WHY INDIA?? Many people around got fuzzy. To a third world country citizen like me and my friends, India is certainly not a common favorite destination.
Honestly the reason why I went to India was because the ticket was super cheap by Jet Airways. I got return ticket from Jakarta to New Delhi for only $90 when it supposed to be around $200 or $300. Besides I have this bucket list place in North of India called Ladakh. But unfortunately, my arrival date was still in the post-winter season. The road will still be covered by snow which makes it hard to drive through. Possible but hard. Since I was not in the mood for adventure kinda trip so I opted for going to the cities.
There were 3 cities I wanted to go : Jaipur – Udaipur – and Agra. So to make everything easier, I also purchased the domestic flights in advanced, again – with Jet Airways.
I never thought that the trip will involve so much drama that I had to adjust the itineraries many times due to unwanted circumstances. As I said earlier, by opting to cities I was not up to any adventure mood, but this trip eventually turned to one instead. Well, that’s the beauty of travel – after all.
2 weeks prior to my departure, I saw this news on CNN saying that Jet Airways plane was grounded causing many flight cancellation, both domestic and International. I was like … shoot. I quickly checked my booking status. Andd tadaaa! It’s gone. My flight schedule to/from India were no longer there. Not only that, the domestic flights I booked also got cancelled. The OTA (Online Travel Agent) that I bought all the ticket from has sent me an official cancellation letter and refundable policy.
All of these happened just a week after I booked all the accommodation. So, if I gave up the trip, it will cost me more. After seeking an advice from my other fellow traveler, I decided to go to Jet Airways’s representative office in Epicentrum, Jakarta. Luckily, all went smooth and the staff in the representative office fixed my problem right away. They only had to change my in/out bound flight time but still on the same day I booked. Which is fine. They also fixed my local flights by changing it to other air-freight (Air India) and handed me a boarding-pass printed out, so that I did not need to feel worry again. Such an amazing service done by the staff! Hassle-free and no additional cost at all.
This time, feel free to put the blame on me because I was 20 minutes late to check-in time, they already closed the system when I got to the counter. I did not manage to do online check-in, only my careless-self knows why (yes, 100% my mistake I admit). The staff counter I talked to, asking me to go to the counter in the corner to speak to other airline staff which might could help me. Luckily enough, she somehow allowed me to pass, not sure why.
Everything was good until my evening arrival in India. I went straight to the hotel near the Airport because the flight to Jaipur on the next day will be in the morning. I got scammed by a taxi driver which had me pay 2 times more than what we agreed in the Airport.
On the following day, when my friend and I arrived in the New Delhi Airport to fly to Jaipur. At the check-in counter Air India staff rejected my boarding pass that I got from JetAirways representative office in Jakarta. It was not registered in their system, also they clearly stated that they will not taking any passenger from Jet Airways’s cancelled flights. I was speechless and shocked, it was like a shot in the head knowing that you are at the airport but you can not proceed to fly – all my plans gotta get ruined if I failed to get to Jaipur on that day. Looking pity on me, Air India staff eventually suggested us to go to Jet Airways office in the Airport to complain about it.
Then after a long queue in front of JetAirways counter (oh look who got plenty of complaints due to cancellation, huh!), they finally shifted our flight to the next JetAirways schedule which was later in the afternoon on that day. I had no choice rather than accept it, even though it means I had to sacrifice a day in Jaipur.
On the next day in Jaipur, we intentionally got up early in the morning so that we could visit a lot of places that we skip on previous day due to the flight drama. Nahargarh Fort was the 1st stop we wanted to go as it was the closest one. The fort stands on top of Aravalli hill that took 30 minutes Uber Ride from our hotel. When we finally reach the top, turns out the fort still closed and only open 2 hours later. Holy mother of Goat what is wrong with my luck, really?! Certainly we did not want to wait for 2 hours, so we decided to go to other place first and will come back later. Tried to be efficient with little time left in Jaipur but ended up ineffective. Yea’right.
Ok so, another drama happened when we were about to go to Udaipur from Jaipur. We arrived at the train station with our big backpack, feeling a bit exhausted but also excited to experience an overnight train ride in India. When we went to the information office for asking which platform we had to wait for our train, the officer informed us that my train got delayed for 4 hours. I was left in shocked again – to add up, it was a bloody hot of 40 degrees weather outside we already bathe in sweat after running places to tick off the itineraries in such limited time. Gotta chill my temper down, the first thing popped in my mind is to find a waiting lounge with aircon. That somehow, the only executive air-con lounge they have had a power off at that time. lol! I think India liked to joke with me, seriously.
So, the initial plan was, after Udaipur we’re going back to New Delhi to take a train or car chartered to Agra. But, my local flight from Udaipur to New Delhi got cancel as JetAirways no longer serve flights on that route due to the plane grounded policy. This means, I had to find alternatives way to go to Agra. Honestly I almost dropped Agra from itinerary, but going to India without going to Taj Mahal feels like you know – something wrong. After 3 days of research, we finally settled with a direct flight from Jaipur to Agra. Which means, from Udaipur we need to travel back to Jaipur first. But this time we did not opt by train. Well … I am sure you’ve heard about this before, that when you are in India you gotta experience all of their transportation voyage because that’s where the real fun at. So yeah, we were up for the challenge and ended up taking an overnight bus from Udaipur to Jaipur.
Where this led to a funny story of finding our bus in the middle of the night in a dark roadside of Udaipur. We were the only tourist there that made all eyes on us. The bus stop does not have any sign, let alone a terminal, people just wait at that dusty roadside. So, to find the right bus that we booked, we had to focus on every license number of buses that pass through, if it matched to the bus number in our ticket then we had to wave our hands to stop them. Otherwise they wouldn’t stop. LoL!!! I know, right! At first, the were many locals that help us to check on the bus (they were so sweet!), but apparently our bus came late from the schedule. It made us the only one left at the road side, the others already left with their buses. I really hoped our luck did not act-up at that night, if something went wrong like we didn’t get our bus, I did not know what to do again.
Nah, it’s not over yet. Remember when I said we found a direct flight from Jaipur to Agra? We got a small ATR plane that flew us with a constant turbulence for 1,5 hour. That was not my first ATR flight, but that certainly my worst ATR flight. Period.
However, through all the dramas that we got, we still extremely enjoyed our time in India.
Jaipur was an adorable city that full of beautifully designed buildings that you won’t get enough of. Although my time was limited there, I still managed to hit all these stunning places in Jaipur.
Udaipur, the city of lake was so relaxing I could do sunrise Yoga by the lake, drinking chai and had a local massage.
And Agra – the Taj Mahal was a grande beauty. To feel like a local, I went there wearing Sari – Indian traditional clothes for woman. Getting a random help to properly wear it from the security women in Agra that was super kind and lovely. When we got into security screening at the entrance gate, the security women looked at my messy Sari and offered a help to fix it. Also there was this wonderful local girl that queuing behind me, giving me her pin to fasten my Sari. How sweet was that! I am so glad I did not give up to find a way to Taj Mahal, because that place was way more majestic than a picture can say, let alone it’s history.