::Title: India / Nepal Trip 1999
::Author: Steve Engelhardt, steven_t_engelhardt
India / Nepal Trip 1999
April 4: Sunday: Mpls - JFK
Today at 8:30 AM I start my trip to India. I am on a Cosmos Tour.
My first let is from MPLS to Detroit and then on to New York JFK.
I have a 1.5 hour layover to catch a bit to eat. Then onto JFK
At JFK I have a 4-hour layover for my Air India flight. At 8 PM
We leave for the long flight over the Atlantic. I asked about my CD player
and they said it was OK, I had no problem at all with Air India / Indian Air
even though I had heard otherwise. I seem to have a habit
of flying during clock changes so I actually get into Heathrow at 8 AM
GMT +1 (summertime). We have a 2-hour layover and we must disembark
April 5: Monday: London - Delhi
I look around the Duty free for a while and then reboard the
Air India 747-400 . We fly over Germany - Budapest - Istanbul - Tehran
and south of Afghanistan. They show a varity of Indian Movies and some
American movies as well. Our pilot calls out attention to the border
between Pakistan and India, it is easy to see it is all lighted up
I have never seen this before, of course they do have some major
differences. Our flight lands at Delhi first and then onto Bombay
After 2 days we will fly back to Delhi. This is too bad because
we have to endure another layover while they clean the plane and
change crews. We are all wore out, I have been traveling for about
30 Hours already. We are in the air for the 1.5-hour flight to Bombay.
We have been feed well by Air India with a choice of Vegetarian and
Non vegetarian foods.
April 6: Tuesday Delhi - Bombay (Mumbai)
Dhobi Ghat -- Laundry
We finally land in Bombay at 2 AM.
A fellow in the next row cannot find his tickets, he says he lost them
on the plane. I think I saw them on the floor and they picked it up
with the rest of the trash. I find out later he Bob and he is on our
tour and is my roommate he will go through hell getting these
tickets replaced. After going through Immigration
and customs we meet our tour guide who was on the same flight.
We find our bus and after they get our luggage we are on the way to our
Hotel the President Hotel. Even at 3 AM it is very hot out and
we notice that there are millions of people sleeping on the sidewalks
we are told that there is a 55% unemployment rate here and the millions
of unskilled workers come to Bombay looking for work. We reach our
hotel and make it to our rooms, it is 4 AM. After a little bit
I get some sleep until 8:30 when we get up for some breakfast.
Bob is my roommate and is am a American citizen but he lives in
Canada and he is retired. I return to the room. Unfortunately
Bob has had to go with a local Cosmos representative to Air India
offices to get his tickets replaced. They send him to the police
Department for a report first. After getting a report he goes back to
Air India offices and has to fight the bureaucracy, without the
help of the lady from Cosmos he may still be there, no one says it
is possible, no they have no authority. At 2 PM we leave on our
guided tour. Our local guide is a lady who is well dressed and
well rehearse she is very knowledgeable. We stop by an outdoor laundry
and then drive along the bay called the Queens necklace. Visit the Gateway
Arch, Victoria Train Station, Jain Temple, and the Hanging Gardens.
We return to the hotel at 5:30 and later most of us have dinner there.
We have an interesting group of people, there are 16 of us. And
there are no couples everyone is traveling single - some are
married but left their spouse behind. We also have a few older
people who have a hard time walking which is not good on this trip
in that there is a lot of walking and the heat takes a toll on all of
us. We also had 2 guys who paid for the trip and never cancelled or
April 7: Wednesday: Bombay - Delhi
Gateway to India / Taj Mahal Hotel
This morning most of us go on the optional tour to the
Elephanta Caves. We take a slow boat from the Gateway of India Arch
to the island from there it is a log walk on the peer and then a
steep climb up 100 steps to the cave. And we have to run by all
of the hawkers selling their goods. The caves them self's have many Hindu
carvings. After returning we go to the airport and our flight to Delhi.
Bob has to make one more trip to Air India first and he does finally
get his tickets. At the airport waiting for our flight to Delhi
I get hungry and buy a chicken sandwich at a cafe there. This was
a big mistake in that I was to get sick after this which I believe
was due to the lettuce and tomatoes, which were washed in local water.
It is hard to avoid these kinds of problems however I was the first to get sick
however just about everyone else also got sick. When we reach Delhi
we find our bus and go to the Park Hotel in the center of Delhi.
April 8: Thursday: Delhi
Jamma Masjid Mosque
This morning we go on city tour, the old Delhi first. We visit
the Jamma Masjid Mosque and the Red Fort. There is a lot of walking and it is
Hot about 42C or 114F. Our tour guide Mark rents a rickshaw for us to ride
between these 2 sites. After this we go by Raj Ghat which is
full of protestors and then to Humayun Tomb which is also full of protestors.
Evidently they are protesting some project north of Delhi that will
dam a river and cause them to loose their land. Anyway there are many
busses and there is no where to park, our driver lets us off and
parks anyway, he will take the ticket - however the policeman beats
him with a stick and causes him to leave. We visit the Tomb and
find our bus. We visit Gandhi Memorial Museum where he was shot.
We then drive by Parliament and finally back to our hotel.
Our hotel is full of Americans in white robes, it turns out they
are Sikhs and are here to celebrate the 300 year anniversary of their
April 9: Friday: Delhi - Agra
This morning we get up early to catch the Shatabdi Express
to Agra. Our guide says we have several rolls in one coach.
This turns out not to be true, we are spread out among 3 coaches
and the seating chart at the station does not match the one on the train
and my seat is taken, welcome to India. It is a 2-hour train ride
to Agra but the train only stops for 5 minutes so we have to hurry to get off
as others try to get on. We all made it. We take our coach to the hotel
the Trident, very nice and then we visit the Red Fort. We return to the hotel
and go out again at 4 PM when it is a little cooler. This time we go to the
Taj Mahal. There are many hawkers here and we had one lady get her
wallet snatched. The Taj is beautiful and very impressive. We return
to the hotel. I am feeling sicker.
April 10: Saturday: Agra - Fatehpur- Jaipur
Street Scene Agra
This morning several of us went to the Taj Mahal for sunrise,
not my self I am still sick and resting. After they return we set out
on our bus for Jaipur. We stop at Fatehpur Sikri abandoned city
on the way. We pass many camels on the way and it is still very
hot, many animals are in the shade or in the small ponds. We are
in a semi desert area.
We reach Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan at 6:30 PM. I skip dinner. Many others
had dinner and got sick from it they believe. Our hotel the Mansingh
Hotel is in the city where it is crowded.
April 11: Sunday: Jaipur
Jaipur The Pink City
This morning like every morning we have a breakfast Buffet and
this one is good. We are on a city tour and we start off visiting
The City Palace and then the Hawa Mahal 17 Century observatory
With its 90' Sundial the worlds largest. It is the pink city with
the walls and buildings in a pinkish color. We stop at a pharmacy
so I can get some Antibiotics however half the beats me there.
I get some Ciprofloxacin which they sell over the counter, it does wonders.
Returning to the hotel I crash.
April 12: Monday: Jaipur
Trip up to Amber Fort
I do feel better this morning and I had a good breakfast.
This morning most of us take the optional trip to the
Amber fort and the Elephant ride to get there. It is early in the
morning and it is not too hot so it was a pleasant ride. We visit
the Fort and returning we stop at a carpet factory for a demonstration, and
they just happen to have a store there. I do buy a Kashmir Rug.
April 13: Tuesday: Jaipur - Delhi
This morning we are off in our Bus for Delhi, we have to dodge
many camel wagons on the way, and we see many overload trucks
many of which tipped over. It is a long trip and we do make it
to the Park Hotel again in Delhi. This is the end of the trip for some
who did not buy the extension. I believe we lost 3 people. Those who
leave had to get up a 3 AM for their flight -ouch It will be our turn later.
April 14: Wednesday: Delhi - Varanasi
This morning we fly to Varanasi. When we arrive it is 45C or about
120F. It is decided to go to the Clark Hotel first and then later at 4 PM
when it is cooler we will go on tour. Through out India at every hotel
we experience power outages and it is no different here. I just hope
I am not in an elevator when it happens. The phone system if you call
it that consists of 2 outgoing pulse dial lines. At 4 PM we set out and
visit Sarnath the birthplace of Buddhism. We also visit Bharat Temple
which houses a large relief map of India carved out of marble.
April 15: Thursday: Varanasi - Kathmandu
This morning we get on the bus at 5 AM to go to the Ganges.
We have to walk several blocks to get there and we experience
The street scenes getting there. We get on a boat for an hour
ride to experience sunrise over the Ganges. We watch people bath,
Worship, and be cremated. It was everything I thought it would be,
this to me is India in a nutshell - it was awesome. We return to the
hotel for breakfast and then we take our bus to the airport and our
flight to Kathmandu Nepal. Our Indian Air flight is slightly delayed
but we finally leave for Kathmandu. We have to go through Immigration
and we had some people who did not have a visa so it took them longer.
We find our bus and head for the Malla Hotel. It has been a long
day but some go out and shop. Latter there is folk show at the hotel
and the food was much better than the entertainment.
April 16: Friday: Kathmandu
View of Himalayas / Everest
This morning I signed up for the optional Himalayan flight.
I had tried to take this flight last year but it was cancelled because
of weather. Today it was perfect weather and the flight was spectacular
that's all I can say. After we return we went on a tour to Patan and
later Durbar Square in Kathmandu which involved a lot of walking again.
This evening I take bob to my favorite restaurant in Kathmandu
and we have wonderful Indian food there. We also did a little shopping.
April 17: Saturday: Kathmandu - Dhulikhel
Spice market Bhadgaon
We are headed for the mountain resort of Dhulikhel but first we visit
Bhadgaon and the many temples there. Then forward to Dhulikhel Mountain
Resort. It is very nice here although you can not see the Himalayans
because of the fog. It is cooler and actually quit pleasant.
April 18: Monday: Dhulikhel - Kathmandu - Delhi
Dhulikhel Mountain Resort
At 10 AM we get on our bus and go back to Kathmandu Airport
and our flight to Delhi. I was in Nepal 6 months ago and I can
see some differences already, the are building roads, sewers, rebuilding
the Airport. Nepal is one of the poorer countries of the world but
they are making progress. It is not a long flight to Delhi and we
check back into the Park hotel one more time.
April 19: Tuesday: Delhi - London - JFK - Minneapolis
Steve back at work.
At 3 AM we get up and start our long trip home. We have to
be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time to be sure we have a seat.
It is a long flight to London and our flight is delayed, It is bad enough
being cooped up in an airplane but worst if it is on the ground.
Finally we leave, the scenery out the window is very
Interesting, we pass south of the capathian Sea and also
the Black Sea. After we reach London we have a 2-hour layover again
while they change crews. In the air again we are 3 hours late, some
of us will miss our connections. I have a 5 hour layover so it does not
matter much. They make up an hour over the Atlantic however. After
reaching JFK and getting through Immigration and Customs the wait is
not too bad for my TWA flight to St Louis. There I have a short layover and
I continue to Minneapolis and I get there right at midnight. And 8 AM
I am back to work. I really have no idea what time my body thinks it is
it will take a week to figure out / readjust.