AROUND INDIA BY TRAIN IN 2012 travel blog

After landing we cleared immigration quite quickly & not having checked in any luggage we were able to walk straight out through Customs into the Arrivals hall. I had booked a hotel in Delhi near the Central Railway station and our £19 room charge included free transport from the airport to the hotel. I had emailed the hotel last Saturday to confirm this & again on Monday just to be sure but you never know.

We scanned the name boards being held up by a line of men outside the Arrivals door but none had our names on so I thought we were in for a bit of fun finding our way into Delhi. To our relief a young guy turned up waving a handwritten card with "MR THOMAS TUCKER" scrawled on it. Panic over.

So we traipsed off after our driver to the car park & thence into the midst of the hurly burly of the Delhi traffic. Horns blasting, four lanes of traffic on a two lane road, cars, lorries, buses, Tuk Tuks(small 3 wheel, open sided vehicles) all weaving in & out, fighting to go forward. Certainly an experience to frighten the faint hearted.

Despite our fears we made it to our hotel unscathed and were pleasantly surprised by the room. At least it had two separate beds and the bathroom was passable, even had a toilet roll. We next got a visit from our room boy, Josey, who assured us that there was 24hr hot water & wifi available. As we found out the water wasn't hot & the wifi was iffy, to say the least, but what can you expect for £18?

After settling in & having our first cup of chai (tea to us) we ventured forth on foot into the throng, the sheer chaos, that is Delhi. We were supposed to reconfirm all our train bookings for our 18 or so train rides at the main Central train station so we headed there first. It was only a 5 minute walk from the hotel but what an experience. Anybody who has not been there themselves simply cannot comprehend the complete assault on ones senses. Noise, smells, traffic, people all demanding your immediate attention. So much life, so much activity it just overwhelms you.

The international reservations office was also heaving with people. There was a queue running all round the room with people clutching their forms. As it was open until 8pm we decided to go off & come back about 6 pm to see if the queue had dissipated.

We were going on to visit the Gandhi museum but as this was some distance away we decided that a Tuktuk would be worth a try. We beat some poor starving Tuktuk driver down to a paltry few rupees & he whisked us off into the traffic, performing incredible feats of steering to scrape past all other road users.

The Museum wasGandhi'smple with lots of photos of Ghandi's life plus texts in Gandhi's& Hindi. There were some of Ghandi's personal possessions on show including the blood stained cloth he was wearing when he was shot together with one of the bullets fired at him. We thenRed Fortanother Tuktuk to take us to tGandhi'sort but on the way we stopped at Ghandis monument at the place where he was cremated. A nice, well maintained, park.

We made it to the Red Fort but decided that it would be better to come back in the morning as it was now late afternoon. So we opted to try aChandnirChowkaw ride instead around the Chandki Chouk market area. This turned out to be another hair raising experience as you're even more vulnerable to the noises, smelly traffic.McDonald'swe survived & even spotted a McDonalds's along the way and also withdrew some Rupees from an ATM machine. You can't bring Rupees into India so we had changed £20 earlier at a money changer but we were going to need a good bit more over the coming days.

Our rickshaw driver or pedaller was reluctant to take us all the way back to the Central Rail station so he dropped us at the Metro station & we took the metro train instead. So far today we have been on an aeroplane, a taxi car, a Tuktuk & a pedal rickshaw as well as our feet, so quite a variety of transport.

Back at the station at 6pm the queue was still long but fortunately we found out that as we had prebooked all our journeys we only had to confirm them & collect our tickets tomorrow morning at 10am when the ticket lady came back on duty.

By this time we were pretty tired so headed back to the hotel, on foot, to partake of the offer of a massage to ease our weary bodies. It was 700 rupees for an hours massage but we were offered a half each for the same price so settled for this. It appears that in India the men are massaged by men & the women by women so we had to put up with a man who turned out to be quite good so it was a relaxing experience.

Dinner was next & the hotel had a simple, rooftop restaurant so we ate up there. Each menu now is an adventure in itself as neither of us knows what is what. What we did have was very tasty so we were pleased with ourselves.

It was about 8pm by now & wee were both pretty tired after the overnight flight & the experiences of the day. Roger decided to stay in & rest but I wanted to have a walk & see what was about near the hotel. We were going to try contacting home but the wifi was proving to be very troublesome.

I had an hour wandering round the streets which were still buzzing with people & traffic. When I finally went back to the hotel at 9.30pm Roger was asleep but I was able to get an Internet connection on my iPad & talk to Viv

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