India Trip 2018 - Days 16 - 18, August 19 - 21, Agra - Delhi

Again with this blog I will cover 3 days of our trip.  For various reasons, which will become clear as you read the blog, we didn't have an overly productive few days in Delhi, so there is not really a lot to blog about.

50R=NZ$1

Day 16 - Fine in Agra, Rain in Delhi, 28°C

I woke up at 8am to find Liz wide awake, and telling me that she wasn't feeling well. Between trips to the toilet for her being sick and having diarrhoea we managed to grab some breakfast ( well I did ), packed our bags and checked out at 9:30am.  We paid for the extra nights accommodation over what we had paid already ( an additional 1050R ) and walked next door to the gift shop that our driver ran ( well we thought he was going to drive us, but it turns out he was just the fixer). We paid him 5150R for the car to Delhi ( 4500R + tolls ).

Liz bought a white stone Shiva figurine while we were waiting, then we walked to the barricades at the end of the street and our actual driver was there waiting for us. This driver was very quiet and hardly said a word on the whole journey to Delhi.

I wasn't sure if Liz was going to be able to make the 4 hours trip in the car, but with a good feed of Imodium she was confident she would be ok.  So we set off about 10am

We headed past Agra Fort and then across the river and headed east through the industrial areas of Agra.  Apparently we were heading for the newly completed expressway from Agra to Delhi, but when they built it they didn't get around to building a decent road into Agra.  So we spent the first 1/2 hour heading east to the expressway, sometimes doubling back on ourselves to get to the right piece of road, and then once on the expressway we turned north and headed off.

The expressway is a 3 lane each way dual carriageway with limited on and off ramps, so it seemed strange to us to see people standing on the side of the road ( normally where a local road went under the expressway ) waiting for the bus.  But it was obviously the system that had developed.  There were no pathways to get up to the expressway ( except the tracks formed by the locals ) and no actual bus stops, just people waiting.

It was fairly uneventful trip, we stopped at a service area for a toilet break and to grab some cookies as we neared Delhi.  The scenery was more of the same flat agricultural land that we had been seeing on most of the trip.  At one stage the plains on either side of the road were dotted with chimneys of brick factories, and the areas around these chimney's were covered with 1000's of bricks stacked neatly in rectangular piles.

As we neared Delhi ( about 40-50 kms for the centre ) we drove through an area where dozens of 20-30 storey buildings were being built, obviously as some kind of new housing development, and an area with lots of office buildings as well.  As we got closer and closer to Delhi the traffic got heavier, and so did the rain.  Our driver asked us to find the address of our hotel on google maps for him and he then had his phone give him directions, in English.  I would have thought google would have had a Hindi speaking voice given the size of the population but...  So we probably understood the directions better than I driver.

We came into Delhi through Noida and it had a very different look to the Delhi that we had seen 2 weeks earlier.  This was a world of high-rise glass towers with global brands on those buildings.  It looked like a big city you would find anywhere else in the world.

We crossed the Yamuna River and found our hotel near Jangpura Metro station at 1:30pm.  We had gone a bit upmarket for the next 2 nights and were staying at a western stye Bloomrooms Hotel in Link Road, with it's yellow and white theme.  One of the attractions was the promised fast internet, which after 2 weeks of poor connection, would be most welcome ( I know, first world problems ).

We checked in ( we had prepaid when we booked, NZ$221 / 5000R for 2 nights, including breakfast ).  

The area that the hotel was in reminded me of other 'westernised Asian' cities like Singapore or Ho Chi Minh, and it was a bit hard to come to terms with after what we had been seeing for the rest of our trip through India.  We went to our room and rested for a bit.

The hotel has a cafe ( Amici ) on site, in a seperate building which also has a guest lounge above it, so we grabbed a bite to eat.  Liz was feeling a bit better and managed to keep a brownie down, but I was still feeling ok at this stage.

We headed out at 2:45pm, walked along the street to the Jangpura Metro station ( about 300m ) and bought tokens for the 2 stop trip to Khan Market ( 10R ea ).  We popped up out of the station and walked a couple of minutes along to the Khan Markets themselves.  It was a very odd sensation to be faced with glass fronted shops, cafes, an Apple Store, a Starbucks and generally a shopping area that you would expect to find in London or New York.  Khan Market is made up of 2 buildings, U shape in plan, one U inside the other, with an alley way between the 2. So there were shops on all sides of the buildings, and some shops ran through the whole building and had 2 frontages.  

We had a good wander around the shops, we bought a few things ( headphones for Liz, some drinks from a store selling 'foreign' grocery items like vegemite  etc ).  I described it as being in a parallel universe to the Delhi that we had seen on the walk from the station, which was the usual broken footpaths, dog crap, motorbikes being repaired on the street etc.

Liz was starting to feel unwell again in the heat and humidity so we headed back to the Metro and back ( slowly, with a few rest breaks ) to the hotel at 4:30pm for a rest.

We had tea at Amici at 7pm.  Amici serves a mixture of Indian and Italian food, so I had a curry and Liz had a pasta.  We went back to the room to relax.

 

Day 17 - Cloudy, hazy, 30°C

We got up at 7am.  Liz was feeling better but I was not feeling good. We grabbed some breakfast at Amici ( I just had apple juice ) and back up to the room.  I slept for most of the morning, between visits to the toilet.

We had lunch at Amici and then back to the room.  As well as being sick we had lost all motivation to head out and sightsee, and the weather wasn't great either.

We headed out at 5pm and grabbed an auto rickshaw to Humayans Tomb, paid our 600R ea entry fee and wandered.  What I continually find staggering about India is the number of amazing tombs / buildings / historic sites that you never hear about.  The Humayan Tomb complex is bigger in area than the Taj Mahal complex, has at least 3 major tombs, and a number of minor tombs, within it, and is set in a beautiful wooded area in the heart of New Delhi.  And until I started looking at things to see in Delhi I had never heard or seen anything about it.  In any other country it would probably be the most publicised tourist attraction, but not here: there are too many other attractions to see.

So we walked around the complex, looking first at Isa Khan's Tomb then through the Bu Halima Gateway into the area of Humayan's Tomb itself.  Even though it was a grey old day it was a pretty impressive sight sitting in a massive square garden area. The tomb building is on 2 levels, with the tomb itself sitting on the much larger lower level.  We walked to the tomb and then up onto the upper level and then explored the inside of the tomb.

We headed back out of the complex to the main entry at 7pm and grabbed an AR to take us to India Gate and then to wait to take us to Khan Market to grab some food ( although I wasn't feeling up to food yet ).  After parking at India Gate we made the 100m dash through the touts, hawkers and 'pro photographers' selling photo sessions, and had a quick look at India Gate itself. The Gate was impressive but the setting was less than exciting so we headed straight back to the AR and then on to Khan Market ( after our AR driver suggesting we go somewhere else because it was much cheaper than Khan Market, and us repeatedly telling him we wanted to go to Khan Market, which he eventually did for us, although he made sure he dropped us as far away as possible while still calling it Khan Market ).

We headed upstair to the Starbucks and grabbed a drink and Liz had some food.  It was interesting to sit in Starbucks with locals but having most of them speaking English to each other, and then to complete the irony a white woman turned up and was learning to write in Hindi!

We jumped on the Metro and headed back to our hotel at 8:30pm.  It had been a bit of a waste of a day, but as well as 'tummy troubles' I really had no energy today and felt really unwell.  But on the positive these symptoms were not Rabies symptoms.

 

Day 18 - Fine, 30°C

We woke up at 8am, I was still not feeling well, and was really not up to doing much today either.  And as this was our last day in India before we flew out tonight we decided to just relax and catch up on photos and blogs etc.

We went to Amici for some breakfast and then back to the room to pack our bags and checkout at 10am.

We had one job to complete today and that was to get the last of my Rabies injections whilst in India.  So after asking at the hotel for the nearest private hospital, and the hotel driver helping us to get an AR we headed off ( there was a comical conversation between the AR driver and the hotel driver when discussing the price; the AR driver said a price in Hindi and the Hotel driver looked at him like he from another planet, and so the AR ride which would have cost us at least 100R became 40R ( the local price ) ).

We headed to Moolchand Hospital which is a new looking hospital between our current hotel and the hotel we stayed at when we first stayed in Delhi.  After checking in and being told we needed to go to A&E ( because we already had the vaccine they weren't allowed to administer it without a doctor seeing me, but they said that A&E could do it ).  After arriving at A&E we were told the same; sorry we can't do that, try Outpatient.  This time we couldn't even find Outpatients so we went back to the main reception and the lady that we had first talked to saw us and came over to help.  We told her the situation and we said we were happy to pay for a doctor to see me first, if that would help.  So we registered as a patient, paid 850R and headed off to see a doctor.  After a brief discussion with him, and him filling in the details of the 'dog bite' he concurred that I needed the vaccine, then said that he believed that 4 injections ( this one being the 4th ) were enough, and then sent me to the nurse next door for her to do the deed, and then they used the vaccine that I had brought in with me.  

We left there and walked 100m to the Metro station and caught the Metro back to Jangpura and back to the hotel.  We went up to the guest lounge, which had AC, power and wifi, and relaxed ( and snoozed a little bit ).  At some stage we had some lunch, and we waited for 5pm for the hotel car to take us to the airport ( which cost us 1100R ).

We jumped in the car at 5pm and went a long but, according to the driver, fast route to the airport through the Embassy area and then on an expressway to the airport, arriving at 6:15pm for our 10:55pm flight to Hong Kong.

We waited for the check in to open for our flight and then checked in and through security ( this time, like no other, all electronics had to be removed from our hand luggage.  This was a right pain with all the camera gear, batteries, torches, iPads, MacBooks etc that we were carrying )

We got through the security people and then into Duty Free World and Shopping World.  Liz managed to find a Taj Mahal miniature that she liked ( most of the ones we had seen looked pretty cheap and tacky ) for 1900R, and then we headed to an "Irish Bar" for some tea ( although I wasn't feeling hungry still ) at 7pm.  So we sat eating pasta, in an Irish Bar, in Delhi.

We wandered to our gate at 9pm and waited.  The plane had been late arriving so we didn't board until 10:30pm instead of 10pm, and we pushed back and left Delhi at 11:15pm.

Next stop Hong Kong again.