Delhi , India (26th Oct 2007) So... at sometime near midnight we touched down in Delhi and made it to our hotel around 2am after a somewhat interesting airport experience and taxi journey. The flight itself was relatively painless, although it seemed to last forever. We did the usual and watched some movies, ate some questionable food, and slept on and off for a little while. Both of us had the chance to experience a lovely cute little girl kicking us in the back as her and her family played musical chairs for the entire 8 hours swapping seats every time you nod off and kicking you all the time you are awake, or at least that's how it seemed to us. After a lengthy queuing process to get through customs we went to collect our bright orange and black, shiny, new, expensive backpacks only to find the carousel had stopped and our backpacks were nowhere in sight, which after our long irritating flight was just great. After an hour or so and numerous bits of paperwork later we were told our luggage hadn't been put on the flight but would be with us the next morning. So off we went, tired and grumpy, to find our transfer and get to the hotel. As soon as you set foot outside you can sense the cultural difference, there were people everywhere and even though it was in the middle of the night we could still tell the sky was thick with pollution and made all the edges of the horizon somewhat hazy. The journey opened our eyes even more too how different India is to England, in the mini bus to our hotel we couldn't help but see mountains of litter clogging the roads, people sleeping on most corners and footpaths, packs upon packs of dogs and even cows wondering around eating whatever leftovers they could find from the market day just gone (often sharing with the street urchins). Upon our arrival to The Hotel Swati, we were relieved to finally be there as it took the driver forever and alot of stops to ask locals where it was. By this time it is 2am and we just want to get in our nice 3Star Double en suite room for a shower and to get into bed, but to top of our long day we didn't quite get what we were hoping for. Walking in the door of our room just made our hearts sink, we had two tiny single beds in an even smaller room which had no window and a noisy air con unit slapped on the wall; and the bathroom was no better, just a hole in the floor and some grimy white towels. Eventually we just accepted our situation and went to bed disappointed but with hope that tomorrow would bring a better day and we would see another side to India once the sun rose. This morning (Friday) we woke up about 11.00am and were nicely surprised after Kara went downstairs to see if our luggage had arrived. The man working on the reception desk said he had a nicer room ready for us so eagerly we packed up our few possessions and made our way to the new room on the top floor and we were instantly much happier than the night before. We now had a proper room, complete with double bed, good air conditioning unit and an actual toilet, things were starting to look up! We decided since it was already dinner time we better go out for a little bit and ended up being out for most of the day after giving in to one of the Tuk Tuk drivers said he would take us to do some shopping and to see the sights around Delhi, some good some bad L First off was some kind of shopping emporium which was very intimidating so we came back out and decided to just see the sights. Our first site seeing stop was a drive past (no stopping allowed) the Secretariat Buildings (Parliament), On either side of Rajpath on Raisina hill, lie the imposing North and South Secretariat Buildings topped with chhatris (small domes) all of which were very smart looking and an impressive site no bet to foreign ministers whom visit it. From here we moved just a bit further down the road were we saw Rashtrapati Bhawan (the official residence of the President of India) which stands at the opposite end of the Rajpath from India Gate. We then travelled down the Rajpath to the India Gate where got out of the Tuk Tuk and we're faced with a snake charmer, charming his Cobra out of a basket which was a surprise to say the least even though the snake looked like it was too doped up to care about the tunes this guy was playing! Like all tourist spots the locals were on hand to harass us tourists into buying anything and everything that they could get their hands on, which in this case was a man trying to sell us helicopters made out of elastic bands. The structure itself was very impressive and commanding, very similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris only bigger and after we had a wonder around and took some pictures we decided to head onwards. Our Tuk Tuk driver however smarmy false and annoying was quite informative and went on to tell us a brief history about the India Gate and how it is a war monument and has inscribed on it the names of 18500 Indian Army soldiers who died in conflict around the time of World War One, and although we couldn't get close enough to see the inscriptions the monument itself has quite an impact on you. Next stop was a site we now know to be called the Qutab Minar Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising many monuments and landmarks including The Qutab Minar which is the tall tower in the pics. It was built entirely by interlocking pieces of stone and was built at a 5% lean so if it did collapse it wouldn't destroy any of the surrounding monuments. We somehow got talked into having a guide who told us some interesting things (see above!!) and knew all the right places to take pics, even of Karma Sutra erotica carved into the stone all of which were great things we probably would have missed, but all this came at a price, something we were fast learning in India, nothing comes for free! Probably the worst part of the day is what came next, imagine being taken to somewhere where you found yourself sat in a small boiling muggy room, surrounded by foreign people, being put under pressure to buy something you never wanted to buy and never had any intention of doing so, this time it just happened to be 'a silk, Kashmir, hand knotted, finest quality 6ft by 8ft carpet which could be paid for by cash, credit, cheque, postal stamp, paypal, washing dishes.........you get the picture! These guys would do anything to try and sell us this carpet, and even offered us tea coffee and snacks, all of which were declined by us because we thought about the hidden costs and wanted to be out of there. 30 minutes later and thankfully we were back on the street without any carpets. After just making it out alive we decided to head back to the hotel but were persuaded by the Tuk Tuk driver that we just had to have one last stop at the Lotus Temple and decided we would as it was something we really wanted to see. As the name suggests the temple is shaped like a Lotus and is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand and is thought to be the modern architectural wonder of India. The building itself was pretty amazing and definitely a sight worth seeing and as we sat down for a minute it soon became clear that we were a bit of an attraction ourselves too! We were getting a bit of a mixed reception from the locals, some smiling, waving and saying hello whilst others scowled and were probably asking themselves 'what are they doing here?' The good reactions definitely outweighed the bad as we posed for a few pics and Kara in particular had some special attention from one young boy who thrust his mobile phone in her face to take photos of her before kissing her on the hand and scurrying away giggling. Finally around 5pm we got back to the hotel before going out to sample the local delicacies at an Indian/Kebab restaurant across the road. We ordered what we thought would be a safe option, chicken massala, mutton seekh kebab and mushroom curry and although it was extra spicy we quite enjoyed even though it took 4 litre bottles of water to survive this spiciness! After we met up with our tour group and had a lot of our worries resolved as there were many friendly faces and after a couple of hours we knew we had a good group so the rest of the trip could only get better? After the meeting we all jumped on a local bus and headed to Old Delhi which in itself was an incredible experience as there is nothing in the western world that you can compare this bus to, people jammed in everywhere, hanging on the side, on the roof, and as on the street loads of people trying to sell you things like socks and gold painted jewellery. Our first stop was the Jama Masjid, the oldest Mosque in Delhi. There was quite an impressive walk up to it as it is raised on the highest pedestal of Delhi and is designed like this I guess to signify grandeur. We entered into a large open courtyard in which over 20000 people come to pray every Friday. Once inside we had the opportunity to climb up one of the towers which verged on terrifying, both the climb up and the drop down, as there were hundreds of people pushing and shoving both up and down a tiny hallway/staircase to reach the top! To get to our next destination we took a very interesting and surreal walk through one of Delhi's biggest Bazaars and it was a labyrinth filled with all colours of the rainbow and a mix of spices, incense and to our surprise a local man wearing a Manchester United shirt, unfortunately he disappeared into the crowd before we could get a picture! The walk through the crowded streets led us to our destination which was India's biggest Sikh mosque; but before we were allowed to go anywhere we were asked to put on some very questionable orange head wear and to remove our socks and shoes so we could go in and take a look at Sikh life and the rituals and everyday going on in their mosque. We saw where they pray and where the food was cooked, even a newly installed machine that made over 2000 Chipatas an hour! The food is made for anyone who wants to go and pray and all the workers there are volunteers. Next we experienced another of Delhi's transport methods, the Delhi Metro which was above all expectations, the contrast of the bustling old worldly streets above and the modern metro system underground was quite strange. It wasn't too dissimilar to that of London or New York say except when you came to get off it you had to fight your way through the surge of people trying to get on. In the evening we went to a restaurant called Crosswords and to Marks delight Chelsea Vs Man City were on the tv but his enjoyment was short-lived when it was soon replaced by cricket! We had our first beers of the trip, Kingfisher to accompany a lovely meal despite Kara's been taken back and brought back out again with a few less spices in it!