December 5th 2010
Finally, after almost 12 months of searching airline websites, Tripadvisor, IndiaMike and other forums, trips to the frustrating Indian visa office and Tourist Board, and just the counting of days and hours, designing itineraries, navigating Indian rail timetables and Cleartrip, working and organizing house renovations and weekend soccer, we’re finally on our way to India and away from the torpid brain numbing boredom of Australia. Flew out in the afternoon, which is good as it isn’t an early flight! The downside is that to get toIndiacheaply we have to go to 3 airports in as many days.
First leg is Sydney to Darwin, nothing remarkable apart from the new trend of “light” flying, where everyone tries to get on first to get their oversized “cabin” luggage into the lockers first. This is the supposed benefit of the airlines discouraging checked in luggage by charging a lot for the privilege. Got to Darwin more or less on time, and by the time we’d claimed back our GST and filled out our departure cards (isn’t time they worked out how to do this online??) it was time to board for Singapore. Another non-event comfortable flight with Jetstar got us toSingaporewhere we remained in the transit lounge and stayed at the transit hotel there. Though I did discover a duty free store handing out free cocktails.. The transit hotel was very comfortable and not bad value but would have just as happily wandered the airport with its free entertainment and cocktails. Did worry a bit about where our luggage ended up as to stay in transit you don’t go through immigration and leave it to the Changi airport luggage people to collect your bags and take it to Lost Property. Not that I should worry, those things don’t happen inSingapore. After about 5 hours of sleep had breakfast in an Indian place in the T2 food hall, went through immigration, collected bag and checked in for Kl with jetstar where we will get our flight toIndia. Had several hours to kill so thought we’d try a different part of Kl to visit. Unfortunately first we had to pay a lot to leave our bags at LCCT and then even more with the ripoff taxi monopoly that operates out of LCCT, with it costing almost $30 each way just to get to Alamanda shopping mall at Putrajaya. Shops weren’t much there but did have a good food hall where I had a nice nasi kandar and the obligatory ABC (ice kacang). Back to LCCT for our flight to INDIA!
Landed at the brand new Indira Gandhi airport terminal 3 with the amazing giant hands above the immigration points. Stuffed around for half An hour getting rupees and a local sim card. Got an Airtel sim, cost $30 US including 10 dollars credit, which lasted us ages. But found later that if you go to an Airtel office in town a sim is like 30 rupees! Also make sure it isn’t aNew Delhi phone number like ours was. Met by young guy from Hotel Woodcastle , walked over to the gigantic parking station and then had the usual Delhi nightmare drive to our hotel in Karol Bagh. Hotel was in a quiet street and looked cute. We were met by a reception party of the owner and his friendly posse and after checking out our very cute and clean rooms headed off to find a restaurant. Headed off for main street but ended up on Saraswati Marg and the Spicy by Nature restaurant, which seemed a popular night out drinking type place to end up for dinner. Had a great Muglai pigout for only 900 rupees.