India – Country #26 In My Mission to Visit All UN Recognized Nations

In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #26: India. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.

VIDEO – Country #26: India

Blog post on India

Air India flight to New Delhi

My flight to New Delhi started in Bangkok. I boarded an Air India flight and was immediately greeted by a friendly male flight attendant. When he saw I was taking pictures of the cabin, he immediately went up to me and asked if I wanted to take a selfie together. So of course, I did. He then said to add him on Instagram and tag the picture of us there. I thought that was pretty funny.

I looked around the seats and noticed many of them were empty. How the hell does Air India make money when seats are nowhere near at full capacity? No wonder this company is in trouble.

The food in Air India was alright but it’s nothing to rave about.

Because the flight was so empty, I was able to take the entire row of seats and got a nice nap before landing in New Delhi.

Taxi ride to my hostel

After going through immigration and withdrawing some money, I immediately started looking for a taxi. I noticed that the taxi inside the airport is quite pricey so I went outside to try my look. Soon after, I found a taxi booth that was offering taxi rides for a much cheaper price than what inside the airport was charging. Quickly, I got a taxi and off we went to my hostel.

While the taxi was driving to my hostel, our taxi driver hit another vehicle. To my surprise, neither the taxi driver nor the other driver bothered to get out of the car to inspect the damage. Instead, they kept driving. I took a peek outside the taxi window and noticed many cars on the road had scratches or dents on the side. I learned quickly that playing bumper cars is probably a normal occurrence here in New Delhi.

New friends from Madpacker Backpacker

After checking in my hostel in New Delhi and getting myself settled in, I went to the front desk staff and tried booking a trip to the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, they needed a set quota of individuals to sign up for the van ride or they won’t run it. After speaking to a few backpackers, there were no takers. I had no choice but to book a train ride from New Delhi to Agra and do the trip to Taj Mahal myself.

I did notice that people were very friendly in the hostel in India. One Indian local bought me a beer and told me stories of what his life is like in India. I also thought it was funny that his company paid him money to stay in a nice hotel but he wanted to stay in hostels so he can make friends with other travellers.

Uber ride to the New Delhi train station

The next day, I grabbed an Uber going to the New Delhi train station. Three other backpackers asked me if they can join me to the train station and they can split the cost of the Uber with me. So the three of us ended up taking the taxi together and I befriended the three individuals.

Two women from San Francisco asked me if I wanted to team up with them to see the Taj Mahal and of course, I was happy to have company instead of travelling by myself.

As soon as we got off the train in the New Delhi train station, we were swarmed by Indian touts trying to sell us stuff. After fending them off, we went to our train seats and began our journey to Agra.

New Delhi to Agra

The train ride to Agra was pleasant. I liked it. The food was just okay but I’ll take it as a bonus that they actually provided food on the train.

When we arrived in Agra, one of my new friends who can speak the local language, negotiated a taxi to take us around. After the price was set, off we went to the Taj Mahal.

India probably has the worst traffic I have ever seen. Even worst than Cairo or any of the Southeast Asian countries I’ve visited.

There was also this random gathering that I can’t tell if it was a parade or some sort of demonstration happening.

After navigating through the mass gathering, we made it outside the legendary Taj Mahal.

Fending off touts gracefully outside the Taj Mahal

When we got into the entrance to the Taj Mahal, a man started following us right away. He tried selling us his tour services and wouldn’t leave us alone. I gracefully deflected him by changing the conversation to him. I told him that he has a bright future ahead of him and that he’s good at selling. At the same time, I told him he was wasting his time because there are people with money that he should be selling to like white Europeans. He started laughing and left us alone. My two new companions were massively entertained by the whole interaction.

After purchasing our ticket to the Taj Mahal, we got a tour guide who provided us with amazing service. He just knew where to take the best pictures while explaining to us the history of the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal delivers

As we entered the Taj Mahal, instantly, I was mesmerized by what I saw. It was simply magnificent.

Our tour guide was hilarious as hell. He kept telling people to get out of the way as he took pictures of myself and my group members.

They made us wear these shoe protector thing to prevent our shoes from damaging the Taj Mahal.

I definitely recommend hiring a tour guide to the Taj Mahal. There’s no way we could have taken some of our pictures without his help.

Restaurant and Agra Fort

After an unforgettable day exploring the Taj Mahal, we went to a local restaurant to eat. The price seems more expensive and we think it’s because the driver was getting a commission from the restaurant. At least the food is clean. Food poisoning usually gets tourists in India so I am glad that we stayed safe.

Our next stop is Agra Fort which I can only visit for a short time because I need to catch my train back to New Delhi pretty soon.

Looking in hindsight, I should have just taken a later train because I ended up getting stuck in the train station for quite some time.

Long wait at the Agra train station

When I got to the Agra train station, a friendly man helped me find my platform. Then he asked if he can add me to Facebook which I happily obliged. This turned out to be a big mistake because he spent the next few months harassing me on Facebook. He would keep asking me if I can help him go to Canada. Another dumb thing he kept asking me was if Canadian women would like to marry him so he can go to Canada.

As for the train itself, it was delayed for over 4 hours. It sucked waiting in this train station for so long with nothing to do.

Sleeper train from Agra to New Delhi

When I got on the sleeper train going to New Delhi, a family was sitting on my designated spot. I ended up just sitting there while they all stared at me for the next few hours.

I’m not sure why they kept staring at me. I’m Chinese and India is neighbors with tons of Asian countries. I figure they’ve seen Asian people many times before.

Eventually, the family member sitting on my seat sat with her family and I was finally able to lay down and rest on my designated seat.

Freezing tuk-tuk ride from the New Delhi train station to my hostel

When I arrived back in New Delhi, I was greeted by a bunch of unfriendly Indians who were trying to price gouge me for a taxi ride. I made my way to the place where I can hire a tuk-tuk driver instead and off we went back to my hostel.

It was freezing in New Delhi at night. I travelled to New Delhi in the month of February and it was definitely cold there at that time of the year.

By the time I made it back to my hostel, my companions were surprised they got back before I did. I should have taken the later train. But there was no way I would have known that the sleeper train would be delayed.

More friends and political debate in the Madpacker Hostel

On my last day in New Delhi, I spent the time waiting for my flight to interact with other backpackers. I made friends with some backpackers who were from the United States. I got into a heated debate about Donald Trump with one of them and I’m always surprised why some people care so much about him. Seriously, who cares if Donald Trump is the president.

I also made friends with another American guy who was having lower back problems. I gave him my lacrosse ball so he can use it to release his stiff back muscles. He was genuinely surprised to find a lacrosse ball to do some self-treatment on himself in India of all places.

In the future, I actually ended up visiting him in Seattle where he and his girlfriend live. It’s always cool to meet people you met during travelling in their home town.

Departing India

Before long, I was leaving India and I was back in the New Delhi airport. One of the weird things I noticed in the New Delhi airport is the tight security outside the airport. I noticed this type of security in places like the Philippines as well. I wonder if it’s to prevent terrorists or perhaps from random people getting in the airport who aren’t flying out but mainly to try and make money off the passengers?

My next destination after India is Vietnam and I would be taking a long connecting flight to Singapore then Ho Chi Minh from here.

Conclusion

I had a great time travelling in India considering I went there on a whim. While I was in Thailand, I was thinking to myself that I want to collect all 7 New Wonders of the World. And because India was relatively close to Thailand, I should go there.

This turned out to be a wonderful decision as I had a fantastic experience in India. To be honest, it’s definitely once in a lifetime because I feel that I got lucky when I travelled there. Many times, something bad could have happened like food poisoning. I don’t think I should push my luck and preserve the happy memory I had when I travelled there.

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