Monday 18th Oct
I havent introduced you to the rest of the Explore ! Team....Rafeeq you all know as head Tour leader .. we also have Irshad the Driver of our much needed bus, Suman who is our conductor his job is to take care of all the behind the scenes things like keeping us in fresh cold water etc. Also each town we arrive in we have a Guide and since yesterday we have with us for our time in Delhi Prashanto who is genning us all up on the sights and sounds of both Old and New Delhi. Hes been a really fantastic guide and genuinely a lovely guy.
So today is the tour of old Delhi, in order to get there we have today used the Delhi Metro...oh what a challenge, if you think that the London Underground is busy then x 10 for Delhi..the best thing about the Metro here is the lady only carriages, so picture the scene. The carriages are filled with these beautiful elegant Sari clad Indian Ladies enter 9 rather bewildered Brits with their backpacks on the front in case of pickpockets...the carriages are already absolutely crammed in order to board the train and not get seperated from the rest of the group ie the men we have to literally launch ourselves into the throng of rather Bemused Ladies !!! Then into that mix a couple of Indian men seeing that the Lady only carriages are no where near as full as the male carriages follow suit much to the distaste of one particular Indian Lady who very gently and with a wobble of the head (indian style) advised that they were not welcome !
2 stops down and we arrive in the indescribable old Delhi... Now I cannot for the life of me begin to even put this into words that will give you you even one tenth of what is really like there. Imagine a bustling open air Souk type environment over head are the electric cables that literally in places make the Sky go black with their density and thickness Lord alone knows what happens in the Monsoon....its a miracle that no one gets electrocuted....So in order to have the true experience we all jump on the back of Pedal Rickshaws with drivers and head off into the throng of alley-ways and mayhem. I have managed to video record the whole experience which I will show you on return ..you have to remember that we are not alone in these alley ways there are also motor cycles, people rickshaws going the opposite direction & lots of shops and traders ...etc and at points its only wide enough for 1 rickshaw..its an experience of a life time ..the smells,colours and the noise its all going on ! We finally emerge from the Alleys and end up at the Great Mosque which will accommodate 20,000 worshippers (in other word its HUGE) where we ladies have to donn what can only be described as Hospital Gowns..glamorous moment !! From The great Mosque we then need to embark on a bit of a road trip to take us to Agra where tomorrow we get to the Taj Mahal.
The Road between Delhi and Agra is 240km but Indian roads and chaotic traffic this will take us approx 5hrs, the plan is to stop midway for food and comfort break to get us to Agra for no later than 18.30ish 19.00 top line. Where we can check in to a nice Hotel get a good meal, and an early night as we need to up at 0500 for the Taj tomorrow Sunrise .
Best Laid plans .....
Ok so we get Half way no problem other than we are held up a little as the Delhi Traffic is horrendous coming through the South, we make the rest stop get drinks and food and a chance to strech our legs, the road speed here is no more than 50 and also the infrastructure isnt marvellous so all in all its ok . At around 16.15, we are driving through the bustling if not slightly industrial town of Kosi ..where all of a sudden our precious bus coughs slightly billows out a whole heap of smoke and grinds to a halt. Now the tourist buses here especially the 20 seater type like ours see the driver and front passenger in only what can be described as a seperate compartment ..there is a panel of glass so you can see through the windscreen and then a glass door behind the front seat , we all sat and watched speechless as this compartment filled with smoke as our bus decided that Agra wasnt on its agenda.
18 passengers going to Agra whilst our bus went to pieces.