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.