10D9N India Day 1 : AirasiaX, New Delhi Airport, New Hindustan DX, Malhotra Restaurant, AC2 Train

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06.35 am – Woke up, had breakfast from 7-Eleven, took a dump, showered and packed up.

My favourite bottled soy bean milk.

Checked out the check in information to make sure that our flight is departing as scheduled.

While queuing, I just couldn’t help but notice that we were the only Chinese looking Malaysians.

About 5 minutes later, we got our boarding passes.

09.00 am – As we already had our breakfast back at the hotel, we went directly towards our departure gate to wait for boarding.

09.28 am – Walked to our plane. Excited as ever!

Still, I cannot understand AirAsiaX’s decision to eventually cancel it’s KUL-DEL route in April 2012. The flight was almost full! Yes, the airport tax increase means extra burden for passengers but the thing is it applies to all other airlines as well. AirAsia will still be much cheaper compared to full service airlines.

Enjoyed the first flight hour reading Travel 3Sixty.

Filled in the India Arrival Card for foreigners.

Sleeping like a baby in its mother’s womb.

Had Airasia’s chicken butter rice for brunch. Delicious!

Not long after, Vivian had her chicken briyani. Delicious!

Turned the clock back 2½ hours as India was +5½ GMT while Malaysia was +8 GMT.

*All times after this is in IST.

We knew we were in Delhi when we saw the fog that Delhi’s winter is famous for.

01.12 pm – Arrived at New Delhi, India and was surprised to find Indira Gandhi International Airport to be so clean and modern.

The giant symbolic hand gestures at immigration called mudras, commonly found in Buddhism, Hinduism and yoga greeting arriving passengers. And though almost all counters were open, the crowd lining up was HUGE. My guess is several planes arrived at almost the same time.

01.32 pm – Collected our luggage from the belt.

The terminal was so modern and clean. What a sparkling first impression it gave us!

01.44 pm – Made our way towards the Airport Metro Express.

Bought ourselves a one way ticket from the airport to New Delhi Railway Station for INR 80 which I think is pretty cheap compared to Malaysia’s KLIA Express for MYR 35.

Everything to this point still looked bright, clean and modern.

02.09 pm – Inside the coach that looks pretty much like KLIA Express’s.

The scenery along the 20 minute journey consisted mostly of roads.

02.34 pm – Exiting the New Delhi Railway Airport Express station.

At the entrance of New Delhi Railway Station.

Ah, this was the point where our bubble burst. India smelled like what India was supposed to smell like. Porters coming up to you asking to carry your bags for a fee. Pair of eyes everywhere staring at you. Hordes of people everywhere.

02.59 pm – Left New Delhi Railway in search of Paharganj where our temporary hotel was supposed to be at. Lost our way for about 10 minutes while being constantly followed by tuk tuk drivers persuading us to take a ride with them.

It wasn’t long before we found the backpacker haven of Paharganj.

03.26 pm – There were so many tiny, narrow lanes all over Paharganj that it was so difficult for us to find New King DX Hotel. When I arrived, the entrance to the hotel gave Vivian and I such an uneasy feeling. I booked a room at New King because it had one of the cheapest double rooms in Delhi and I only needed to use it for a nap and a shower.

When we arrived we were told that there were renovations going on in the dorm room so our double bed was given to others. We were upgraded to another hotel within the vicinity under the same ownership.

03.48 pm – New Hindustan DX.

The reception area.

The business card to get us back to the hotel in case we needed to use a taxi.

Our keys.

Room 203.

Our round bed.

The dingy shower area.

04.38 pm – Found Malhotra Restaurant from the excellent online Indian restaurant directory called Zomato.

Ordered vegetables, chicken, eggs and naan.

Excellent roasted cauliflower.

Delicious chicken curry.

Fragrant garlic naan.

Our first meal tasted real good.

Got myself a Vodafone prepaid sim. I was actually curious as to what food/drink people were queuing for outside of Bhalla Cafe but didn’t pursue it any further as I wanted to stick to the golden rule for avoiding diarrhea in India. No street food no matter what.

06.03 pm – Arrived back to our hotel for a few hours worth of rest.

08.16 pm – After a warm shower, we packed up and got ready to leave for Jodhpur.

08.32 pm – Found ourselves a tuktuk to bring us to the train station.

09.06 pm – Sarai Rohilla Railway Station, one of 6 railway stations in Delhi, where our train was scheduled to depart.

Found ourselves in an eating place located along the narrow lanes opposite the train station.

As we did months of homework before coming to India, ordering in a non-English speaking environment was much easier.

Jeera rice, an Indian dish consisting of rice and cumin seeds.

The vegetarian rice was actually tastier and more nutritious.

09.55 pm – Locating our coach and berth took quite an effort. We could see other confused foreigners trying to find theirs as well. Lol.

Finally, about 10 minutes later, we were aboard our coach.

Vivian took the upper bunk while I took the lower bunk. I slept for a whole 8 hours out of the 10 hours we were on the tracks. I think the continuous motion of the train coupled with the white noise of the wheels made sleeping a little more comfortable although every time I took an overnight train, there were loud snorers around.

Honestly, I found the toilets in class AC2 of Rajasthan S Krant, our train name, to be really clean! It looked cramp but smelled alright.

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