The Travel Pirates do India - New Delhi
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
January 15th, 2009 – by: Raddish
I saw a Nescafé stand in the entrance/exit and with a cigarette pre rolled somewhere over Italy tucked behind my ear I set my course - staggering somewhat under my clearly over-packed backpack - but determined all the same.
The attendant spoke perfect English and the sweetest cup of Coffee I had ever dare drink entered my life (I don't take sugar in my Coffee).
I think it's time I shared a little bit about who 'we' and 'us' are.
People call me Raddish, I'm a fledgling travel junkie who's just started to get a taste of what's out there, my wish is to never stop travelling. I want to embrace life to its fullness and take all the opportunities that are offered to me. I love Geology, Camp fires, Bush Craft, Poi and Metal!
My companion is called many names, but the one he answers to the fastest is Michael.
We're both in our mid-twenties and we've both known each other since school. Initially I was planning on going alone, so I joined TravBuddy to look for a travel companion. Later I managed to convince SM to come along with me and have an adventure - but we still met up with our new friend from TB, more on that soon!
Anyway, moving on.
So we'd loaded up in to our Taxi and heading in to the chaos of New Delhi! So prior to leaving England I'd taken the opportunity note down the address of the Hotel that we where going to meet FJ at, unfortunately I'd lost said note during the indignities of Heathrow Airport security checks.
We probably drove around for about 45minutes before the Taxi driver decided he couldn't find it - so he generously offered to take us to the Tourist Information centre. Now, for anyone reading who's not familiar with New Delhi I think I'd better explain that there are LITERALLY hundreds of 'Tourist Information Centres' and if you are using Taxi's to get about the place - you will find it very difficult to find the real one. Taxi drivers are offered financial incentives to take Tourists to the fake Centres and then they try and get you to book a flight to the Mountains - more on that later.
So we arrived at this very convincing looking Tourist Information Centre where the Taxi driver said we could ask about our Hotel and maybe they would know where it is. At this point we had no reason to doubt or question him. I got out of the Taxi whilst SM stayed with our stuff and I spoke with the gentleman inside about finding our hotel.
First he tried searching for the name online and came back with no results 'I'm sorry, that Hotel appears to be gone' was what he told me. Sensing something was afoot I asked if I could look (since I had the details saved in my Gmail) and I managed to find it again - victory!
There was a phone number which we asked the gentleman to call and ask about our friend, FJ, so then we could be sure that we'd got the correct hotel - FJ was supposed to land in Delhi 12 hours before us and we'd meet him at the Hotel we'd mutually agreed to stay in.
The gentleman called the number listed and after a few moments said that there was no answer. Now I relayed all of this information to SM who was still diligently waiting in the Taxi with our luggage and we decided to stay anywhere tonight and continue the hunt for FJ the next day.
So we asked the gentleman inside about hotels nearby and after discussing our budget and such like we decided upon 'The Ivory Palace' (review to follow).
It was a fair drive there - probably another 30minutes and when we arrived it was clear that this wasn't a tourist area, at least - not a White tourist area. we paid the Taxi driver, grabbed our things and checked in, relieved to finally be able to sit down take a chance to think about how totally unprepared and naive we where!
The hotel was nice enough, although using the squat potty for the first time was .
The next morning, after a cautious breakfast of eggs, we ventured out to explore the area. Quite quickly we realised we were not in the 'tourist' part of Delhi and quickly we made some new 'friends'. After explaining that we were looking for an Internet Café so we could speak to our friend they offered to guide us to one nearby. They presented their credentials in the form of a letter from an English friend that they'd helped before - some dude from Manchester apparently. To further validate their validity I had a mobile phone thrust into my hand with the assurance that it was the said English person they'd helped last time.
Fortunately we got taken to an Internet Café and not a kidney processing plant. We managed to establish that FJ had yet to receive our message (it would turn out that his flight was delayed and he would actually arrive 12 hours after us, not before as planned). So as we finished up our Internet research our new friends came into our cubical and told us that we might want to leave pretty snappy because there were (apparently) some local hardcases who where not happy about them helping out the tourists. We took this in and continued our blind trust in them an exited by the rear entrance of the shop.
Later on we decided to try our luck again with the Tourist Information Centre - we got the Hotel to arrange a proper taxi since we didn't feel ready to order a tuc tuc from off the street and back to the smooth words and convincing lies of our Information Officer. During our time online at the Internet Cafe earlier we had managed to confirm the name of the Hotel we agreed to meet FJ at, and this time we called the Hotel ourselves.
Yes! The Hotel had a booking under our friends name but no, he hadn't turned up. With this new information at hand we decided to check out of Hotel Du Sketchy and head towards our friend.
Upon our arrival at the Vivek Hotel we could see that we where now in the right part of Delhi. Lots of backpackers, touts, Hotels, Internet Cafes - Pahar Ganj has it all.
Before committing to any hotel we asked around at the Hotels nearby about our friend - it turns out he'd checked into a different hotel only yards away.
Hotel Hare Krishna is an excellent stay for any nervous backpackers - excellent prices, room service, clean rooms, TV.
After a short wait for FJ to wake up (delayed flight) we met up for the first time - and it was epic!
We decided to hang around in Delhi for a few days first, see some of the tourist sights and gently alter our diet for the coming months. We checked in to a double room together (yeah, that's how we roll) and took some time on the rooftop restaurant to get to know each other.
Later in the evening it was pointed out that we needed to celebrate FJ's Irishness with Alcohol, so we exited on to Pahar Ganj, with a Guidebook clutched in hand we walked 200m and found a lovely little bar. Well the bar was plain - it was actually just a restaurant that sold alcohol - but the Beer was great (oh how I would grow to loath Kingfisher) and we tried some shots of the local rum and got shockingly hammered.
Indian Alcohol is in fact different to what we are used to in Europe, I'd discover that later.
So this ends my initial introduction to India and it's people. I'd been conned by Taxi Drivers, Hotels, Internet Cafes and Street Vendors - I was loving every second of my ignorance and strangely I was looking forward to when I would be more 'street savvy'.
We'd met FJ, and he turned out to be awesome. SM and myself had yet to kill each other since we've both been used to having our own space and now where sharing every moment of the day with each other.
There was one thing that I was certain about before I'd left, but now I was beyond any doubt ... I had overpacked.
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