Sunday, October 14, 2012

Exploring Solo

Sunday was a bit more of a lazy day - although I had hoped to get back in touch with Emma and co-ordinate a meeting if she had any free time from her tour group, my text messages didn't get through so this didn't happen! But I did get to wander around on my own and see some interesting sights.

Firstly, I promised to get a picture of the road which my hotel is on. It looks like a kind of dodgy back street, and it certainly doesn't get cleaned quite as often as the main street, but the hotel is a 3m-wide 'oasis of calm' under the neon sign 'The Sunder' you can just see on the opposite side.

One of my objectives while in India was to visit Agra, the ancient capital and the site of two of the biggest tourist attractions - the Agra Fort and, of course, the Taj Mahal. I had hoped to get to Agra by train but, en route to the station, I got chatting with a local guy (after he passed my test of why he was really interested in talking to me - people who want to sell you things tend to wander off if you start asking where THEY are from, whether THEY are married, what THEY are doing in Delhi etc) who said that the better place to buy the tickets reserved for foreigners was at a Government tourist office on Connaught place. He even found a tuktuk for me, agreed on a price and sent me on my way. Hey, sometimes you have to go with the flow!

Unfortunately, at the tourist office I discovered that all the train tickets had been taken for the following day (hardly a surprise) and eventually agreed to hire a car and driver for the day for 7000 Rupees (£82), on the promise that this included my entrance tickets and if anyone else came along I would get a bit of a refund. Oh well, some attractions are so important sometimes you do have to pay a bit more to go. I had tried booking a train ticket a few weeks ago, but first you need an Indian mobile number (to receive a code) and if you don't have one then you send a photocopy of your passport by email to them, and they send you the code, and that still didn't work for me, so I gave up when they passed me on to someone else...

Anyway I used this opportunity to get some passport photos then head to another branch of Haldiram's for some lunch at a restaurant I knew was clean. So I had another Raj Kachori and a Paneer Dosa along with Lassi. Raj looked much more handsome before I mashed him entirely with my spoon. Poor Raj!


I then hopped on the really modern-looking Metro (only 10 Rupees for a single):

And headed over to the equivalent of Buckingham Palace - the President's Residence, which I explored for a little while and then noticed that all the traffic was stopped, in order for a Limo and its entourage to come speeding in from another street.

Ambassador Cars galore here!

I then walked the Raj Path from the palace to the India Gate - a large war memorial much like l'Arc de Triomphe.

On my way back on the Metro, I spotted that one of the stops had Metro Museum subscript on the station name. So I made my way there for a look around! It's obvious why the Metro is so modern-looking, since it is under 10 years old and undergoing significant expansion continually. Yet another example of why living in a developing country is more interesting - infrastructure gets better and better every year!


I came back via New Delhi station, marvelling at the huge trains (broad gauge) and organised chaos of the station. Maybe it's a good idea I was going to Agra by private car after all...

I spent the rest of the evening writing the blog and making a bit of peace in my room. No point eating when lunch was so big! One huge meal every 24 hours is OK right, especially when you don't know what's going to be clean?

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1 comment:

  1. Looking good old chap, remember when you build the walls that they shouldn't fall over along as COG is within the middle third of the vertical axis. Where are you? Is it a big place or rural?