Arriving in New Delhi

When I told friends that I was heading to New Delhi, most of them were hardly envious. Some who have been there told me there are cows everywhere and I will be greeted by the scent of their dung the moment I walk out of the airport. Not to mention the unrelenting heat at 40 degrees Celsius (and above) that would intensify discomfort of being in a country so culturally different from Singapore.

One exclaimed, “Imagine Mustafa, but 100 times worse!”

It is a country where poverty is undisputedly blatant and I have been warned not to give to beggars, who will tug and pull and follow me till their legs couldn’t take them.

I was mentally prepared for the worst conditions, yet none of us on this trip were prepared with a visa to enter the country. See website for more information about Singaporeans applying for visa to India.

When we arrived in India, we were stuck at the customs for more than an hour. It wasn’t easy finding someone who could guide us to right counter to settle the problem and when we finally did, the paperwork took a long time.

My advice for those of you traveling to India next time:

1. Apply for a Visa in Singapore first. If you, in any case, don’t have it when you arrive in New Delhi, look for the Visa-on-Arrival counter.

2. Make sure you have a copy of your e-Ticket printed out with your arrival and departure flight information printed clearly. Keep it with you until you leave India because the levels of security you have to go through is unthinkable and every security personnel need to look at papers.

3. Carry an extra passport photo along if you have spare. You need not have them taken specially if you do not have. This is just in case they have no photocopy machine to print your passport.

Upon clearing security, we met up with our driver.

Our driver didn’t know much English and also had to stop many times to ask for directions to our hotel.

This kid was the first beggar to come up to us the moment we stepped out of the airport. He was really tiny and it really broke my heart but I was also afraid I would get mobbed if I stopped, so we just kept walking.

I didn’t see any cows, nor smell anything foul in the air. There were a lot of locals hanging around and we got a lot of stares probably because we look different.

Our driver tried to squeeze our luggage in the back of the car.

But this is how the locals do it!

We took a night flight (5 and a half hours from Singapore to Delhi) and I was quite zoned out by the time I got through the “trauma” of almost becoming a rejected tourist of New Delhi.

It wasn’t very hot that morning and the roads were quite clear.

Thankfully we arrived at a really clean and comfortable hotel. Will be putting up a full review on Tripadvisor soon.

Next up, I will be writing about the streets of Delhi.

28 responses to “Arriving in New Delhi

  1. Visa is one of the most impt thing u need when u travel to India and when visiting certain restricted zones u will need a special permit for that. Ur travel agent should hv advised u prior to ur departure as this would hv saved u a lot of hassle at the airport. Lucky I hv an aunty who is a travel agent who gives me all the necessary advices prior to any of my trips when she does my flight bookings. On top of that I sometimes get additional weight allowance.. Lol

  2. Joanne,

    you are so cute! Your acting is brilliant. You’re the BEST. How can I know you better? Its good to have you as a friend.

    Happy Holidays in New Delhi. Take care.

  3. Daring to travel to a country of different culture and stories of how muggers are everywhere, is not my way of traveling.
    U r brave to do it.:)

  4. Hi Miss Peh,

    I have encountered a similar incident in Vietnam. While i was having dinner with a friend in an open restaurant there, a little girl approached us hoping to sell her roses. I didn’t buy from her then, neither could i forget her face ever since. Henceforth, i make an effort, if i do go to such backward places, to bring some affordable items like oreo biscuits, chewing gums or chocolates etc to distribute to anyone who approaches me for alms. A little kindness is always good, don’t you think so? Cheers and have fun.

  5. Look like a very adventurous trip. Have fun =)

  6. Hi joanne,
    happened to chance across this blog in my research on my trek trip to Ladakh (north india -> nicknamed ‘heaven on earth’ you should google that out)
    India (and dehli) is AMAZING, welcome to the airport delays, street kids begging, cow dung and notorious autos , but look beyond this and you will find the exotic culture, beautiful nature, warm hearted people… like i’ve seen. Here are some pics i shot with my point and shoot. Get a sari or punjab suit to wear to the Taj, i’m sure you would be another ‘tourist attraction too!”
    God bless you that you don’t get ‘dehli belly’ lol..
    And hope you can showcase the country in its best light! i love india and am definitely going back for more adventures!

    • Hi Ezen,

      I saw your photos, that chili picture is so cool!! The food looks different from what I ate though…Nasi Lemak?! And Tom Yum Soup? Looks like it to me!
      There are definitely places in India I’d like to go back to visit, just really didn’t have the time this trip to explore the fun side. It was a serious trip, but at this point in time, I can’t reveal too much yet, so I try to show the more general pictures. Oh it’s just the first entry…you don’t carry the same thoughts with you on the first day right through to the last day. I just need to sort out the pictures cos’ some of them I’m not allowed to show due to programme tie-in.

      Oh can you please share your itinerary with me? How many days was your trip and when was your travel period?

  7. they were looking not because you are different but likely because of your beauty. beauty knows no borders, no boundaries.

  8. Hi Joanne jie . India is a nice place to go , but it is just dirty . Haha have fun !
    Always supporting you .

  9. dear Jo:

    I f been to India many times..
    contact me via my email..
    Take care…drink authorized mineral bottles 🙂
    – Dr Zee

  10. Hi Miss Peh, was quite interesting to read your article on experiences in delhi. Its like seeing your city from a foreigner’s eye…yes you are right that there are series of security checks which at times pisses us as well when we go back! But to tell you the truth, Delhi is one of the most Vibrant Cities in India and you need to be tough to enjoy the place. 🙂 The things you could have done was – amazing shopping from various markets, loads of good food, Drinkings and Pubbing is crazy (of course safety is concern), seeing the monuments/cultural heritage to know more about the culture. if nothing interests you enough, then no point visiting developing countries like India. To understand and appreciate a place, it is important to know the history of the place.
    Anyways, on behalf of New delhi, I apologise for the troubles. BTW I am your big fan and like your acting.

    • Dear Rashmi,

      Thank you for your comment and you need not apologise. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there on leisure, so I wasn’t able to fully explore New Delhi or learn much about the history. I watched two Bollywood movies on the plane and I really want to see Mumbai now! I hope I have time to talk about them on my blog.

      There is another place in India I would like to go next, but I’m saving that for another blog entry.

      In the meantime, stay tuned to my blog and this show I’m shooting should air sometime in September.

  11. It is always a a wise thing to first research about whichever country you are visiting before making the actual trip. It is therefore surprising that someone as tech savvy as yourself didn’t think of checking if Visa is required for a country prior to your trip.

    And thankfully you chose not to let the narrow minded views of your friends who pass judgments based on how a place smells or looks deter from your trip.

    I am an avid traveler myself and my sole purpose of traveling is to take in the entire experience as it comes. Asian countries, though considered ‘backward’ by some are also some of the richest when it comes to architecture, art and culture.

    I only pray that you enjoy your stay in India and have a meaningful and enriching experience so that you can take a more open-minded and learned call on your trip rather than by how your hotel room smells or the dressing sense of the locals.

    • Dear Ash,

      Since it was for work so all travel arrangements were supposed to have been pre-arranged by production.
      It was definitely an enriching experience and very meaningful indeed. Do stay tuned to it when it airs in September.
      More later.

  12. Joanne,
    I am not one to read blogs or for that matter leave comments but I must say this entry and some of the comments of your friends betray the underlying “narrowness” of singaporeans, used to the comforts of our city with little knowledge of the world outside. I must say the statement ” Imagine Mustafa but hundred times worse ” is not culturally sensitive. May I kindly remind you and your friends that Mustafa rakes in tons of tourist dollars. I am glad you are taking this step to travel out. I would not call this brave. But rather – it is high time. I hope your friends will also take a step out of their comfortable routines to realize there is a world out there .

    • Hi Asterix,

      I have to say you sound like a very well-travelled Singaporean whom I do appreciate having given your two cents worth. I don’t understand though, the need for you to bear a negative and if I may add, slightly haughty attitude towards Singaporeans, whom you feel are “used to the comforts of our city with little knowledge of the world outside”, just because we try to make sense of the world by drawing comparisons to what we are familiar with. The description of Mustafa may not be the most appropriate but it is one humble person trying to provide me with a visual picture, albeit not using the most diplomatic words. How you read that as an attack on the economic viability of the place does elude me.

      I’m sure fellow Singaporeans know there’s a world out there, it is a matter of how much they know and how willing they are to embrace it. And just because someone has travelled to a place and not like it, doesn’t render him or her a narrow-minded person. A person who is not willing to listen or tolerate other people’s views, however, is the dictionary definition of narrow-mindedness.

      • Dear Joanne,

        Its good to hear you had a good trip and I will definitely be catching your work in September when it airs.

        I would however, like to second what Asterix said. As a Singaporean living in India for the last 5 years, I can definitely vouch that we Singaporeans do take alot of things for granted.

        It is sweet of you to try and defend your friends and their opinions. However, matured adults do know how and when to make appropriate comments. Even I was offended by the Mustafa comment. Like you pointed out, the comment was meant in any way to reflect the economic viability of the place. However, Asterix’s intention was to probably point out to the fact that there’s more to a place than just the looks or feel.

        Yes, comparisons can be drawn to make sense of things. But it is only beneficial if you learn from the comparisons and come out as a more evolved being rather than thinking “Thank God Singapore’s not like this”

        To see the positive side of everything and to try and understand why something is being done in a particular way or why it is working that way, that to me is being receptive and unprejudiced.

        And just like you, even I am sure my fellow Singaporeans are aware of the world beyond their shores. But I question their ability and willingness to embrace it.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud of my country and its systems and its people. I constantly quote it as an example to my Indian counterparts here. However, we too have our negatives. Just as we don’t appreciate people passing judgment on us without making an effort to understand us, we too should not indulge in the same.

  13. I actually visited Delhi every month for the past 1 yr. The first trip there, I suffered from diarrhoea. Never take their ice cream, even if it’s from 6-star hotel. If you are lucky, look at the way they transport the ice. (On wheel barrows, secured by bicycle hooks, exposed to the weather elements and pollution, and melting) That will explain a lot. Cows are sacred, and very much part of Delhi (the whole India, actually). You can have the whole family (1 cow + 2 calves usually) sun-tanning on the road island in the middle of the junction. I envy them actually. Never use the tap water to brush ur teeth. Ur teeth will actually get yellow with time. Always use mineral water. If not enough, buy them. It’s super hot in Delhi now but due to the relatively dry climate, you won’t sweat so much but you will feel extremely thirsty. Hydrate regularly. Use sunblock too or wear a cap. If you stay long enough, you can experience the chilly winter season. No snow, but winds blow at 8 deg. Celsius. Still, I love their yoghurt and chicken curry. 🙂

  14. Oh ya, I forgot to add… Indira Gandhi International Airport actually experiences power shutdowns. Delayed my flight for the whole 2 hrs. Can’t wait for the new airport to be ready by 2010 Commonwealth Games. Then again, I’m not going there for the time being. 😀

  15. If you do have any intention to visit India, do make a trip to visit the Gaden Shartse Monastery or the famed Spiti Monastery. U may just run into Dalai Lama. (PS: I know the abbots so if you need permit to visit these place, it’s possible)

  16. The Monastery in Spiti is called Kee Monastery.

  17. Visa is the most important item that you must apply in Singapore. Although India may have foul smell on the street, believe me it is friendly and safe and 1000 times safer than many African countries whereby we have hired guards to protect us. In India, all you have to do is adapt to the environment including the frequent black out. Not a difficult tasks for frequent travellers like many of our Nationals working there.

  18. so sad that people have such misguided prejudice against india….enjoy your trip!

  19. Hey Joanne,

    Please do update more on your New Delhi trip. Am planning a trip that way too. Can’t wait to see and feel ‘Taj Mahal’ in person, and absorbed the colourful atmosphere (cow dung too). 🙂

  20. i must admit that it nvr cross my mind to go to india…
    i heard that it’s dirty & dirty & dirty..
    so i really admired 佩服 u ~
    enjoy reading ur blogs on travel
    and also the comments here,
    seems that everyone is a “professional” traveller? hehehe

  21. India is a great place to visit and there are so many States to visit …you can’t make it all in one week.

  22. Lovetravelling

    There are beggers and homeless people in western countries too. I have been approached by them.

    Anyway have a great time travelling and be prepared to different experiences.

  23. hey joanne:)
    may i know where you got your hard-cover luggage from!
    im looking for one, but to no avail.

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