The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Indian Family At Red Fort, Delhi

Entrance to the Red Fort, One of Delhi's Main Tourist Attractions

Cycle Rickshaw Driver

Sunday Market Outside the Red Fort

Sidewalk Chock Full of People Buying And Selling Shoes

Jama Masjid--Largest Mosque in Delhi

Entrance to the Jama Masjid

View of Old Delhi

Another View of Jama Masjid

Mahatma Gandhi's Memorial at Raj Ghat

A Tribute to the Efforts of Peace by Gandhi and Einstein at...

Portrait of Mahatma Gandhi

Safdarjang's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb

India Gate, New Delhi

Dinner With Lovisa and Karin from Sweden

SINGAPORE. I walked to the Singapore Art Museum for a quick peek before heading to the airport for my afternoon flight to Delhi, India. SAM is very small museum and worth a look

DELHI, INDIA. I arrived in Delhi around 6 p.m. local time. Someone was supposed to pick me up from the airport, but after waiting half an hour, I caught a taxi to a hostel I booked via email. The taxi driver didn't know where my hostel was. Usually before hiring a taxi, I question the driver about whether he knows where my destination is. However, the Delhi airport provides a prepaid taxi service which designates a car for you. Thus, you don't have a choice in your driver. My driver constantly honked his horn during the 45 minute drive into town. My first impression of India was dark, dusty, polluted, and chaotic. My taxi driver weaved in and out amongst other cars, trucks, buses, auto rickshaws, and motorbikes over dusty potholed roads. Perpetual motion was the name of the game as my driver had to constantly be on the move. There were very few street lights and no reflectors, making it difficult to see the lanes—I don't think there were any.

As it turned out, my taxi driver didn't know where my guest house was located. He wanted to take me to a hotel he knew of—one where he is paid a commission which is then passed along to me. I had to argue with him to take me to a nearby intersection where I could walk. I had made a reservation by email at Ringo Guest House (Rs 500/double; $11) in Connaught Place, the main business district in Delhi. As I walked to the guest house, I tripped over a knee high chain guarding a parking area and severely bruised my left shin. (Fortunately, I got my tetanus shot.) The street lighting in Delhi is extremely poor, making it difficult to see such obstacles. In the U.S., this would definitely result in a lawsuit against the city for negligence. But this is India.

Among Delhi's main tourist sites are Old Delhi (the bazaars), the Red Fort, Jama Masjid (mosque), Raj Ghat (where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated; U.S. President Bush is scheduled to visit here in early March), the National Museum, Humayun's Tomb, and Safdarjang's Tomb. In between resting from severe jet lag, I spent the next few days exploring these sites.

Delhi is a big, sprawling city. There is Old Delhi and New Delhi, but people just say Delhi. Since everything is very spread out, it's difficult to walk. The primary means of transport are autorickshaws—three wheeled covered motorscooters with room for the driver in front and two passengers in back. However, I've seen upwards of eight people in one autorickshaw. Prices vary, depending on distance, but a typical fare is Rs 20-50 ($0.45-1.13). Although they have meters, the drivers never use them (at least for tourists) and always quote ridiculously high initial fares (e.g., Rs 100-150 for a fare that should run Rs 40). For shorter trips, there are cycle rickshaws—three wheeled pedal driven cycles (In Hawaii, we call them pedicabs). They're roughly half the price of autorickshaws and generally a preferred means of transportation for short distances particularly since they are pollution free. There's never a problem finding an autorickshaw or cycle rickshaw—they're everywhere and, don't worry, they will find you.

One of the more interesting things in budget restaurants and guesthouses is that you must write out your individual order from the menu. After being seated at your table, the waiter will give you a pad of paper and a pen for you to write down what you wish to order. I haven't figured out why or how this practice evolved into being.

Perhaps the hardest part of visiting India is dealing with the hassle of touts. Reading about them in Lonely Planet is one thing. Dealing with them is quite another. Touts are people who approach you in the street trying to sell you something or direct you somewhere (i.e., they are "touting" their goods/services). Touts don't necessarily own the goods/services they are offering. Thus, if you do choose to buy from a tout, you will most likely get a high price due to commissions paid. (I make it a general rule never to buy from a tout.) You are constantly approached and offered something for money—a rickshaw ride, bottled water, food, lodging, clothing, jewelry, etc. It's difficult to avoid the touts as they are everywhere. Everyone has their own approach (or develops one quickly). I simply ignore them completely. It's a bit rude, but then again they are not respecting my desire to be left alone.

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