As the train stops in Delhi we join the masses and get off. Soon Prem has arranged porters to carry our gear. They put the bags on head rolls and are soon heading up the stairs and over to the exit. This is no place for disabled travellers with all these stairs! We are met by a luxury minibus which takes us through the streets of New Delhi over to our hotel, Hotel Florence. The streets are reasonably quiet for such a big city at 6:30 in the morning we think. People are cleaning the streets but otherwise it is quieter than Melbourne would be at this time. We have time at the hotel to freshen up and have breakfast before we head out on our half day tour which takes us to India Gate first. The arch there makes the Arc de Triomphe in Paris look small. We have a photo taken with one of the guards who of course isn’t permitted to smile even though he is available for photos. Then we head to the President’s house, Rashtrapati Bhavan, which is in the middle of a suite of symmetrical buildings that the British built. Most impressive. If the weather hadn’t been so hazy we probably would have had a great view back down Rajpath to India Gate.
Next we head to the largest Jain temple in Delhi, which feeds 30000 people a day for free. We arrive just at lunch time. We see the kitchen area, sacred pool, the temple and of course the first group of thousands being fed. Pretty amazing commitment to those in need!
After that we go for a snacky lunch at a fast food store at Gole Market. Next we head to a warehouse shop, Asian Overseas which houses and sells for local cottage industries. We look at mainly clothing but there’s lots of carpets, jewellery, souvenirs, pashminas and crafts as well. Karen eventually buys a beautiful silk blouse but the shop attendant dearly wants her to buy a pink sari, but when would it be worn in Australia we question. We return to the hotel for a bit of a rest and some packing ready for our flight home tomorrow. After some time we head out and around the corner into the local market and shopping area. Most of the shops in the street are jewellers. The windows are decorated in blue and silver lights ready for Diwali. It is a bit like Christmas at home. The intersecting road is a market street with lots of clothes, bags, homewares, cosmetics, sunglasses and food stalls. It is fun walking around but we see nothing of real interest. Back at the hotel we get ready to go out for dinner. Sadly Tina is still unwell and she and Graeme stay behind. We go to a restaurant the others have eaten at before and which Prem, our guide says is pretty good. It is also beautifully decorated with lights outside and in. Karen orders cottage cheese balls in a korma sauce and I have tandoori chicken drumsticks. We share roti and rice. We enjoy a few drinks and a chat while the food cooks. You can see the breads being made through a window into the kitchen area. On our return to the hotel we finish packing. I take advantage of the Internet to do some more blogging as does Karen. Sadly I take ill about 11:00 and the end result is we call a doctor who gets me to the City Hospital in his car for a jab and I’m on a saline drip for an hour and a half between 2:30 and 4:00am. Along the way to the hospital we stop to get out money from an ATM to pay the doctor and the hospital. Even this doesn’t pass by without incident as a mangy dog tries to grab my leg before I brush it off on my way into the ATM. Not a lot of sleep happens on our return to the hotel in a car the hotel provides as I’m still a bit nauseous. Even though I feel very ordinary the attentive care of the doctor and hospital and hotel staff is certainly appreciated. Karen does snatch some sleep fortunately. We get up at about 7:30. Karen has a light breaky and I eat a banana. Our car comes just before 9:00 and we are off through peak hour traffic to the airport. Along the way we pick up our guide Prem who is on his way to work at the office near to the airport. We drop him off and then make our way between the crazy drivers to terminal 3 . After clearing security and customs we rest in the lounge area, check out the airport shops and have a drink before our flight with Malaysia Airlines leaves about half an hour late for KL. We are in row 11 which is just in front of the exit row so sadly our seats don’t tilt back and there isn’t much leg room. However we are so tired we sleep for most of the journey apart from the light meal. Karen eats some but as I’m still not that well I barely touch it. On arrival in KL we take the airport monorail to the other terminal and catch our next flight. We are in row 33 on the airbus and it is a great plane. We have a snack before I watch a movie then we sleep reasonably well for a flight. We arrive in Melbourne a little late because it is a busy morning and we are held in a flight pattern for a while. The new passports make customs a breeze but one of bags doesn’t appear with the other three on the baggage conveyor belt. I enquire and apparently it didn’t get a ‘hot transfer’ in KL and is still there. It will be delivered to our house tomorrow. We exchange our remaining rupees at a terrible rate. Then we take the Skybus to the city and swap onto a train to Frankston where we are met by two of our sons, Todd and Jay, who drives us home for an Aussie salad sandwich and a good afternoon nap. A great trip – our expectations have been exceeded in both Nepal and India. There have so many highlights and we have some excellent photographic memories to look back on.