After being in transit for approximately 20 hours (with a 4 hour wait at Dubai in between) my feet had swelled to the size of a mother elephant (& Lees to those of a baby elephant) by the time we eventually touched down at Delhi airport at about 3pm this afternoon. At this point all we wanted to do was to get to our hotel but ironically India is a stickler for legislations & paperwork so it took about 2 hours to clear immigration & to change our money into rupees (only £60's worth each). Also During a trip to the loo between immigration & changing money, I had managed to lose my phone so I headed frantically back to the loo where the sweet cleaner lady was waiting with my phone wrapped in tissue! I could've kissed her but instead after changing our money gave her 100 rupees which went down well as gave me a lovely smile & a little bow :)
Dubai from the aeroplane
First glimpses of India from the plane
Anyway, due to all the delays, by the time we got to departures there was only one taxi driver waving a card in Departures & it didn't have our names on it!
We carried on outside without a plan as we were both pretty brain dead by then but then a fairy godfather appeared in the form of Prince, our transfers guide asking if I was Lisa Roberts - he had been waiting nearly 2 hours for us to come out & I honestly thought that he would've given up and gone back to the hotel so we were over the moon to be proved wrong! The weather was perfect when we arrived, about 24c which made my sunburnt skin breathe a sigh of relief & although the visibility was hazy it kind of added to the whole atmosphere :)
There then followed a most interesting taxi ride to the hotel. Apparently there are no clear road rules in Delhi apart from beep your horn to warn someone you are going to cut across in front of them or beep it to curse them for cutting across in front of you, which leads to quite a beepy experience overall! Luckily our driver was an expert and manoeuvred us safely through the chaos that is Delhi & to the Signature Grand.
Some things we saw on the way to the hotel
We had a warm welcome at our hotel and were told we'd been upgraded & although I'm not sure what we would've had, our room is nice & big & although it includes some dodgy exposed wiring and a few broken tiles & cracked mirrors, it's great & also has a long balcony overlooking part of the city.
Once we'd settled in and showered, (complete with dummies after Lees uncle Kevin's handy tip to avoid mouth contact with the tap water photos included for his amusement!) we decided to brace a walk to the local street market, which started 100 or so metres down the road from the hotel.
I consider myself quite well travelled & used to seeing poverty, having been to South Africa, Egypt & Morocco but the sights we've seen so far in India are jaw dropping to say the least! The paths from the hotel are unwalkable on as not only are they made up in part of broken rocks & gaping casms - they are interspersed with more faecal matter (mainly human..) than you would want to dodge in the dark so the road was the safest option, this only involved dodging the cars, tuk tuks & mopeds which appear from nowhere & compete down the packed streets with the hundreds of pedestrians but as long as you stay alert it's fine :)
Although the market streets were packed, we were pleasantly left alone by hawkers although I think that this was partially due to the fact that although we were the only westerners in sight, a month in Perth helped us to blend in a little. On the odd occasion when a light from a stall shone on my face, a few people stopped and stared but to be honest it was good to experience how it feels to be a minority for a change & we didn't feel threatened although we wouldn't have been comfortable venturing down the side streets on the dark so we stuck to the main market ones & I didn't get my phone out just to be safe.
Cows are sacred in India & we came across this one just stood on the path on the way back to the hotel. The one thing I may struggle with is the stray dogs & other animals roaming the streets but when you see how impoverised the people are it's easier to understand their lack of care towards the animals, but it's still hard to take.
Back at the hotel we went into the restaurant to eat as it was too late to go searching for somewhere else. The food was pleasant enough but the bill of £40 was way higher than we were expecting to pay although this was definitely due to the fact that it was hotel prices. Whilst we were dining the Indian equivalent of Sonny & Cher were taking it in turns to sing (including a Stevie wonder classic for their 'foreign visitors') it was so loud we couldn't have a conversation but then a big pre-wedding party came in and started dancing to the Indian songs & it was brilliant & I would've joined in had it not been for my elephant feet :)
Just finished this blog, it's nearly one am & the noise outside is insane, horns beeping, machines going, dogs barking & so many random fireworks going off it sounds like a war zone but I'm knackered so won't have trouble sleeping (Lee is already flat out!) Need to be ready for Agra in the morning & a mammoth photo session. Today's photos apart from balcony shots have all been from the iPhone as my camera has been packed away during transit but tomorrow it will be running red hot & I can't wait!
'Til tomorrow, nite xx