Posts Tagged With: new delhi

India… The good, the bad, and the downright evil

Well India has provided some of the best and some of the worst experiences of our lives. In some areas the scenery, people and food are among the prettiest, friendliest and tastiest (respectively) we have seen, met or had…in other areas …not the same story. Despite this we covered a lot of the country, saw a lot of sights, places, cities and have some insights that may prove useful to future travellers.

India certainly has a lot positive to be said about it and there are some must see items that make planning a trip very worthwhile. There are also some places that quite frankly are ruined by the people that you are forced to encounter along the way. Our trip was more low budget that some but higher budget than the typical backpacking style holiday.

We spent our money on the food, beer, accommodation and transport…choosing to pay that little bit more for the extra space and comfort and things like private bathrooms. That said…accommodation was generally about $20 a night for both of us and at its cheapest was $10. For not much extra (than our allowance) per day you could plan a very nice Indian sojourn and by paying the little bit extra can avoid some of the shonks that we hit along the way. You will be overpaying for what you get but the extra money takes away some of the headaches and surely that is worth a little more.

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Indian Must dos

With the beauty of hindsight this is where I would go to if I was to plan a short (2-3 week) holiday in India (in no particular order).

Agra – Taj Mahal and the fort…this one is obvious but they truly are that good. I suggest that 2-3 days is about the right amount of time here.

Amritsar – golden temple and the border show. Can be done in a one full day journey if time is tight but the people and food are so nice you will want to stay more.

Aurungabad – Ellora and Ajanta caves…absolutely stunning. Two days is about right. This was the surprise for me, had never heard of them but were the highlight of the trip.

Hampi – absolutely fantastic with so very much to see, need about 2 full days but will want more as the people and place are so good.

Jaipur – this has 3 forts, temples, a palace and all the old city walls and is again worthy of about 3-4 days depending on your schedule and timings. Jaipur is in Rajasthan and most of Rajasthan is pretty similar with forts and palaces etc. They are all different but are also very similar so if time is against you Jaipur would be my pick.

Ooty – the Indian blue mountains (Nilgiris) with a toy train ride to boot. Stunning scenery and clean by Indian standards.

Udaipur – we loved this place. The water and lakes make it very different to the other sights you tend to see. If you come in early in the morning you could see everything in a day and a bit so one overnight would be about right..add an extra night if you want to hit the fort and Jain temples which are a bit of a way out. We stayed for 6 days and enjoyed it all but most people will not have as much time.

The end.

My list would leave out 2 key ones on almost everyone else’s list and they are

Goa – a must for beach goers…we could have skipped it. It was nice and we had a good time but unless you are in dire need of sand and water it could be skipped.

Kerala – the cruise of the back waters was nice and a good treat. Our cruise was probably a bit long and one to two nights would be about right. There are afternoon cruises but you stay in the main channel with all the boat traffic.

Great if you have extra time

Now if you have a little more time available then these are my choices for good second tier spots with nice attractions, people etc

Darjeeling – tea fields, toy trains and the Himalayas on a clear day.
Hyderabad – an Indian city that is really trying to get it right.
Jaisalmer – desert, fort, safari. Nice if you have the time.
Jodhpur – nice place..very Rajasthan with forts and palaces.
Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip at the edge of 3 oceans
Mumbai – beautiful architecture, the gateway to India and Elephanta island.
Pondicherry – the French parts

Nice if you have LOTS of time

Mangalore – still the best food I have eaten in India (just not much to see)
Cochin – a nice afternoon but not too much to see
Trivandrum – good zoo and some nice architecture
Bangalore – not too much going on here

Don’t even bother

Bhubaneswar – caves and temples…not that fantastic and the experience is wrecked by the lying and cheating of what feels like almost everybody in the town. The worst that India has to offer.

I have left New Delhi off this list entirely because my experiences in New Delhi were entirely terrible. I came to Delhi 4 times (including transits) and had an atrocious experience each and every time. I may have been entirely unlucky…or it may well be the worst capital city on the planet, full of lying cheating scoundrels. Alas as New Delhi is a major transport hub you may just have to stop here to get to some of the nicer parts of India. Should you wish to do such a trip then I will let you form your own New Delhi opinion and would be happy to hear it.

I will leave the India topic with a few of my favourite moments…

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And my all time favourite moment…was…

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Farewell India…it has been an experience…

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi

Not an auspicious introduction to India. We got off the plane and headed for the ATM then to the hotel. On the advice of all of the travel sites and books they suggest taking the prepaid taxi option to avoid the arguments and dramas of the hawkers etc. so we paid 800 rupees (about $16 and a 100% markup) and got the prepaid cab from the “government tourist travel bureau”. Well that was a disaster. After taking about 45 mins to do the 15 km drive, the road was blocked off (outside the US embassy) and we had to go to the tourism bureau to check availability of road access while also discussing our future plans in Delhi. Needless to say this was the scam that all the books talk about and the road next to the US embassy is always blocked. The to and fro went on for a bit but we did not not fork over any extra cash or sign up for unwanted services.

When enough was enough we got quite snakey with the driver and he backed down and took us to the hotel. We had in fact driven around it about 4 times but with no context of the world we had just landed in and no GPS to guide us we were at the mercy of this shonk. He had the nerve at the end of all this to ask for a tip to cover the extra distance that he had to cover. He got a mouthful from both of us and no tip. We both got out of the cab mighty annoyed, tired and hungry.

After swearing wildly and casting vicious aspersions on an entire nation and it’s people we checked in and headed out for a meal. After a lengthy walk we found an area and settled in for a feed. We had a mushroom paneer, raita, and a mutton curry with 2 naans and a paratha washed down with 5 kingfisher lagers for about $20. The meal was excellent with the minor exception of the mouse running across the room half way through (actually happened). We headed home, a little calmer, deciding not to damn an entire race on the back of a poor first up Impression. A good night’s sleep and the world would commence anew tomorrow.

I woke to find that my wife had spent a not inconsiderable amount of time in the bathroom overnight then we headed down to the included breakfast. Toast, egg (with chilli), conserves and a banana washed down with the sweetest coffee on the planet (undrinkable). Internet access atrocious. Made the decision to get the HOHO bus (hop-on, hop-off for the uninitiated) which will hit the 26 big tourist sites around town for a single fee.

We decided the HOHO bus could wait until tomorrow and headed out and actually had an ok day. We were trying to arrange local SIM cards so we could get our GPS and dodge the shonks. Indian government bureaucracy made getting a SIM a 2-3 day odyssey. Hopped the metro to Connaught Circus where the world is full of shonks and the “government tourist travel bureau”. There is actually one “government tourist travel bureau” but based on the word of the shonks there are about 70 on Connaught Circus alone. So far we are both massively unimpressed with India, we have held off on posting this for 3 days in a row now as we wish to see the positive in things but after 3 days we have been lied to, cheated and attempted to be conned on about ten occasions.

We are hoping that the initial hassles are a New Delhi thing, and that when we get out of the capital we will see the true nature of both the people and the land. Agra is the next port of call so the Taj Mahal etc may be the saviour of my mental health. I cannot express how disappointed I am at this point. I have Indian friends, neighbours former colleagues and employees and they have all been fantastic. I love the food and the images of the sites look spectacular. This was the leg that I have most been looking forward to. I truly hope that this is a rocky start to what will be a great experience.

Can’t decide in which city of the world the honking of horns is worst…New Delhi maybe not #1 but it is up there…certainly in the top 5.

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