to bring rupees either in or out of India so they are not available outside the country. When you arrive at your destination airport there are official bank outlets such as State Bank of India where you can change a nominal amount if you wish to have some cash immediately, or there is an ATM very close to our hotel in Kochi where you can obtain cash.
The British pound is worth on average, around 90 Rupees. I find the easiest way to calculate a relatively accurate exchange rate is to
Drop 2 zeros and minus 10%
1000 INR = 10 GBP – 10% = 9 GBP
Try to get familiar with the conversion before you arrive if you can. You cannot return purchases in India, so it’s important to be sure about your purchases before you buy. It’s easy to get carried away when shopping, so please let us know if you need any assistance checking the amount of your purchase before you buy.
ATM’s are plentiful, but many charge INR200 per transaction. In our experience the largest sum you can withdraw is INR10,000 (approximately AUD200, USD155, EUR145, GBP 90), in one transaction but you can usually make two transactions of 10,000R in one ATM visit. Check with your own bank as they may also charge a variable fee.
Please check with your bank about fees and make sure you understand what you will be charged. It could be as much as £12.00 per transaction, so please check before travelling. Some ATM’s in India will charge 200INR
for a transaction. Most will say it on the screen and you have to accept it. It’s a good idea to take note of which banks don’t charge you this extra fee as they can add up to £2.00 per transaction on top of your banks’ fees.
The only ATM’s that I’ve found that will accept international cards are ICICI or State Bank of India, most of the others are for domestic customers only although you can try your luck with them!
Lots of restaurants and larger shops will accept credit cards – Visa and Mastercard, however smaller vendors and markets will only accept cash. If you wish to bring your local currency and exchange it here, that is possible, but we have always found the easiest way to get cash is via an ATM
NEAREST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Kochi International Airport is only one hours travel to your first destination, Fort Cochin. Transfers from the airport are included and one of our representatives will be there to meet you holding a sign with your name on it. Flights arrive in general from a Middle East hub in the morning around 8.00am to 9.00am. Airfares to Kochi seem to be cheaper than to elsewhere in Kerala and the airport is the first one in India to be fully powered by solar power!
If you are coming by road or train, we’ll still be there to meet you on arrival.
It is a requirement that all our customers have travel insurance that covers them for adequate medical treatment and repatriation should the need arise. We also recommend taking out insurance at the time of booking to also cover cancellation in case you’re unable to travel for any reason.
We will ask for your emergency contact details on our booking form, and we will need to have copies of your travel insurance certificate emailed to us before travel. We will also require you to bring a printout of your insurance summary with you, so please have it on hand on the first day of your tour.
HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS
We recommend that you visit your doctor to discuss your trip at least three months before you travel if possible. They will have the up to date information on vaccinations and be aware of any personal health issues you may have that need to be considered. If you’re travelling from the UK, for any vaccinations not covered by the NHS, we recommend https://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/ for all your vaccinations, advice and anti-mosquito products.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu are zero risk and Karnataka a very low risk area for Malaria. Some cases of Dengue Fever have been reported, so it is best to discuss this with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision. If you are travelling to other parts of India other than those visited while on your Textile Travels tour, please be sure to check advice for each area as there as some areas in India where Malaria is a high risk.
India has very good doctors, dentists and hospitals. Should you become ill on your holiday, we will be there to advise the best facilities nearby. Please don’t forget that travel insurance is compulsory for very good reasons, so be sure to arrange it before you leave home. We suggest you arrange it as soon as you book your holiday.
Minimum: The minimum age is 16 at the time of travel. All persons under the age of 18 must travel with an adult of 18 plus years.
Maximum: We have no upper age limit though we ask you to consider your personal health and fitness to undertake one of our holidays. We remind you that India can be physically demanding (e.g. uneven footpaths and steps and at certain times extreme heat) and passengers must ensure that they are suitably fit to ensure you get the most out of your experience. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss any particular concerns you may have.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain proper and detailed medical advice at least two months prior to travel for the latest health requirements and recommendations for your destination.
As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from place to place. On this trip we will be staying in comfortable character properties as well as standard hotels of 3 stars or more. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability. It should be noted that due to the smaller size of some of the properties used it may not be possible to give everyone in the group exactly the same standard of room. If this happens, your tour leader will do their very best to allocate rooms fairly throughout the course of the trip, so we thank you for your understanding of this impossible job in advance! Unless otherwise stated, accommodation is in standard twin/double rooms.
In the tropics, be prepared to encounter insects (e.g. mosquitoes, ants, spiders and occasionally cockroaches) in your hotel room, especially at beach resorts where they are a natural occurrence and do not reflect the standard of hygiene and cleanliness. As a general rule, mosquito nets should not be necessary as great care is taken to exclude them from your rooms , but bringing a plugin type mosquito deterrent is a good idea. Please keep your room doors and windows closed from around 5.00pm to help stop mosquitoes getting in. If you do suffer badly from mosquito bites, you may wish to bring a mosquito net for example – http://www.traveloutdoors.co.uk/care-plus-pop-up-dome-mosquito-net)
GROUP SIZE & MINIMUM/ INSUFFICIENT NUMBERS
Our tour group needs to have a minimum of 10 travellers to take part in our two day natural dyeing workshop in Munnar. If this minimum number is not achieved 8 weeks before departure, the tour will be cancelled unless you are happy to proceed without this workshop, with alternative activities provided in Munnar including a visit to Aranya Natural, in which case the price of the workshop will be refunded to you in full, or, you would be prepared to pay a supplement to cover the cost of the workshop with less attendees. Minimum 8 attendees. Otherwise we will have no choice but to cancel the tour. Such cancellations will be advised a minimum of 8 weeks before departure. There will not be more than 12 travellers in our tour group. Please see ‘If we Cancel’ in our Booking Conditions.
TRAVELLING SOLO & SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS
Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Textile Travels tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip. On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour apart from Kizhunna Beach, Kannur, where due to the limited number of rooms available it may be necessary to share.
PRE AND POST ACCOMMODATION
We can arrange extra nights both before and after your tour. We highly recommend arriving a day early to give yourself time to get over your travels, adjust to a new time zone and generally get settled before meeting your tour leader and new travel friends on the first day.
On this tour we will be using an extended Tempo Traveller air conditioned minibus with a dedicated driver throughout.
We recommend purchasing a local SIM card which we will help you arrange on arrival in Kochi. You will need to provide a passport size photo for this. It is inexpensive for local calls/sms/data, so unless your provider at home can offer you a great Global Roaming deal this is the way to go.
Our preferred provider in India is Airtel and they will issue a prepaid package of 1.5GB per day and all calls and sms that is valid for 30 days. Recharge is readily available in many shops and online.
We really recommend getting a local SIM card for several reasons. Even if you don’t want to be constantly in contact with home, it is very useful to have access to the internet all the time and very inexpensive. You never know when you will want to google something etc. If you go for a wander and get disorientated, Google Maps is your friend. It also means you can contact us at any time should you be the type of traveller who likes to go off on your own. It is a feeling of security for all of us.
For calling home, we recommend downloading an app such as Whatsapp or Viber. Whatsapp is very popular in India, so it is the one we recommend most as it is useful if you wish to communicate with any of the locals you meet. Make sure you get those you want to be in touch with at home to download it too!
You will have free WiFi available at your accommodation. Some restaurants offer free WiFi, but rather than rely on that, if you really want to be connected (and have access to Google Maps which is a huge help for the modern day traveller) we recommend purchasing some data on your local SIM card for back up when WiFi is not available.
At times, the demands on the local supplies of electricity may exceed the supply, with resultant power cuts. Items usually affected include air conditioning, lighting and charging devices. Whilst electrical wiring standards do always meet local safety standards, on occasion they may be lower than those applicable in the UK. It is advisable to carry a battery power pack and a torch or even two, -a head torch and a lantern type that can stand on it’s own. The Indian adaptor can be a three round pin adaptor which fits most plug points, but sometimes only the two pin adaptor, like the Northern European plug, will work in the sockets. I always bring a selection! Check online for suitable adaptors. If you have an electric toothbrush, the two pin plug will fit directly into the Indian plugpoint.
YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
Whilst we only contract with reputable suppliers abroad, it is important to note that some countries and/or suppliers do not match British health and safety standards. The applicable safety standards and regulations which apply overseas are those of the country concerned and as a result, general standards of safety, hygiene, fire precautions etc. can be different to those we take for granted in the UK. You are therefore advised to take great care when first venturing into unfamiliar buildings or surroundings and are advised to bring solid, toe-covering, flat sandals for walking on uneven and unpredictable surfaces. Upset stomachs are a common occurrence whilst abroad. Sensible precautions need to be taken especially about raw food, drinking water and ice in drinks. We take your safety very seriously. These are some of the actions you can take to minimise any risk.
For a few days prior to travel, take a good strength probiotic every day and bring a course of daily probiotics with you to keep your gut flora healthy to counteract the effects of the change in diet in India.
Don’t drink the tap water – it is NOT drinking water. Do not allow water to enter your mouth whilst showering. Keep all open wounds covered in the shower.
Always use filtered water where available or bottled water when brushing your teeth and rinsing your toothbrush after use.
Avoid ice in drinks unless it is made with filtered water. You can ask if the ice is made using RO, reverse osmosis, as Indians call it.
Accept only drinks that you have seen poured directly from an unopened bottle. It is a good idea to make sure that the seal on the bottle is still intact when given to you as there have been instances of bottles being refilled with tap water.
Avoid eating salads unless you are sure that they have been washed in filtered water
Avoid homemade, scoop ice cream. Commercial, prepacked ice creams are generally safe.
Although a seriously upset tummy has happened to me only once in seven trips to India, it is advisable to travel with an upset tummy kit; Nomad Travel have a very good kit. Only carry Imodium for absolute emergencies as it contains the infection within the body rather than allowing it to flow through the system.
Re-hydration tablets or powders such as Dioralyte or ORRS are handy to have with you to combat the effects of tummy upset.
It is strongly advised that you bring suitable car/ air sickness remedies for the hairpin bends on the mountain roads!
WHAT TO WEAR
We wish to be sensitive to the customs of the country we are visiting so we strongly urge you to take into consideration our suggested dress code. Women can wear short sleeved tops, but should avoid anything that shows off the cleavage, or that finishes above the knee, or if wearing trousers, above the mid-thigh. The most comfortable form of dress is a lightweight tunic, sleeveless or with sleeves, over loose lightweight trousers. Always choose natural fabrics as they will serve you best in the heat.
We’ll take you on a shopping trip in the first few days in India if you would like to try wearing lightweight fashionable Indian style clothes while travelling, so don’t bring too many clothes as you won’t have enough room in your suitcase for all the lovely inexpensive clothing available here! I never bring anything plain white as it invariably gets dirty quickly and in some places the water has a lot of iron and other minerals in it which can discolour white items if you have to do the occasional handwash.
Here’s some suggestions for your packing list:
- Lightweight jacket or sweater for evening in (Munnar only).
- A pair of socks for travelling and for wearing if you feel uncomfortable about walking barefoot in temples and shops.
- Sun hat with brim.
- One lightweight sarong / shawl for covering the tops of arms during temple visits and covering up on the beach. I say one because you will find you have bought about ten by the end of the trip 🙂
- Flip flops or other types of slip on sandals are useful for taking off easily when visiting shops, houses and temples.
- A nice pair of sandals for special dinners.
- A modest swimsuit, not bikini
- Leggings or mid-calf length trousers to go under tunics. Long trousers or long skirts and dresses for evenings to deter the insects.
- Shorts, bermuda length are OK but you may receive some curious looks from local men that you would maybe want to avoid.
- Long sleeved or 3/4 sleeved tops, for evenings and for visiting temples.
- Tops should be long enough to reach to mid-thigh length or longer, to avoid any embarrassing stares, and made from lightweight opaque fabric.
- Footwear which is suitable for walking off-road and for workshops that offer toe protection. A good quality walking sandal with closed toe is ideal.
USEFUL ITEMS TO PACK
If you take any regular medications, bring them in your carry-on luggage. There is always a small risk of your checked-in bags being lost or delayed. A change of clothes, toothbrush and any essential toiletries are also a good idea.
If you wish to bring gifts such as toys for kids. Pens, notebooks and UK small change go down well. London or any UK souvenirs are great to give to your favourite auto driver and the staff at your hotel as a small gift.
- Cutlery, Cup, plastic or metal for teeth brushing and toothbrush rinsing. etc.
- Small ultra-lightweight nylon daysack that folds into a small pouch invaluable for everyday sightseeing, carrying water etc.
- A lightweight rainjacket and or umbrella for showers or to protect from the sun.
- A money pouch for the neck or waist to be worn under clothing.
- Head torch
- Battery power pack for charging devices
- Spare batteries for torch
- Adaptors as described above.
- Travel towel, for the beach, quick-drying microfibre preferably.
- Pack a nail brush. You will likely find it useful. Your feet may get dusty if you are wearing open shoes so keep this in mind.
- If you are a light sleeper, bring earplugs! India can be a noisy place and night time is no exception.
- Small homemade medical kit
- Rehydration tablets
- Mosquito repellent (30% DEET minimum if you are OK with DEET)
- Tiger balm or bite and sting cream
- Sun screen, as it’s not readily available in India or very expensive, and aftersun.
- Travel sickness remedy – for winding mountain roads – I always take them.
- Universal sink plug – no plugs in India that I have seen!
- Concentrated travel wash – laundry services can be hit and miss in some locations. Be prepared to handwash intimate items and tops.
- Essential – A WATER BOTTLE that can be re-filled with filtered water en route, or at the hotels we are staying in. Or if you wish to be totally sustainable you can purchase a water bottle that will filter tap water making it totally safe to drink. Here are two links to companies in the UK and Europe that supply them. http://drinksafe-systems.co.uk/products.php / https://watertogo.eu/
Most meals will be simple South Indian fare, mainly vegetarian, although meat and fish are often available. South Indian food can be quite spicy but it’s often possible to ask for a less spicy version as most meals are made there and then from fresh ingredients. The word ‘hot’ is taken in India as the opposite of cold, not to denote heat in the food. ‘Spicy’ is the word that Indians use to denote ‘hot’ tasting food.
Plastic straws are now banned in India, so you will be given a paper straw with your drinks, that may unravel while you’re drinking! You may want to bring your own re-usable straw. It is an Indian custom to eat with the fingers of the right hand only. However, you will usually be offered cutlery. There may be occasions when cutlery is not available so you might wish to bring your own.
If trying street food when not with us, please only eat foods that have just been cooked and are served hot.
Indians eat with their hands. The left hand is considered unclean. To follow local customs, eat only with your right hand. When we have a meal served on a traditional banana leaf, it’s fun to try at least once to eat with your hands! All Indian restaurants have a hand wash area, but if you are in a local restaurant on your own, you may find they are not as clean as you would like or have run out of soap. Always carry wet wipes and/or hand sanitiser and use before eating. Try and remember not to touch
Tap water is definitely NOT DRINKABLE in India
We will provide all drinking water while travelling in the minibus, which will be taken from a portable water filter. By using a portable water filter instead of countless plastic bottles of water, we will be helping to cut single plastic use in India, plastic water bottles being the most common item. Or you can purchase a tap water filtering bottle as described in ‘Useful items to Pack’.
Bottled water will be provided when you are at your workshops and is available everywhere should you not be able to refill your water bottle for any reason. Any of the restaurants we recommend will serve filtered water which is safe to drink also. Best thing is, if in doubt, always ask first. No matter what time of the year you come to India, it is imperative to stay hydrated so expect to drink lots of water. Our favourite thing is to have a tender coconut at every opportunity, or at least once a day. They are available everywhere, on almost every corner and have lots of natural electrolytes to keep you hydrated, not to mention tasting great. Fresh lime or lemon soda is a thirst quenching alternative available everywhere.
Kerala is not a ‘dry’ state but alcohol sales are restricted. Government approved shops and a few hotels in most large towns sell most varieties of alcohol. Queuing for alcohol at these shops is common and it can be expensive to buy branded spirits if available at all, although beer is relatively inexpensive. Indian wine is very expensive and not to Western tastes. This means that when we eat out, in many restaurants you will not be able to buy alcohol to accompany your meal. Mysore on the other hand, in Karnataka has no such restrictions and alcohol is available in most restaurants, although the majority of Indians do not drink alcohol with their meals. It is reserved for private drinking between men only in special bars and at home. Women drinking alcohol in public can be frowned upon in some areas.
It is polite to ask permission before taking a photograph of a person and you may also be asked to have your photograph taken with them as a ‘selfie’ but be prepared for that to be published on social media websites. If you are a woman, and a man or group of boys/men want a selfie with you and you are uncomfortable, say no. Alternatively, ask them to get their mother/sister/wife to be in the photo as well. Do NOT take photographs of airports, bridges, government offices or military buildings.
PUBLIC AND RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND STRIKES
Please note that services may be curtailed or limited during public holidays, and certain religious holidays, and strikes. Such strikes, public and religious holidays can be called at very little or no prior notice.
ADDING OPTIONAL EXPERIENCES AND EXCURSIONS WHILE ON TOUR
While we would love you to choose your activities or adventures before you arrive in India, of course you are welcome to add things on once you are here with us if you decide you’d like to add something extra to your experience.
Overnight adventures must be booked a minimum of 60 days in advance to ensure that we can get availability with our partners. If you decide to add one on later than this we will do our very best to get availability for you and ensure you don’t miss out. We can’t guarantee this, but we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen for you, or offer you another alternative if your first preference isn’t available.
Swimming is undertaken entirely at your own risk. Swimming along many coasts can be dangerous due to strong undercurrents and other elements. Please seek the advice of the Tour Leader before venturing into the sea and avoid swimming in deserted areas. Do not let non-swimmers jump into a swimming pool unsupervised without first checking the depth and means of exit.
Tipping is customary in many parts of India, but please note that it is entirely discretionary and we recommend that you only tip if you feel that you have received good service. Waiting staff is usually 10%, for porters in hotels the amount is usually between 50 and 100 rupees, and your tour bus driver will receive 500 rupees a day or more split between the guests.
Isolated from much of India by the Western Ghats, the climate of Kerala is tropical and as a result of the mountain ranges the area isn’t as dry as much of India; Kerala receives copious rain (average 3000 mm a year), each year, most of it between June and November. The temperature in Kerala normally ranges from 30°C to 35°C on the plains but drops to about 20°C in the highlands. The climate of Mysore on the eastern side of the Western Ghats, is markedly different from that of Kerala, being a lot dryer and slightly cooler, ranging from 28C – 32C and usually very pleasant.
As with most destinations, you will be given an arrival card to complete on your inbound flight. Please ensure you have the name of the hotel, address and phone number as provided in your travel documents on hand as you will need this to complete this form.
On arrival, look out for the separate counter for etourist visa holders. There is a separate desk and it’s the only one that will process e visas.
The immigration process is covered fully in ‘Visa and Passports’ above.
We will give you full instructions with regard to connecting with our representative at the airport in your Travel Documents.
ROADS AND TRAFFIC
When crossing roads, traffic can come from any direction so always look both ways twice! Pedestrian crossings really don’t mean much so don’t expect people to stop. Even at lights, it is best to practise to look both ways before stepping off the curb.
Never step out into the road if a vehicle is moving fast, as they will not slow down. When crossing busy roads keep in mind buses and cars won’t stop or go around you so use caution. Autorickshaws and scooters are more manoeuvrable and can swerve to allow you to cross. We’ll help you get the hang of it. It’s not as bad as it may sound! If in doubt and you are alone, stick with a local and cross when they do but still be cautious and look out for yourself.
Many areas in India do not have footpaths meaning you have to walk along the side of the road. Please be very mindful of traffic as it can come from any direction and not necessarily on the right side of the road!
AUTO RICKSHAWS / TUC TUCS
When in Mysore you will be with our team of autorickshaw drivers and the cost will be covered. The below advice is for if you go off on your own. Auto-rickshaw drivers in Mysuru must use their meters at all times. It is illegal for them to carry you with the meter off. However, if they refuse to take you and you are desperate to get somewhere then offer them a surcharge, such “meter times 1.5” or “meter plus a half”. This is usually necessary if it is getting late in the evening.
We have a team of autorickshaw drivers who will be looking after you in Mysuru. When in other cities we will negotiate this for you where possible. In Fort Kochi the auto-rickshaw becomes a Tuc Tuc. Here they are not known for using their meters. A price must be agreed before stepping into the tuc tuc. They may also follow you down the street a little way asking if you would like a city tour. Just say that you are happy walking and they will go away, unless you do need one that is! A good point of reference is to tell the front desk of the hotel where you are going and get an estimate as to how much it should cost. Then you have some idea of what you should pay. Another great reason to have a phone with a local SIM is so you can order Uber or Ola who has both cars and autorickshaws for a fixed price.
Those who haven’t travelled to India before have no doubt heard that there are many animals on the streets. Cows are revered and have right of way in the traffic more than we do. It is not recommended to approach cows. Goats are a regular sight, although they have no special dispensation and just go their own way. so it’s best just let them get on with it.
There are monkeys as well that usually travel in large troupes of 30 or so with a big alpha male and a lot of females and babies. Be wary. If cornered they may attack. They can be very cheeky and will pinch anything you put down if it looks edible. They’re very fast and will take a banana in the twinkling of an eye! We recommend you keep your distance and don’t feed them.
Street dogs are everywhere in India. They keep to themselves but can be very friendly. Use caution if you intend to interact with street dogs. They tend to be nocturnal here, so they are up at night, often howling with their friends in a doggie choir, therefore, they sleep a lot during the day. If you are nervous around dogs, do not make eye contact and don’t carry food in your hands as they may think you want to feed them and follow you. If you have even the slightest scratch from an animal in India, you must tell us immediately. Rabies is a deadly disease but can be cured if you get the injection immediately after infection. Several injections are required at certain intervals after exposure and we can assist with this if you are not vaccinated. Best practise really is to not get too close. If you are friendly to them, it can result in them wanting to play and jumping up and scratching you unintentionally. Even the smallest scratch needs to taken seriously and you must alert us straight away. In saying all this, I have never had any kind of trouble. Leave them alone and they leave you alone.
SPENDING YOUR MONEY
The British pound is on average worth around 90 rupees. So the easiest way to do the conversion in your head is to drop 2 zeros and minus 10%
1000 rupees = £10.00 – 10% = £09.00
10,000 Rupees, (£100.00), is the largest amount you can take out of the ATM in one transaction. However, if you re-insert your card after you have finished the first transaction, you should be able to make another 10,000R transaction immediately afterwards.
As with using the right hand for eating in India, similarly the right hand is used for handing money to the vendor in shops in India, if you can remember!
If you can try to pronounce words in English in the same way you hear them spoken by the locals, it will help with them understanding you in shops and restaurants. Their English is usually quite good, they are just used to ‘Indian English’, which is pronounced differently than native English. Use sign language, point to things… and keep a sense of humour. Indians are very friendly, helpful people. A smile says so much.
Many shops in India will have signs that read “Fixed Price”. It means what it says. Please don’t bargain with vulnerable people.
Whenever you buy something you will notice there is a shortage of small change – try and hold onto your small notes, don’t use them unnecessarily and try to keep small change in your wallet all the time. The etiquette is that if the sum is over the nearest half unit then the vendor provides change. If the sum is less than the nearest half unit, then the customer supplies the change. For example, if you buy something for 300 Rs then you can confidently hand a 500 Rs note and expect change. If the sale price is 200 Rs then it is slightly rude to hand over a 500 Rs note and expect change. If you can, in this situation give the right money. No matter where you purchase something in cash, they will ask for the right money. Our trick is to say just been to the ATM, no change. Often they will then reach into their pocket or drawer and pull out wads of change!
You may encounter people, especially children begging on the streets. It will be hard and it will tug at your heartstrings. We always offer to buy food for them. If they accept, they are genuinely hungry. If they say no, please don’t give money. Sadly, organised crime is involved in begging. Young children are sent onto the streets to beg. If we give them money, we are perpetuating this problem. It might break your heart, but in the long run, it will help to eliminate this problem in India.
Most of our hotels will have a laundry service available. If you put it in first thing in the morning it is usually back the same day.
Next to most Indian toilets, you will find a small hose. They do not use toilet paper. If there is no hose, there will be a tap, bucket and a jug which is used to clean yourself, remembering the left hand principal! Your hotels all have fully functional toilets. Some hotels will have the hose, some have adapted to western ways and don’t. Please, do not put toilet paper or any other sanitary product in the toilet, they cannot cope. There will always be a receptacle for used paper and sanitary products in the bathroom.
When on a road trip or in a restaurant, you may have to use a public bathroom. They have both Indian (squat) and Western-style. Usually there is a bucket next to them to dispose of tissues/toilet paper rather than putting it in the toilet. It’s advisable to always carry a handy pack of tissues or moist wipes.
India has now banned the use of plastic bags all together, so you will be offered your purchases either in a pretty cloth bag, one made from folded newspapers or asked to pay for a calico bag in some shops.
As stated above, India has banned the use of plastic straws, so please either bring your own reusable straw or be prepared for a paper straw. We will provide all drinking water while travelling in the minibus, which will be taken from a portable water filter. By using a portable water filter instead of countless plastic bottles of water, we will be helping to cut single plastic use in India, plastic water bottles being the most common item. Or you can purchase a tap water filtering bottle as described above. If buying items, use a daysack or your Textile Travels tote bag for your purchases if possible
to avoid collecting lots of packaging.
Textile Travels reserves the right to change the schedule, activities and hotels from the advertised at any point due to force majeure. We will always endeavour to replace any activity or hotel with one of a similar standard. Textile Travels will always do its utmost to provide services to the best of its ability and work towards full satisfaction of the client. This Textile Travels tour is a fully escorted tour. Please be aware that all workshops and activities are entered into at your own risk. We shall in no event be liable to the traveller by reason of breach of services or unsatisfactory services provided to the traveller by third parties or for any loss, injury, damage, delay, change in schedule or other adverse events which are beyond the control of Textile Travels and/or sustained by an act or default of any third party providing services to the traveller.
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