When I look back and think about walking through Indian Markets and Old Delhi, I feel like I’m transported into a different world…one which encapsulates a small portion but huge part of India’s culture. If you want to experience the sensory overload I did and find yourself some amazing gifts or shopping for yourself for dirt cheap, you must check out the markets in Delhi. You won’t be disappointed.
My top tips for shopping in markets in Delhi and exploring are below:
Shopping in Markets
- Don’t buy things out of fear that you won’t be able to find it somewhere else. India has loads of markets with almost anything you want and it’s almost always available at your fingertips especially when it comes to clothes, random accessories and necessities.
- It’s worth investing time to go to Indian markets for local clothes because they are cheap, extremely comfortable and suit India’s climate. They also help you blend in more. Local recommendations are: Sarojini Nagar Market, Janpath or G K M block.
- If you’re exploring with a group you’ve just met, get their contact details straight away.
- If a stall advertises their clothes for a ‘fixed price’, they will not budge.
- Check your purchases before and after buying them – the item could be falling apart or you might get something different to what you think you’re buying.
- If you’re planning on a day of shopping, budget properly and stick to your budget or bring extra cash with you.
- A good price for a standard pair of Indian pants is 200 rupees. Many stalls had fixed prices or sold pants for a minimum of 200 rupees.
- A cheap scarf should cost about 100-200 rupees.
- A good price for a dress is around 400 rupees.
- If you want a vendor to leave you alone, ignore them or say a firm “NO” and walk away without looking back.
- Outside food, drinks and cigarettes are forbidden inside many temples.
- By law, you usually cannot smoke inside or near the vicinity of a temple. If you do, you will probably have to pay a hefty fine.
- The security is pretty relaxed in India. For some reason they didn’t notice the food I had. I think it’s because I hid it pretty well in one of the girl’s bags.
- Do not order iced coffee in India.
- Eating raw vegetables is risky in most parts of India because they use tap water to wash vegetables.
- Carry hand sanitiser and tissues with you everywhere you go.
- Carry a zippable bag in front of you and close to you at all times, especially in crowded areas. Make sure it’s not loosely hung on your shoulder where people can easily snatch it.
- Bum-bags’/belt-bags are perfectly safe in India.
- It is safe to use your phone in crowded areas. Just be vigilant.
- For girls – invest in a head scarf to wear around your head when traveling around India.
- Tuk tuk drivers help each other out. When there’s a bunch of them trying to get your business, nobody will usually give you a lower price. They scratch each other’s backs.
- If a tuk tuk driver takes you somewhere where there’s a shop (and perhaps even a restaurant), they might have a setup where they get a commission from the owners for bringing them business there.
- Finding out which platform your train departs from is not the easiest information to find at the train station and isn’t on your train ticket. You can either ask the staff at your accommodation, Google it or use e.train.info, or useful Apps such as Trainman. Unluckily for me, I didn’t know about these tools at the time but I asked the staff at the hostel.
- Make sure you know which train station you need to get to before you leave your hotel or hostel.
- If you’re at a major train station, chances are there are taxi service stands where they can book the driver for you.
- If you use Ola (which is far cheaper than Uber), you will get texted a code which you will need to provide the driver when getting in the car. They will not drive you unless the code matches theirs.
- Organise your food for train rides before hand not when you get to the station.
- Some restaurants offer water by the jug – this is usually tap water and should be avoided. Get bottled water when you can.
- Many vendors sell ‘cold’ water which is not even cold.
- When buying bottled water, check that the bottle is sealed and you’re buying a reputable brand.
- When giving any accommodation your deposit, make sure you get a receipt or take a picture of them making a record of it. Get any proof you can!
My mission on Day 2 was to find Indian clothes, because…
- I drunkenly planned to go to the markets with two English girls from the night before (Ellie and Bex).
- It was my last day in Delhi and I was still wearing a lot of my clothes from back home. I wanted to blend in with the locals as much and as fast as possible.
- I was scared that if I didn’t get local clothes in Delhi, I would have trouble in finding it later for some reason (a very wrong assumption).
Tip #1 don’t buy things out of fear that you won’t be able to find it somewhere else. India has loads of markets with almost anything you want and it’s almost always available at your fingertips especially when it comes to clothes, random accessories and necessities.
Tip #2 It’s worth investing time to go to Indian markets for local clothes because they are cheap, extremely comfortable and suit India’s climate. They also help you blend in more. I asked a local friend for recommendations of places to buy local clothes. She recommended Sarojini Nagar Market, Janpath or G K M block.
I went to the breakfast area and found a whole new bunch of people, stumbling upon a girl from Canada and America who also wanted to find some clothes who agreed to come to the markets with me. Hurray!
I messaged the English girls to see if they still wanted to go to find some markets.
“Yes!!! But can we go later because we are super hungover.”
And that’s how our little group formed.
During breakfast the American girl and I planned on where we would go (please forgive me I forgot your name. I’m going with the alias ‘Courtney’). Courtney recommended Hauz Khas Markets which was different to the ones I had in mind because it was much closer ~ apparently a 25 minute walk away from the hostel to be exact. To be honest, I didn’t care where we went as long as we found markets to buy clothes.
It was settled – we would go to the closest one!
We all slowly got ready before meeting up. I convinced everyone to walk instead of catching a tuk tuk because I really wanted to walk.
We walked and walked and walked…
25 minutes passed and we were getting restless ~ it was hot, we were tired and there was no sign of any markets at all. Either Maps lied to us or we misread the map.
We stopped and used a different app to check if we were headed in the right direction. As our luck would have it, we went the wrong way!
After more walking (for about probably half an hour) we finally made it to our destination.
I was expecting to see stalls everywhere with clothes and lots of people…but ….there were only a few stalls with kids toys. There was barely anyone in site apart from the shop vendors. I was confused and thought….”maybe this is the beginning of the markets”. Courtney said that the markets were supposed to have lots of clothes, textiles, jewelry, and so forth so I had hope that if we kept on walking through, we’d be smacked in the face with an awesome market. But the longer we walked the more desolate the stalls became.
We decided to ask a local if we were in the right place and if there were clothing markets.
Wow….we walked all this way just to find toys (our first failure of the day!).
What else could we do but give up at this point?
I saw a fancy looking cafe and got a little excited because it was an opportunity for me to drink some proper coffee which I’d been craving since Malaysia and I wanted to have a break after this ordeal.
The inside was nicely decorated and we were seated immediately. I ordered a cold drip coffee and Ellie and Bex ordered an iced coffee. I also noticed some sweets on display and couldn’t resists. The others ordered some food. Sadly, this cafe was very expensive by Indian standards ~ the food and coffee was Australian prices (so much for going on a budget trip). As soon as we got our coffees, Ellie and Bex looked at their drinks in deep regret (almost like the look we make when we’re doing the regretful walk-of-shame ) Ellie said something along the lines of…
“I didn’t think about there being ice in my drink….”
Then I realised that ordering a cold coffee may not have been the best idea either.
Tip #3 do not order iced coffee in India. It’s a commonly known fact that you should avoid ordering iced drinks or drinks with ice cubes. I’ve heard horror stories of ice-cube companies dragging the ice blocks on the floor and handling it with their hands before supplying the ice to restaurants and cafes. You can never be too sure of where your food and drink comes from.
We quickly tried to figure out ways for Ellie and Bex to avoid ingesting the ice. I offered my teaspoon to them so they could spoon out all of their ice cubes. Ellie refused and said…
“Oh well, if we just drink really fast then hopefully everything will be ok.’
Then I remembered I had a secret stash of anti ‘Delhi Belly’ pills in my bag. I got them out, took one and offered them to the girls. They happily accepted.
Good snacks and company at the Big Fat Sandwich in Delhi
Only time could tell whether we our stomachs were going to go through a roller coaster ride but there was no point in dwelling on something which already happened so we continued on with our journey – deciding on our next destination.
I called one of the staff members over, loaded up my friend’s message and asked him:
“Which one of these markets is closest to here?”
Waiter: “Sarojini Nagar Market”
Me: “how long will it take to get there?”
Waiter: “about 30 minutes”
Me: “how much should a tuk tuk ride cost to get there?”
Waiter: “about 100-150 rupees”
Me: “thank you very much!”
We stood outside to hail down a tuk tuk. About 5 or 6 drivers came up to us.
I was determined to get the ride for 100 rupees and asked the first driver: “how much to Sarojini Nagar Market?”
Driver 1: “400 rupees”
Me: “that is too expensive. 100!”
Driver 1: “No”
I turn to another driver: “will you do 100 to Sarojini Nagar Market?”
Driver 2: “No”
I tried my luck again and again and eventually, one said yes. We all squeezed into the small tuk-tuk (there were 5 of us in the back), my legs were hanging out….and our driver took off.
I thought for 100 rupees, the ride wouldn’t be that far…but it ended up being much further than we thought it would be. Then I started feeling guilty for bartering the price down so low. I felt like we were the ones ripping off the driver (the truth is, we probably actually just got the local price).
Once we got close to our destination, our driver stopped and told us that we had to walk the rest of the way to get to the market. There was nothing around except for a gate, lots of people and cars. We all looked at each other…worried that this would be yet another failure…but we had to have faith. Our driver wasn’t really giving us a choice anyway.
We paid him, hopped out of the car and followed the crowd. After about 10 minutes, we finally saw a small stall in the sun on the roadside selling local pants and other items. There was a stall next to it selling bags. It looked promising. Our group got overly excited to FINALLY see clothes so sifting through the stall’s clothes for a while and ended up buying pants. We walked a little bit further with the crowd and more and more stalls popped up. There was not a single tourist in sight (except for us). People were walking everywhere, sellers were coming from every direction to try to sell random things. At one stage someone try to sell me a portable chalk board which you could roll like a poster…finally we had arrived to a market with success!!!
Sarojini Nagar Markets
I learnt very quickly that shopping with a group is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you don’t have their contact details – we kept on getting distracted and losing each other, and then we’d spend more even more time trying to find each other than it did losing everyone.
Tip #4 if you’re exploring with a group you’ve just met, get their contact details straight away. It saves headache and will just make for a much more convenient and smoother day.
Once we found each other again we ultimately decided to split up and meet at the entrance where we came from at 3.30pm
I had time to slowly check out the market properly on my own.
There were so many people…everywhere! It was hard to walk around from A to B even for a miniature-sized human.
Tip #5 carry a zippable bag in front of you and close to you at all times, especially in crowded areas. Make sure it’s not loosely hung on your shoulder where people can easily snatch it.
Tip #6 ‘bum-bags’/belt-bags are perfectly safe in India. I travelled everywhere with one and never felt threatened. Nothing was stolen from me.
Tip #7 it is safe to use your phone in crowded areas. Just be vigilant.
There were nice and not-so-nice clothes everywhere for VERY cheap but I found it overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start looking, what prices to negotiate and what I was specifically looking for so I did what I do best and procrastinated by walking around a bit and scoping out the general prices of things. This definitely helped me learn what the average of price of pants, scarves and dresses were and whether I could negotiate!
Tip #8 if a stall advertises their clothes for a ‘fixed price’, they will not budge. Don’t bother wasting your time trying to barter.
Tip #9 a good price for a standard pair of Indian pants is 200 rupees. Many stalls had fixed prices or sold pants for a minimum of 200 rupees, although admittedly after a few months of wearing them back home everyday, they fall apart very easily.
Tip #10 a scarf should cost about a minimum of 100-200 rupees.
Tip #11 a good price for a casual day-dress is around 400 rupees.
Tip #12 for girls – invest in a head scarf to wear around your head when traveling around India. India has a conservative culture where women are expected to cover up their arms and legs and sometimes their head. Having a light headscarf not only conforms with this custom but also provides sun protection and helps you to blend in.
Whenever I went into a shop and showed interest in anything, the workers would push so very hard to try and get the sale even if I genuinely wasn’t interested.
Tip #13 if you want a vendor to leave you alone, ignore them or say a firm “NO” and walk away without looking back. The more attention you give them, and the more polite you are, the more they will take advantage of you.
There was one dress in particular which I really liked that I found it when stumbling upon a stall. It was a navy-blue dress with a simple light brown pattern. I had to have it.
I asked the vendor: “how much?”
Vendor: “400 rupees”
Me: “can you do 200 rupees?”
I walked away and he didn’t chase me. There were a lot of other customers looking to buy at this stall. I walked straight back to buy the dress.
I pointed to the blue dress and handed him 400 rupees.
“Give me this one”
Another worker took my money while the vendor grabbed one of the dresses out of the stack and quickly placed it into a plastic bag.
I grabbed the bag and walked away. I was done with shopping ~ my hands were full of bags and I started feeling this urge to go to the toilet. Good timing! I found a random restaurant and sat down by myself. It looked pretty stock standard – like a cheap restaurant you’d find on any street.
I ordered some garlic naan and vegetable curry and asked the waiter if they had a toilet.
I thought: “mother f&**&^! I came here for nothing.” (the urge was growing ever so strongly).
They took a while to prepare my food and 3.30pm was approaching fast. I was started worrying I wouldn’t be able to eat my food and meet everyone in time.
At first the waiter dropped some vegetables on my table which looked raw.
“There’s no way I’m eating raw vegetables.”
I was too scared of getting Delhi belly to touch them.
Tip #14 eating raw vegetables is risky in most parts of India because they use tap water to wash vegetables. There are some exceptions.
Then my order came out.
It was absolutely delicious. The curry had some cheese in it and the garlic naan was cooked to perfection. I think it’s actually one of the better meals I had in India. It was definitely worth the random visit even though they didn’t have a toilet.
I was running out of time so I ate half of my meal and took the other half away with me. I rushed back to the meeting point and found most of the crew sitting down by the curb side, looking defeated.
The Canadian girl was missing but showed up after about 20 minutes.
Next stop – LOTUS TEMPLE
As we started walking towards the area where all the tuk tuk’s were, the Canadian girl left to continue exploring the markets.
We ended up taking two tuk tuks because the drivers refused to take the four of us (obviously to help each other make money). I went with Courtney.
Tip #15 Tuk tuk drivers help each other out. When there’s a bunch of them trying to get your business, nobody will usually give you a lower price. They scratch each other’s backs.
During the ride, we started showing each other the clothes we bought and when it came to showing her my new favourite cool dress (the blue one with the light brown pattern at the front), I realised that they gave me a completely different dress to what I wanted. I’d been SCAMMED! (my first scam in India – failure # 2) I didn’t check the dress at the time I bought it but if I did, I would have realised the seller gave me a really crap version of the dress I wanted. The one they gave me had no pattern at the front like the one on display. It was literally a plain, oversized navy-blue dress. I was extremely annoyed, but there was nothing I could do.
Tip #16 check your purchases before and after buying them – the item could be falling apart or you might get something different to what you think you’re buying.
After accepting my failure I then realised I had no cash left for the tuk tuk ride to the Lotus Temple or to get back to the hostel (lol….I didn’t plan my finances very well). Luckily, the Courtney agreed to lend me the money, otherwise I would have been screwed (failure #3)
Tip #17 if you’re planning on a day of shopping, budget properly and stick to your budget or bring extra cash with you.
When we got to the temple, we had to pay an inflated tourist fee to get in . Luckily I could use my card (Phew!).
There were security guards and a metal detector at the entrance. A girl was refused entry for having a packet of cigarettes and lighter on her too even though she promised she wouldn’t smoke inside. They also wouldn’t allow us to bring in any outside food but I got away with bringing food inside. They did a very thorough check on her but not me. Maybe this was my karma for being scammed at the markets.
Tip #18 outside food, drinks and cigarettes are forbidden inside many temples.
Tip #19 by law, you usually cannot smoke inside or near the vicinity of a temple. If you do, you will probably have to pay a hefty fine.
Tip #20 the security is pretty relaxed in India. For some reason they didn’t notice the food I had. I think it’s because I hid it pretty well in one of the girl’s bags.
We walked through a beautiful park and you could see the Temple from far away. It was shaped like a lotus. The sun was glaring onto us. We were dying and half of us were hungover.
When we got closer to the temple, we had to take our shoes off and to put it in a bag (which the staff supplied). After queuing for what seemed like an eternity, we finally got inside the temple and were to stay for prayers. By this stage, I was busting to go to the toilet and we were hardly in the mood to listen to prayers.
I whispered to the group: “do you guys want to go?”
The girls nodded.
We rushed off and found a tuk tuk driver to take us to the nearest ‘decent’ restaurant for 50 rupees. What an excellent deal….not!
He drove for about 1-2 minutes so it wasn’t actually a good deal at all (failure #4)
Either way, we were happy to find a restaurant. The girls were starving and my bladder could barely contain itself. I don’t know how I managed to make it all the way to the temple and to the restaurant without peeing my pants. The restaurant was upstairs and there was a shop underneath. The shop owner was already trying to lure us in before we went in to eat. We politely ignored him and went into the restaurant.
I bolted to the bathroom – at laaaaaaaaaaaast!!!!!! I relieved myself (I won’t go into further detail).
Tip #21 carry hand sanitiser and tissues with you everywhere you go. You should sanitise your hands before you eat and after using the toilets because many toilets don’t offer hand soap and India is so dirty – you won’t know what germs have spread onto your hand when touring around. Many toilets don’t provide toilet paper so it’s always handy to have these on you.
We ordered our food, ate, drank some cold bottled water and relaxed for a bit. It was a very long day.
Tip #22 some restaurants offer water by the jug – this is usually tap water and should be avoided. Get bottled water when you can.
Tip #23 many vendors sell ‘cold’ water which is not even cold. Get used to drinking semi-cold or warm water. It’s best to try and get water as cold as possible because if you’re exploring, the water will become warm very quickly.
Tip #24 when buying bottled water, check that the bottle is sealed and you’re buying a reputable brand. Be VERY cautious. Many vendors sell used bottles which have been refilled with tap water and some vendors even re-seal the lids.
Once we were done, the waiter asked us “would you like anything else”
As soon as we said those magic words, he brought us the bill straight away (they don’t muck around when it comes to getting money from you). We thanked him, paid and left. Surprise, surprise – as soon as we stepped outside, the shop owner from before aggressively tried to convince us to come inside his shop again.
Tip #25 if a tuk tuk driver agrees to take you somewhere, they might take you to a a shop where they get a commission from the owners for bringing them business. Beware – these shop owners won’t let you leave until you buy something (stay tuned for more detail on this later as two of my fellow travelers fell victim to this scam)
Once we were on the streets again…there was only one tuk tuk in sight. We asked him for his price to takes us back to the hostel.
I thought that 400 rupees was outrageously expensive so I declined.
We found another driver nearby who agreed to take us for 350 rupees. I wanted to get a lower price but there weren’t many drivers around so transport became a priority over cost.
We were dropped off at some random place which didn’t look familiar at all. Our driver left before we realised we were at the wrong stop. It was too late to tell him!
I thought we were close enough to walk back to the hostel but when we got off and checked maps – it became clear that we were nowhere close.
We were a 45 minute walk away! (failure #5)
Nobody was in the mood for walking. We were tired, cranky and hungover. We almost succumbed to getting another tuk tuk but every single driver asked for 400 rupees just to take us for what would have been a 10 minute drive. If we agreed, our ride home would have ended up costing double the amount.
I felt bad because if we had just paid that extra 50 rupees, we would already be home. (The driver from before who wanted 400 rupees knew exactly where Madpackers was).
We had no choice but to walk.
At one stage there was a really persistent driver who practically followed us the whole way home while we were walking, trying to get 400 rupees from us the whole time.
After what felt like 2 hours…we FINALLY made it back!
I could finally relax, unwind and finish my delicious food….
After all, I had to wake up very early for my train ride to AGRA (home of the Taj Mahal).
A little summary of my day
Again, a little group formed on the rooftop. I told everyone at the hostel I was going to take it easy and relax because I had to get up early to go to Agra and learned that the majority of my fellow travelers were also headed in the same direction as me on the same day. Woohoo! I was thrilled because I formed a little bit of attachment to the people I met (I know I am so sadly sentimental)
Tip #26 Never make a declaration you are not going to have a big night.
Despite my declaration of taking it easy, I ended up staying up and drinking until the wee hours of the morning (at least I packed my luggage earlier so I didn’t have to worry about it). I went to bed and woke up at an ungodly hour to catch my train. I only had 3 hours sleep. I was a sad and tired. I’d grown attached to this place and their dog Chewy!
Most people checked out at the same time as me, but their trains were earlier than mine. One of the guys was unlucky enough not to get his 500 rupee deposit back because the Hostel didn’t have any record of taking his money for the deposit when he checked in. I mean 500 rupees is only about AUD$10 but you can get quite a lot of things in India with that amount of money.
Tip #27 when giving any accommodation your deposit, make sure you get a receipt or take a picture of them making a record of it. Get any proof you can!
We all said our goodbyes and I told everyone I’d see them at Agra.
When I checked out and said goodbye to the hostel staff, one of the guys told me he didn’t want me to leave and his eyes started tearing up. I’m not going to lie, I’m still touched to this day that he loved me so much 😊
I knew my train station was at the NDLS (New Delhi Railway Station) so I booked an Uber. My driver arrived in 5 minutes and drove me to the station so quickly because there was barely any traffic. I was pleased with how efficient I was being with time because I was scared that something bad would happen once I got to the train station and I would miss my train (it always does somehow).
Tip #28 make sure you know which train station you need to get to before you leave your hotel or hostel. There are usually a few train stations in each city and it’s not the easiest to figure out which one you need to get to. The name of the train station will be on your ticket (see below).
Mr Uber dropped me off at the parking/drop-off area (the entrance most furthest away from my platform) and was told by my driver to walk to the entrance. *sigh*, I thought he could drop me right at the entrance of the train station because I didn’t want to walk at all with my huge luggage case if I could avoid it.
I eventually got to the entrance and had to put my bag through an x-ray machine. It was a mission even to lift my luggage onto the conveyor belt, but I use my talented ninja moves and pass through with success.
Thankfully, the escalators to get up were working so I took advantage of them. I started looking for Platform 4 ~ where my train would be leaving from (which I found out from asking the people at the hostel)
Tip #29 finding out which platform your train departs from is not the easiest information to find at the train station and isn’t on your train ticket. You can either ask the staff at your accommodation, Google it or use e.train.info, or useful Apps such as Trainman. Unluckily for me, I didn’t know about these tools at the time and it would have been much easier if I knew about these before but I still got where I needed to go by asking the staff at the hostel.
Surprisingly, I found my platform easily but physically getting to the platform was a different story ~ there was a massive stair case with no escalators. *Sigh* Just my luck! I swear there were at least 100-200 steps.
One by one (step by step)…I walked down, with my back pack and luggage case, resting my luggage on my knee for every step I took. My arms were shaking so much by the time I got down.
Stupidly, I decided I wanted to something to eat. The food sold on the platform wasn’t substantial enough so I had to go outside again. Although it was risky, I felt that I had enough time to get food and get back to the platform on time. So up again I went with my luggage. It was even harder than going down.
Tip #30 organise your food for train rides before hand not when you get to the station. Only small snacks are available at the little stalls.
As I struggled up, two guys who were walking next to me started looking at me with a blank but serious stare.
One says: “your bag is too big.”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
They offered to help.
I reluctantly accepted, thinking…
“he’s probably trying to make a buck from me.”
They both grabbed my luggage from my hands and took it to the top.
I thanked them, expecting them to ask for money but they didn’t ask for a single cent! It was just a simple act of kindness. It felt so good to drag my luggage on its wheels when I got to the top.
I finally had some luck on my side….for a millisecond.
Of course all of the escalators decided to stop working! *sigh*
I had no choice but to slowly lug my luggage down to get out.
After going outside, finding a snack and eating it on the roadside. I had to go back in again ☹ (FML)
I remember looking at the entrance with pain and despair – I didn’t want to go through the struggle again…I was exhausted, sweating profusely, my arms were shaking and I was hungover.
Doing it the second time was even harder than the first…but eventually…I made it back to the platform and with about 15-20 minutes to spare (go me!). To kill time, I started browsing on my phone and decided to double-check the details of my train ticket.
Everything seemed to be fine….until I look at the date…
My train was booked for the following day and not on this bloody day!?
I checked the date 10 times to make sure with 150% certainty that my train was definitely tomorrow…and it was.
I had to know if I booked my accommodation in Agra for tomorrow as well. The date matched.
I couldn’t believe that I got things so wrong.
I was stuck in Delhi for one more night without accommodation…. and with my stupid luggage case. (Failure #6)
I couldn’t bare the thought of going up the stairs again so I stood there and procrastinated….deciding what to do. I had two options: I could try finding a last minute ticket to Agra…OR keep my pre-bought ticket and accommodation and book another night of accommodation in Delhi. I opted for option 2 because it just felt like too much hassle to get another ticket.
I really wanted to go back to Madpackers but it wasn’t THAT close to the train station…so I decided to try GoStops Hostel which was about a 5 minute drive away. It also had a good reputation on the internet.
***fingers crossed it’s as good as Madpackers***
After standing around at the platform for about 40 minutes, I finally build the courage to go up those wretched stairs again and eventually make it out. I couldn’t be bothered going outside to be bombarded by tuk tuk drivers because I was so exhausted by this point. I also couldn’t be bothered using Uber because I wasn’t sure how to organise a pick up from the train station since cars couldn’t get that close to the entrance. I walked around the entrance for a bit to find an Ola stand where they could organise the booking for me – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tip #31 if you’re at a major train station, chances are there are taxi service stands where they can book the driver for you. Just be careful it’s a legitimate stand and not scammers.
I asked them if they could organise a driver for me. They nod their heads and tell me to download the Old app so they can help me. I download it as quickly as possible. He grabs my phone and plays around with it for a bit and then makes a call from my phone to the driver. I have no idea what he’s saying because he’s speaking Hindi but eventually he hangs up and tells me:
“Go over there and wait for this driver”
He points to the curb in front of the stand, then points to the screen and shows me the number plate to look out for.
“You will need to provide him with this code on your phone when you get in the taxi”
I’m a little bit sceptical and worried I’m about to get scammed but too tired to interrogate so I leave it and walk across to the meeting point.
My driver arrives, I hop in. The car looks like a normal taxi.
He asks me for the code.
I follow the instructions of the staff and show him the code on my phone.
The driver nods and starts driving.
Tip #32 if you use Ola (which is far cheaper than Uber), you will get texted a code which you will need to provide the driver when getting in the car. They will not drive you unless the code matches theirs.
We eventually get to this dodgy looking area and the driver stops. I have no idea where we are and can’t see GoStops anywhere. I check Maps and the Ola app which indicate we’ve arrived at the destination. I’m so confused because I can’t see the hostel anywhere so I ask the driver if he knows exactly where the hostel is. He can barely speak a word of English. I take a closer look and see this little GoStops sign – ahhh! Finally!
I get out and walk in…there’s a security guard, another metal detector and some dogs sleeping in the hallway. The security guard greets me and lets me through. Yay! I can finally rest now. I look ahead and am welcomed by another flight of stairs. *sigh*
Eventually I got up to the top after struggling. The reception area was so tiny that when I stood at the front I blocked the pathway to the exit for everyone else.
The staff were very relaxed and took their time to help me and check me in…
“Check in time is at 2pm. You’re welcome to have breakfast though”
Dammit…..I still had so many hours to kill. I just wanted a bed. (It was around 7 or 8 in the morning).
“Well, I may as well take advantage of the breakfast here…”
I walked into the kitchen area and see a sign – “no drinking inside the premises”
“Hmmm…already a bad sign”
There were a few people in the kitchen area, but nobody really talked to each other. It seemed like there were more locals than foreigners as well.
I grabbed some food, are a little bit and slowly walked to the common area to lie down on a makeshift bed. After resting for a little bit and I overheard a girl asking about a walking tour in Old Delhi which the hostel was doing. My ears pricked up because I suddenly became interested to do it…but how could I get my body off the floor? I was dead! I eventually dragged my sorry arse up to the reception desk and ask about them about the tour.
“You can still join but they are leaving now.”
“How much is it?”
“350 rupees for 3 hours”
I thought – yeah why not, I’ve got time and it sounds interesting.
A little crew of about 4 girls from the hostel including me and hop in a tuk tuk to central Old Delhi.
I won’t bore you with all the details but long story short – we were taken to a number of temples and a whole bunch of different markets where you could buy anything you wanted from spices, to flowers, bridal clothing, jewelry or decorations.
Old Delhi Markets
After about 10 minutes into the tour, I realised that going on the tour was a BIG mistake. It was SO hot and I was dying. I felt like I was going to pass out every second and had to face the noisy streets and cars driving towards me from all different directions.
I remember at one point when we walked through the markets, it was so congested that I could barely even take a step in any direction. Despite the struggle, I’m so glad I went because I got to see a lot of things I normally wouldn’t have and I learnt a lot.
Eating street food and waiting for Chai tea in a little alleyway – I was dying by this point!
Old Delhi street, spice and nut market. Holi Festival was also about to begin so there was a lot of vendors selling different colour pastes.
By the time we finished the tour, I could check in (hurray!)
One of the guys escorted me to my room – the place was HUGE. There were so many rooms in this hostel. It definitely felt more like a hotel than Madpackers and I preferred Madpackers much more than GoStops…but what was done was done and I just needed a place to crash.
My room was clearner, more modern and an all girls’ dorm with only 4 beds. There was more privacy and the shower had hot water (woo!). Two of my room mates were also Asian-Australians like me. I settled in, took a shower and pretty much passed out not long after relaxing for a bit.
Above and below – the GoStops Hostel courtyard
I couldn’t wait to rest and catch up on sleep so I could have a lot of energy for the NDLS train station and Agra the next day.
Finally the day was over!