Monday, September 25, 2006

Incredible India

Before I arrived in India, I thought I knew what to expect. People told me...many people told me...that it is chaotic and confusing and amazing all at the same time. I thought I understood - but I didn't. Now I understand exactly what they meant...and I find myself struggling to come up with the right words to describe exactly what I am feeling and experiencing.
Perhaps the right word is awe, or maybe it is wonder or maybe it is just shock.
Whatever the word it is very good but also very overwhelming.
I arrived last night from Bangkok and made my way to the Main Bazaar. Although I had been a bit worried since my flight arrived late at night and I have heard that Delhi airport is notoriously 'difficult' - especially for solo woman travelers - at night. But my fears were laid to rest with the helpfulness of a kind man I met on my flight into Delhi. He helped me book a prepaid taxi and assured me of the system's funny business and no bamboozling (I've been waiting to use that word).
The first thought I had when I exited the airport was - Wow!! I have never seen so many people! It was incredible and I have to admit a little daunting at first.
I quickly found my cab and we were off !!
In the first 24 hours the one constant here in Delhi seems to be that everything (well almost everything) is old. It is amazing! The cars, the buildings, the computers...old and dirty!
I can't even begin to describe you what my room looks like - but I promise there will be photos soon.
Today I woke up early and made my way to a rooftop restaurant for some delicious breakfast, then off to New Delhi train station to book some train tickets.
I was given some good advice from a German couple I met while on Ko Chang - they said "Book your tickets in Delhi and try to book as far in advance as you can".
The Delhi train station (as do many of the large stations in India) has a special section for foreigners to book train tickets. It is very easy and the people that work there helped me book out the trains for the next month of my trip. I plan to travel to Amritsar on September 27th, then I will take a bus to Dharmsala for my Vipassana course, then I will travel on October 16t to Varanassi, October 21st to Calcutta and then October 24th to Chennai in the south.
After the chaos of the train station I decided to catch an auto rickshaw to Jamu Masjid, a Muslim Mosque in Old Delhi. It was beautiful and had excellent views of the old city.
In order to get back to the Main Bazaar I decided to take a bike rickshaw...which was definitely an experience I will never forget, although will likely repeat. The guy pulled me through crazy traffic, weaving in and out as if it was nothing. Truly amazing!
I have come down with a cold my last few hours in Bangkok and wasn't feeling so great after my morning's adventure - so I took some much needed medicine (even better then Korean standards...and by 'better' I mean 'stronger' ) and then a very long nap for the entire afternoon.
I am feeling better tonight and plan to grab something to eat at a local cafe and then walk around the Bazaar for a few hours before bed. Tomorrow morning I am going to get up to be at the Red Fort for sunrise ...Then who knows....
I will see where the streets (and the rickshaw drivers) take me.
The one thing that I do know, is that I have given up all my expectations and perceived ideas of India. It is truly nothing I ever imagined and I can't wait to see what it has in store for me!!
I will blog again soon

On an aside: I didn't get my camera seems that I would have to leave my camera in Delhi for a few weeks - and I can't get back to pick it up until the end of November. So I am going to wait until I get to Canada (or back to Korea) to get it fixed.


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