Bye Bye Dehli

Bye Bye Dehli

Bye Bye Delhi

Escaping Back to Thailand

The train from Agra left in the evening, and we weren’t back to our Delhi hotel till about 11pm. When we had arrived in India almost a month ago, we were very unimpressed with the hotel. Now, after three weeks on the road staying in some even more basic places, seems quite lovely. They remember us; we’re kind of “family” at the place. Feels nice.

The first thing we did was fill the tub (our first in 3 weeks) and scrub off all the accumulated dirt. It felt soooo good. Kathy was able to eat a small meal (her first in almost 3 days). Things were looking up. And our feet were clean!
We had planned for a couple of days in Delhi, to rest up after the trip, before heading Varanasi and the Ganges River, the spiritual center of India. Our friend Asha’s aunt lived there, and she had offered to let us stay with her, and to show us around the city. We were thrilled. We’d booked an overnight 1st class train (no more 3-tier sleepers for us!) – ready to travel in style!

But, the next day we didn’t feel very good (again). We didn’t do much. We both started worshiping the porcelain goddess again. The day after we were a bit better, but not by much. We didn’t think we could handle an overnight train ride, followed by two days in the very hot, very dirty, and very very crowded city of Varanasi. So, with sadness, we cancelled our trip to Varanasi, and fell back into bed.

The next day, we felt a bit better, but neither of us really had much interest in seeing more of Delhi – been there, done that. Our flight out wasn’t for another three days, but we could see no reason to stay, so we called to see if we could change our flight. They weren’t able to confirm a seat, but sounded quite hopeful. Like most flights from Delhi, this flight left at 12:30am (i.e. in the middle of the night). After being so sick,and after spending a month in downscale hotels, we decided to splurge, and get a room at the Radisson Hotel near the airport, until our midnight flight.

What a wondrous experience it was to have the door of the Radisson opened for us, and be swept into the lobby of a 5-star international hotel – no dirt anywhere, marble floors, big chandeliers, music softly playing – we had re-entered the first world! Heaven! Up to our room we went – soft white sheets! Water that flowed fast and hot from the tap! Big, soft, fluffy pillows! Air conditioning that really kept things cool! Carpeting! And, to top it off, wireless broadband access! We reveled in our first-world luxury room for a while, then had dinner at the Italian restaurant for some exorbitant (“1st world”) price, and return to the room to pack. But, when Scott called to see if they’d found us seats, they sounded pessimistic about our chances of getting on the flight that evening – very overbooked, the next day “looks much better”. We wondered whether they were working with an Astrologer: “signs are very bad, tomorrow will be better”. And there was our bed, so white and soft and tempting. It wasn’t a hard choice – we’d take our chances tomorrow, and sleep in the lap of luxury tonight.

The next day, the hotel wouldn’t let us extend our check-out time by even a minute, so we were kicked out of our room by noon, with 12 hours to kill until our flight. We sat here and there around the hotel, the wireless access still working for a while. Scott surfed, Kathy read. We called the airline again – ominously, the forecast had changed from “looking likely to get on the flight” to “overbooked — come to the airport and take your chances”. By 8pm we’d had our fill of the hotel lobby, and headed off to the airport so we’d be first on the waiting list. We hadn’t bothered eating, assuming we could get food at the airport. Yeah, right.

We were first in line when the ticket counter opened, but the agent couldn’t give us any idea as to whether we would make it – it was overbooked by 35 people. We were to just sit and wait by the gate until 11:30, when they would start calling stand-bys, if they had any free seats. Worryingly, a fellow traveler we talked to said that every flight for the last two weeks heading from Delhi to Asia had been sold out (no idea why). It was hot, there was nowhere comfortable to sit, nothing to eat, we nowhere to go if we couldn’t get on the flight, and we were still feeling poorly from the aftereffects of food poisoning. Not an especially positive airport experience.

There’s a lot of glamour to traveling around the world, but there are also a fair share of crappy times like this. Gotta take the bad with the good. So we sat glumly in our molded plastic, stomachs grumbling, until 11:30pm rolled around. They started calling names – we’d expected to be top of the list, because we both have elite status on United (we were flying Thai, a United partner) and we had arrived so early. But they called someone else. And someone else. And someone else. “the signs are not good“. Finally – they called us. We were jammed into tiny, uncomfortable seats, flying upright and cramped into the morning. But, we were on our way back to comfortable, familiar Thailand. Saved!

Ref: Travel/Asia/Thailand/ThaiIndia-0104/HuaHin.html”>Recovering from India

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