Friday, November 26, 2004

Escape from Delhi!

As I was walking around Delhi, as usual you are approached by somebody hoping to get some business. This time a guy said I could get a free map from the official tourist people and so I did. Later on I passed the same travel agents so I decided to arrange my onwards travel. I asked if I could get a train ticket to Agra but the trains were all full. So, I ended up with a bus ticket instead, which would stop outside my hotel. In retrospect this seemed a bit strange as my hotel was packed into a maze of alleyways not ideal bus driving conditions, but hey this is India where their driving is crazy anyway another bus stuck up an alleyway wouldnt make any difference.
Six O'Clock alarm call, and I'm ready and packed and double-checking I haven't forgotten anything (once the bag is packed the paranoia about forgetting something creeps up).
Standing outside the hotel at 6.30 in the morning first light waiting for the bus, still standing there 30 mins later...

I phoned the travel agency company but no replied. The guy running the phone business, said I should go over there immediately. So I go to get a taxi and quickly run past a procession of people celebrating something as they are all blocking the road and no taxis can get past. I manage to finally get in front of them and see a taxi coming towards me, and so jump in and spin off to the travel agents.

After a while the taxi driver finds the shop in the vast Conaught Circle, with the help of just a few passerbys.

Off course when I got there about 7.30 it was still shut.
Also waiting were a couple of other guys who were here to collect money from the agents.

I talked to them and they said they were from the official goverment tourism people. They phoned the agents and found out that they wouldn't open for another 45 minutes. So I go back and have a look at one of their offices and they tell me that the agent didn't have train bookings rights and so could only book buses.
They then showed me how they could electronically reserve trains and showed the trains for Agra which were all jam packed for the next 5 days. The have a waiting list in case anybody cancells the ticket, for tomorrow the wait list stood at 108.
Delhi-Agra-Jaipur is known as the Golden Triangle probably due to the amount of gold fleeced from tourists!
So after having a look at the options, I decided to splurge and get me a driver. This enable me to go to Agra today as was initialled plan, once my credit card was zapped I was whisked into a waiting car quicker than you can say "Taj Mahal, Jeeves!"

And so I finally escaped Delhi.

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