Thursday, 22 February 2018

The end of the road Part 15.

After almost a month our journey was coming to an end, our guide in India, well aware that there were a lot of dissatisfied customers amongst the three coaches decided to arrange a night out in Delhi for our final evening. This meant we had to start our journey back from Jaipur fairly early as it was a long drive again, over 6 hours. 
A benefit along the way though was a loo break and to my delight there were some good birds in the garden area!
These Red-wattled Lapwings appeared everywhere we'd been in India but not as close as this one!
Red-wattled lapwing   Vanellus indicus
A hunting White-throated Kingfisher was equally confiding
White-throated Kingfisher    Halcyon smyrnensis
and the Olive-backed Sunbird was one I hadn't photographed before.
Olive-backed Sunbird   Cinnyris jugularis
Back on the coach we arrived back at our hotel in Dwarka early afternoon with time to get ready for a 6.00pm departure in to Delhi for our final nights complimentary cultural show and dinner.
The show was OK, in fact I quite enjoyed it but the dinner, an outdoor BBQ under the stars had a sting in the tail. Luckily, it was 48 hours later when "Delhi Belly" struck and I had arrived back home. It must have been the BBQ because quite a few people who were there suffered. I remember remarking to Claire that they didn't seem to be leaving food on the coals for very long before serving them and one kebab I tried eating was cold in the middle. I left the rest but it only takes a mouthful. Had we been at the front of the queue perhaps the food would have been cooked a lot longer than for those of us at the back!
Travelling in and out of Delhi added another 3 hours driving to our day and by the time we got to bed it was late. Still, unlike the majority on the tour, we had opted for regional airports in the UK and our flight didn't leave until 9.00pm whereas most had to be on their way to the airport by around 7.00am! 
The hotel's breakfast area was a lot less crowded by 9.00am but it still took forever to order an omelette, they want £40 to extend the checkout by 4 hours and around £12 for a day's WiFi.
There is no way I'd recommend anyone to stay there, they are in my opinion, manipulating their Trip Advisor reports too. Strange that all those 5 star reviews, over 50 for december, were written by first time posters and the handful written by others gave poor reviews.
Ah well, we were stuck there for the day. Having experienced the travel in to Delhi we decided it wasn't worth the risk of arriving back late and missing the collection for the airport or indeed our flight.
I spent the morning wandering in a small local park whilst Claire sat by the pool. A low key end to this mammoth trip.
Would we recommend it to anyone else?
No, I'm afraid not.
We felt that we were deceived by the brochure and that the travel company didn't deliver what was promised. 
With hindsight trying to take in so many countries in one trip is probably not a good idea either. It's a better idea to stay longer and split it in to two holidays. You get better value for your VISA and the you spend less time on travelling from A to B. Less travel also means cost saving too.
We ended up sending a letter of complaint to our tour company who responded with an offer of compensation amounting to 4% of the cost. It was rejected by nearly all those who complained and in fairness the company came back with an enhanced offer of almost 7% which was deemed acceptable. However, what was done was done and we'd have preferred to have had a properly organised tour, we didn't embark on it seeking a refund but we did expect value for money.
That said we do have some special memories. The Great Wall of China with no crowds, the incredible Bullet Train and the Taj Mahal were all exceptional. We also met some lovely people too.

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