The Trip from Bristol to Delhi was fairly painless and uneventful, though I can’t say the same for the Taxi ride from the Airport to our Hotels which had enough thrills and spill’s to satisfy the most adventurous traveller.
We used Chipping Sodbury Taxi’s for the ride up to terminal 5 and called Ben our driver “Bob’ all the way. Good start!
Terminal 5 is relatively easy on the passengers with good system’s and short queue’s.
Even the staff were friendly!
We did possibly find the worst Wetherspoon’s I’ve ever used.
It seems they abandoned the ‘business model’ for profit at Heathrow, and it tells.
The menu offered a range of ‘Tea’s” but they only had Breakfast and it wasn’t very good.
Jaki had the worst Bacon Buttie I’ve seen in ages with dry white bread though my porridge was tasty
Our flight was relatively pleasant. We’d chosen the last row of seats at the back which are a pair so we had no one to interrupt us, a window and an isle seat and easy access to the toilet’s. Though because its open to the galley it was particularly draughty so we made good use of the blankets provided.
We were given two meals during the flight. The first one i chose was a Paneer Korma ( my first Paneer) the second, a Chicken dish with Mash and carrots. Both of which were pretty good.
The in flight entertainment left a bit to be desired. The screen’s were very small, picture quality poor and the variety and range on offer seemed limited. They did appear to have a good selection of films but the Country music selection in ‘Audio’ was poor.
Cindy Lauper, Country Music???
If, as suggested, Jonathan Ross had reviewed these offering’s he needs to get out more.
We arrived in Delhi at about 11 or 1130 in the evening.
As we left the plane the heat and humidity hit like a brick.
There was a very long walk from the terminal to the immigration desk and then an even longer wait to be processed.
On the plane we had been given immigration cards to complete which we presented with our Visa and passport then they took a further photograph and scanned our finger and thumb prints. Both hands.
This became a bit of a farce.
By using this High Tech system they hope to record everyone entering the country but the technology let them down.
The Finger print scanner seemed to have a high failure rate. One guy appeared to be impossible to scan even when the supervisors were called in. There was a lot of wobbling heads, scanning and re scanning but they could not get a satisfactory result.
This delay was repeated at every desk which caused the huge build up of tired frustrated passengers.
The lounge started to look like the migrant camp at Calais.
Once through we found a screen that told us our baggage was on carousel number 10. However, by the time we got there it was carrying bags from the Moscow flight. London was a distant memory.
There was a bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ before we discovered our suitcase on the floor in a corner of the baggage hall.
At last, we finally made it out of the baggage hall and through the door where we were met by a wall of notices with peoples names on them. Hundreds of couriers or taxi drivers all waiting to meet passengers from various flights.
Everyone that is except us.
Eventually Jaki saw a G Adventures sign and we asked if they were expecting us. A young guy asked if we were Simmons and Hendy?
He then whisked us off to another part of the building where we were told to wait for our driver.
After about half an hour ‘she’ arrived.
G Adventures use ‘Women on Wheels’ a local charity that supports women drivers as a way of allowing them to work and earn a living.
Our driver told us to follow her and we set out on yet another hike to the car park where a very small car was waiting for us.
On route we stopped and bought two bottles of water from a Kiosk.
Even though it was 30+ degree’s the guy had a gas fire going full belt, which was melting the slices of Pizza for sale on the counter.
Our bags were crammed into the front seat and we were crammed into the back. When our driver stopped to pay the parking fee we became the centre of attention from all the other (Male) drivers. We suspect Women on Wheels is still a novelty here in Delhi.
As we left the terminal we had our first “Close Encounter of the Third kind”.
The first encounter is a near miss.
The second encounter is a near miss with Horns blowing.
The third (and most critical) is a near miss that makes the driver stop and take deep breaths.
We had two one these within 100 yards.
The exit from the airport is via a one way system.
However, local Taxi drivers in their haste to get a fare, choose to drive the wrong way. Even worse, they do it with their lights switched off!
Presumably they think they become invisible then?
This was our initial introduction to driving in Delhi, an activity that should be on everyones Bucket List, though it might hasten the end quite considerably.
There seemed to be no rules on the road except one.
Keep you hand firmly pressed on the horn at all times.
The only problem with this is that everyone else is doing the same.
Honking it seems is a way of life.
Honking when you overtake is a must and some of the big lorries actually have a sign on the back asking drivers to honk when they overtake.
The trip was about 40 minutes before we arrived at the Grand Park Inn.
Now theres two things wrong with this name.
First, it aint Grand and second, theres no park.
It sits among some rather squalid looking shops, a few street stalls and a vehicle repair shop. Its on a busy main road so the Honking continues all night and to be honest, its a bit run down. However, this is India and we didn’t pay for a 5 Star stay so its about what we expected.
In reality, its reasonably comfortable. We slept well even though the pillows are about the same shape and size as a packet of Wet Wipes.
The Air Con is Noisy but works, theres a ceiling fan, fridge, flat screen TV but no coat hangers. There was though a Comb and some cotton bud’s in the drawer which might come in handy?
A plastic bucket in the shower and a Jug by the loo though I dread to think what they are used for.
There were about 4 staff on duty when we arrived and two of them showed us to our room which meant two lots of tips.
Were currently dishing out 100 Rupee (80 Rupees to the £ ) notes as this is the smallest currency we have.
When we went to reception this morning there were six men on duty, there were at least 4 men in the kitchen at lunch time but we haven’t seen anyone cleaning which is a pity cause thats what this place really needs.
We slept till 1130 this morning and to be honest I would have slept even longer but Jaki was raring to go. It seems the honking kept her awake!
Well, welcome to my world.
So we took a walk down the road to the local market where they seem to sell more crap than you could shake a stick at.
WE were constantly pestered by Tuk Tuk drivers who want to take us to the Government market. We had fake watches and a variety of sun glasses thrust in our faces and we were befriended by a very nice young indian guy who told us he worked in IT, had nothing to sell but then tried to get us to got to the Government Market all the same.
After 30 minutes in the heat we were wilting and the constant barrage of people trying to sell us stuff was beginning to tell.
So we turned around and walked back to the Hotel and the comfort of our beautiful room, with air-con.
We had lunch in the roof top restaurant which sadly had sheets dropped all around it which obscured the view.
Jaki had a Veg Thali at 180 Rupees and i had Hot and Sour Soup.
It was all fresh cooked and rather tasty. The Thali had a Paneer curry, Potato and Celery, Boiled rice, a side salad (which she left as its probably washed in local water and unsafe for us soft Westerners) a Chapati and a popadom. It looked and tasted great.
My soup had Chilli in it. I mean it had Chilli in it, and nothing else.
Well, there was some black pepper but no other ingredients that i could see. At 80 Rupees it was really tasty and cheap.
So were back in the room. Jaki is snoring softly, the Honking is continuing and the air-con unit is doing its best to vibrate out of the window, but its becoming home.