Our second day in Delhi was spent visiting both the Old town of Delhi and the new town. We had to arrange some travel onwards from Delhi so we headed into New Delhi rail station. It was manic, so much so we couldnt even stop long enough without being hassled to work out where the entrance was. In the end we ended up getting hustled into a rickshaw and taken to a “travel agent” in Connnaught Place. Connaught Place is the main area in New Delhi and consists of a grid of upper class Indian shops and western shops. Our travel agent probably ripped us off but we ended up walking out of there with trains, accommodation and best of all a driver for the next few days – all for £25 each per day.
Our driver, Sham, then took us to Old Delhi and straight to the Red Fort. The fort was full of tourists, but to my surprise, mostly Indian tourists. We wandered though the bazzar at the front stopping only to buy a travel chess set (James is going to teach me on some of the upcoming long train rides) before making our way into the grounds to visit the buildngs. The fort was pretty run down but was still impressive and probably just one of the many forts to come.
Next stop on our tour of Delhi was a twilight visit to Humayan’s Tomb which was built in the mid 16th century. We were lucky to get there on the only clear night we had in Delhi so we could see the moon in the twilght sky. The red building was stunning and the grounds inside were neat and quiet and we had a calm wander up into the tomb. I have to say being inside the marble building with a coffin at nightfall was pretty eerie! As the sun had set it was time to leave and it was a quick stop at India Gate (Delhis equivalent to the Arc Di Triomoh) for a few photos of it lit up with lights.
It was great having a driver for the afternoon – having doors opened for me and hassle free transport. I do miss the rickshaw craziness but I a sure I will get used to it over the next few days. Looking forward to exploring Jaipur!
And I am already in love with India.
To be honest though, our first 24 hours didn’t go as smoothly as possible with an accommodation mix up. We are trying our first attempt at Air BnB – where locals rent out their spare rooms for a small fee. At two am this morning we arrived at the house and no one was answering. After ringing the buzzer for ages we decided to debunk to a hotel and try again in the morning. After a restless sleep we woke up to an email with more specific instructions and when we arrived at the house for the second time we realised we had beeen knocking on the wrong door. Silly us! Even though we were £70 out of pocket because of cab rides and hotel fees we were just glad to be settled somewhere.
Soon we were ready to head out and explore Delhi in the daylight so we wandered down to the road and jumped into rickshaw. This was a fun experience, driving in Delhi is manic especially as lanes, red lights and speed bumps all seem optional to drivers. We passed masive buses, lorrys with wildstock, pedestrians and motorbikes with girls in saris as we weaved in and out of the traffic. We arrived safely at the Khan market and all for about 80p – which is cheap for a thrill ride.
The Khan Market is more like a small shopping arcade that is full of a variety of different shops and is mostly frequented by the middle class. I was happily surprised that we didnt get hustled or touted and we could just wander around at our leisure. While I could have gone crazy buying scarves, jewellery and beaded shoes I managed not to spend all my rupees in one day. In the market there are plenty of places to eat but we visited the Big Turtle which is a bookshop and cafe. The cafe actually mostly sold western food but I was determined to have my first meal in India be an Indian one so opted for the Achaari Aloo which was spicy potatos and deep fried vegetarian patties. James opted for the pizza and we shared their gooey chocolate cake so overall our first meal was delicious.
Next on the to do list was the Lodi Gardens which I would probably describe as more of a park it was so big. We wandered around for about an hour taking in the flowered gardens, ruins of mosques and people watching. It was fun watching the couples hide away in corners, people dog walking and my favourite was the snari’s – women in sneakers and saris doing their daily exercise around the park.
After a day in the heat (a muggy 38 degrees) we were tired and exhausted so it was time to head home. It was into another rickshaw for an adventure ride home. This time wasnt so enjoyable as we had a bit of a crash with a car. Don’t worry Mum we are ok, we were only a minute and walking distance from home so we got out soon after and made our way on foot. The rickshaw caused more damage to the car then it did to us and it wasn’t our drivers fault so im still pretty confident in their driving and will jump in one again tomorrow when we go exploring!
I finally got my Indian visa!
I say finally because it was a bit of a process to get it. I was applying for a multi-entry visa as an Australian living in the UK which meant a lot of extra paperwork.
After spending ages filling them all in and double checking everything on the checklist, I sent it off with about 5 weeks to spare. A few days later I got it returned because it had been rejected! I had left out the itinerary that they need to see why I needed a multi-entry visa (in my defense it wasn’t included on the checklist!)
Since I wasn’t home when it got delivered I had to get to re-directed to my work address. EIGHT days later the courier company got it to me. This meant that I literally had 13 working days to get it processed. When they recommended 10 – 15 working days in total.
I decided to submit it personally so it was fast tracked and after spending 2 hours at the embassy it was finally processed and sent off to the high commission. Then all I had to do was wait! I was fairly confident that they could process it in 13 days but I was told there was two Indian public holidays and one UK public holidays in that time. That meant I literally had the 10 working days to get it processed.
I was pretty much on edge for two weeks, looking into alternative flights and making a back up plan if I couldn’t go when I wanted to go but thankfully, yesterday I got the text and I rushed into the embassy to pick it up.
My passport was in my hands and I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I’m definitely going on Tuesday! Now all I have to do is pack up my room, pack my backpack and get ready for my adventure!
So far, thats about all the Indian words I know – but hopefully after 74 days travelling through this exciting country (with a dash into Nepal) I will know a bit more.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bronnie and I’m a Aussie living in London with a passion for exploring new countries, meeting new people and discovering all that comes along with travelling in unknown places. You can see some of my other adventures here. When I got the opportunity to have a three month break from my job I jumped at the chance to visit one of the countries that was high on my to do list, the home of Bollywood itself – India.
Also luckily for me my boyfriend James is also in between jobs (we are professionals by the way, this is starting to sound like we are jobless bums) so I have a travel partner in crime. He’s and English lad who has spent the last 12 months living in Japan as an English teacher. In the time he has been away we’ve only spent roughly five weeks in each others company so travelling together for this amount of time is going to be just an added part of an already exciting adventure. I’m sure there will be a few tantrums (me) and sulks (James) but I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want to travel with.
Especially as James is a very talented photographer which guarantees me at least a few good photos of my trip! You can check out his Japan photoblog here and you will be able to see his upcoming India photoblog here.
So thats a little something about me and the blog. Will keep you updated on the planning and packing as it comes along and then of course will be blogging on the road. Hope you enjoy!
James and I on our last holiday in Cinque Terre, Italy