Ok, where to start?
I suspect the best thing to do is apologise as I’ve missed so many days it will be almost impossible for me to catch up fully, if I try I’ll end up missing the current stuff so, What I’ll do is bring you up to date with stuff and just add bits as I remember them.
The trip with G Adventures has been full on, with early morning starts and long busy days but I have to state for the record, I’ve enjoyed every minute.
Well, thats not strictly true.
I am not a great one for Monuments.
I don’t visit churches or grave yards,
I don’t do Stately Homes, or the Royal Family or Ruins.
in Fact, Jaki and I had our only argument in France when i refused to go anywhere near the fortress in Carcassonne preferring instead to cycle up the canal.
With these knee’s walking round Museums looking at artefacts is a nightmare without the aid of Co codamol tablets by the bucket load.
No surprise then that a trip full of visits to Temples, palaces and shrines was some thing I was dreading.
But i did it, all but the Red Fort and the Baby Taj which I sacrificed on the alter of bone Idleness.
It was made easier by having Romi with us.
His anecdotes and constant support made it bearable. There was one particular Phrase he used which I looked forward to. After telling us some nugget of information he would say.
“This is one thing”. I loved it when he said that.
The company also made it easy, they took me under their wing and made sure I didn’t get lost or led astray by strangers. Thanks all.
Looking back at the last week, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen, i’m glad I made the effort and I’m grateful to the Gang for their patients.
I think G Adventures did a great job in getting us from one place to another safely and on time. I wouldn’t like to try it as a lone traveller.
So, this morning we got up at eight ready for our taxi to the airport which Romi booked yesterday for 0930hrs.
Whilst Jaki wrestled with packing the suitcases I went down to reception to see if our Boarding passes were available.
in this modern age (where apparently the term ‘Courting’ has been replaced with ‘Seeing someone’) check in is done on line, which means you have to print out your own ticket, which is fine if your sat at home in your own office. It doesn’t work quite so well when you have no internet access and no facility to print. Most of the guys have i Phone 6 (or better) so they down load to their mobile and present that at the airport. However, my i phone 4 is almost steam driven so doesn’t offer the same options.
When we arrived back at the Hotel after our last meal on Saturday Night I tried to use their Computer.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to work so I asked for assistance. The 6 men in porters Uniform all tried to help by pulling out plugs and switching things on and off before declaring it F****d (broken).
They also advised that the printer was broken and had been sent for repair!
Luckily the owner was sat in reception and he barked out a few orders which sent the porters scurrying. He took me to his desk and offered me the use of his computer and after a few teething problems (he used Chrome and Yahoo) I was on Jet Airways web site but then the fun really began.
They wanted a whole load of information, passport numbers, dates of birth, e ticket number etc before I eventually got to the point of checking in. When i did the owner suggested i put the hotel e mail address, then they could send the boarding cards there and he would get them printed out. Result.
Which was just as well because there are swarms of small flies in Delhi at night and they like lights, white T shirts and white skin. By the time we’d finished on the computer we were both covered from head to foot in a grey dust of flies.
We went up on the roof later for a farewell drink and the flies were even worse up there swarming over everyone as they drank beer and played cards. We were told to cover the gap in our cans with tissues so the flies couldn’t get in.
Which is why I went to reception early this morning, to collect our passes.
There was a lot of scratching of heads, further bouts of unplugging and plugging in the already defunct computer before they declared defeat and phoned the boss. After a long telephone call they said ‘It was Coming’ and i was sent back to my room to wait. Two further visit got the same response and at 0930 when our taxi arrived we still had no boarding pass.
As a plan B i got onto the Jet Air web site and edited our account sending the boarding passes to my email address and within seconds they appeared on my lap top.
Not having a boarding pass could be problematic as you have to show it even before your allowed into the terminal building.
At this point, the boss arrived and I was whisked off to another Hotel just down the road where he opened his emails and declared.
“They haven’t sent your boarding passes”.
So, I went back to our hotel, grabbed my lap top and took it back to the Bosses office where i forwarded the email to his e mail address. They quickly popped up on screen and he printed them out without further ado.
Back at the Hotel we were shown to our taxi which was the size of a small suitcase and the porters were loading and re-loading the three sets of baggage ( Nehema was traveling with us as she’s on the same flight ) in an attempt to get it in the car which they did before realising there was no space for the passengers.
The big Boss came out, shouted some orders and the Taxi disappeared to be replaced by some thing slightly bigger which did allow us all to get in with the bag’s stored safely in the boot.
The trip to the airport was relatively easy. Being Sunday there was very little traffic and we soon found ourselves at the airport where our driver was clearly unhappy with the 3o Rupee tip I gave him. (the 500 Rupee fare was paid to the Hotel before we left).
Once in the terminal we found our check in, got rid of the bags and then tried to change our left over Rupees back into US Dollars.
Put aside half a day to do this as the paperwork and bureaucracy is typically Indian with lots of duplication, stamping and signing of forms. Eventually we got about $60 which hardly seemed worth the trouble.
Going through security was yet another Indian ritual which required various combinations of Passport and boarding pass, scanning and body searching. All women had to go in one queue as they were taken inside a cupboard one at a time where the curtain’s were drawn before they could be searched. I assume this is to guard women modesty?
Once through we went looking for breakfast and avoided all the curry and Thali offerings settling instead for good old McDonalds.
Well, Indian McDonalds where they offered a Mc Paneer, a McSpicey Vegetarian Masala meal as well as the big one, the Maharaja Meal with double everything.
I had the spicy Chicken burger which was definitely spicy!
We then want in search of some duty free alcohol to take to Bangkok.
There was the usual range of very expensive, very fancy, almost unheard of Whiskey’s that were targeting the wealthy Indian who see’s whiskey as part of the European Image they try so hard to emulate.
I settled for two halves of famous Grouse in plastic bottles which were still much more expensive than the Co-op but were easier to carry.
The queue at the check out was three deep due solely to the over complicated, bureaucratic system employed.
First boarding pass and passport, scan both.
Then scan bottles, rescan for good measure.
Slip white expanding protective cover over bottles.
Source a clear plastic bag, scan bag, place bottles individually in bag.
Seal Bag. Scan seal. stick label over bag.
Collect payment. refuse credit card in Pounds and insist on Rupees or Dollars.
Take payment and count it.
Hold it to light to check it.
Put each note into a machine to do some thing that I couldn’t understand.
Take similar notes out of Till, unwrap elastic band, place new notes on pile, re tie with elastic band.
Place back in till.
What a bloody palaver.
Then finally an 11 minute walk to our gate where at last i could sit down and catch my breath and its still only 1230.
The jet Airways flight was full, crowded and not very comfortable though it was only 3 hours 40 minutes. We were lucky, we sat next to a Young Indian Guy on his way to China to do a lecture on IT.
He spoke great English had a knowledge of politics, sport and cricket so we chatted all the way which helped to pass the time.
At Bangkok airport Jaki had to leave the queue for immigration to head for the little girls room in a bit of a hurry but the process of getting through, getting our bags and leaving the airport building was so easy compared to Delhi.
We knew the way to the Public Taxi rank on the ground floor but they have changed the system some what. Now its automated so you stand in a queue get to the screen, press the button and you are allocated a bay number. You then go to that bay number and your taxi is waiting.
We had Bay 21: Mr S Loth Taxis Inc .
This should have been a warning. He was the slowest bloke Ive ever met.
Not his driving which was fine and even a luxury compared to Delhi.
It took him ages to close the door, for ever to open a window and he just could not lift the cases up into the boot.
Good job Jaki was here to lift the bags, and a stone lighter, so at her peak fighting weight!
He didn’t know the Chatrium so I showed him the address on an email and he knew where it was. So we were off.
He found it first time , charged 500 Baht including the 75 Baht Toll charge and here we are sat on the balcony 18 floors up, looking out across the river with a bloody big whiskey in front of me and a smile a yard wide.
Thank you God for letting me be here, for letting me have this life, these friends, these experiences!
You might also be in line for a ‘Big Up’ yourself for letting me loose on the world, but that’s just my opinion and may count for nothing!