Thursday, February 17

Summer of '69

I can't believe I've only been in india for a day. Already so much to share!

Our adventure begun when Jen and I ran full speed out of Starbucks the day before we left. It somehow didn't occur to us until right then that we might need a Visa for our layover in Beijing. We raced to the nearest payphone where I listened to a phone ring into oblivion for 20 very long minutes, while Jen scrambled around the mall looking for a travel agent to put us at ease. Conclusion: you don't need a visa to visit China for layovers of less than 24 hours.

With a gasp of relief we rushed to finish our packing and I threw together a couple applications for summer jobs into the early hours of the morning.

At the airport we hit our next hurdle. The computers at Air China desk were down. We waited in line for an eternity and our flight was consequently late; although not in the scheme of India running time.

With relief we made our connection to Beijing and even had 90 minutes to spare. At this point we had made friends with other India-bound travelers from the 11 hour flight to China. Two of which napped with Jen and I on the benches in Beijing's shiny new airport. I cleverly set an alarm on my iPod, but I didn't account for the 10 minute shuttle ride passengers take to the plane. When I woke up with Jen all the passengers had already boarded the shuttle and it was shoulder-to-suitcase tight. 'Yikes!' And then 'Oh SHIT.' I forgot the to wake the two girls who were sleeping upstairs on the benches with us. In intense furry I convinced the boarding flight attendant to let me return. I bolted upstairs to find them in plush sleeping bags. I shook them awake and urged them into a hurry. With Godspeed we made it onto the bus, onto the plane, and to the airport in Delhi, but not so easily to the hostel we arranged.

Our arranged driver never came and when we called for another he didn't show either. The date of arrival was miscalculated because we didn't account for the full day we lost to transit. Three and a half hours after arriving off of our 17+ hour flight we finally just hailed a taxi at random and handed him directions and a phone number. He brought us right to the door (impressively, I've learnt as Mystic Moments is not easy to find).

I'm writing you from my hard bed at mystic moments. I highly recommend this hostel; the owner Dr. Malek is wonderful enough to make the trip to India just to meet him.

Today we hit the streets of Delhi, on foot. Or tried. We are several metro stops from the tourist core so we enjoyed a walk through maddening chaos to the metro. We got most of the way walking alongside the road next to aggressive taxi, bus, rickshaw and auto-rickshaw drivers and not-so-aggressive wandering dogs and live stock. We walked on the road, because the sidewalk is reserved for buying street food, pissing, defecating, and occasionally building a lean-to shelter. We met children who gave us directions in Hindi but eventually parted with 50 cents worth of rupees for a rickshaw ride. The walk and rickshaw ride held a important feeling I can't describe yet.

We must have looked more confused than I felt at the metro, which was recently built and looks and feels just like a Vancouver sky train. A gentleman in fluent English adopted us and got us tokens (skipping several people in the token queue). He shoved us into the women's security check and babied us through the token sensitive gates. To keep up with him we had to get crushed by the doors of the metro which closed first on me and then on Jen. Another equally helpful and pleasant Indian from the USA guided us to our metro connection where we discovered a women's cart at the front of the train. In a beautiful sea of saris we pushed and shoved to cram ourselves into the already full cart.

In crowded, noisy, smelly Old Delhi we took in the sites of the Red Fort and India's largest mosque. We listened and snapped photos of a parade and ended up getting pulled into the centre of it where we danced with beautiful women in front of a white horse carrying a small boy and a man. The experience was thrilling, magical, heart warming and more than I could ever expect from a travel experience.

There are significantly less western tourists here than I expected. We seem to carry an almost celebrity-like status. Teenage girls have come up to us and asked to take our photo and we find that when we smile at any of the beautiful girls we send them into fits of giggles. We reciprocate.

There are so many people here it's hard imagining anyone getting away with harassing us. We were followed persistently by one obnoxious teenage boy, but he was harmless and eventually gave up his mission.

Back in Pitampura, the area of our hostel, we followed a Dr. Malek's recommendation to a nice restaurant for curry. This western style restaurant felt just like any place on Scott Road in my home Surrey, but WITHOUT the loud posters and tacky Indian decorations. The food was great and Bryan Adams serenaded us as he was projected from the TV during the World Cricket Cup opening ceremony, held in India. To the displeasure of the other customers, the waiter turned it up loudly after we told him that the singer was Canadian like us.

That concludes day1. 135 more adventures to go!


  1. Thanks Amelia for your great blog. Very happy to hear the two of you managed to arrive at your destination sucessfully! And now, new adventures greet you around every corner. Fantastic. Jen's cousin Meg and I will be thinking of you both as we dive into our butter chicken tonight!
    Jen's Auntie A

  2. Amelia, so much fun to read your blog. We are still in Sydney for a few more days. It sounds like you got immersed in Delhi with all the sights, sounds and smells. We will keep looking at your blog. Stay safe, healthy, happy and adventurous. Have the experience of your life!!! Thinking of you, Chris (and Jeff) W.

  3. Hello, dear Amelia,
    How fun to read about your adventures. I am wishing you well. I can't imagine all the sights, sounds and smells you must be experiencing -- as well as all the interesting people. I just met a student from Afghanistan and he said India was a "must". I will keep checking and reading about what you and Jen are doing. Stay safe. Hugs, C.Bergvinson

  4. Hi Amelia and Jen
    So good to hear from you,enjoy the experience, from Mr apprehensive.

  5. Hi Amelia!

    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us! India comes alive in your blog. What a wonderful experience! Please enjoy and stay safe.

    Terri @ Surrey Hospice