We flew out of Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Monday afternoon. We spent our last night in Thailand at a wonderful hotel near the airport. The hotel was down a small lane off the main road and on the road there were a number of street food vendors, outdoor pubs, a couple of 7-11’s and lots of traffic. We wandered around for an hour or so feeling the vibe realizing that our time in Thailand was coming to an end. We had dinner on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, listening to the sounds of a soft guitar player singing English ballads from the 70’s, while jets flew overhead. It was a fitting end to a wonderful month – good food, good drinks, lots of noise and polite, fabulous people. Though Thailand was not one of my first choices for this journey, I will be ever grateful that we were able to spend so much time here.
We arrived in Delhi, India around noon on Tuesday. After a false start by standing in the wrong passport line, we finally got through immigration and met our tour operator rep outside the baggage area. He called the driver to come and get us and while we waited he gave us some facts about India. Delhi has 22 million people and is the largest city in India followed by Mumbai with 18 million. One in six people on the planet live in India giving it a population of 1.36 billion people – the second most populous country in the world after China. The main languages are English and Hindi and the predominant religion is Hindu. He said that there is lots of fast food – street food but cautioned us that it may not be safe. He mentioned that the rural areas are very nice and the food is really good. We commented on the armed guards that were patrolling the airport and he said that the army has a large presence in all of India. We can expect to see them on street corners everywhere. Comforting? Not sure.
By this time our driver had arrived and we began what can only be called an adventure like no other. The horn honking began before we even left the airport and did not stop until we reached our hotel. If we thought the traffic in Thailand was crazy then this was absolutely INSANE!! Even though there were only one or two lanes marked on the road, there would at times be cars, buses and motorcycles five across – apparently the lines are only a suggestion. Many of the vehicles that we saw were scraped and dented and most were much too close for comfort. At times there were people walking among the traffic selling food and knick knacks. Cars would stop to make a purchase causing more horn honking and more squeezing to get through the traffic. As we got closer to our hotel, there was now the addition of street vendors and pedestrians to add to the already chaotic jumble of traffic. Though the trip was entertaining, we were quite happy to step out onto the sidewalk in one piece and check into our room.
We are on an 11 day organized tour while we are in India and tonight we have our first meeting with our group. The tour is with a budget tour operator and if the hotel is any indication, the rest of the accommodations should be very interesting indeed. I am sure that everyday will be a new adventure and we can’t wait to share it with you.
At the Delhi airport waiting for our driver who will take us to our hotel and driving to the hotel…