Nicole and I woke up early Tuesday morning eager to begin our adventure to India. We hailed a cab from in front of our hotel. I’ve never been offered a price different than the meter in Korea, and aside from occasionally being confused, I’ve found Korean cab drivers to be very honest and helpful. This cab driver was the exception. He quoted us at $15 for a trip that we knew would be less. I told him “anneyo”, or no. He said “ok,ok,ok” and we used the meter.
A few minutes, and $10, later we got out of the cab and tried to check in. We arrived 2 hours and 45 minutes early, only to find that we couldn’t check in until exactly 2 hours before our flight. We passed the time playing games on Nicole’s iPad and checking Instagram.
I posted a hilarious picture of a cheese sign and I wanted to gauge public sentiment. The cheese picture’s reaction soured, one might even say it curdled. Cheese picture below.
After we checked in, we got some coffee and egg and cheese sandwiches at a Peanuts-themes restaurant (not the legume but the Charlie Brown comic). The sandwiches were like the peanuts comic, not great, just alright.[divider_flat]
West Wing and Chinese Beer
We boarded our plane around 11 headed for Guangzhou airport in China where we would have a 4.5 hour layover. On the plane I enjoyed Chinese beer and watched season 2 of the west wing. We were slowly working our way through the series for the first time. We were ten years late to the party, but we were still enjoying ourselves.
Landing at Guangzhou Airport
We landed in Guangzhou at 2pm. The plane wouldn’t take us to the gate. Instead the plane just sort of stopped and we hopped out. There was a light rain as we walked towards a bus waiting to carry us from the runway to the terminal. Nicole got a great candid shot of the whole experience.
We wandered around the airport for several hours. The airport was pretty small, there was AC, but it didn’t appear to work. There were a few random restaurants that appeared to be independently owned selling a variety of foods. One restaurant sold pizza, one sold wine by the bottle, and one sold traditional Chinese food. The latter was also the only place in the airport with free Wifi so we went there.
The Guangzhou Terminal
The food was pretty cheap upon a cursory glance at the menu. We ordered some noodles and beef curry. The waitress asked us if
we would like egg on our meal. We said sure…big mistake. The food was delicious and so was the egg. However, when the check came it appeared we were each charged another $7 a person for the egg. Considering our meals were about $7 on their own, doubling the cost of the meal for a single additional egg seemed crazy. I will say this though, the egg was a nice addition.
The rest of the terminal was filled with odd Chinese curio shops selling everything from questionable Red Bull bottles to Hannah Montana drinks.
The only other thing of note was the smoking lounge and the bathrooms were the same place, meaning any time you wanted to go to the bathroom you had to walk through a smoke filled room. Ironically, inside the bathroom were several signs saying no smoking despite the bathroom reeking of smoke from the lounge immediately outside the door.
Onward to Delhi, India
After our long strange layover we flew on to Delhi from Guangzhou. This was our second flight of the day and while there were no TVs in the backs of the seats, the airline did serve us food. Nicole and I had the seafood entree and watched some more West Wing.
When we finally arrived in New Delhi, India, it was a little after 10 when we landed. We grabbed our bags and walked through immigration. The customs officer hardly looked at my passport or my visa. Outside of customs was a nice typical airport arrivals area. There were places to rent cars or rent phones, a few ATMs. Everything was normal. Immediately outside the airport was a whole other story. It looked more like the apocalypse. There were dozens of Indian porters with piercing dead eyes. They saw Nicole and I and moved in for the kill. Suddenly we were surrounded by Indians asking us where we needed to go and quoting us different prices without even knowing our destination.
We walked past the porters and up to the police sanctioned taxi stand to book our taxi to Golcha Cinema, the nearest landmark to Mini Punjab, our AirBnB residence for the next week. The old man in the taxi stand scribbled on a purple piece of paper and told us the trip would be 450INR, about $7.50. I took the paper to the nearest taxi and we embarked on our journey.
Driving in India is insane, absolutely insane. I rag on Korean driving and I previously ragged on Italian drivers, but Indian drivers stand above the rest as far as shear insanity behind the wheel. There are maybe 3 lanes on the road and 4 or 5 cars occupying those 3 lanes. Everyone merges everywhere all the time without any warning. I thought about the car rental stand in the airport and shuddered at the thought of driving anywhere in India ever. Luckily, our taxi driver was very skilled. He expertly maneuvered us between trucks, around rickshaws, elephants, and camels…and yes, all of those vehicles and creatures occupied the road.
Finally, we reached our destination in Old Delhi. Our AirBnB was between several construction sites and up a long narrow staircase to an apartment above a curry shop. More about the apartment tomorrow.