Published: May 17th 2012May 16th 2012
a new horizon!
on the flight to New Delhi we were chasing the sunset :)
I've finally reached my last destination in Asia before I return to the western world, India! This day has been long awaited and it's almost surreal that I am here now. I spent a month fretting over my visa to get here and only one week before my flight was I able to obtain it. It was such a relief because otherwise I'd be left with unusable flights. We flew from Singapore to New Delhi via Indigo airlines for only $130! Such a great value and the flight was very nice. There were only 4 western passengers on the flight and this was our first sign that things are going to be very different from here on out. It's nice going somewhere that won't be filled with other tourists like places in Southeast Asia are.
Arriving at the international airport of New Delhi was the first hit of reality that we were actually going to spend the next month exploring north India! I finally was in a country that I had no idea what to expect and I was so happy and excited about that. Airport surprised me by being very normal but first hit of culture shock
The India Gate
Saw this along our walk
came when we were waiting in line to get our passports stamped. There was a local man behind us who had no concept of personal space who kept asking very personal questions. It was a bit awkward and we were tired from the flight so we didn't really pay much attention to him. Yet he kept invading our space and I knew that this was going to be nothing compared to what we will deal with once we are in crowded India.
A scrawny little man was waiting for us out in the main hall with Ben's name on a sign. We thought it was best to hire hotel pickup for our first day in India. He led us to the car and right away a wave of dry 100 degree heat hit us, it was only 9:30 pm! Instantly we were thirsty and became worried about the heat of the day. I've read a couple times that only the brave or stupid visit India in May/June…. So I'm either very brave or very stupid… let's just say it's the only time I could have come this time around and I wasn't going to miss it, so
We were stuck in a pitch black museum while we experienced our first India power outage!
I've experienced a lot of crazy driving in my time in Asia but I don't think I can compare India driving at all, it really is one heck of a crazy ride! There are no lines in the road and the cars maneuver through the traffic like nothing else. Horns are going off all around and our driver swerved in and out of our "lane" trying to avoid others hitting us. He wasn't the best driver but he did get us to our destination and to reward him for his feat he began asking for a tip 10 minutes before we were even at our hostel, "madam! Tip! Madam, I drive well! Tip!" At this point, we don't even really know the worth of the bills in our pockets and don't want to accidently over or under tip the man. We try to tell him that we will tip him once we arrive our destination but he kept on asking. As we got closer to our hostel the scenery changed dramatically. Before we were on a highway surrounded by other cars and desert but now we were driving through a smaller street and all around
Trying to find our way
This is how the sidewalks mostly looked like when we were walking through the main area of New Delhi
us was chaos. We saw a "holy" cow trying to cross the road but luckily didn't block our way, crowds of men, and trash piled up everywhere. We arrived at our street late at night and knew from advice that we didn't want to be out on the streets for very long. My vision tunneled as we followed our driver to our hostel. I tried to pay no attention to the various stares Lauren and I were receiving from the men passing by and I really tried to ignore the strong stench of urine that was imminent all around us.
After arriving safely to our hostel and getting settled into our "A/C" room we sat in utter disbelief. This is nothing compared to what we have seen in Southeast Asia, it's a completely different world. I love it! It's the change of pace I was looking for. It's not glamorous at all but I love being able to see this for myself. It's hot, smelly, dirty, yet wonderful!
The next day, we woke up early to get a good start to the day. We had exploring to do! The hostel served a yummy breakfast
that we scarfed down. I was a bit worried about drinking the diary milk but saw others and decided that if I were to get sick they'd be suffering too. It's weird to have to be overly cautious about food. You have to make sure the water is in a sealed bottle and even then there could be a chance that someone just owns a resealer (if that is a word) and has repackaged tap water. Even food you have to make sure that it never touched tap water or has been sitting around collecting bacteria. I've never been so scared to eat in my life! The last thing I want is to be confined to a toilet for a few days.
After eating, we set out to explore New Delhi. Our alley is under some major construction and as we were walking we saw men carrying cement in bowls on their heads transferring it down this work line to each other. They worked quickly and somewhat efficiently. As we approached the main street Lauren exclaimed why it smelt like urine, there were three urinals on the corner of our alley with men peeing right then and
there. I couldn't even look while we walked past but I was glad there was a "station" for this peeing action to be occurring. We arrive the main street and were bombarded with rickshaw drivers, "tour guides", and salesmen. This is were the rickshaw adventure starts. Lauren and I kind of let Ben handle the haggling and for 60 Rupees ($1.10) we were on our way in a rickshaw to what we hoped would take us to the Humayun Tomb. We were wrong. He instead (like the guide books warn you about) took us to a "tour office" where we had to go in and get a tour with a car to see all the main attractions in Delhi. We refused to get out of his rickshaw and then ordered him to take us where we intended to go. He told us that he could not because he did not have the correct permit, which is why we would have to go inside the office. We refused and he then said he'd have his friend who does have a permit meet us and take us for the same price. He began to drive and then on another street stopped to
wait for his rickshaw buddy. We then piled in the new rickshaw and hoped that we would finally be on our way to the tomb. A short ride later, we arrived at yet another "tour office". Frustrated, we piled out and Ben led us in a march through the city to find it on our own. With the map in hand we walked through New Delhi like we owned it. There were no other tourists to be seen and somehow Ben did get us to our destination. It was not a walk for the faint of heart though, it was over 100 degrees all day long, the high being 109, and we were walking miles in it, and let me tell you, there are no places to find (safe) water along the way!
We arrived to the National Museum and spent a couple hours looking at all the items on display. India has such a rich culture and history it's hard to know where to start. As we were viewing some historic paintings we lived through our very first power outage! India is known to have power outages throughout the day (heck as I'm writing this now,
the power is going on and off). We found ourselves in a pitch black museum having no idea what to do or how long a power outage could last. Luckily, my phone has a mini flashlight so we just waited it out. It took about 10 minutes for the power to turn back on but the museum was a lot quieter for it. After we finished our tour of the museum we set out to find Raj Ghat. Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. After a few moments of uncertainty and rechecking the map, we found our second destination of the day.
By this point, I’m exhausted and thirsty. We still had yet to find safe water to purchase so we decided it was time for us to rickshaw it back to the area with some restaurants. I love traveling with Lauren and Ben because they love to eat well. They do their research and find the best spots to eat. We headed that way to this Kabab place in the heart of New Delhi. It was definitely a hot spot for the locals and after eating there we understood why. It was absolutely delicious!
I didn't even go one day being vegetarian because they had these amazing chicken kabab wraps that were to die for.
After eating, exhaustion really settled in and we walked back to our hostel. The walk back sure is an interesting one. There were homeless people everywhere, people resting on the sidewalks (right in our path), people buying and selling various items, shops galore, and trash. We practically attacked our beds when we got back into our room and never left for the rest of the evening. We were to exhausted to even find food for dinner. We had our limit for the day. I'm proud of us for walking everywhere and taking on New Delhi but I think next time, I'll order up that city tour with an A/C vehicle of some sort, it's just way too hot! Knowing us though, we'll probably keep up with the walking but next time we know to bring two water bottles!
There are more photos below