|Myself on the right and room-mate on the left|
I went to India at a time in my life when I needed to make big changes. It was a time to reflect and reassess. I booked a three week package tour with Imaginative Traveller which covered the Golden Triangle. An area that includes famous cities such as Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur, etc . .
|Indian sweets on sale for Diwali – highly addictive and sublime|
I arrived in India, did the usual immigration routine on disembarking and went to collect my luggage. The conveyor belt went round and people collected their luggage.
One quirk about Indians is they wrap their possessions in a blanket and tie it with rope. Plenty of those went past, but not my luggage. Eventually there was no-one left in the hall but me. The conveyor belt was going round and round with the last few bags, but my bag wasn’t on it.
|Beautiful old buildings|
When I finally got out the airport, of course, there was no shuttle bus. Fortunately most people in the cities in India speak English. I went back into the airport to the information desk. They arranged with Imaginative Traveller that a taxi would collect me. I missed the welcome and briefing but at least I was with the tour group.
|The Indians are friendly to fault and will follow you|
One couple in the tour group had real rubbish luck. They were robbed and she broke her foot on a walkabout. Yip, $#!t happens even on holiday. I managed to avoid the dreaded Delhi Belly for all but the last three days of the tour. I got brave and ate away from the recommended places one night. Big mistake. It’s one way to lose weight.
|Colonial legacy – hunting trophies on the wall.|
I should have taken out my ticket and had a look. My ticket was actually for Air India. Indian Air. Air India. They sound similar but as I was to find out, they are very different. I thought this guy knew what he was doing.
|Exquisite historic buildings were our accommodation|
After he dropped my room-mate this boy was anxious to get rid of me. He disposed of me at the “airport” and was gone for dust.
I quickly discovered this “airport” was closed. There was no-one there except for a guard. Much later I realised that it must be an air force base. What was this kid thinking dropping me there? I don’t think he thought anything and I doubt he was old enough to drive. Who knows if it was even his vehicle? He saw a gap to make money off me. And the officers at the check points were making money off him.
|Tourist travel option|
Meanwhile I was alone in the middle of nowhere with a flight to catch. I approached the guard to help me. He saw a lost foreign woman alone and a chance to make money. He would only help me if I paid him. Then I saw a tuk-tuk coming along the road and raced toward it with my bags. I asked the driver to take me to the airport. This guy wanted some outrageous sum of money. I opened my purse and showed him what money I had. All of a sudden that amount was fine.
|A welcome flower necklace at one of the castles|
While we putted along in this tuk-tuk I was having a major panic. I feared we would be late and I feared this tuk-tuk would never even get there. I had no idea where I was or where I was going.
I got to the airport with the minimum time in hand. At check-in they demanded airport taxes. This had not been mentioned by Imaginative Traveller or the travel agent. Both had given me detailed information about India and the trip. I don’t believe that airport tax was actually due. But these guys were adamant they wanted money and if I wanted to go home I had to pay up. It’s not like I had a lot of time to argue. They knew I had no more money and pointed me to forex to change money so I could pay them off. So much for the country that invented karma?
|Sacred cows roaming the streets|
India was a special place where I did a lot of thinking and decision making. Many positive changes in my life came from my time there. But my memories are tainted by the last people I had dealings with, who so blatantly ripped me off. Those dashing, chivalrous, Indian heroes that we read about? Some villainous Indians too I’m afraid.
My advice is only travel India with a well known tour operator. I was fine the entire time I was with the group. Its was my trips at the start and finish where I encountered problems.
For more Holiday Horror Stories you can go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited.