Thursday, 3 May 2012

Delhi

After a suitably enjoyable 8 hour flight to Mumbai (suitably delayed by Air India by an hour or two) I arrived into Mumbai to be greeted by a noise, heat and chaos I can honestly say I was not quite expecting at 3am. The lack of adequate air conditioning meant the corridors and baggage claim were riddled with mosquitoes, and the general lack of good signing or helpful staffing didn't make it the easiest airport to navigate. After taking some 2 hours to simply clear passport control and be re-aquainted with my luggage, I waited in a queue for 45 minutes to take a coach over to the domestic terminals, where I took approximately another hour to clear security in the 'women only' queue. As I was about to step onto the plane (having reached boarding with about 5 minutes to spare which is somewhat staggering when you think I landed 4 hours prior) a rather 'helpful' guard decided that the fact my TINY handbag didn't have a security tag on it was just cause to send me the whole way back to security to get one, meaning I spent about 45 minutes sweating, yelling at people, and running around like a headless chicken, and that the entire flight took off about 50 minutes after its scheduled time (I hope she's pleased with herself). Killed a further 8 hours in the much superior New Delhi airport sleeping on my bag, playing games, fiddling with rupees, listening to music and reading when Abby finally arrived at about 4pm :-)

We had arranged an airport pick up with our hostel, so we left and drove over to it (only 4 near misses on this particular drive so not bad for here. Beeep). Despite the exhaustion beginning to kick in we were both keen to try and power through until later in the evening, so we went out with Hassan (a man from the hostel) to see a night market and eat some local food.


In part, my initial reaction to India is that it reminds me of Asia, only far far busier, and keeping your wits about you is far more necessary in the crazy streets where, say for example, somone might think it's fine to reverse a 15 tonne cement mixer into a tiny bustling market street at speed and those that survive the escapade are those that move out the way fast enough (a list of names to which I was very nearly not a belonger).

For day one we opted for a private ac car and driver rather than the metro and went to see the main sights of Delhi, summarised as follows:


The Red Fort (Built by the Moghul empire in 1648. For me it lacked a wow factor and looked more like a dilapadated prison than a royal residency, but suppose it's worth a quick visit if you're in the area...)


The Jama Majid Mosque (upon climbing far too many stairs for the midday heat we were asked to pay around 300 rupees by the corrupt armed guards for an official "raffle" ticket; knowing entrance should be free we refused to pay and decided against even going in after watching them shout at and intimidate other tourists. I'd advise standing your ground and walking past without paying if you find yourself in said situation, but we were just too hopeflessly hot and bothered for it.)

The Humayan tomb (spectacular and definately worth visiting),



Gandhi's ashes (a quiet, beautiful place where I burnt the soles of my feet on the boiling hot concrete)

The Lotus Temple ("It's like the Sydney Opera house all the way round"):



Lodi gardens (really pretty)



The presidents house (elephant shaped hedges; what's not to love)

The India Gate







On our second day we went to...

The Qutub minar (very ornate and impressive)




Indira Gandhi's museum (one of the few interesting museums I've visited-you can see the spot she was shot and even the sari she was wearing on the day-well worth a visit).