It was a real ‘spur-of-the-moment’ decision a couple of months ago that saw me make a booking for India. We were spending a few nights of relaxtion up at our country retreat ( calm down… It’s really just a rural 50 acre lot, with a comfortable ‘country style ‘weekender’ house on it, hidden away in the outback of Gidgiegannup in the Perth hills….. certainly not as grand as the image that ‘Country Retreat’ conjures up! ) when an email arrived in my inbox late one afternoon from Emirates Airlines ,with an offer just to good to refuse….. Perth to Delhi return for only just over OneThousand dollars…. Eleven Hundred and Fifty to be precise….. how can you ignore that sort of bargain? ‘Act quickly’ , the email advised, ‘ Dont miss out, Sale On for 2 days only’. So, a discussion then with Yineka-mou ( hereafter known as the ‘Memsahab’ or M for short), who thought it a great idea, ‘ Lets do it!’ Don’t you think we ought to discuss it properly I asked…..so, we sat down to dinner and discussed … and discussed….. but what’s to discuss really…. this is to good to let pass…. As the evening progressed, Memshaib became more and more enthusiastic at the idea of yet another trip to the land of the Kama Sutra…..a couple of bottles of Margaret River’s finest SSB later, and we both agreed that it would be really silly of us to miss out on this one…..
I awoke the next morning to find yet another email from those nice folks at Emirates. This time the email informed me that I had indeed ‘not missed out’ , and was to confirm that flight EK423 to Indirah Ghandi Airport in Delhi was both booked and paid for. Mmmmm! I’d forgotten that I had actually booked the flight, and what seemed such a great idea last night, didn’t seem quite so wonderful now. India! …… I cast my mind back to last night’s discussion….. but I find that I couldn’t actually remember making the booking. I asked Memsahib if she remembered, but all she could say was that we really ought to think about it some more before committing ourselves. Oh, great advice M, but 12 hours too late….. how come her enthusiasm dissappeared almost as fast as the empty bottles of SSB on the kitchen floor did?
I spent the next few weeks looking up the options available to us travelling in India. We’d already experienced train travel two years earlier, when we were unlucky enough to catch the midnight express (express !!!) from Mumbai to Goa. It really did leave at midnight….. well OK, it was SUPPOSED to leave at midnight, but was 40 minutes late in departing…..and was scheduled to arrive in Goa at 8am next morning.
After a really peaceful and quiet nights sleep in our First Class grubby little compartment, I was woken up around 7:30am by the sound of the train starting to move….. I hadn’t even realised that we had stopped. I opened the door and aked a passing ‘conductor’ how long before our arrival, only to be told unfortunately Goa has been ‘re-scheduled’. I can’t do the Indian accent thingy, but he said in a pretty good Peter Sellers imitation, that ” sso sso sorry sir, but our expected time of arrival in Madgaon ( Apparently the name of the main railway station for Goa) is now four ‘o’clock in the Pee-Emm” What, I replied, that is 8 hours late… how can that be, it’s only supposed to be an eight hour journey anyway. ” Yess Ssir, unfortunately we were experiencing small problem with track outside Bombay…..we had to stop all the night…..we are only now beginning our journey proper” Well, that explains why it was so quiet….and there was me thinking that Indian trains were possibly the quitest trains on the planet. ( better even than those experimental French Trains in the 60’s, that had rubber wheels…. anyone remember them?)
OK then, no good dwelling on the past…. with a map of India up on the ipad screen, we looked at touring options that excluded any form of train travel. Memshaib said she didn’t care where we went as long as it included the Taj Mahal. Anywhere else you’d like to visit I asked….. No, I’ll leave it up to you….. which is code for ‘ If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be the one I’ll blame’!
The ‘Golden Triangle’ as it’s called, is a well trodden tourist route around Rajasthan, that starts and ends in Delhi, with visits to the main cities and towns of Agra ( Taj Mahal) Jaipur, Jodphur and Udaipur. I opt also to add the small fort town of Jaiselmer in the mix, as it really is somewhere I’d always wanted to visit ( brought up on a diet of Errol Flyn and Gary Cooper action movies at the Saturday morning matinees at the Odean cinema, and lately, ‘The Jewel in The Crown’ TV series. It seems a really romantic exciting place, with lots of Pukka British soldiers holding the fort against dastardly infidels…. or was it the other way around? )
I did quite a bit of research, and found lots of interesting info on the website http://www.i-escape.com a company that I have used previously with great results. They specialise only in unique ’boutique’ style accomodation, and give a very good review of each hotel etc…… Not a Hilton, Sheraton or Raddison in sight! I picked out the hotels that I wanted to stay at, and apart from Delhi and Agra, they are mainly ex-Marahaja Palaces, although in Jaiselmer we are staying in an refurbished Haveli inside the old fort in Jaiselmer. Prices range from US$900 a night ( Agra, view of Taj Mahal while laying ( lying?) in bed) to just US$110 a night in Jaiselmer…..!!! I contacted a travel agency in Delhi that they had recommended to arrange transportation. Over a couple of weeks of exchanging emails, between us we managed to nut out an itinerary that suited. Our driver picks us up at Delhi airport on arrival, and takes everywhere on our journey around Rajasthan, acting as a guide and ‘minder’ as well as a driver. Well,that’s the plan anyway, but this being India, always expect the unexpected!