We experienced our first scam attempt in the taxi from the airport to our hotel. The driver told us he was lost and conveniently stopped outside a travel agents and suggested we take our luggage in and ask for assistance. Having previously read some travel tips, we remained in the cab and demanded he take us to our hotel, which he eventually did.
Our hotel, Hotel Hari Piorko was in the Pahar Ganj area, very close to New Delhi station and right in the mix of a bazaar. It is an incredible concoction of tuk tuks, rickshaws, street sellers, street cafes, dirt, dogs, beggars and the very occasional westerner. There was no soft introduction to Delhi, we hit it head on and found it exhilarating. After getting our bearings somewhat, we enjoyed some street food of veggi curry. After being extremely careful not to lick my fingers or eat with my left hand, I comically licked my finger whilst thumbing through my cash!!! We then had an early night, cuddling up for warmth, as you pay extra for heating in the hotel. Hot water is free, but you have to dial 9 to request it!!!!
|Outside our hotel|
On our second day in Delhi we visited the Red Fort, built in the 17th century, the walled city served as the residence of the Mughal Emperors. Although magnificent from the outside, we were a bit disappointed with the ramshackle state that the ruins have been left in.
|Bazaar we battled through|
What followed next did have the WOW factor but for different reasons... we walked the streets between the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque! The distance was not that far, however there was the population of Wales in front of us. We had walked straight into the Sunday bazaar. I have never seen some many people in one place (mostly men and no westerners) and it was quite frightening. We battled though the hundreds of stalls, not looking for any purchases, merely trying to survive the crush, until we made it to the mosque. It's the largest in India which can hold up to 25,000 people. No photos though as they charge westerners to take cameras in, "tourist tax" I guess. A long walk home took us though some very poor areas, which although made us uncomfortable at times, was incredibly interesting and worth the effort. Some yummy fried street food for dinner consisting of a fried potato sandwich and a fried mashed potato ball with a spot of tomato chilli sauce. Yum.
As you would expect, the male to female ratio in public is hugely weighed in favour of males. Sonja has never felt in danger but definately uncomfortable at times. Some however do enjoy knocking into females breasts 'by accident', which can become a bit of an amusing sport when dodging the swinging elbows! Seeing men urinating on the sides of the streets is common, as too, is seeing them spit a red substance on the floor on a regular basis. Spitting appears to be common practice here. The red spit comes from the pastime of chewing betel nuts. Like the difference in wealth, there is also a difference in cultures between old and young. Teenagers can be seen in jeans, converse and fashionable tops, somewhat less covered than their older generation.
Tomorrow sets a new challenge; Indian trains!! Our train to Agra heads off at midday where new adventures await........