Napier showers 13°, Auckland cloudy 15°, Hong Kong cloudy / showers 33°, Delhi 32°C cloudy
HK$5 = NZ$1
50R (rupees) = NZ$1
So this is the start of our latest adventure, 3 weeks in India. We are doing the traditional Golden Triangle, with some time in Delhi then on to Rajasthan ( Jaisalmer / Jodhpur / Jaipur ) then to Agra and then back to Delhi. We finish the trip with a few nights in Hong Kong on the way back to NZ.
For the sake of clarity all the photos in these blogs are straight out of the camera with no processing etc. So excuse them if they aren't always straight or as polished as my normal work...
So on with the travels.
Unfortunately the first couple of days will be the hardest travel wise with a long layover in Hong Kong, arriving at 7am, and leaving again at 5pm to head to Delhi arriving at 9:30pm on the same day. We were certainly not looking forward to this start to the trip, but it had to be done, so this was a day and half to make the best of and start the trip proper in Delhi on Day 2.
We headed to the airport for our 7:55pm flight from Napier, which was a little late leaving for Auckland. After landing we walked across to the international terminal ( our bags were checked through to Delhi from Napier ), and through the departure gates in to the shopping mall that doubles as an airport in most cities these days.
We boarded our flight to Hong Kong a little late and departed at 12:10am on Saturday morning. The flight was ok, but a little bumpy in places. Liz had a good long sleep but I struggle to sleep sitting up so only got a few hours kip on this flight. We landed in Hong Kong on time at 7:10am and headed straight through immigration and customs ( such as it was ) and headed to find somewhere to leave some of our things for the day. Even though our main bags had been checked through and we only had a small camera bag each, there were still a few items that we didn't want to carry around with us while in Hong Kong ( such as my MacBook and some spare clothes ). So we finally found the left luggage office and realised that we would need to get another bag to put our things in for the left luggage desk. So we wandered around the terminal some more looking for a shop selling bags, and found one just around the corner from the left luggage desk but of course we walked half a mile around the building to get there.
So with our surplus goods offloaded ( HK$60 for 5 hours ) we bought tickets on the airport Express train ( HK$115 each return ) and headed into town. After a 24 minute trip we got out at Kowloon station in the hope of walking along the waterfront and catching the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong island. We headed up and out of the station into the heat and humidity that we had been shielded from so far by the airport / train combination. We quickly discovered that Kowloon Station is in a new development which isn't really designed for pedestrians, and after wandering around for 45 minutes we walked to Austin MTR station via the only footpath we could find and caught the MTR 1 stop to Tsim Sha Tsui station, and walked through the construction works to the Star Ferry terminal.
We were in Hong Kong about eleven years ago on our return trip from living in the UK and Ireland, and Hong Kong marked the end of the multi train journey that started in Holyhead in Wales. So we have seen this city before, but even so it it is still an impressive sight when you see the Hong Kong Skyline across the water from Kowloon.
We jumped on a Star Ferry ( $HK10 for 2 people one way ) across to Central Ferry terminal, and then walked through the elevated walkways that take you over the roads and semi wasteland and into Hong Kong proper. We went into the IFC mall to grab a coffee and something to eat ( breakfast on the plane was about 5am ) at 10:30am. We found a Starbuck which fit the bill and chilled for a bit.
After an hour or so we headed out into the heat again and walked through to the Mid Central Level escalators which carry you part way up the side of the lower slopes of Victoria Peak, and found the newly renovated ( and free ) Tai Kwun Centre, which has taken over the old Police Barracks / Prison and turned it into a part museum showing the way the buildings used to be, and a new contemporary art / exhibition / performance space. By now the sun had burned the clouds away so it was getting hotter. We had a wander through the complex then walked down the narrow and steep alleyways with their market stalls back down to Queen's Road Central, and then eventually back to Hong Kong station at 12:30 and train back to Hong Kong Airport, at 1:30pm. The effects of the long flight and early morning landing in Hong Kong had caught up with us, and seeing as we will be back this way in a couple of weeks we decided we had had enough sightseeing for now.
We picked up our baggage from the left luggage counter and then chilled, had a drink at Starbucks etc. Headed down and caught the train from the main part of the terminal to the other end of the concourse to our gate, sat and waited, then through onto our Cathay Pacific plane and off at 5:45pm.
After the 6 hour flight we arrived in Delhi @ 8:30pm local time, went through the e-visa system ( nice and simple ) and then grabbed our bags off the carousel ( good to see they made it from Napier ), found an atm that worked ( we tried 3 before this one ) and drew 10,000R ( about NZ$216 ). We then got a prepaid taxi voucher from inside the terminal ( 450R ) to our hotel ( Hotel Le Cadre ) next to Kailash Colony metro stop, and grabbed a taxi ( or rather a small box on wheels ) and headed off into the Delhi traffic at night.
We learned some quick lessons about driving in India: lanes are indicative only ( a 2 lane road will fit 4 cars across easily, or 10 motorbikes ), indicators are definitely not to be used for any reason, horns are used for greetings and warning other drivers that you do not know where you are going, cows get right of way and lastly the direction of travel is flexible ( again as long as you toot the horn while you are going the wrong way ). It all seems to work well, until it doesn't, and then it is chaos.
To put it another way, as explained by a driver we used later in the trip, there are 3 things you need to drive in India; good horn, good brakes and good luck.
It took about 30 minutes to get to our Hotel, we tipped the driver ( for not getting us killed ) and checked in ( NZ$116 for 2 nights ), and up to the room. We went out for a quick walk along the street to get our bearings, had a quick iced chocolate drink at the cafe under the hotel, then up for a shower and bed. The room is nice and spacious and modern and the people seem friendly.