There is always big anticipation when it comes time to go to a new country.
What is it going to be like?
Is it going to be just like all those articles I’ve read… the images I’ve seen?
Am I going to love it, or hate it?
What if we flew all of these miles to wind up in a place that is completely unbearable?
And then it comes time to get off the plane.
When we flew to India, we traveled exactly 23 hours and 30 minutes for a total of 10,308 miles. That’s a long way…
Our journey started in Phoenix where we boarded our plane to Atlanta. Then we were bound for Istanbul for a short layover and then onto our destination of New Delhi.
It took 2 calendar days for us to arrive, as we left on the 18th of Feburary and arrived in the early hours on the 20th. There was a 12 1/2 hour time difference so we would be completely on the opposite schedule.
It was shortly after 5 am when we touched down and the sun was just starting to peak over the city. We couldn’t wait to get out for our first taste of this new country! But first…
Baggage claim and customs.
The customs line was our first taste of “everything in India happens on its own time…”
Now mind you, there wasn’t a huge line, or confusing walkways or any of that. We found the right queue we were supposed to be in which had about 6 or so people ahead of us.
The officials at the customs desk were moving in such a way that would make a sloth look speedy…
and we waited…
FINALLY after about 30-45 minutes, we were free to go!!
Our driver was waiting for us outside who was ready to take our bags and head to the car.
The first thing I remember was looking out from the parking garage at what looked to be a very yellow-orangey painted ceiling quite far away. As we walked further out, I noticed that wasn’t the ceiling at all… that was the morning sky.
For whatever reason, that first day decided to show us what the pollution in Delhi was all about. You could barely see the car in front of you as you were driving. (which in Delhi traffic terms means the car in front of you was merely inches away from your front bumper….)
The traffic near the airport wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated. We made it to our hotel in about 45 minutes, which was located in the central part of New Delhi called Karol Bagh.
Now it took me quite awhile as I was preparing and researching for this trip.
New Delhi has a population of 27,928,000, and that’s of 2016. India’s growth rate is at an astonishing 13% per year, which China’s is around 1.3%.
I chose Karol Bagh because it is pretty centrally located. The nicer hotels are mostly situated around the airport, which was too far out to be commuting every day, and Karol Bagh just seemed to be the right fit. I’m glad I chose it as our home base.
Now let me get this out in the open. Nothing is new in Delhi, and if its new it doesn’t look like it. That’s the one thing you should know about traveling in most of South Asia.
You could book the most beautiful hotel, only to be quite shocked when you pull up to the front entrance.
This my friends, is Delhi.
I do believe our hotel was the most expensive in Karol Bagh. We stayed at the Sunstar Heritage which ran $50 USD a night. (I’ll tell you more about the hotel later!)
We were greeted with the biggest smiles and check in was super easy. They showed us right to our room where we quickly did a little unpacking and took what seemed to be the best shower in years! Oh boy did it feel good!
It was around 11 am or so and we decided we should try to get a little nap in at least, seeing as we had been on the other side of the world not too long before.
We settled into bed and quickly turned off the light.
That idea lasted about 10 minutes as we soon looked at each other and said at almost the exact time…
“I’m too excited! Let’s GO!!”
So off we went!!
I wasn’t expecting Delhi to be clean, but honestly I was expecting worse that we saw….
It is in no way clean, or “easy on the eye’s”, but in that is where you start to see the magic!
If there is anything I can advise about traveling to India it would be this…
Please do not chose India as your first destination to Southern Asia. Go experience other countries first, such as Thailand, Cambodia or Indonesia.
I truly believe with all of my heart that if you do choose to visit India first, you will soon regret it.
When they say that India is the land of extremes, that was no lie. The extreme of everything happens here, and sometimes it all even seems to happen at the same time.
My favorite movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel explains it quite perfectly…
When they have their first experience with India they say “India is an assault on all of your senses”… and that is very much the truth.
If it weren’t for all of our previous travels to SEA (South East Asia) I can honestly say we would have had a totally different experience.
We had already experienced traffic in huge cities and we had been to a new land which drove on the other side of the road…
We had experienced being in a maze of people and knew what it was like to be bombarded by locals trying to sell you things, or to get a ride in their tuk tuk or even knowing which street foods may or may not be safe to try…
But then there is India!
My most favorite first memory is of us having the biggest smiles on our faces as we walked those first few blocks… being hit in the face with the fact that ‘Yes! We are actually here!’ and ‘bring it on’!
We started off with hoodies on, but quickly realized that it really heats up here quick!
Being late February, it was already in the lower 90’s during the day. Summer starts in April with May and June being their warmest months.
The first thing we noticed was how many white cars there were! Being from the desert in Arizona, we are used to seeing white cars all over… but there is that extreme thing again… India just takes it to the next level!
Rickshaws! One of the many normal ways of transportation…
We had made it out to a main drag, which was only about a 5 minute walk from our Hotel.
Another reason I am glad we had traveled to SEA before, is having a better sense of how to navigate, what to look for and knowing somewhat of how things are done.
The idea of any traffic law’s in Asia are quickly forgotten. There is a rule that 5 lanes of traffic must be made from a 2 lane highway. You can not stick any part of your body out of the window, as motorbikes, tuk tuk’s, other vehicles and pedestrians are sometimes only a few centimeters away. (And sometimes even that isn’t close enough)
And then you take into consideration that India has cows, dogs, pigs and much more roaming free around the streets.
I think it was our second day there, we were going down a highway with our driver and I looked out my window as an elephant and 2 camels were leisurely walking down the opposite lane next to us… on the highway!!!
That’s when it hit me… this is just AH-mazing! And right then and there, my heart had been stolen.
Everywhere and sometimes for no reason, people are blowing their horns. This is a sound you will get used to very quickly, as it is one if Delhi’s constants.
another mode of transportation…
Vishnu Tires… Delivery available!
the Vishnu Tyre home base…
The average city view downtown…
Locals taking a break from their work day…
And where there is not “city”, there is green. Which is almost always a brownish hue, because everything is covered in dust…
But we found a tiny little park where we sat and rested our feet for a moment which was a nice little break.
And then we had our first encounter with some locals…
There were these two men working on a door at the beginning of a small alley. As soon as they saw us they smiled and asked me if I wanted to take their picture!
Paul jumped right in to lend a helping hand and we had instantly made ourselves new friends!
There were smiles and handshakes, and we left with a feeling of happiness to what would turn into a true love for the Indian people…
And so my photo journey began. I was going to try to capture as much and as many of these wonderful people as I could.
You were instantly infected and affected. The magic was beginning…
And then there are these beauties, which were everywhere and anywhere.
We had made it to a good point to turn around and head back, but before we did we ran into our first sighting of a less than impoverished area. I didn’t take pictures, as I felt it wasn’t right to photograph these people. We just walked around the area and were reached out to for money from some as young as 2, to older women who were going about their daily routine. We witnessed something we had never seen before and got a true taste of what was there right out in the open.
You can see in the bottom left hand corner where they live. In medians all throughout the city were homes and make shift shelters housing a countless number of souls. Our hearts reached out to them and still, there were smiles.
A worker on his way to make a delivery…
And then, we made our way back to the room, which was our home for the next 5 days.
On our way back we were surprised by a street performance from a young girl and her family. Her father sat up her apparatuses, her mother passed her the items she would use for her show while her little sister played in the sidewalk below.
A tightrope walker performance from a beautiful Indian girl, whom we couldn’t peel our eyes away from…
The climb up.
as she took her first steps…
to the last exhibit with metal bowls perfectly balanced on her head.
As we got closer to our destination, we could feel our eyes falling heavy.
The streets were so alive, but that was nothing compared to what happens after the sun goes down… and after a nap we would venture out to witness for ourselves.
And with that comes an end to our first adventure of Delhi…. and what awaited us would be pure magic!
As always, stay tuned… This is just the beginning!