Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cape Town to Kathmandu via Delhi

We left Cape Town a bit sad that another part of our trip was over, but when we transferred to the Etihad plane in Jo'berg, we were comforted by the many luxuries presented to us, like a virtually empty cabin, tasty meals delivered to our seats, and our choice of movies and games. After traveling on buses in Africa, this was pure heaven! (Thank you, Matty, for hooking us up!)

The flight had a stop over in Abu Dhabi, so we got a hotel in the city for the night. We didn't see much of the United Arab Emirates, but everything we did see left us with the impression that this is going to be THE place to be in the next few decades. Everything is new, new, new and both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are being designed from the bottom up to satisfy the pickiest of urbanites - from film festivals to fashion week and indoor ski resorts to Formula 1 racing, they've got it all. No wonder expats make up over 80% of the country's population (and growing)...

From Abu Dhabi, we flew to Delhi. Before we even left the airport, we got a taste for the madness that is India when we had to fight our way in line to try to purchase onward train tickets. We discovered we would have an unplanned 3 day layover in Delhi, as all the trains (and planes) to Nepal were completely booked.

We made the best of it and took in a few of the sites this crazy city has on offer. At first we tried walking places, but learned early on that it is worth a few rupees for a rickshaw - between the traffic, wandering cows and twisted tangle of streets, you are doomed to frustration. The open public urinals don't add to the experience either...

We visited the sandstone Red Fort, an old palace-cum-military fortress that gave us a glimpse into the history of this 5,000 year old city. Afterwards, we visited the Jama Masjid Mosque, a wonderful example of the old city's Mughal architecture. From the old city, we headed to the newer area of Connaught Place, where we enjoyed modern India's offerings, including a proper coffee house.

A few delicious meals later (India is a vegetarian paradise!) and we were on the train headed to Gorhakpur to make our connection to Nepal.

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