Interview with traveller Daniel McBane

I have been reading Daniel McBane’s travel blog and I have found it very entertaining and funny. He is one of those great travellers who has been travelling all over the world and supporting himself along the way. He’s also a hobbyist photographer, an English teacher and a blogger.

Daniel in Goa

Daniel in Goa

He has been kind enough to provide answers to some questions of his travels in India.

The interview with Daniel McBane

When did you visit India?

From Dec. 2011 to March 2012

Which parts of India did you see?

I made a loop from Delhi through Rajasthan, Mumbai, Goa, Varanasi, Agra and back to Delhi

What was your first impression of India?

I came to India from Nepal, so it was pretty much what I was expecting–a more hectic and more crowded version of Nepal. That said, I spent the first few nights, as many others do, in Paharganj in Delhi. This is one of the worst parts of India that travelers see and it is unfortunate that many begin their trip there.

What would you advice someone travelling to India?

Never use travel agents and book all your tickets online. There are very few honest travel agents and I met so many travelers who were talked into hiring private cars (at very inflated rates) by agents who convinced them the trains and buses are unsafe for travelers. They are not unsafe.

What souvenirs did you buy?

I’ve been traveling for a long time, so I don’t buy souvenirs, since I have to carry everything. My souvenirs are my photographs and a few Rupees I kept.

Which items would you never travel without to India?

A camera. The country is very photogenic. Actually, you’ll want to bring any electronics you might use with you–India has a very high import tax on electronic items, making it one of the worst places to buy these.

Did you try Indian food and what did you think of it?

Indian food is great. I couldn’t get enough tandoori chicken–it’s actually my favorite way to prepare a chicken. When I was in Goa I also ate a lot of fish prepared in the same way.

Did you find India hot?

I though India would be hot, so I planned my trip for the winter. That was a brilliant move as I had great weather the whole time.

What did you think of the Indian people; honest answer please?

Every one who’s been to India knows the reason for this question. Indians are the most pushy, annoying people ever–or so it seems. As you’re being hounded by one vendor or scammer after another, you have to keep reminding yourself that, as a tourist, you attract these types of people, so it can seem like every one in India is like this. But they’re not; it’s just that all the people you’d want to meet are busy with their lives or their jobs and don’t have the time to talk to the foreign tourists traveling through town. Once you get away from the touristy areas (and on local buses and lower class train cars, especially) you’ll meet plenty of wonderful people and you’ll realize the Indians are just like everyone else. The annoying people are just more annoying and more visible than in many other countries.

What was your worst experience of India?

I had a standing-room only ticket from Goa to Varanasi. That was an extremely long and uncomfortable train ride.

What was your best experience of India?

In Agra, we got tired of all the vendors and walked away from the touristy area for a bit. Eventually, we found a bunch of kids playing and joined them for some jump rope and a little cricket until we got tired (which took two minutes, in my case). Then some of the parents invited us into their home for some tea and snacks and we talked for a bit. Even though they only knew a little English and we knew none of their language, it was a great experience. I actually ended up going back a few days later to give them a bunch of photos I’d taken of us and them.

Did you see beggars and how did you deal with them?

I saw a lot of beggars and just ignored them. I know that sounds cold, but there’s not much else you can do really.

What modes of transport did you use in India? What are thoughts on them?

I used mainly buses and trains. The buses were generally fine, but I had a lot of trouble with the trains–long delays, lost reservations, one racist conductor, difficulty in buying tickets, and a few other annoyances. Indian Railway left me unimpressed and I definitely preferred the buses in India.

Please give your best tips for travelling to India?

As I said before, don’t use travel agents. Also, try to find out the prices for things beforehand, so you know what you should be paying; it’s difficult to negotiate if you don’t know what something should cost. And you should be negotiating–no one will ever quote you the actual price!

And go to Goa if you get a chance. It sometimes get a bad rep, but it’s undeserved. I loved Goa and ended up staying much longer than I had planned. You’ll find so many different beaches, that there’s one for everyone and many of them still get very few tourists.

Finally, would you visit India again?

Definitely. How else am I going to get some good Tandoori Chicken?

Thank you Daniel for answering these questions.

You can stalk Daniel McBane’s on his travel blog at DanielMcBane.com. He’s got a lovely collection of funny travel stories and observations from travelling and working abroad over the last nine years.

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29 Responses to “Interview with traveller Daniel McBane”

  1. Main Uddin says:

    Daniel McBane is one of the well known traveler in the modern world. I am a regular reader of his site DanielMcBane.com . However thanks Shalu ji for the intervew.
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  2. Jena Isle says:

    Hi Shalu, namaste,

    Wow, Daniel is pretty impressive himself. He must enjoy touring so much. His answers to your questions are candid and clear. I just saw India through his eyes.

    It’s pretty much what I imagine India would be. The trains and buses must be a challenging ride.

    India, here I come in winter. :D
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  3. Michael Belk says:

    What an awesome interview Shalu. I am glad to see that someone has the courage to travel on a free side.

    I could probably never do that.

    I applaud his ingenuity.
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  4. Beate Drom says:

    Interesting interview. Now I desire to visit India:-)))
    Thanks Shalu for this wonderful Link.

  5. Great tips! Yes, it can get quite chaotic in India, but thats what I fell in love with when I visited India. Rajasthan was my personal favourite, with its traditional way of life, and wonderful people. So want to go back. Great post!
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  6. Debasis says:

    Shalu Di its a Gr8 Interview by you… though I travel very less and I hate traveling but I love to read blogs on Travel. Your Interview was so genuine and its a truly an Online Guide for those who love traveling and this post specially help to those travelers who are planning to come to India for the Travel. From this Interview they can take right decision, that what to do and what not to do etc…

    I enjoyed reading this Interview with Daniel McBane.
    Thanks
    ~Debasis…

  7. [...] Interview with traveler Daniel McBane | Travel tips to India [...]

  8. Adrienne says:

    Hi Shalu,

    Well that was a good interview and I’ve never read Daniel’s blog. I’m not much of a traveler so I have to concentrate more on blogs that educate me right now.

    I’m glad he was honest with his experience in India and of course I’ve never been myself. I know ever people from there now so it was nice to get another opinion from a visitor.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    ~Adrienne
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  9. Aasma says:

    Nice interview Shalu,

    And I Totally agree with Daniel, regarding his views about travel agents. It’s really difficult to find honest travel agents who gives you best traveling experience with lowest possible cost.
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  10. It’s always hard to know what to expect when going in for that interview — and preparation can make all the difference. Thanks for sharing this with us. This Post is really very informative.
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  11. A honest interview with good questions .. I wish the there is something we could do about the vendors and pushy people who are spoiling the image of Indians :(
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  12. Hi Daniel….

    First of all a big thanks to share your experience with all of us.
    I can understand the pain you had while travelling long journey in train without a proper seat and yes Travel agents in India are really annoying….. not only to foreigners but for localites also.

    I would like to have a Cup of Tea with you if you plan to visit India again (I live in Delhi). We will plan for a dinner and now I know your favourite dish – ‘Tandoori Chicken’.

    Thanks shalu for a great interview….
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    • It’s true that the train ride was long and uncomfortable, but I also met some interesting people. I was miserable on the journey, but looking back, it was an interesting experience.

      I think the harassment by the vendors and scammers is probably even worse for locals, since they have to deal with all those who can’t speak any English. As tourists, we are only really harassed by the ones who can speak some English. The rest leave us alone.
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  13. Haroun Kola says:

    What a fantastic article, it makes me what to come and travel in India too. I just need to make my blogging profitable enough to afford it… :)
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  14. Felicia says:

    Hi Shalu,
    What a great and interesting interview you did on Daniel McBane! You know, I envy people who get to travel all over the world within months (not days or weeks only) and they get to make the most out of their time there.
    After reading the post, I am not sure if I can survive being in India without pre-booking via travel agents. When we travel, it is only for a short period of time, less than a week, so we do not want to waste time wandering around and missing all the great spots to see. I am aware they will sometimes trick you out of your own money by offering simple services in exchange for ludicrous prices, but that’s to be expected as they think all travelers have a lot of money to spare.
    I will visit Daniel’s blog then. Even if he’s well known, I actually do not know much about him, let alone his own website. Thanks for sharing Shalu!

  15. Ria says:

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  16. I’m not actually well-known at all, as my blog is still fairly new.

    When I advised not to use travel agents, I mostly meant once you’re in India and especially in touristy areas (the ones in and around Paharganj are probably the worst; don’t use them at all). Pre-booking, especially online, can be a good idea if you don’t have much time for your visit. There are several great sites for booking bus and train tickets that only take a small commission and are fairy easy to use. I booked all my tickets using those sites (I used cleartrip mostly).
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  17. If you have sum more related article “Interview with traveller Daniel McBane” please Forward Me on…..
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  18. Kenny Dunn says:

    Fish from Goa sounds delicious — great interview! Do they make fish curries there or is grilled like the tandorri?
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