. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: January 18, 2001

Thursday, January 18, 2001
Delhi, India
India's Flag

Delhi, India:
Latitude: 28° 38' 29" North
Longitude: 77° 10' 46" East
Altitude: 850 feet
From Seattle: 8808 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Hotel Megha Palace

Today's Travel:
Country: India
Region: Delhi
Weather: Mostly Sunny

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 1379
Linear Dist: 269684
Countries Visited: 74
Regions Visited: 275
More stats...
Hotels: 519
Friends / Family: 338
Camping: 130
Hostels: 262
Transit: 86
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 4511

Journal Entry:
In the morning I tried to sleep in, but between the noise and it being so cold (a surprise to me - it's cold in Delhi this time of year), I finally gave up and got up. There's hot water, but the heater is so small it's only good for a three minute shower - and it seems to take a good hour to heat up. I spent the morning cowering in my room getting caught up with my journal, and trying to read up on Delhi. Early afternoon I ventured out to find a cafe where I could sit and continue reading, but still experience Delhi a little. When I asked the desk clerk to show me on the map where the hotel was he excused himself for a minute and made a quick call in Sanskrit. A few seconds after he hung up the phone rings and it's a call for me - the tour guy from last night. It's very obvious that the clerk had just called him telling him I'm up, but he insists that he's just happened to call when I'm on my way out. A few minutes later he's there in person and he invites me for tea. He is very insistent about giving me a taxi for the day. First for only 2,000 Rs, and then for free - it's obvious he wants to prevent me from talking to other tour operators. I politely decline - repetitively. He finally drops me off at an Internet cafe and I agree to meet with him later before dinner.

I walked around whatever neighborhood I happened to be in for an hour - just soaking in the atmosphere - something like a combination of an African and an eastern European city, but different. I had no idea where I was so eventually I decided to check out the train situation at the train station then continue on to find a cafe to read in. I caught a tuktuk and negotiated a ride to the station for only 10 Rs. On the way he does the expected and tries to get me to talk to an American tourist information officer. When I refuse he tells me that it will be very difficult to get tickets and I'm going to need to talk to a tourist office. He drops me off at the computerized train reservations center - and it is very confusing - but it's also not where I wanted to be. A few people told me that I should go to the tourist desk at the station itself - which I'd seen signs for a few hundred meters up the road. When I left the reservation center there was my tuktuk driver smiling and saying something like "I told you so, now lets go to my guy", and then he was angry and in my face when I said I was going to walk to the train station (clearly he wants his commission). I walk on.

At the train station I find the tourist desk (a room really). There's a very helpful help desk where I was told which train numbers I could use, and that there were two tickets left on the train to Jaipur tomorrow morning (something my tourist guide friend from last night and this morning said was impossible). So I got in the line. An hour later the line had barely moved so I went back to the help desk to make sure there were still seats available, and try to arrange another leg (Jaipur - Agra) to make the waiting time more useful. Another hour later I repeated this to find a third leg (Agra - Varanasi). Finally three hours later I walked out in to the night with three tickets. Early tomorrow morning I'm in a first class air-conditioned car from New Delhi station to Jaipur. On the 21st I'm in a second class air-conditioned car from Jaipur to Agra. Then on the 23rd I'm on a second class non-air-conditioned overnight coach from just outside Agra to Varanasi. Each trip is longer than the previous one, and each is going to be rougher - but I had to go with what was available.

With directions from the tourist desk I set off to find a bank with an ATM. Initially I set off in the wrong direction but when I asked in at one of the tour operators they gave me the same directions and pointed me back across the station. On the other side of the station I asked a few guards who'd think for a moment and then point in a vague direction. I wandered around the bazaar outside the station but couldn't find the bank. As I walked back to the station I saw the bank - in the station, no more than 10 meters from where I'd asked one of the guards! I got some money out through several transactions (max 2,000 Rs - about $40 - per withdrawal), and caught a taxi back to the hotel. From the hotel I left my day bag and went for a wander around in the dark. I stopped by an internet cafe and updated my journal to show I made it to India alive. On the walk back to the hotel I stopped to buy water and some street sweets (peanut brittle-like stuff) and then packed before retiring as early as I could since I'm getting up at 4:30 (!!) tomorrow morning.

Related Sites:
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: India
CIA - The World Factbook: India

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