4th November we took the flight from London Gatwick to Istanbul on a Boeing 737 with Turkish airlines our ticket cost £380 return. They served a vegetarian main meal consisting of cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes I hardly touched it and the flight took 3 hours and 20 minutes. Had a 3.5 hour connection then joined our Boeing 777 flight to Delhi taking 5hrs and 5 minutes. Seat pitch was good and meal consisted of chicken curry. We asked for gin and tonic which was usually not for economy but the stewardess went and came back with 2 huge measures.
We arrived in Delhi at 5am after being awake over 24 hours looking back we should have booked an airport hotel for arrival. We went to the e visa desk and got stamped quickly we had done our visa prior at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html
We waited around 20 minutes for luggage then changed up £60 at the desk receiving 4620 rupees. Before leaving the airport you could see the smog inside the building. Later I would find 2 days later and in another city I’m still yet to see the sky.
We caught the metro to Delhi central it was fast and clean and cost around £1 there was no map and little details, leaving the station it dawned just how far from England we were it was loud, fast moving and daunting.
We asked a guy where our hotel was and he gave us directions. As we walked past rows of tuk Tuks, private taxis, cars then raw sewage and stray dogs followed by street vendors I asked myself would I survive here am I going to eat in India?
The guy reappeared pointing us to the overground station, before we knew it we were in a taxi being told we should leave Delhi and it’s not safe. We ended up paying £160 for driver for 5 days and a hotel and a hotel in Agra for one night aswell as a hotel in Delhi for our departure due to being advised that we were unable to access our hotel due to a festival, when re connecting to the internet I found it all to be a scam. We cancelled the train journeys we had previously booked as we were advised the delays were going to be an issue with the smog:
4) Fake train ticket or “information offices”: In both Delhi and Mumbai I have heard of or seen fake train ticket stations and tourist information offices. Both of them seem to be a front for the mafia! The way to know they’re fake is that everything looks dodgy, there are no computers (or not many), no proper desks and they tell you that all trains or hotels are fully booked out due to some event. This is why it’s important to have a phone and ideally one with Internet so you can easily cross reference their bull $@#!
I realise now i was entirely fatigued and naive to think this was true. The link above has some really good knowledge. Moral of the story, watch out for the mafia!! If something is fishy then it probably is a scam or trap. Do your research and have your wits about you especially around train stations and cheap hotels. Also having a cell phone (with working Internet) can be invaluable.
The motorway was good taking just over 3hours to Agra but we soon realised there’s no rules on the road here.
On the 9th November,
We left for Delhi stopping 2 hours down the road at a services. It once again became apparent that in India your basically a cash cow. 3 bottles of water and samosas costing £8.75. The waiters giving over an English menu and being pushy that they wanted a tip. In India any tourist place your seen purely for your money with food and drink prices being nearly the same as back home. It got to a point where it was upsetting. I was excited to get to Nepal and see if things were different there.
Arriving in Delhi it seemed completely different to the city we briefly met when we arrived in India. Big chain hotels and high rises hugged the flyovers. We stopped briefly at the Lotus temple a really impressive structure surrounded by well manicured gardens with palm trees. After leaving we drove towards India gate.
The sun was setting as we arrived, the gate was huge. We walked around, street vendors not really being pushy. It was the first time in India I actually noticed tourists from Europe and Asia. It was strange that the city we saw on the first day was now in such a different light. The smog which was the worst the city had seen in 20 years had virtually gone. We realised that the perception the Mafia had painted of the city was different from what we had witnessed this afternoon.
We checked into the glance inn (included in our tour) was a rundown looking building 16km from the airport. We walked to the “rooftop” restaurant which was over looking the motorway and smog of Delhi. I was ready to leave India. It was amazing to see the sites and landmarks and taste the cuisine. However I’ve learnt a hard lesson to be cautious when travelling. Not everything is what it seems to be. As we were told everything is possible in India but nothing is certain.