My great O/E Bus tour of India.

New Delhi Travel Blog

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The Bus and our two drivers.


The first three days. 


This is all written from memory, my diary and from postcards home, I wrote many letters but most got lost in the postal system.

February 26th.

Me bargaining and haggling with street hawkers, Delhi

Day of great excitment I have been waiting for , let the adventures begin.


 The Bus tour begins and a friendship ends, Jaipur.


Had to be up early for 7am departure, quickly packed and swallowed our 5 tablets each (mainly for malaria protection and allergies) for the day before we went down for one last lovely omelette at the Connaught Hotel, quite sad to leave as its been a wonderful 5 days and this hotel has become a little haven from the maddening crowd and noise of the streets, the hotel is rather European in it own Indian way.

Narrow lane within Old Delhi - dark and dingy.
Changed heaps of money before we left the hotel so I can shop should I choose to. Loaded all the luggage on to the bus, I was ready, Julie was dawdling around so I called out gaily to her ‘I’ll save you a seat Julie” and got us good seats near the front on the left side of the bus so we would be always close to everything on the side of the road rather than the street side where you see mostly the cars on the otherside of the road. Julie eventually came on board and stopped beside me with her hands on her hips and contemptuously snarled at me the words that are still etched into my brain after all these years, ’Well, Your, friends didn’t do much for us did they,’ I was still open mouthed in amazement when she continued ‘Don’t imagine I will be sitting with you” What a nasty, rude, spoilt, ungrateful girl! Then she flounced off to the back of the bus, leaving me almost in tears, most of the rest of the day I as sat alone, I sulked and fumed and got more and more depressed, after such a great time we had shared, apparently I was to travel on my own from now on. Still there are 23 of us so I shall make friends with some of them.
At the red Fort, Old Delhi

First stop was at Red Fort where we had our first taste of all the touts, hawkers and beggars there are at every major tourist attraction,  (strange that they never bothered us when we were being chauffeured in the school bus or when we were with Cedric) all jostling, demanding our attention and our money! I remember very little of this fort, as I was too upset, then we visited Nehru and Gandhi’s tombs once more, then made a quick stop at Old Delhi in a quiet part where we could walk around reasonably safely, just the fringes of the area, not where we had been taken to. Seemed to be a chicken selling area as there were masses of them squawking and having their heads chopped off!  Final stop in Old Delhi was at Jami Masjid the largest Mosque in India, built way back in 1651, an impressive building, where we gathered for a group photo of as many of our tour party as we could find.

Jami Masjid Mosque Delhi.
Everyone put his or her cameras down on the ground and a guide (for rupees) took a photo on everyone’s camera. My tiny Instamatic camera stood out, as the smallest and cheapest, the only non-automatic.

All the party seem very friendly and I think we will mostly get on well, there are 4 Dutch people who may well form a little clique since they have there own language, (but they didn’t really) but they do speak English, its always easier to be able to speak your mother tongue. Two young Italian nurses struggle with English but it will be good practice for them being among us. (And it was)

Bus stopped for us all to buy fruit for our lunch, then we are off on our real holiday, travelling all day to Jaipur with Julie and I at opposite ends of the bus, I am a bit lonely and the journey seems long, although there is much to look at out the windows, there are paddocks of yellowed linseed plants grown for oil that goes into all the curries, lots of animals with one young person looking after them, farmers ploughing paddocks with bullocks, tiny villages along the way, full of folk all dressed in saris and dhotis,  and many loaded trucks all decorated colourfully with streamers and bells and god icons hanging for protection, transporting goods all over the country.

Group photo, Sharon,Eric,jamie, Dave,Freda,John,Me,Julie. At the Mosque

We arrive and I am worn out, all I can think of is a shower, but its in a room I must share with Julie so I am quickly showered and feeling refreshed I go downstairs and am asked to join with 7 others to walk to a restaurant of Eric’s (a French Canadian psychiatrist) choosing, he is the one with the Lonely Planet Guide book and he chose well. Have no idea where Julie went.

We all enjoyed our first meal together, everyone tried from a large mixture of Indian dishes like we had when we dined with Cedric, plus we discovered Lassi a delicious drink based on yoghurt, there was a great deal of friendly chatting and I felt my depression vanish, this will be a great trip.

Arrive back at our room to find Julie pretending to be asleep and that she had washed everything she owns and spread it all wetly to dry - on my bed! Im amazed I kept my temper, but I just took it and threw it all over the cloths line in the bathroom, and slept in a soaking wet bed.

Floating palace jal Mahal Jaipur
This cannot continue, she better get her act together, and I had better get over it.


February 27th.

Monsoon and Samode Palace.

Awoke to the thunder of heavy rain on the roof; the monsoon has come early, great quantities of water was cascading down from the roof as gutters couldn’t cope. After breakfast we all get on the buss to begin our tour of Jaipur, but things don’t go as planned, its far too wet and also we discover its election day and most things are closed. We did see the Palace of winds, Hawa Mahal, and Sultans Museum and visited a carpet factory, I as an asthmatic could stay in the factory as there was just too much lint and dust flying around, but still I spoke to a weaver who gave me a small spool of gold thread that he had been weaving into a special carpet.

We found great puddles and flooding everywhere and masses of water birds had appeared from nowhere to enjoy the fresh water, but not much good for us, so the tour guide got us all to have an early lunch as the bus driver knew of a beautiful Palace high up in the Mountains that he would take us to instead of all the other attractions we have missed. It had not been raining heavily in the mountains.

It’s a bit of a bonus to go to Samode Palace, as it was not on the tour originally. The building is very run down and dilapidated but you could see what a wonderful place it must have been in its hay -day. All walls and ceilings were covered in paintings and little mirrors, including a whole room of mirrors, our guide lit a candle in the closed room and we saw a million candle power flickering in all those mirrors, The palace was about 6 stories high with very high ceilings all a glitter and sparkle.

Money on the wall and village children, Amber Fort Jaipur
We enjoyed a musician who played for us from behind every doorway, for rupees ofcause! There were also snake charmers showing off their snakes. Walked up to the top of the hill to enjoy the view, there had been many attacks on this palace over the years and lots of other buildings had been destroyed, I could see lots of bricks and masonry lying all around half buried in the mud. There are gardens up here and orchards, I was intrigued by the gardens, all done in 6 ft squares with an irrigation ditch around each plot so they could pour water to surround and soak the garden thoroughly. There were lots of lentils, cabbages and carrots, growing lushly. Then we wandered down into the village where a small girl attached herself to me, holding my hand and chattering about her brother, she badly wanted money; not for herself, but for the brother who was so much more important! Didn’t give much, and didn’t give that til the last possible moment, don’t believe in supporting the beggars and encouraging them to beg more.

Drove back to Jaipur where we had a lovely vegetarian meal.

The musician that followed us around at Samode Palace.
Then as there was free time, Sharon, Sandy and I hastened into the town to buy a nice thankyou card for Cedric, also decided to buy a good pictorial book on India. Chose a great book but its too heavy to carry with me, the bookseller offered to post it home to me, a good idea if it ever arrives. So I paid for this book with my credit card that resides in a little pouch inside my bra for safety, that way I might have some come back if the book never turns up in NZ. (But it did in the fullness of time, slightly damaged but still ok)

Also I bargain and bought a lovely silk bag to carry with me on the bus with my gear in, this was fully lined with a zip along the top and very soft and silky, I was able to hook it over my shoulder and hold it flat and close to my body, no pickpockets could get at it at all; they did try!  We all bought some nice things.

Once back at the hotel I wrote a lovely thankyou note to Cedric and Shoba to say goodbye once again, and signed it.

Snake charmer
When I asked Julie politely if she was going to write a short note, she said “Ofcause not, they did nothing for me’ so I felt I had to put her name on to my letter too, but I didn’t want to! Posted it off, along with many other postcards home, it will be an unexpected surprise to my friends in Delhi who had made our 5 days exceptional.


 February 28th


Amber fort, Elephant rides and Sariska Palace.

Everyone had to be up and packed by 7.

Street scene in Jaipur.
30am for breakfast before the bus departed. We did have a hearty breakfast, enough to feed a whole family of Indians all week we supposed guiltily, but we still ate it all.

Loaded the luggage and headed off to the Amber Fort, a huge complex high in the hills in a different direction to yesterdays trip. We all walked up the hill to the entrance and rode back down on an elephant! Jamie an American girl accidentally dropped her camera from the back of the elephant she was riding on. No problem; the mahout immediately jumped down to retrieve it, and the elephant took his chance for a free run, he picked up his heels and ran down the narrow path, with Jamie yelling and screaming all the way and the mahout running along behind yelling too. However the elephant had no further thoughts in his head than his lunchtime snack of a bail of hay, that’s where he took poor Jamie! The rest of us rode very sedately down with all elephants kept fully under control, I had been waiting years for just such a ride and enjoyed it immensely.

Elephants at Amber Fort I rode this one with the red cover.
There were lots of monkeys at the fort climbing on all the walls and trying to grab cameras and purses. The fort was quite interesting and also had a chamber of mirrors with the candle flickering!

As we drove on towards Sariska Palace, we asked our driver if he would stop in a tiny remote village so we could buy bananas and things. He was happy to stop, before we could get off the bus a delegation of elders had hurried out to meet us, none too pleased to see a bus full of tourists, demanding to know why we were there, fortunately the bus driver explained and we were welcomed to a village not frequented by tourists. No name for this village sorry, it was small and scruffy and very dirty. The bananas were very cheap for a big bunch plus we all bought other things to assist their economy rather than give money to the beggars of which there weren’t many at all.

Arrived at Sariska Palace where we will spend the night, it is a genuine Palace belonging at some stage to a Maharajah and was rather grand and stately, luxuriously appointed though rather run down.

Spice Market at the Amber Fort Jaipur, a colourful mixture of spices smelled delicious.
We immediately were served with soup and toast at the Maharajahs big banquet table. Very nice, then we called for Lime Sodas to be brought to the terrace in our grandest plum-in-mouth voices. We have the hugest room with two huge beds, not overly close tonight!

For the first time we can all relax together, enjoy the sunshine and appreciate the Palace. Tonight we dined vegetarian around the banquet table, after which Sandy an English hospital Matron and Sharon joined me for an after dinner brandy on the balcony, while most of the rest of the group held a rowdy party downstairs.



cvanzoen says:
There's nothing wrong with your memory (LOL). I too write my stories along the way, it takes some time during the travels but it's worth having the memory instead of "only" the photo's. Keep on writing your blogs I love them.
Posted on: May 12, 2008
Stormcrow says:
You must have quite a good memory Glennis!!
Good to read your story, since we were in India ourselves in 2001 and this brings back some memories.
I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip :-)
Posted on: Apr 17, 2008
ashleynpearson says:
That is great that you could write about that 18 years later!! I don't even remember what I was doing that long ago! Also, great blog and wonderful photos!! I am going to India soon and I hope to see some of the same places.
Posted on: Feb 20, 2008
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The Bus and our two drivers.
The Bus and our two drivers.
Me bargaining and haggling with st…
Me bargaining and haggling with s…
Narrow lane within Old Delhi - dar…
Narrow lane within Old Delhi - da…
At the red Fort, Old Delhi
At the red Fort, Old Delhi
Jami Masjid Mosque Delhi.
Jami Masjid Mosque Delhi.
Group photo, Sharon,Eric,jamie, Da…
Group photo, Sharon,Eric,jamie, D…
Floating palace jal Mahal Jaipur
Floating palace jal Mahal Jaipur
Money on the wall and village chil…
Money on the wall and village chi…
The musician that followed us arou…
The musician that followed us aro…
Snake charmer
Snake charmer
Street scene in Jaipur.
Street scene in Jaipur.
Elephants at Amber Fort I rode thi…
Elephants at Amber Fort I rode th…
Spice Market at the Amber Fort Jai…
Spice Market at the Amber Fort Ja…
New Delhi
photo by: spocklogic