Published: September 9th 2008September 9th 2008
Ok so we've got a little bit more time now to fill you in on what we've done since Delhi! The Smyle Inn Hotel was great and let us keep the room for the rest of the day because our train wasn't until 9:40pm and check out time was noon. We went for a walk in the afternoon around our hotel area called Paharganj. Saw some amazing markets, got harrassed constantly for rickshaws and went down some back alleys. This was a slight mistake as we soon got a little lost and there were 4 rabid dogs fighting down one of the alleys we needed to go down! Managed to make a little detour and some of the locals were helpful in finding our way back. It was so hot in Delhi we could only really stay out for a couple of hours before returning back absolutely knackered!
We were advised to get a rickshaw to Old Delhi Station by the hotel manager saying that it would cost 70Rps and that we should set off about 7:30pm. Good advice since we got to the station (which was confusingly called Delhi Junction so we weren't sure if we'd been taken to the right place) at about 8pm and the driver haggled for 90Rps (he wanted 150Rps!). We sat and waited for our train on the platform. Regularly got stared at and chatted to. The orange turban man was rude and intimidating (see yesterdays blog). Saw our first 'scramble' by the Indians for the unreserved second class trains - absolutely unbelievable. The train engine creates a massive horn and then about a hundered people try to cram onto a small carrage of wooden seats (god knows how they cope with long distance journeys).
Our train arrived an hour earlier than departure! Got onto our nice air conditioned seats/beds with a curtain. Very cosy and comfortable. This was 2AC class. Unfortunately we saw the Sleeper class carriages which looked horrendous. Very cramped, no air conditioning (only uses the windows) and because of the constant staring (particularly at Laura from the men) we decided to try and change our 16 hour journey later on in the holiday from Sleeper class to 3AC or 2AC.
Anyways, we managed to get to Kalka station at 4:45am. Waited on the platform all day. Gave some kids balloons (great advice from Woolley and Pippa because they went mental when they saw them). Got tonnes of children begging for money or food. We genuinely didn't have anything on us but they don't understand so we just had to walk away which was really hard. The worst moment had to be when we were sat on the bench and Laura noticed a man behind one on the carriages doing things which no potential blog reading mother, father or grandparent should know about. Needless to say we quickly moved on and luckily our train arrived.
We met some really nice people on the train who explained the 'lunch' we were given. This was rice, potato curry, really hot chutney, 2 chappattis and some lentil sauce thing which tasted of salt. It was reasonably good and Indian. Our bums hurt at the end of the journey and we slept most of it but the views and photos are amazing. We saw some monkeys for the first time! Got to Shimla and quickly found Hotel Dalziel which is awesome (see yesterdays blog). Last night we went out for our first meal (because the Dalziel's food is similar to Kad and Emma's pepper mince spaghetti - so Dilley probably would like the hotel's food!) We both braved having chicken for the first time. I had tandoori chicken which was amazing and Laura had chicken masalla which actually doesn't taste anything like the stuff at home. It's almost like gravy!? We bought some cakes on the way home for pudding too.
We're now getting into the sleeping pattern (don't worry Christine!) but we have had a few 24+ hour stints of no sleep which has been draining. Today we got up at noon and we've just been to a cafe for some water (which smelt bad) and some cookies for breakfast. We're now sorting out the 16 hour train journey. We've bought 2 tickets in 2AC class but we're 'waitlisted'. This means that if two people cancel then we will become RAC ticket holders (reserved against cancellation) which means we get to be on that class of train but no guarantee of a seat. Then if people cancel we get their seats! We've kept the Sleeper class ticket in case we don't get to be RAC ticket holders and therefore will have to stay in that class. That probably doesn't make much sense...a lot like the Indian rail system!
Hope you've enjoyed the read. We're going up to the Hanuman Temple now where we need to buy some sticks from the shop at the bottom of the walk to "fend off the monkeys"!!! Can't wait. Next blog will probably be from Agra after seeing the Taj Mahal!
Tink and Laura xxxxxx