Monday, December 04, 2006

Vacation to Far East: Avoid Travel Agencies!

I know buddies that it has beeen really long that you guys are eagerly waiting for the next post... but as you might have guessed, things are not cool here :-( with 3-4 releases AT A TIME on my head, it is not easy to handle :-( I have an angry boss after me, too much work to complete, loads of personal work to do at home, angry friends, angry family, etc.......zzzzzz hey you there, please don't sleep!!! I'm coming to the point...

Before I post Day-01, I would like to talk about the travel plans aka itinerary. Would have made more sense had it been before Day 00 post.

Everything was planned by my Godfather, since he has been there 'n' times. He knew all the streets byheart, which Indian restaurant to have food at, what places to visit, what places NOT to visit, etc. Bookings for hotels, flights, private mini-van, etc. were done via an agent in Mumbai. Since it was a private tour, we had the luxury to cut the crap and only visit the places that are worth our time.

Here's one lesson I've learnt: Never, never, never, never, ever, go through any damn tours and travels agency!!! (For records, we had booked with a travel agency, but thank God, we cancelled it over some issue with the their attitude!) You have hundreds of advantages when you don't go in with tours, will try to list a few, to keep this post short(???):

1. You are 'free'!!! And that matters! (Ever heard of FSF?)
You are tired today, and want to just go somewhere closeby you can do that. You are not interested in historical monuments, you can cut it off!!! You want to visit a nearby park, you can visit it. You can do anything you want to!!! You can alter your plans on the fly! We saw the plight of a group who HAD to get their a$es up at 6 in the morning and join the parade to board the bus, roam around aimlessly around the city and crash in the bed at the end of the day. Too mechanical. You guessed it right, they were with some travel agency. If we felt toooooo tired, we could just spend an hour extra in the bed and then make up for it by hurrying on breakfast, or shopping, or skipping places or two.

2. Privacy: Matters a LOT when you are your own group of 10-20 people.
You can be just yourself! If, like me, you don't like tooooooo much crowd, avoiding with tours agency would be disappointing. You will have a bus full of people with everywhere you go. Most of whom you don't know, lest, you might not even be interested in knowing them. Of course unless there are beautifu......

3. Save on time: You don't necessarily have to visit every God damned historical monument only because it's free of cost! The Tours' people will insist on it just to say that he showed you so many places. With them, you can't just walk out of the group.

4. Save on money: I don't have the exact metrics, but you do save a lot, because you are cutting down 1 level of indirection. Besides whatever you save is worth it, even after taking into account the effort you have to put in planning it. You can actually save more if you eliminate the agent by booking things online.

Well, there's one disadvantage, if you are pure vegetarian like my gang. Difficult to get good vegetarian food out in Far East. This is the only point where travel angecies have advantage: they usually take their own cooks & so is easier to cook to travellers' taste and needs.

But that said and noted, nothing just falls into your lap. You should have GOOD prior study of places of interest, how to reach there, time it takes to commute, means of commuting, entry fee if any (after all the trouble it should be afforable!), etc. Most often, you will find all the relevant info on net. There are some books like Lonely Planet which are talked about by travel enthusiasts. Don't have personal opnion on that book, though. And other very reliable way is to talk to people who have already been there.

(Note: detailed itinerary in next post, this got tooooooo big: Vacation to Far East: Itinerary!)


Kasturi said...

Hey, Your posts are really interesting. Read it after a long time but will make sure i will read it often henceforth.
Your posts are more than just information...they are like a guide!
keep posting!

The Shaolin said...

Yes Kassy82, that exactly was my intention, that post to act like a guide, so that my buddies can benefit from my experience!!!
Glad you felt it that way! I'm yet to find time for posting on the remaining more exciting days of the trip!
Keep reading, it will be up sometime :-)