Delhi is India’s biggest city (and one of the world’s biggest, too), with all the typical problems of large cities in the undeveloped world including excessive traffic, pollution, poverty, and crime. Southwest of Delhi is the city of Jaipur; southeast of Delhi is Agra, site of the Taj Mahal. These three cities form what is popularly known as the “Golden Triangle” of India, the most heavily visited area for tourists to India.
Today we’re in the middle of nowhere, way off the beaten path to see a site the size of an Egyptian pyramid, only it’s not immediately noticeable because it’s an inverted pyramid with its base at ground level. The massive, impressive structure called the Chand Baori is an ancient water well in the dry region of India, in the state of Rajasthan, located in the village of Abhaneri, about one hour outside Jaipur on the road to Agra.
Dubai is one big shopping center.
The airport is one huge shopping center with airplane gates attached.
Once in the city proper, there are so many high-end shopping centers, all filled with shoppers, that shopping and Dubai are almost synonymous.
I was traveling to India through Dubai. I didn’t realize that 1/3 of the population of Dubai is Indian. As usual, I carried what I needed on board in a backpack. I don’t like risking losing baggage in foreign countries when I have connecting flights. This happened to me once on a trip to Egypt. I had to get someone who spoke Arabic to call Egypt Airlines repeatedly until I was granted access to the lost baggage area at the airport, a room the size of a football field filled with baggage of all types. That didn’t happen until the day before I was to leave the country. But I did find my bag there. A lot of valuable touring time was wasted in the effort.
Avoidable travel problems just annoy the heck out of me and make travel less appealing for most people. Getting a visa to visit India was one such aggravation.
The rules are different depending on what country your passport is from. America makes it very hard for people from some countries to visit our shores and other countries retaliate by doing the same for American citizens. India requires Americans to have a visa to visit, and there are various visas you can qualify for. The best one to get is a 10-year visa, allowing you to enter multiple times over a 10-year period. This is generally reserved for people doing business in India, but it is also necessary if, for example, you travel to Nepal and return through the Delhi airport, the nearest airline hub.
My wife and I decided we’d like to experience Korea without flying nearly ½ day to actually visit. An Asian friend (she happens to be Chinese) clued us into a fantastic “Little Korea” area of Dallas that is not well known but certainly will be soon. You can be one of the first non-Asians to discover it.
Little Korea is fascinating. There you will find many Korean bar-b-que restaurants. We decided to head for one of the newest, Gen, a concept out of California whose first store opened in this area in October after a long opening delay. The wait was worth it. If there is a Little Korea in your city, I’m sure it’s very similar.
Cows, pigs, monkeys and goats forage through mounds of trash strewn in the streets. Shantytown dwellings dot the sides of the roads amid scattered mansions and a small number of very fancy monuments. You are in rural India, and the description also applies to large parts of urban India. To top it off, the air quality is poor. My plane landed after dark in Dehli, a city with one of the world’s worst pollution problems. The air was laden with a thick smoke that mixed incongruously with the aroma of pungent spices from nearby street food stalls. I could not breathe. Some locals wore breathing masks. I resorted to breathing through my handkerchief until I could get a mask the next day.
On Nov. 8 the government of India announced that its two most popular currency denominations, the 500 and 1000 rupee notes, would no longer be good as money effective at midnight. An exchange program to convert them to new rupee notes of the same amount at the bank was announced.
I had a trip to India already planned and was on a plane headed that way when the currency move was announced.
The effect of the currency ban was that no one in India would exchange money for U.S. dollars —because they did not have money to exchange — and locals mobbed banks, forming lines blocks long to turn in their old money for new bills. Many lines had to be supervised by police. (more…)