31.05.2010 - 09.06.2010 40 °C
Our flight left Bangkok on time and headed to our first stop, on our way to New Delhi, in Calcutta.
Oh My God! India. Dont know where to start really, from start to finish i can only describe as a rollercoaster travelling at twice the speed it should do!
Calcutta airport was steaming hot at 42 degrees when we stepped off the plane at 7pm in the evening. We have flown so many times since we left England and covered so much distance without any sign of a delay, however we needed to get from Calcutta to New Dehli (just a 2 hour flight) but were delayed 2 hours in a smelly, dirty, sweaty airport. We arrived in New Dehli at around midnight to a cool 35 degrees and rushed to our hotel to find some air conditioning.
Our stay in India was only going to be a short one so our main objective was to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. We organised this the next day and headed to Agra on the 2nd June. What a journey and what an experience. Pick up was at 8am by a local driver and he skillfully picked his way through the New Dehli morning traffic which consisted of tired looking rickshaws, beaten up taxis, many dented cars, bicycles with square wheels, carts being pulled by cows and so much rubble from abandoned road works. It was also made harder and scarier by vehicles including lorries travelling directly towards you on the wrong side of the road. Anything goes in India it seems there is no such thing as the right of way, drivers make turns without looking, traffic lights are ignored, cars parked randomly, motorbikes pushing broken down cars and lorries with overloaded and bulging goods. We made it to Agra after 4 hours on the road amazingly in one piece and enjoyed a few hours at the Taj Mahal.
Once inside the gates of the Taj Mahal the tranquil atmosphere could not have been more different to what we had just experienced getting there. Time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the marbled mosque, however the heat of the day was extreme to say the least and at 45 degrees you could have fried an egg on my head. It was shoes off to make our way inside but the floor was so hot we found ourselves leaping to and from shaded areas to avoid burning our feet. Inside was cooler, surprisingly small but very ornate although generally bland in colour. We became a popular tourist attractions ourselves with the locals, who wanted to have photos taken with us as a momento of their trip.
The trip back was no less entertaining, it just took a couple of hours longer and with us both drained from absorbing the constant horn tooting that comes with a road trip in India were ready for a good nights rest.
3rd June was time to move on to our eagerly awaited overnight train experience from New Dehli to Mumbai which was due for departure at 4.30pm. After having to make our way across the New Dehli train tracks to reach our platform we stood patiently for a couple of hours waiting for our train to arrive. We had to endure constant leering and uncomfortable staring which we thought we might have got used to by now in India and on top of that the constant stench of poo lying on the tracks being warmed gently by the hot sun. The train left on time and we were in settled in with refreshments and snacks and later with a 4 course meal.
Not the best nights sleep was had and we pulled in to Mumbai station around 8am then haggled a taxi to get us to the airport for our flight to the UK. No delays again here and we were back in the UK and at the Ramada Hotel at Heathrow by 7pm.
We stayed at the Ramada for 5 nights where we enjoyed a full schedule, meeting with friends and family and catching up on gossip.