#Indiawithluv Series: The Arrival

What is not to love in India? I’ve got so much stories to tell.

I spent incredible 10 days in India in November 2015 after missing my best friend’s wedding in Jaipur in 2014. India has always been on my bucket list yet I couldn’t find the right dates without feeling at guilt taking an off time from work. Traveling solo takes a lot of courage and I had yet to find time to research thoroughly but all the wondering met its end.  I was able to step foot India.

Are you going to India? You’ve heard about the crime rate and rape issues, right?!

You’re ridiculously flying alone! Why India?! Travel alone elsewhere!

Do you really trust your Indian friends? They spell (might be) trouble!

 

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Solo flight begins! Wore my well-travelled hoodie.

These are few reactions of those people whom I’ve shared excitedly that I’m going to India. It’s fair to say a lot of people did not understand my fondness but the right timing came along; a friend of ours whom I met in Myanmar was getting married; No one should ever miss an Indian wedding.  No, it’s not those usual walk on the aisle kind but an entire week long celebration where family and friends come together from different cities and countries, joining the union of a couple filled with dancing and colorful ensembles (and, sumptuous Indian vegan/vegetarian food!).

 

And rightly so, There were a lot of bad publicity about India, confusion, misinformation and stereotypes. If you haven’t read much of the good, you’ll be trapped in the realm of nothing but horrid stories missing out the rich culture of the country, preserved architecture and how much they value compassion towards others.

My itinerary: New Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Jaipur.

 

Cheap Air Tickets

Ever since I discovered cheapoair during my flight to and back from Manila to Yangon, to Bangkok in 2014,  I have been a loyalist in finding possible airline tickets to different destinations. I had my supposed India trip in 2014 booked through their site and app. The customer service team are easy to talk to, my refund was taken cared off immediately without additional costs or penalties.

Their comparison rates are competitive, they’ve got the cheapest amongst my attempts whether it was a flight going to Viet Nam, New York,  Europe or India. They make sure you get to apply as much as $20 off additional discounts on your travels too.

From the usual trip ticket of +/- $1200,  My round trip ticket only cost me $400 (more or less Php 18,000) through China Southern Airlines. Best part, It’s refundable.

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Visa for India

For convenience, you will need to apply for your visa online . India’s visa-on-arrival has been replaced with the electronic application.  The validity is for 30-days.

A tourist visa depends on where you’re coming from, length of stay and how many entries you will need. As I was only going to be in India for a few days, I applied through e-visa for $48, it should be paid via credit or debit card.  Have an electronic 2×2 photo for your digital application.

You must, at least, apply for the e-visa 4 days prior to your trip.

Where to Stay?

 

 

First in agenda will always have to be a long comfortable sleep before I charge all my energy in full speed. I had to make sure I’m well hydrated, ate right and squeeze in some quiet time to reflect on what the days ahead are going to be, and to just enjoy the trip like a local without missing out the idea of being a tourist.

Ah, I’m sleeping within India’s timezone. 

In order for me not to miss a day in my travels, I always book the earliest flight, and choose whichever arrives before sunrise. That way, I get to wake up at around 9AM, just in time for breakfast or brunch.

At 3AM,  Luvkesh , one of my good friends in Delhi picked me up from  New Delhi International Airport and dropped me off at  ITC  WelcomHotel Dwarka, New Delhi booked through the ever-reliable booking.com app. Thanks for the recommendation, Bud!

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ITC WelcomHotel Dwarka, an upscale hotel, in a contemporary concrete and glass building is conveniently located 15-20 minutes away from the airport, 3-minutes walk from the nearest metro station and 8km from the Indian Air Force Museum.

It seems as if they’re cost-cutting, the lobby was shut down to pitch dark. The front office personnel spoke good English and was able to assist me in checking in but took way longer than usual standards of a hotel. For someone who’s dead tired and wanting to sleep, patience was not much of my friend but the Front Office staff did well with his courteous voice.

Being the hotelier that I am, somehow, I was expecting for the bellman to offer his services on accompanying me towards my room and transport my luggage.

Once I entered my room, all that welcoming was forgotten.  The room was squeaky clean, as welcoming as it pleases. The room temperature was just right, the scent of the room was balmy. The color combination of the interiors had a modern touch of both masculine and feminine with a hint of its culture.

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A Deluxe room cost me $76 (approximately around Php 3,425 ) with Breakfast in a comfortable King sized bed within a 33 sqm space with amenities you could lounge around: flat-screen TV with cable channels, laptop safe box, coffee/tea making facilities, work desk with business kit for your notes and the best part other than being situated in a comfortable bed was the toilet inclusive of a Bathtub and Shower to spoil you throughout your stay.

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Breakfast at the Pavilion75 located on the ground floor wasn’t how I envisioned it knowing I’ve had this thought about Indian breakfast where there is an abundant flow of different flavors of lassi, Indian pancakes, and desserts but the breakfast didn’t disappoint either. At least, they made me a glass of cold lassi to start my day right.

Service was good, the staff was attentive on who would need water and cleared out the empty plates politely.

Wish they were able to serve the published breakfast buffet: Chinese, Japanese, and International Cuisines fit for every traveler. They, however, had options for both vegan and vegetarian.

I was joined by my best friend, Vijay Dhayal, Vice President of a Business Development and International Trade in Yangon, Myanmar for Breakfast on a non-work mode, just be our silly selves for a trip away from the hustle and bustle of our usual grind.

The stay overall wasn’t so bad. The room was spacious, clean and has the amenities a traveler would need. The staff spoke good English and were helpful when I needed housekeeping’s help on stitching a patch on my bag. They even gave me a pocket sewing kit just in case.

For someone who wants to stay in-between luxury, comfort and budget, I will definitely give the hotel another chance and recommend to friends who has the same preference. The hotel also has a mall attached to its compound. It would’ve been nice to know what they have and get to enjoy the outdoor pool area.

Get to know more about the hotel through this FACT SHEET

The real trip commence. I will post more of the entire trip on my next article.

NOTE:

If you’re wondering if it’s safe in India. Yes, however, just like in any countries (including your home country) you should always take precautions and act appropriately without flashing off. Best if you can travel with a friend, not just to save money in your budget but also to get to hype the trip even more fun!

 

 

ITC WelcomHotel Dwarka

Plot, Janakpuri District Center, Dwarka,

New Delhi, Delhi 110075, India

Phone:+91 11 4222 9222

 

 

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