Wednesday 2nd December
Singapore to New Delhi
Today was another day of travelling.
After yesterday we were happy to have a quiet morning at the hotel getting organised for our next stay in India. Somehow we each needed to lose 5kg of luggage to get within the 15kg hold luggage limits for the Air India flights.
We went for a run that included Fort Canning, chosen from the map as a green park-like area, not too far from the hotel, just in case the promised thundery showers arrived. We might have known that most forts are not built on an area of flat ground... There were a lot of steps to the top!
After the run we swam, breakfasted and packed. Fancying a bit of culture, we went to the newly opened National Gallery.
It was full of people and an eclectic range of art works.
The 'social table' enabled us to select our favourite works and place them in a collage that would be emailed to us. One of our favourite installations was the deconstructed chair. When you stood in one spot you could see a dining chair standing against a wall. As soon as you moved you could see it was a series of prices of wood and metal arranged across the room to create that optical illusion.
Then it was time to go, back to the hotel, quick catch up with Elmgrove (apologies to Dad for getting the time difference wrong and waking him at 6am!) and taxi to the airport.
Singapore airlines again, this time a much bigger plane, more people, more noise and curry on the menu.
We arrived in Delhi at 8pm. There was the usual airport bustle and business to go through before we were met by our guide with waiting taxi, and we set off into the Delhi traffic.
The journey to the hotel was an experience in itself! There were cars, trucks, three wheeler tuk-tuks and taxis as well as dozens of mopeds and bicycles. Watching the traffic surge forward it appeared that the same rules of the road apply as to a flock of sheep trying to get through a gate!
The car horn is absolutely integral to driving in Delhi, but unlike in Britain it is not used as an angry last resort or as a precursor to road rage, but as an almost continuous language of beeps and blares to communicate your position and intention to other road users. The other communication is by means of subtle gestures eg a quick twirl of the index finger to indicate an immediate u-turn, a subtle lift of the chin, a raised finger. It felt like a cross between signalling a bid at an auction, conducting an orchestra and playing pinball!
Having then established this concerto of conversation it then seemed ok for everyone to drive as fast as possible in a stop start fashion, weaving in and out of non-existent lanes at will! Generally speaking there seemed to be surprisingly few accidents despite the vehicles being literally just two or three inches apart, as speeds were fairly slow and most of the time the traffic was all moving roughly the same direction.
Amazingly we arrived safely at The Claridges to a haven of peace and quiet.
We felt doubly secure and protected from the outside world after having had our car, bags and selves searched airport style, prior to being allowed into the hotel.
The hotel was a large white crescent shaped building set in gardens and surrounded by trees. The welcome was exceedingly civil, with a great deal of smiling and bowing, palms pressed together, from the smartly dressed team of staff at the front door. Despite our hiking boots and rucksacks, we were treated like nobility!
We followed the marble corridor to our bedroom, which overlooked the swimming pool and courtyard.
Dinner was a simple affair after the long journey and we were glad to flop into bed.