Follow in the footsteps of our 'Adventure Apprentice' Christine Griffiths. Earlier this year we ran a competition among travel agents for one lucky agent to win the chance of leading their very own Explore group on our Moghul Highlights tour. After enduring a gruelling showdown in the Explore boardroom against Maxine,(watch the video) followed by trips to the Explore office for full briefings and instruction, Christine has now flown out to Delhi to lead an unsuspecting group! She will be sending daily blogs of her time there. Here are her first 4. Blog 1 Hello Compatriots !! Well here we are after months of careful planning and deliberation, Explores 1st Adventure Apprentice is on her way to India !! After what has been a horrendous Journey around the M25 on a Friday night, I am finally checked in and ready to go. Now I need to introduce my travelling companion who arrived in a box to me at work yesterday .... who could that be... other than Huxley Hippo..(explore Mascot)who will be just as prolific on this journey of Discovery and adventure as I. Huxley will be appearing in all sorts of places and I am going to hand over some of the resposibilities to him also ...No not really hes a stuffed toy but he definately will get into some mischief.
Ok not much more to say at this juncture other than I am now quietly nervous but am up for the challenge, if not only to prove that I am capable of being the 1st Adventure Apprentice and that they chose the right candidate when I was HIRED !!!! Speak to you all soon, from the Exoticness of Delhi Love to you all Christine Hello to you all,
Blog 2 Lots seem to have happened since yesterday ...... let me start by telling you that we nearly had an incident in the Departure Lounge, Huxley was almost Hippo Snatched !!!!! We had decided to do a short departure lounge photo shoot ... with huxley looking cool when a little girl decided that actually Huxly was to cool and picked him up and ran off with him .... dont worry the ransom was minimal and was soon negotiated with a handful of Gummy bears and half a milky way !!!!! Huxley is fine and currently recovering from his Trauma in a darkend Hotel room .. Ok so flight 9w 121 landed this morning at 0920 ..let me say Jett Airways what an excellent service we were airbourne for only 7.5hrs in total with a seat pitch that would have seen the cast of Strictly doing a tango behind it ...top food and excellent service . It's been 7 yrs since my last visit to Delhi, and how its changed !! the Airport with its new T3 which opened in July is huge and airy and very welcoming, but once you walk through those doors you cant forget that your just adding to the 20 million who already live here . Its good to know that the chaotic and vibrant nature of this extrodinary city still lives on . It just magical to be back here in India, my passion for this extrodinary country knows no bounds and it going to be an incredibl experience to have 16 others to enjoy this opportunity . After a quick rest stop, Raj who met me form the airport took me to the Groundagents for a meeting with my fellow guide for the tour . Let me introduce you to Rafeeq. Rafeeq and I have cogitated our plans(through much hilarity ) for the next 10 days and I now get the full drift of what is being expected !!! Ok now I get it ..if anyone here thinks im on the back seat of a bus with my feet up on some kind of jolly then really ...think again !! We have all eaten the most delightful meal crossed legged on the floor of the office which I am told happens everyday ... singularly the most amazing Indian food I have ever eaten and now feel like part of the family .. after which Rafeeq and I went in search for a restaurant for the group who arrive tomorrow at around 0930 - with me their first introduction to the Tour ...yes reality has just sunk in and its all going to kick off with the arrival of 16 unsuspecting passengers !! Anyhow I must go I need to check on Huxley to see how he's coping ...
Love to you all Christine Hello Everyone
Blog 3 So last night... after sending the last missive, I thought that perhaps an early night would be the best option seeing as though it was all going to kick off in the morning. I wanted to be prepared and ready for action ..so I packed my Explore ! rucksack, procured my Explore T shirt from my case then I unpacked the rucksack and then repacked it ...this went on for 20 or so minutes !! I would prefer to believe this wasnt nerves ..this was me ensuring that I had all the correct documentation and necessary bits ! Ok my Room here at the rather nice Hans Plaza Hotel is on the 20th Floor, it wasnt until last night when i got back to my room that I noticed the view I have from the Window is breath taking. I have the whole Delhi Skyline,India Gate illuminated just for me or so it seems Stunning indeed. Delhi is very British in its design and infrastructure, wide boulevards with 3/4 lanes of grid designed roads. Even the parliament buildings although Indian in Architecture were indeed built by the British,It looks very neat and orderly Therefore the whole inner working of New Delhi around the Connaught Place area where we are staying feel strangely familiar. That is all except the heat (around 35c) and the madness of the Indian traffic donkeys the infamous Tuk-Tuks and the yellow and black cabs, the continuous honking of the car Horn, not to mention the rikshaw carts with "only just " on wheels- Motor bikes with a whole family on the back ...youve got to love it.
Speak soon Christine
Sunday 17th October Hello All I'm oficially A Chachi. Hindi for tour Guide . I came down for breakfast this morning donning my Explore Tshirt and kit ...the waiters in the Breakfast room wouldnt let me do or get anything I had it all brought to my table ..no amount of saying different got a result so in the end i just accepted and enjoyed their attention. So the group are due to arrive today at around 0945 landing time . Rafeeq and I met in the hotel lobby at 0900 jumped in a metered cab (the famous black and yellow ones) and headed off to the airport where we met with Raj who has the airport permit and the bus. Airports are fascinating places arent they ? An Emirates flight had arrived bringing Indian workers back from the Gulf whilst we waited for the Jett Air to come in , now if you have ever come through customs or checked in behind Indian travellers you will have noticed that they dont travel with Suitcases, they travel with everything wrapped in either quilts, bed sheets or even towels in all the colours and then Meticulously tied in a complex rope knotting usually in a flourescent nylon . If they do have suit cases then these too are wrapped and tied in the same manner. I asked Rafeeq why dont Indian Travellers carry their Luggage in the usual fashion .....his reply was simple ....Christine didnt you know .....Indians Love Bundles !! We then laughed solidy for around an hour watching these amazing parcels pushed around on airport trollies by their owners. in all the colours and sizes ..the best being leopard print !
The group finally made it through the complex workings of the Indian Customs at around 11am with everyone together we joined the bus and headed back into Delhi to check in, we also had 2 people on land only arrangement meeting us back at the Hotel . Pleased to inform you that my first taste of Airport transfer went well as did the Group Hotel check in ...phew ! I am the official checker inner ive got all the Vouchers in my command ..Rafeeq oversaw it for the first time just to make sure it was ok and gave his seal of approval ! We gave the group 40mins to refresh quick Lunch if desired then arranged for them to meet us back in the lobby ready for the full day tour takinig in the Q'tab Minar, Humyans Tomb and then finally the Parliment Buildings and India Gate. The Indian traffic gave the group the most amusement today ..much hilarity .. I have to say it went well, the group are delightful if not a bit jaded by the end of the tour which you can understand, and they seem to have accepted me too and think that the competition etc was a really good idea. Thats a huge relief. Even after day 1 its really tiring, constantly watching and checking that the group are where they should be and back in one piece at all times, Ive got to remember that I am not one of them I am part of their structure .
So after what seemed like a really long day we all headed out in the evening to the Restaurant that Rafeeq and I had chosen the day before. The food was excellent and everyone had the best Curry ever, a couple of beers later and we were all ready to head back to the Hotel for some well earned rest. I have to say that after the initial nerves have now subsided and I am in a Zone ... afer all I am for the next 9 Days I am a Chachi.....