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India Day 1 - Arrival

Added: November 29, 2008

Tags: India info
So it is finally happing. Zuzka was dreaming about trip to India for 10 years. All her friends who she asked to go with her exhaled deeply. They are safe now :-) And I, who never thought about going to India and was afraid of it since I have promised I will accompany her, am staying in cold weather at Cardiff bus station waiting for bus to Heathrow. So it is finally happening...

It took me some time to get courage, but now I am looking forward to our India trip nearly as much as Zuzka. It is the most exotic place we have ever been to. As was said in India - Lessons Learned we have only 12 days and our program is full. Surprisingly I am more optimistic that everything will work correctly than Zuzka, but we are about to see soon. There will be surprises, but we hope they will be only positive ones.

Our plan

I am going to describe our plan (with omissions of details).

  • Our flight to Mumbai is scheduled for 31st of October (Friday) evening. Arrival is at about noon on 1st of November.
  • We flight to Aurangabad on the same day in evening.
  • 2nd November we plan to visit Ajanta and Ellora Caves and return back to Aurangabad
  • 3rd November - flight to New Delhi and train to Agra, not much time to spend by explorations
  • 4th November - whole day in Agra (Taj Mahal and more)
  • 5th November - train to Gwalior, visit of Gwalior fort, then train to Jaipur
  • 6th November - sight seeing Jaipur
  • 6th midnight - 7th November noon - train to Jaisalmer
  • 7th November - sight seeing in Jaisalmer
  • 8th November - sight seeing in Jaisalmer, 4pm train to Jodhpur
  • 9th November - morning in Jodhpur, flight to New Delhi at noon
  • 10th Novermber - New Delhi wannabe sight seeing, flight to Amritsar in the evening
  • 11th November - Golden Temple in Amritsar, flight back to New Delhi in the evening
  • 12th November - flight back to London
Check it out also on provided map.

Numbers show place we stayed at night, red arrows are flights, green ones are trains. Blue is whole day trip by car. Number 6 is missing, because it was night spent in train.


Mumbai airport

As we approached Mumbai we could see foggy land underneath. It is not very promising - we came here to make nice photos with blue sky and not overexposed white one :-( Terrain is rather mountainous around Mumbai. Very nice from above.

Shortly before landing we could see tall apartment buildings without windows (glass), a bit later also slums. Unfortunately Zuzka did not have her camera ready (and I've never used mine during flight).

Terminal 1A

Airport invited us with terrible hot weather. We used free bus to take us to domestic terminal. We did not have any rupees yet and we did not have any water (only empty bottle). So we were glad when we have found drinking water in domestic airport. Bit later we have exchanged 200 GBP and went upstairs to check our flight to Aurangabad. It was still about 5 hours to go and surprisingly displays have shown even later flights. But ours was not there. So we went to KingFisher's booth to ask about it. "Yes, you need to go upstairs" was the answer.

Because we had enough time we ventured out of terminal building. After a minute or less looking around and not seeing anything interesting we wanted to get back. A policeman stopped us at gate and asked for "flight ticket" and passports. We handed him flight confirmation, but he did not seem to be sure about it. He handed it to colleague who told us we are at incorrect terminal building. KingFisher Red is located at terminal 1B. "OK, let us in and we will use free bus to get there..." But this suggestion did not look very appealing to them. This was our first shock in India. We were not sure how far it is (it should not be very far, but I did not notice while being in shuttle bus).

We walked in direction of other terminal, when small, rather fat guy stood in our way and asked where we want to go. We told him. "I have taxi here I can take you there. For free". At least I thought he said that (but I had problems to understand many people there, so I believe Zuzka, he did not). Later he added "just small amount". After a short discussion whether to go or not and asking how much he wants he said "2 people, one hundred" (again my interpretation). He told us that sentence "I am not cheater, I am good guy.". So we decided to try it (it seems I suggested it first, but I was thinking Zuzka wants to go with him later :-) ). While in the car he asked if we want some sightseeing. "NO, just get us to terminal building and you will get 100 Rs." was clear answer. "200, you are two.". "No, you said 100!". As he stopped at terminal I got out, still holding 100 Rs bill, taking our luggage from trunk he again asked for 200. "Take 100." I told him again. "We agreed on 200, I am not cheater. you are bad man!" I yelled at him: "Take 100 or call police!". I have handed him 100, turned away and went to terminal.

OK, so maybe I am bad man, because we "agreed" on 200, but 200 Rs for 800-900m ride? You can travel 14km for 205 Rs in New Delhi! Boy, he annoyed me! We are here 2 hours or less and we have already fallen a prey to local vultures! But at least it was quite cheap. We could get more expensive lesson.

Terminal 1B

Finally we are in correct terminal building. Display does not show our flight, there is plenty of time for that , but at least KingFisher Red check-in is here. Now, let's wait to see if our flight turns out to be here :-)

Zuzka observes Indian women, what they wear and how they wear it. Complete fashion show! I pass my time by going to toilet, as apparently I have brought Delhi Belly from home :-) (We have been to great lunch with colleagues on Thursday and somehow I ate more than was sufficient). Fortunately apart from IWC there is also EWC (indian and european style). Close to toilet is drinking water again, so we test its cleanness thoroughly. Yes, it worked out well :-)

You might notice there are not enough photos from this day here. Well, there are more than I took that day... Because we have spent all time only on airports and arrived late and tired to Aurangabad there was no incentive for pulling out my camera.

After nearly eternity our flight was shown at display. We have jumped, went to screening machine where we got nice sticker on baggage lock, checked in and went to try our first security check in India. I do not understand why, but they are obsessed by stamping tags at airports. Any standalone thing that can hold a tag needs to be tagged (and stamped). Regardless it is neck pouch hidden under t-shirt. On the other hand money belt was not tagged, maybe due to being unbuckled - without ability to hold a tag...

A place after security is quite small, gate consists from small desk with overhanging label Indore, that was removed later and replaced with Aurangabad. I went to toilet again. This place is much cleaner that the first one before check-in. Maybe that hard working boy was the reason. When he saw me he knocked on one of the cabins, its occupant went out quite soon. Then the boy went inside and cleaned up floor and seating. Nice touch!

I have never seen so nice bus for transferring people to plane. Nice leather seats, with different levels of height (something to do with castes?)

This photo was taken later in Amritsar by Zuzka. Bus in Mumbai was bit different, with black seats situated into U. The first half of bus missed seats in both of them.


Our plane is small, screw-propelled. Bottom cushion of seats can work as floater if needed. We got 2dcl bottle of water. Nice of them.

Airport building in Aurangabad is tiny. No, it is even smaller. We went out of plane and walked about 100m to terminal building. We have been there for about 30sec when luggages started to come. Now, that was fast! As we collected our backpacks some guy asked us about pre-paid taxi. No, we are not interested, our pick-up has been arranged already. So he asked us if we go to Manor Hotel, because a car from there is waiting for guests here. He shown us and he was right - my name on table!

We got into old jeep and our journey to hotel could began. I was happy when hotel offered us pick-up as this was our first ride in Indian town so I considered it better if we don't need to worry about potential problems.

Houses around looked less attractive than from plane during landing. Traffic was very similar to videos on youtube, our driver was even honking! Atmosphere was full of exhausts and different odours. It was our first real experience of Indian life, because airport is not a typical representative of Indian life. And I enjoyed it.

Finally we arrived to our hotel. It was further away than I though. It does not look bad from outside. From inside it was bit different story. Every floor had different smell and none of them was pleasant.

Our room was quite big, but simple. It was really hot. We did not open window because we were afraid of mosquitoes. Bathroom was usable, I even got used to toilet without plastic seating. The tap was bit strange, because about half of water flew to desk and then to floor. But because shower did the same it was not big deal.

In the beginning we thought this will be our best accommodation as it was most expensive, but IMHO it was the worst we had. Or competing fiercely to be the worst with the cheapest hostel we stayed at (half price at terrible location in New Delhi).

We have been enjoying our room for about 15 minutes when we have received phone call - Saibaba Travel called us to confirm arranged car will be ready at 6:30. Very nice, I had some doubts it will work well and feared we will need to find another transport for tomorrow. That should not be big problem, but we might not be able to visit both Ajanta and Ellora as we wanted.

Now we could go to bed. But we still need to install mosquito nets. I tried to use loose electricity cables above bed, but because (regardless my carefulness) I got slight electro shock, I abandoned my idea and we set ventilator to be stronger instead (I've heard that could help).

Update: I forgot to mention that apparently no mosquitoes are living in Aurangabad, but we wanted to err on side of caution.