March, 2012 – It was our last Spring in Vancouver, Canada before moving to San Francisco, California. Peter was already working (from home) for an American Start-Up Company, our house was on sale and Sabrina was about to have her Spring break. Perfect time to plan a holiday and get disconnected from the Western World for a while!. North India, The Golden Triangle – probably one of the most popular destination in India. It was on Saturday when we drove three hours to Seattle and from there we flew to London where we met my parents in law who joined us in this exciting tour! Why Seattle? $800 cheaper than flying from Vancouver. I did regret it because we got stuck for two hours at US Border. Of course Saturday morning during Spring break what a nightmare!. Finally we made it to Heathrow airport where Anna and Charles were waiting for us! a couple of coffees here, a couple of pair of shoes there… and finally we were ready to embark on an amazing trip to the Far East. Our first destination- New Delhi.
The Golden Triangle is a tourist circuit which includes: Delhi, Agra (The Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. It is called triangle because of the triangular shape formed by the locations of New Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan State on a map. The Rajasthan (Land of the Kings or Land of the Kingdom) is the largest state in India by area. It is mainly arid and its western border is adjacent to Pakistan. We didn’t cover much of this vast region. We only spend a couple of days in Jaipur and another couple in Udaipur. But it was enough to perceive an atmosphere of opulent antiquity in these two cities.
The map below shows the places we visited. As you can see, besides the Golden Triangle we visited two other fascinating cities: Varanasi to have a sense of the ultimate Hindi holiness “The Ganges River” and Khajuraho to appreciate Indian’s most famous and renowned UNESCO World Heritage temples.
It was 5:05 am when we arrived in New Delhi. The airport was elegantly modern with interesting architectural features and sculptures. From the moment we exited the terminal the world suddenly changed to hot, humid, messy, dirty, noisy and crowded. However we couldn’t wait to sight see majestic North India. Sabrina was quite excited!! it was a new adventure for her. Oh I forgot to mention…there is a kiosk of Costa Coffee (Best coffee in London for my taste) in New Delhi airport in one of the Exit. You couldn’t miss it!
Our driver was waiting for us along with our tour guide to take us to our hotel. The tour guide assumed we were exhausted coming from London (us coming from Seattle) so he didn’t organize anything. He advised us to rest. Rest? Forget it! We were determined to take advantage of every spare minute we had. We beat the jet lag and went out for a walk to “explore”. According to the detailed itinerary, “Delhi, the fascinating capital of modern India is by turn ancient, cosmopolitan, sophisticated and confusing.” Yeah, certainly confusing; for every two blocks we walked we were as lost as a Polar bear in the Amazon Jungle!. Once you have got your bearings, it is easy and rewarding to explore. Our bearings started when we decided to ride on a Tuk Tuk (popular mode of transportation in India, similar to a taxi but deadly) to get to Connaugth Place. According to our travel book this place is a good spot for shopping and eating. Connaugth Place is a big circle in the middle with radial roads spreading out in all directions, like spokes on a wheel. I read that “The first Starbucks Coffee store in Delhi was opened in Connaught Place in Hamilton House”, we never found it. This place was totally deserted in shops, restaurants and cafes, it was a pool full of beggars and harassers. It is a sad world out there! Sabrina got scared because some kids were pretending they were crying and their faces were painted in red to represent blood. We tried to explain to Sabrina what was going on. She was confused all the time. We felt rather uncomfortable so we decided to walk away as quick as possible. Luckily, we found a decent coffee shop with air conditioning nearby. We enjoyed a cappuccino and some Indian pastries. Somewhere on the way back to our hotel we went into a local bazaar that sells silk. I did not find anything to buy. However Sabrina managed to find a lovely set of typical Indian garments: Long Kurtis with Chudidaar leggings; All in pink, of course!
I don’t know if it was the jet lag, the exhaustion or just the frustration of not enjoying our first day in New Delhi but our dinner experience in the hotel was also disappointing.