We had another fairly leisurely morning, then boarded the bus back to Delhi. We hoped that perhaps the ride back would be quicker, but it turned out to be just as long. We stopped at the same hotel (the one with the dancing girl) on the way back, so the driver could eat lunch. When we arrived in the south part of Delhi, the traffic became very heavy. We were concerned that Rama (she works for SKS) would be late for her flight back to Bangalore, so she decided to get off the bus and take a taxi or autorickshaw to the airport, which was much faster.
Because of the bombings the previous night, we didn't feel comfortable driving around the Delhi tourist places, so we booked a room at the Radisson hotel and hung out there with David Schappell and Jayme Hommer. It was really quite a nice hotel, and we had some time to just chill out and visit. Later in the evening, Dave and Sharon Richards, the couple from our group who were visiting friends in Delhi, joined us for dinner (they were on the same flight back). The Richards had been at the Dille Haat market on Saturday at the time of the bombings, and were told to leave and that they were shutting it down. Nothing actually happened at that market, but it was probably a good precaution. They didn't know at the time that approximately 60 people died and 200 were wounded. I was sad, because that is the market that Liz in Bombay had told us was so good. Apparently you have to pay a small fee to get in, so it keeps all the beggars and hawkers out. And they have clothing and arts and crafts from all over India. Also, the food that they serve there is supposed to be safe to eat. Oh well, I guess we'll have to come back to Delhi some day!
Our flight left Delhi at 1:30 am and there was increased security there. Other then having to stay awake for a long time, everything else went without mishap. We landed in Amsterdam about 5 am, and we had about a 6 hour layeover, so we decided to take a train into the city and walk around. There wasn't much to do, as nobody was really up yet, but it was really beautiful and peaceful walking along the canals. Eventually, some of the shops started to open and we stopped and had some yummy pastries and hot chocolate. It was just as I had remembered it 35 years ago, when I was there as a child. Bikes everywhere! We even saw a two-story parkade that was just for bikes! I don't know how they can tell whose is whose.
We left Amsterdam around 11:30 am Monday morning and arrived in Calgary at 6 pm Monday night. All in all, we travelled about 32 hours in a row. Needless to say, we were pretty tired when we arrived home. It took a couple of weeks to get over the jet lag.
We're so glad we were able to make this trip. It was really an overwhelming experience and gave us a new perspective on the world and on some of the ways people are trying to make a difference in the poverty there. India was definitely a place of contrasts. At first all I could see was the poverty and disadvantage, but the longer I was there, I saw that there were so many more layers. The people that we met were wonderfully bright, hardworking and very helpful. The culture was fascinating. The food was wonderful. While an Indian vacation is definitely not for everyone, I would certainly recommend it for the more adventurous. If I went back again, I would definitely want to educate myself better on the shopping, what to buy, where to buy it, prices etc.
My favourite part? It's hard to pick just one favourite, but it would have to be meeting the people on our excursion and visiting the people in the villages.
Second favourite. Seeing this guy riding down the road beside our bus on a camel!