Rickshaw madam? Yes madam? Excuse me. Come into my shop, where are you from? Madam, madam! Rickshaw yes? You like silk, pashmina, sari? Yes madam? You smoke something? You like hotel, good hotel madam. Rickshaw?
Welcome back to India, it hits you in the face like a ton of bricks, but it was good to be back! The process of actually getting back to Delhi, however, was in no way fun or good at all.
Imagine the worst bus you’ve ever been on, the oldest, crappiest, most dangerous one (travels in developing countries will help) then imagine sitting on it for 25 hours. That’s right 25 hours straight, on India roads. But not only that before getting on this bus imagine first taking a 6 hour bus, crossing a border (always enjoyable) then another 2 hour bus. Are you imagining? Does it sound fun? Well I gather you get it. The longest 36 hours ever, only 3 of them not sitting on a bus! The plan was to catch a train after the first 2 bus rides but of course on arrival to the station in the random town I was in with an older German couple the trains were all booked out. So started our interesting bus journey. No tourist buses wherever we were but a big metal shell with a few seats chucked in. 2 drivers that must have been drinking and a long day/night ahead of us. Luckily we got the front row so we got to stretch out a bit and make sort of beds with our backpacks, unfortunately we also got to see the traffic coming head on and feel the vibrations of the constant horn. Up there with the most life threatening bus rides of the trip, sometimes in the middle of the night the fog was so thick you could only see about 1 meter ahead which didn’t stop the driver going full speed ahead into what I could only hope was open road. Towards the end (when there was considerably more traffic) he started just driving directly down the centre of the road with his finger on the horn while all the other cars/buses/livestock/people swevered out of the way at the last minute. The train would have taken 10 hours and the bus took 25, with numerous chai and toilet breaks of course. I passed the time by thinking of what could possibly be worse than this bus ride (answer: the people in the back with no leg room or packs to lie on) and buying every sort of food that made its way on to the bus. So survived on Samosa’s, Chappati, chai and yummy mixes of chickpeas and tomatoes on newspaper plates. I guess it was at least a very Indian way to end the trip and luckily the extremely lovely and full of good travel story Germans kept me from going completely mental!
The most frustrating thing was seeing signs that Delhi was 300 km’s away which would take only 3-4 hours at home and it taking more like 9 hours, streets are too packed and bus is too crap for proper driving. Anyway after an eternity we arrived late evening in a dusty smelly bus park on the edge of Delhi, we squished into a rickshaw and headed to a hotel for a much needed shower.
So I had one full day left in Delhi before getting up super early for my flight out the next day. Did a bit of last minute shopping, can leave a bag in Hong Kong at the hotel so able to buy a few extra things. Also went into Old Delhi to have a look around the markets and check out the Jama Masjid, the main mosque in town. Can hold around 25000 people so was pretty big. Lots of people around praying and chilling out. Nice place, although they charge tourists this ridiculous camera charge, which I had to pay even if I wasn’t going to use my camera. The area around the mosque has a definite Muslim influence; you are more likely to see cows on the menus than wandering the streets. I happened to walk past the meat market with bowls of goats feet and heads….pretty freaky.
Went back to visit the tourist information guys that I met when I first arrived. So began a crazy and confusing night. I was with a Bulgarian girl who I met at the office and originally we were all going out, I checked out from the hotel and took my bags there, they would take me to the airport at 3.30am and till then we would eat and party. But someone’s brother was in hospital, blah blah blah, me and Liliana went and had a great dinner and were supposed to meet up with them later but it all was a bit confusing so at 11.30pm I grabbed my bags and headed back to a hotel for 3 hours sleep and just caught a taxi, so much easier. But did have a nice night with Liliana and as usual they paid for lunch/dinner and drove us around which is always good.
So early start at the airport, feeling the effects of a few days with out decent sleep. Checked in then ended up chatting to a really nice Indian guy on his way back home for the holidays because he’s living in the U.S, Talking to nice people is always a good way to pass the time that is inevitably involved with catching planes, and kept me from falling asleep and missing the flight. The Delhi airport has to be the most useless airport ever, one money changer that wouldn’t change my rupees, because he said it was not enough.
“well what whould I do with them?”
“I don’t know, spend then, go away!”
So helpful, another lady came up and he wouldn’t change her $50USD into rupees, so I’m not sure what he would actually do, very odd and the selection of food is about zero, ended up with a bread roll with potatoes in it (?).
Anyway flight was only 5 hours, sat with a kiwi family on the last leg of their Round the World which was cool, watched “The inconvenient truth” which was good and disturbing at the same time and made it to Hong Kong!
India photos are here: