After a day tour of Delhi we found ourselves in Ashok Travels & Tours, recommended by the Lonely Planet, being offered a two week tour of Rajasthan. We said no and wanted to leave to get something to eat, having not eaten all day because the driver had not stopped for lunch. After an hour of being talked at we gave in. I felt a lot of pressure from the agent to do so and was very unhappy.
After a few days we began to realise that the agent was not fulfilling our signed agreement. He did not refund the train we had already booked as he agreed. He did not cancel the hotel bookings we had made ourselves, as he had said we would, resulting in demands of even more money from one hotel. When I spoke to him he shouted down the phone at me and said we must pay, then he told my boyfriend that he would in fact pay, then told the hotel that he would not. We did not have time to spend on our own in most of the towns, as promised, because the driver deemed it unsafe to wander around without him. The last hotel we stayed in was one of our choice. We paid Ashok £75 for these 3 nights (over double what we would have paid directly) only to find that we then had to pay the hotel too! Our driver left before the end of our tour for personal reasons, but there was no refund. At the end of the tour for our onward journey Ashok bought waiting list tickets for us, not the reserved AC2 as agreed. Sleeper Class was not what we expected and as a woman I did not feel comfortable boarding a carriage at 1 in the morning with 70 other people on it (the majority being men).
Whenever we tried to resolve the above issues, either Ashok's phone was off or he said he would call back when he was less busy but never did.
All in all I would strongly recommend that people avoid this travel agents unless they want to pay a hugely inflated rate for a driver, car and average hotels accompanied by a lot of hassle, upset and terrible customer service.
- Budget Travel
A horrible midnight in new Delhi
It was March 2005 which I visited Delhi. My friend and I took a local tour to visit Agra. It was a bus with about 45 Indian people. It was actually a low price one day religious tour.
We planed to leave Delhi at 8 morning and back to Delhi by 8-9 evening.
We wanted our driver to pick us up at the same time, and if we were a bit late, then will reach home by a public vehicle.
Unfortunately the trip get finished at 2 morning, the driver dropped us up in front of the agnate which was already closed. He denied helping us to go home in such bad time.
We didn’t have cell phone and there was not any public phone around.
Two young girls in the middle of the city in the midnight, and there was nobody to help us.
By chance we figure there was a taxi station which we accidentally find. There was also too dark and seemed unsafe, but finally we trusted and saved ourselves.
What I learned from this experience were:
1- don’t count on Indian local tours’ schedules;
2- try to have a cell phone;
3- make sure about the vehicle in case you ask the local drivers instead your own driver;
4- Control yourself to find a good solution.
- Women's Travel
- Road Trip
- Work Abroad
Beware if you are women traveling alone
I never know that before after i met my friend and he's indian(local people).He's told me about female traveler got raped here at night.After the sunset do not go anywhere by TAXI or whatever because it's very dangerous for women.Because if they saw you are new to here,you are tourist then they will think to do bad thing to you.
I really scared because i hired a taxi even from taxi stand at night to back my friend's home it's cost me 600 Rupees.Luckier i went to taxi stand with local indian friend so it's more safer than you go by yourself.
DENSE FOG DONT LOSE YOUR WAY
on some days beginning november to feb a dense fog envelopes northern india crippling visibility disrupting flight and train schedules and hampering vehicular movement on highways.advise is to stay indoors and enjoy cup after cup of warm tea/coffee and hope that the next day will bring sunshine
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Beware of well dressed families
My father, brother & I just stepped out of a Souvenir shop (where a lot of tourists obviously congregate) & we were at a street corner about to go to our next destination when this well-dressed couple with a child asked us for directions. They didnt dress like locals- the man was in a suit & the lady had lots of gold jewelry.
They asked where the American Express bldg was & unfortunately my father got excited since he knew where it was. My dad gave directions & then the man switched topics. He asked where we were from & if he could see our coins since he was a coin collector.
Then my dad really got excited since he himself was a coin collector. By some weird circumstance, my dad & brother started showing him dollars instead of pesos & I remember seeing their wallets seem to overflow with dollars (coming out). I thought to myself how they could be so brave to do this.
The man looked at me & said, "You, you have pesos?". I just shrugged because I didn't want to get my money out of my belt bag (I guess I was naturally suspicious). At the same time all of this was going on, a beggar came from out of nowhere & a peddler with a monkey was also at the other side of us, asking for attention. In retrospect I guess they were all in on it.
Finally my dad & the man were finished and they exchanged calling cards like old buddies. My dad happily waved back as the family were boarding a taxi, "Be careful there are a lot of swindlers here!".
When the taxi sped off, I guess the hypnotic spell wore off and my dad's face fell. We went to a nearby restaurant and found out the ghastly amount that was stole from us! I hope this doesn't happen again to other unsuspecting victims. We reported it to the local police station and they were not able to help in any way.
Another tip would be to dress inconspicuously - not like my dad with a huge camera hanging from his neck. Dress raggedly like the backpackers we saw - they weren't hounded by sellers and cabdrivers (unlike my dad).
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Let's rip off the tourists...
Well, you are in India, so here's the rule of thumb:
The price someone gives you at a market, taxi or other.... take off 60% and make this your entry offer...
Then settle around the %50 of the original price... even that is generally more than enough.
I learnt a phrase (thanks to a friend of mine)... "Do I have stupid tourist tatooed on my forehead?"... THAT did help and cause a lot of laughs.... :)
Mind I forgot the phrase as soon as I left India... so you'd need to look that one up yourself.
But BE warned they will try ANYTHING to sell you more then you ever wanted to a price that is extortionate.
Haggle, haggle, haggle!!!! :) and smile
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
the water & e-coli issue
In my experience .... do NOT:
- no drinking the tab water or rinsing out mouth with it
- no brushing teeth with tab water
- NO ice cubes
- no tampered or unsealed water bottles
- no ice cream
... I was in Asia almost a month and was the only one who had NO digestive problems... all westerners I met during my time there had dhiarria at one point because they got sloppy.
I handed out ALL my rehydration salts to other travellers....!! Stock up on these too.
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
Monkeys are considered sacred in India and it is illegal to kil them. They grew in numbers and began to attack people with bags of food. They even sneaked into houses to find food and destroyed the furniture. You have to be very careful if you spot one nearby. Try to avoid going too close to them.
Downtown Delhi - drunk&zonked out rickshaw drivers
It is rather a warning since we did not get into any trouble using their services but be prepared that after sunset many bicycle rickshaw drivers (not the autorickshaw wallahs) will be drunk and/or zonked out because of smoking too much charas. This way in the traffic congested streets of New Delhi they not only endanger themselves but also you. Besides, losing their inhibitions they will try to grossly overcharge you or ask you to buy them some booze. Don't do it and don't give them more than 40.- Rs for a 2km trip even if they really insist, they won't go to the police or beat you and this is a fair price for them. Give them the Rs. 40.- and walk away.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
While in Delhi we decided to travel around the area to see the sights - there are a lot of beautiful temples and building around. The easiest way round is to hire a taxi driver. You can hire them pretty much for as long as you like. They drive you to different areas and they are really cheap. My experience however, was changed after travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The roads in the area are not fantastic and can hardly be called roads. It is "some concrete" on a bit of land that is classed as a road. There is only enough room for one vehicle at a time (if that) and there are a lot of shanti towns on the sides of the road.
While driving down one of these "so called roads" a child ran out in front of our taxi and the driver knocked him over. Obviously we panicked. The driver got out and was trying to placate the people who had very quickly surrounded the car and were shouting (we later found out that they were shouting kill the driver - but glad I couldn't speak Hindi). Everyone was trying to open the car doors – which I had locked. Not sure what the would have done had they have been able to get in. The child was thrown into the back of the taxi with me and then we had to find a hospital. After driving round we managed to find a hospital sign – good job, as the hospital was a house with some rooms and a couple of beds in it. Thankfully the kid survived – he had a bump to the head but apart from that was fine. In order for us all to be let go, the child’s father wanted money. The driver obviously had no money and we had to pool our resources in order to be let go. Now call me cynical but how much of this was an accident and how much was done on purpose – guess with these things you will never know – just be careful with people running out in front of you. If anything does happen – throw money in the air and run – I was later told this was the best thing to do.
I have to say that for a large capital city, Delhi has to be one of the safest places I've ever visited. There's no malice directed at you and I never once felt threatened. In fact, its just the opposite. You start taking photo's with your digital camera and people will come up behind you and look over your shoulder to see the image on the display! In other places, such as at the Qutb Minar, a group of middle aged guys came up to me and chatted and shook my hand as if they've never seen a foreigner before. I ended up having my photo taken with them and I felt like a famous Bollywood film star! This happened to me all over India. People are inquisitive about you and just want to chat. Let them and you'll feel right at ease.
Like everywhere in India, you have to watch where you're walking in Delhi, especially in Old Delhi. Pavements, (when they exist), are particularly dodgy and if you're tall, like me, then you also have to watch your head on things. So you end up walking along looking at about three things at once. Also, as there's a lot of cows and other animals roaming around, another thing to watch out for is their, erm, droppings. Also, be careful when crossing roads and make sure you look both ways about three times as traffic goes in all directions. Sight-seeing in or on old buildings is another thing you have to watch out for as there basically are no signs and barriers to warn/protect you from unsafe areas. One example was whilst I was visiting the Firoz Shah Kotla (just south of Raj Ghat). There's an iron pillar stuck in the top of a building and you're able to take stairs up to the roof and walk on the roof where there is nothing stopping you from falling off the edge. India, is a health and satefy officiers nightmare!
When I first arrived in India, Delhi was my first port of call. For the first few days, I was paranoid at everything I was eating and drinking and wandering when or if I was going to get ill within the first week of arriving. You hear horror stories of people getting ill with all matter of things and even some of the people I spoke to told me their stories. I was lucky (or maybe I was cautious), and was only ill once during my 4 month trip around India and that happened some 6 weeks into it. You will probably be just like me, paranoid that is, but as long as you avoid places that are blairingly dirty and try and avoid street food, you should be OK. If you do get unwell then there are plenty of small chemists in Pahar Ganj (the backpacker centre) where you can obtain all matter of pills and potions.
When I first arrived in Delhi in early November, it was hazy with a kind of smokey, misty, polluted atmosphere. It was fine and dry, mind, but as you can see by the photo's of Connaught Place, when I arrived back in March everything was much clearer. Delhi also suffers from bad fog during December and January. In fact when I flew back to delhi after travelling to Calcutta and Orissa, my flight was delayed because of it.
As with the whole of India, only drink bottled water and use it when you're cleaning your teeth. I kept a bottle with a bit of water in it beside the sink so as to remind myself to use it. Also, avoid ice and salads as they will probably have been washed in dodgy water. Its all common sense really but if you stick to it, you limit the chances of getting ill. A litre of water only costs from between Rs10 and Rs15 so its cheap and available everywhere.
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