After a two month break in the US, Kevin and I were ready for our next adventure! We had caught up on real life and had each shed our extra 10 pounds we had gained in Europe. This time we decided to go somewhere totally different from the modernization of Europe.
Now, Pam had talked a little bit about India during our travels together which peaked my curiosity about the country. Basically, whenever I would comment on the crazy traffic in Cambodia or the hectic markets in Thailand or the blazing heat of the Namibian desert, Pam’s response would be “well you should go to India!”
So here I was. Going to see India!
Getting ready, I really did not know what to expect. I had searched through reviews and blogs about India and the main comment I read was “Even for experienced travellers, India is not for the faint at heart. Go with an open mind.”
All this comment did was make me excited! What the heck was I going to see?
Some other really interesting information I read was about how cold northern India was in January. Cold?!!! All Pam talked about was how hot it was in India. Well I’ll take cold over hot as hell any day … Especially if I am not near a beach!
Packing proved to be a challenge once again. After I had gotten my packing SO WRONG on our Europe trip, I tried to have a better variety of clothes for this trip. I can not believe everything actually fit into my bag!
So after we packed up our warm clothes and printed our e-travel visas, we boarded our flight on Air India flying Salt Lake City to New Delhi. A mere 16 hour flight across the world. We left at 4am. I have no idea how I managed to stay awake.
The flight with Air India was actually great! I had some concerns as the ticket was relatively inexpensive considering how far we were flying. In Canada for the same price, I would make it from Vancouver to Toronto only …. But that’s a rant for another day.
The plane had good leg room, an average selection of movies and pretty decent food. They provided lots of water and snacks as well. At the end of the day, we made it here safely and that was all that mattered.
When we arrived it was night time in Delhi. We got through the most organized customs system I have ever experienced in an airport in no time at all and before we knew it, we had samosas in our hands and were jumping into a cab.
We had arrived.
Now, I had absolutely no idea what to expect out of New Delhi. Generally speaking, I don’t like big cities. I think you lose the authentic feel of a country in them. Not to mention, I am not a huge fan of crowds. (Yes.. I do realize India has approximately 1.3 billion people).
But I freakin’ loved Delhi.
This place is total and utter chaos. Organized chaos but chaos.
The driving is totally unexplainable. You have everything on the road at the same time. People, bikes, rickshaws, tuk tuks, scooters, cars, camels, dogs, and cows! Lots and lots of cows. And nobody drives in any lanes. You just find an empty spot and go there. Even if that empty spot is against oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the road.
Whatever! No big deal!
I was starting to understand the “India is not for the faint of heart.”
Old Tori would have had a heart attack and been seizing with anxiety driving down the roads. New Tori laughed and held on for dear life while trying to capture photos in the madness. This was the best thing I have ever seen. Seriously, is this for real?
Pam was right. You have to see India.
On our first day in Delhi, we hired a driver to take us around the city and catch some sites. The best part of the day for me was just getting from A to B in the car. I have travelled all over the world, and somehow, the chaos of India was blowing my mind.
Our first stop that day was Akshardham. When we asked one of the hotel staff where the best place in Delhi to go was, without hesitation, he told us this temple. Immediately, we saw why! Now this temple may not be old and have that classic historical charm as it was built in 2005, but it was still unbelievable. The detail of the hand carvings throughout the temple was incomprehensible. It took 5 years and 300 million manpower hours to construct!
Unfortunately, I do not have many photos from the site myself as you were not allowed to bring in your camera. But here is one we got taken there (they totally photoshopped us in front of it) and another that I found.
After Akshardham, we visited the Lotus temple. While it was a nice looking temple from the outside, it was a modern hall on the inside. Nothing really to write home about. It definitely was not a worthy follow-up after Akshardham.
Our last stop on our day tour was Humayun’s Tomb. This was a pretty cool building to walk around to end our day.
After being out all day, we had an early night to bed! Well, I went to bed early … and by early I mean 4pm.
The time change was killing me! After all my travelling to different time zones, I thought I had this jet lag business figured out. I was wrong. Very wrong. I was going to bed at 4pm and then would be wide awake between 2am to 6am. It was a vicious cycle stealing my energy.
After a crazy first day in India, we took the next day off to lounge.
Man, I do love lounging!
So after not leaving our room on our second day, we thought we better head out the next day. Laying in bed all day did not quite help the jet lag like it was intended to. We needed to get some sunshine!
We thought we would take a stroll down to Connaught Place to find some food to start our day. During our walk, we learned something about Delhi fast – you do not stroll down major roads if you have plans to stay alive. Side walks are a relative thing only. They may be there.. But they may also be taken over by traffic at any given moment.
We decided to take a tuk tuk instead.
We were wondering around looking for a place to eat, when we were finally stopped by a friendly man asking what we were looking for. We told him good Indian food! He pointed across the road and said it was his favourite. He worked in the complex as a security guard and that’s where he likes to go.
So into Haldiram’s we went! This was an insanely busy restaurant/cafeteria type food complex filled with Indians with excellent looking food!
We had come to the right place.
We walked around peering at the food everyone was eating. Our Indian food knowledge was still pretty limited, so we wanted to try some new stuff. We approached a group of guys eating the same platter. “It’s the Complete Thali,” they said, “You have to get it!”
We found the ordering line and someone passed us a menu. We looked it over and could not find The Complete Thali. Everyone around us in line was concerned and wanted to help based on our puzzled faces. We found out that the Complete Thali was not even on the menu – you had to special order it.
Perfect. We had the inside the scoop on food in this place!
Like everything in India, trying to get the food was absolute chaos. You had to find the designated stall for what you ordered. With people everywhere trying to drop off orders and pick up food, it was madness.
Total awesome madness.
What we learned during this experience as the only two non-Indians in the place, is how helpful everyone was! When any moment of confusion came across our face, someone was there to see if we needed help. From advising us on what to get, how to get it, and where to get it, someone was there. A man even helped Kevin get a refund on a lassie that he ordered because they were all sold out. We were having the most amazing experiences with the people in India!
The next day, things kept getting better! We decided it was time to get some exercise, so we headed down to the Central Secretariat which housed the office buildings of parliament.
Finally, we made our way towards India Gate (a war memorial) to walk the Rajpath. It was great to be outside and walk around a different part of Delhi.
Going for a walk proved to be confusing to the tuk tuk drivers that were stalking us. “Where do you want to go?” “Good price! I’ll take you to all of the sites!”
“We are just going for a walk!” we yelled back. We got back a blank stare from the driver as he slowly drove beside us for about 10 minutes hoping we would change our mind. He would then disappear and 10 minutes later, reappear smiling as he drove beside us. We would turn a corner and there he was again. Eventually, we took his card and told him we would call him if we got sick of walking. That seemed to satisfy him.
When we got hungry, we started walking towards Connaught Place to have the Complete Thali once again. A man walking beside us starting asking if we needed any help with directions. He assured us he just worked in the neighbourhood and only wanted to help. He recommended us a restaurant that he visited all the time and showed us how to get there.
Seriously, people in India are so helpful!
After lunch, we headed to Lodi Gardens in a tuk tuk for a walk around. On the way, we were chatting with the driver (as you do with any driver) and before I knew it, he was just stopped in the opposite lane in the road. I was waiting for him to make a move but nothing happened. As the oncoming traffic got closer, I yelled out “what are you doing?!!!” He quickly swung around and parked on the curb.
“You scared me!” He said trying to catch his breath. “You scared me!” I yelled back. Little did I know, he was waiting for the spot to open up and there was no concern. I told him in the future he should let people know that.
ANYWAY, the walk through Lodi Gardens was awesome. It was a garden amongst old ruins with tons of people out relaxing. It was beautiful.
After Lodi Gardens, our last stop was Gandhi’s Smitri. This was Gandhi’s house in Delhi and was also were he was martyred.
Overall, it was another great day in Delhi together! Tomorrow, we were finally meeting up with our Intrepid group for a 15 day tour of Rajasthan. After our adventures in Delhi, we could only imagine the amazing sites were about to see!