Monday, March 8, 2010

Stuck in India

On Saturday the 6th, we were supposed to depart the country, with a 4:40pm hop from Gaggal (an hour from Mcleod Ganj) to Delhi, and then a red-eye shortly after midnight to Singapore. We spent the morning getting packed up, buying a few last minute things, and having a final couple Tibetan meals, before taking a taxi to the airport because we hadn't given ourselves quite enough time to take the bus. We got there, and found that our flight had been canceled for reasons unspecified. Guess we should have checked on that before going to the airport. Everyone (especially our taxi driver, but also the security guards at the airport) seemed to think we should just continue by taxi to Delhi to catch our connecting flight, since that only takes 10 hours, and didn't seem to understand when we explained to that we didn't have 10 hours remaining before our next flight.

Unfortunately, Gaggal airport only has one flight per day to Delhi (maybe only one flight period), and the folks working there, while happy to refund us our money (well, to refund it to the online company we booked through), had no interest in helping us make our other flight. I don't know if that's because it was on another airline (no single airline goes to Gaggal and Singapore), or if they just don't have that responsibility to you at all in India. Apparently, the online company we booked through also has no such responsibility here in India, even though we booked the flights as a pair--something we certainly would not have done if we'd known the financial responsibility would be on us if the first flight failed to get us to the second one. The online company proceeded to be completely useless, not even able to tell us what the cancellation charges would be on the second half of the trip. Oh, yeah, and while we were there, another group was trying to get their refund for a flight they'd been supposed to take 3 weeks earlier, but had been similarly canceled. It'll be interesting to see how much of the $800 for those tickets we see credited back to our credit card.

On the bright side, there was wifi in the airport, which we used to try to figure out what to book to move on with our trip instead. We stayed there looking at flights until the airport closed, then sat outside for another 3 hours trying to book it. See, in addition to the airline website taxing our little mobile device to the limit, our credit card kept getting rejected. We kept calling the company over Skype, and they kept explaining that the charge had looked suspicious, so our card had been deactivated, but now that they knew it was us and that we were overseas (since apparently they weren't listening when we told them before we left), it wouldn't happen again. We had this conversation with them 2 times before being kicked off the airport grounds, with a credit card which had been at that point locked for a 3rd time. On the bright side, I'm confident that if that card were stolen, no fraudulent charges would be placed on it.

We proceeded to take the bus back to Dharamsala (the town just down the hill from Mcleod Ganj with decent bus access to Delhi), and managed to book ourselves a flight to Bangkok using our 3rd and final credit card from an Internet cafe. We discovered on the bus ride to Dharamsala that not all Tibetan bread is created equal, and the stuff we'd bought that morning was way better than the stuff we'd tried our first day in town. Would have been nice to know before. They were like giant English muffins, and we found ourselves wishing for a toaster and a fried egg, but enjoyed them very much anyway. If we ever move to Dharamsala, I'm totally going to open a cafe and sell McleodMuffins made of Tibetan bread with a masala omelet in the middle.

The bus ride to Delhi the next day was long and miserable, but it got the job done. And thanks to the miracle that is the Diva cup, Mary was able to manage it in spite of having scheduled herself to have her period in Singapore. We managed to catch another bus to the airport and arrived just about exactly the right amount early for our 1am flight to Bangkok, having expected to have like 3-4 hours extra.

India has been an experience, that's for sure. I'm a little sad to say it, but it's kind of a relief to be leaving. As I sit here writing from our flight to Bangkok, I can't decide which of the following I most hope is different about Thailand: I hope it isn't so dirty, smelly, and polluted; I hope the people have more respect of personal space (the Indian man next to me on the airplane is seriously leaned over 6 inches or more into my seat and against my shoulder and is taking no hints at all to give me some more space--not cool--and this is so typical of men in India); I hope the people are less pushy about selling stuff.

1 comment:

  1. You've probably already been there a couple days by the time you read this comment, but from my experience Thailand was not too dirty and polluted. Personal space is a western concept and doesn't seem to exist in Asia at all. Thai people aren't too pushy about selling stuff (compared to my experience in China, which sounds more similar to India from your posts), but you do still have to bargain and deal with tuk tuk drivers who try to rip you off.

    Have fun! I highly recommend riding an elephant through the jungle in Thailand and visiting Phuket/other islands in the south.