|Myself on the right and room-mate on the left|
|Indian sweets on sale for Diwali - highly addictive and sublime|
One quirk about Indians is they wrap their possessions in a blanket and tie it with rope. Plenty of those went past, but not my luggage. Eventually there was no-one left in the hall but me. The conveyor belt was going round and round with the last few bags, but my bag wasn’t on it.
Imaginative Traveler had arranged a collection for me at the airport. So much time had lapsed I was worried the shuttle bus would go without me. I made enquiries about my bag and the next thing my bag appeared. I remain suspicious about why my bag took so long to come out - especially after what happened on my last day in India.
|Beautiful old buildings|
Someone told me to be prepared for great beauty and harsh poverty in India. They were right. I always thought we had poverty in South Africa but India was truly shocking. However, the rich culture and history make India an absolutely fascinating and enchanting destination.
|The Indians are friendly to fault and will follow you|
One couple in the tour group had real rubbish luck. They were robbed and she broke her foot on a walkabout. Yip, $#!t happens even on holiday. I managed to avoid the dreaded Delhi Belly for all but the last three days of the tour. I got brave and ate away from the recommended places one night. Big mistake. It’s one way to lose weight.
When the time came to go home, my room-mate and I agreed to share a trip to the airport. She arranged the deal and was I happy to pay half. A really young boy collected us. He asked if I was flying Indian Air and it sounded about right so I said yes. I was flying to South Africa and my room-mate was flying to Australia. Turned out we were going to different airports. Did I question why we were taking international flights from different airports? No, I didn’t.
|Colonial legacy - hunting trophies on the wall.|
It soon became apparent this guy wasn’t authorised to drive us. I have no idea how my room-mate found him. At the very first check point there was a hellava argument between our driver and the authorities. I suspect our driver bribed the officer. At every check point after that we went through the same palaver.
|Exquisite historic buildings were our accommodation|
I quickly discovered this “airport” was closed. There was no-one there except for a guard. Much later I realised that it must be an air force base. What was this kid thinking dropping me there? I don’t think he thought anything and I doubt he was old enough to drive. Who knows if it was even his vehicle? He saw a gap to make money off me. And the officers at the check points were making money off him.
|Tourist travel option|
|A welcome flower necklace at one of the castles|
I got to the airport with the minimum time in hand. At check-in they demanded airport taxes. This had not been mentioned by Imaginative Traveller or the travel agent. Both had given me detailed information about India and the trip. I don’t believe that airport tax was actually due. But these guys were adamant they wanted money and if I wanted to go home I had to pay up. It’s not like I had a lot of time to argue. They knew I had no more money and pointed me to forex to change money so I could pay them off. So much for the country that invented karma?
Once on the plane I was relieved to be going home. One other quirk about Indians soon emerged. Apparently it's not necessary to use the toilet bowl to relieve oneself. The entire room is good enough. Half way through the flight, the toilets were un-usable. No food or drink for me.
|Sacred cows roaming the streets|
My advice is only travel India with a well known tour operator. I was fine the entire time I was with the group. Its was my trips at the start and finish where I encountered problems.
For more Holiday Horror Stories you can read - (Not) Welcome to the UK, Canal boating on the Rochdale Nine and Taxi in Zanzibar.
On the Travel Archive page you can find more holidays and stories. Click here to find it - Travel Archive Page.