So let me start out by saying that I do not care for the city of Delhi. Maybe I am missing something about the city but I do not care for the awful air quality (the air quality is so bad it kills over a million people a year!), the loud traffic, the hoards of scammers, the nosey citizens who ask questions that are none of their business, the heat,etc. So pretty much the whole city. If you love Delhi, then great.
We got to our hotel at 6:30am after dealing with a horrible man in immigration. Several people told us to take a pre-paid taxi to our hotel so that we didn’t get scammed. The airports in India don’t allow people who don’t have a ticket to enter. So families, cabbies, etc. all wait right outside the doors for people. As soon as we stepped outside, it was like we had a huge X on our back. We were approached and tracked by several cabbies who wanted us to use their service. (The trick to dealing with these people is to not talk to them, don’t look at them – basically don’t acknowledge that they exist.)
We finally got our taxi to our hotel and got the first glimpse of Delhi. It was C-R-A-Z-Y! Being a former British colony, drivers in India drive on the other side of the road. There are marked lanes on the roads but they are mostly ignored. Slower vehicles that rickshaws and tuk tuks drive closer to the left side of road to allow faster vehicles to pass. Basically everyone honks all the time and weaves in and out of traffic following way to close to the vehicle in front of them. No one gets angry or yells. They just blast their little horn constantly.
The hotel allowed us to check in early..like 4 hours early which was so awesome because we were so tired.
Andy and I took a shower and laid down for bit but we were too excited about exploring the city to sleep. The hotel gave us a cute little map of the area and we were off. Almost as soon as we hit the sidewalk, we were approached by tuk tuk drivers, pedestrians and cab drivers all wanting to take us some place. One of the big scams in Delhi is to take tourists to a ‘tourist office’. There they try to sell you packages for sightseeing usually with a private driver. Andy and I were taken to an office but didn’t purchase anything as we saw the scam right off.
After wondering around for awhile we did end up at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Temple which is a famous Sikh temple. It was absolutely beautiful. The guy who watches your shoes (?) tried to scam us out of money as well telling us we owed him over one hundred rupees. We gave him ten rupees for trying. The guy off to the left in this photo, tried to trade Andy coins for paper money which is also a popular scam.
We ended up back at the hotel around 2pm IST and slept until 9pm at night. We decided to just sleep through the night. So the next morning we were starving! The hotel had a great little free breakfast where we met a cute server who was working at the hotel part-time and going to school part-time.
We left the hotel and found a weird little alley where they sold all sorts of street food and had a snake charmer. Andy took his picture without talking to him so we needed to pay him. I think it costed us about 500 rupees (about $8 American). It was worth it.
We ended up in a tuk tuk and went to purchase some native Indian clothes which are much cooler than the ones we brought. This was our strategy: bring one backpack a piece with minimal clothing and purchase everything else in India.
The guy who sold us the clothing wanted to charge us 5,000 rupees but I talked him down to 3500. It was a better deal but I think I could have gotten him down a bit further. We visited India Gate which was very interesting.
Around this time it was hot. I mean really hot outside. We stopped in the shade and watched folks playing cricket for awhile.
We walked over to At Humayun’s Tomb which is a large area that has several temples, tombs, and other interesting buildings.
It’s impossible not to be affected by the poverty you see in India. It’s heart breaking seeing children beg for food. You’re almost paralyzed with shock and sadness while you see whole families scavenge through garbage.
We left Delhi early the next morning for Ranthambore National Park for our safari. After all, one of the main reasons we went to India was to see tigers in the wild. We took a train from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur via train. The Nizamuddin train station is the craziest most chaotic place I have ever been. It’s completely overwhelming and if I hadn’t wanted to get the hell out of Delhi I would have run crying from the station. There are so many cars, people, etc that you have no idea where to go, where to look and good lord it’s so hot. Even early in the morning.
Our train was delayed which was not great as people were staring at us. I mean really staring.
The train portion of this journey was approximately 5 hours in a hot swaying rail car. The AC didn’t work that well which made me feel very sick. We shared our compartment with a lovely retired couple from Delhi who spoke perfect English and chatted with us most of the way.
When we finally arrived at our destination we couldn’t find our ride to the hotel. I tried not to panic in the heat. My God it was hot. I mean like center of the sun hot. Finally we found our two guys. I wanted to hug them.
We were driven to the Ranthamborne Regency Hotel where we would be staying for several days. I cannot recommend this place enough. The heart and soul of India is the people in small towns who are so kind and nice and generous. They do not have an easy life in these rural areas. The power cuts in and out and there is no septic system in most homes. Many people don’t have running water and there is feces and garbage everywhere. But still they smile, they laugh, they joke and they work hard.