Getting to Delhi marks the end of part one of the round-the-world odyssey. I have to head back to the UK in January or February for a couple of things, not least the run up to best man duties at my friends' Pete & Karen's wedding. Plus, heading up to Nepal and Tibet in January would have been a bit dull as it would have been cold and I wouldn't have been able to do a lot of the stuff I would have liked to do. My India visa expires on the 22nd January so I have to be out of here by then. So I've taken the executive decision to stop the official overlanding as of Delhi and restart from that point as and when I can get my ass back out here.
Delhi was hectic. The trip down on the bus was slow, taking 10 hours when it should have been 5. What seemed to delay us heavily was the sheer number of weddings going on. November and December is really the season for it over here. When the bus did finally arrive in Delhi at 11.30pm the driver refused to go to the interstate bus terminal, which is fairly central. That meant that I was stranded somewhere in the Delhi suburbs with no obvious means of onward transportation. That was until it turned out that one of the people who'd been on the bus was a rickshaw driver whose rickshaw just happened to be parked across the road. This was either a startling piece of good luck, or they saw me coming. I'm not quite sure which. Either way I managed to make it to a rather nice hotel and crashed out there for a couple of days.
Delhi was the place where I hit the wall in travelling terms. Everyone said it would happen eventually, although I didn't really believe them. I just ran out of energy and basically spent a week doing very little. It's not the greatest of places to develop that kind of fatigue either as it's pretty draining. Paharganj, where all the travellers stay, is particularly hard work. Everyone, seemingly, is solely interested in parting you from your money and they will find elaborate ways to do so. In particular they focus on the railway station where people don't know what they're doing. One Aussie woman I met was practically in tears because the touts around the station had been so aggressive in stopping her getting to the ticket office there and steering her towards one of their overpriced ticket agencies. One tout even had a uniform and ID card. There were numerous other examples and it happened so often that I just ended up ignoring everyone who spoke to me and barely breaking stride. It seemed to be the only way but it did mean that I was more rude to more people in Delhi than I've probably ever been in my life until now. For instance, where previously I'd have indulged in some banter about the stuff people wanted to sell me or whether the rickshaw driver would take me to some shop where he'd get some commission in Delhi I just said "no". It's a bit sad that I've been put on the defensive so much here. It's just possible that some people just want to chat, as had been the case in Iran and Pakistan, but they received the same treatment.
Anyway, it's not all negative. After crashing in Delhi I made it down to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It was spectacular but very busy. I also went to see the Agra Fort, which is very well preserved and much more impressive than the Red Fort in Delhi (but not a patch on Lahore). I stayed in a nice place called The Nirvana Hostel. Dorm rooms and communal areas for the first time for ages. Then it was back to Delhi, for a few more days, including visiting the museum (which is v good indeed) and meeting up with Jyotin, an ex-colleague of mine who's back in Delhi for the hols.
I'm now down in Goa for Xmas and New Year, currently sharing a villa with Rick and Tugca and expecting to see a few other travellers who I've met over the last few months. Time for a bit of well-deserved R&R. See you again in a few months!