Expedition to India & United Arab Emirates 2014

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I1
My voyage to India in January of 2014 started out in Sacramento as I flew to Seattle to catch an Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-200ER to Dubai.  On board, we had excellent service and were served great food and fine spirits including my Jameson & Gingerale.

I2
For dinner on the flight from SEA to DBX, I choose the lamb kofta with saffron rice option on the menu.  I was served a nice salad, veggies, cheese/cracker platter, and an apple cake along with an Australian Shiraz and chocolate.

I3
After 14 hours, I arrived at DBX (Dubai International Airport).  Since I had a 6 hour layover until my flight to CCU (Kolkata, India), Emirates gave me a voucher to go get dinner at one of the restaurants at the airport.

I4
They even had Pinkberry in Dubai!  I could not resist getting some.

I5
Here is a typical India taxi in Kolkata.  They are "Ambassador cars" which are made in India by Hindustan Motors.  They are modeled after a 1950s British car model.  They are quite primitive.  We took taxis to get around Kolkata.

I6
My dad and I are enjoying a South India dish called a dosa at a restaurant called Banana Leaf in Kolkata.  They serve the dosa on a banana leaf which is typical of the way Indians eat.  I also had a Thums Up, which is a local Indian soft drink.

I7
We flew from CCU (Kolkata) to DEL (Delhi) the day after I arrived to begin our tour of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle area.  We took an Indian airline called Indigo.  They are kind of like a "Southwest Airlines" no-frill air carrier.  We had to purchase food and drinks on board.

I8
Upon arrival at Delhi's Domestic Airport, our driver and private tour guide met us at the airport to take us to Agra.  We had a private Tata Indigo car for our 5 day tour of Agra and Jaipur.  It was raining heavily that day.

I18
This is a caravan of camels on the highway near Delhi when we were leaving for Agra.  I thought it was really cool to see camels on the highway!

I17
My dad and I wanted to try an Indian McDonalds on the way to Agra.  We tried the Maharaja Mac, which is a chicken "Big Mac."  They do not serve beef or pork products in India.

I9
Upon arrival in Agra, my dad and I were greatly DISAPPOINTED with the Indian hotel we were booked in.  This is also an "Executive" room at the hotel.  The service was terrible, the furniture was crappy, and the room was dirty!  Moreover, it was cold, and the hot water did not work.

I10
This is the famous Taj Mahal, which is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

I11
My dad and I are pictured outside the Taj Mahal.  It costs us foreigners 750 Ruppees to enter while an Indian can enter for only 29 Ruppees.

I12
The Taj Mahal was really cool!  It was built by a Mughal Emperor (Shah Jahan) to house the body of his wife who passed away after child birth.

I13
This is the Jamuna River behind the Taj Mahal.

I14
Here is another building at the Taj Mahal complex.

I15
This is the Agra Fort where the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisioned by his son after he took power.  The moat in this picture was full of crocodiles and turtles back in the day to scare off invaders.

I16
I missed my Starbucks green iced tea with 3 splenda.  I found a Costa Coffee (European type of Starbucks) in Agra, but they did not have green iced tea.  I had to settle for warm green tea.  I did not find Splenda either.

I19
This is a typical Indian street scene.

I20
This is an Indian truck on the toll road.

I21
This is a building at Fatehpur Sikri.  It was the palatial compound of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.

I22
I am standing inside another palace building within the Fatehpur Sikri compound.  These buildings housed the wives of the Emperor Akbar.  He took wives of different faiths to unify India.

I23
This is a famous gate constructed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar to celebrate his victory over Gujrat.

I24
This is the Hawa Mahal in the city of Jaipur.  Jaipur is the capital of the Indian state of Rajastan.  Hawa Mahal means wind palace.  It has many little windows which were used by women to look at what we going on outside because they could not leave home without being covered up back then.

I25
My dad is standing outside the City Palace in Jaipur.  The Maharaja of Jaipur lives here.  Today, the Maharaja has no power.

I26
I am riding a camel in Jaipur in this photo.

I27
The Amber Fort and Palace are shown in this building.  It was built in 1592.

I28
This is the palace inside Amber Fort.

I29
These type of structures were common in the architecture in both Rajastan and in the Mughal structures.

I30
This is an Indian "Starbucks."  It was OK.  I still did not get any green iced tea with three splenda.  LOL.

I31
After a bomb sniffing dog and security team checked out our tour guide's vehicle, we entered our hotel in Gurgaon, a city near Delhi.  It was nice to be at an American hotel after the crappy Indian hotels!

I32
This is the Marriott Courtyard in Gurgaon.  Courtyard Marriotts are 4 or 5 star hotels in India!  This hotel was great.  We had to go through a metal detector and have our bags xrayed to get inside.  Security is huge at major hotels in India.

I33
I was so RELIEVED to be at an American hotel!  They even had my splenda!  You can tell that I am a spoiled American!  LOL.  The food was great here too.  They had a full international buffet for breakfast with pancakes, British breakfast, and even dim sum!

I34
We hired a private car service for the time we were in the Delhi area.  Our chauffeur is seen here with the Toyota car.

I35
This is the Qutub Minar, and it was started in 1192.

I36
This tall pillar is a marvel to metallurgists.  It has been around for over a thousand years, and it has not rusted yet.

I37
Here are some other pillars at the Qutub Minar complex.

I38
This is another picture of the Qutub Minar complex.

I40
This is Humayan's Tomb in Delhi.  It was built to house the body of the Mughal Emperor Humayan.  It predates the Taj Mahal, but it looks similiar.

I41
The grounds around Humayan's Tomb also had this old Mosque.

I39
This is the Lotus Temple in Delhi.  It is a B'hai Temple.  The B'hais are a faith that believe in the prophets of most major religions of the world.

I42
I am having a street vendor cut a green coconut for me so I could drink the water.

I56
This is the Indian parliament building.

I57
The Indian Presidential House is shown here.  The Indian President is a symbolic head of state and does not have much power.

I58
Here is the US Embassy in Delhi.  I wanted to know where I would have to go if India erupted in a civil war or something.  LOL.  JK.

I43
My dad and I had lunch at the famous Bukhara Restaurant at the ITC Maurya Hotel in Delhi.  Foreign Heads of State stay at this hotel when they visit India including our Presidents.

I44
Bukhara is rated as the top restaurant in Asia, and it is also rated 17 in the world!

I45
My dad and I are seated for lunch at Bukhara.  The food was so amazing!  The red apron is for non-veg eaters.  The green is for veg eaters.  My dad ordered a veg dish, but he eats meat.

I46
The food at Bukhara is cooked in a clay tandoor oven.  Bukhara has served President's G.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama as well as Russian President Putin.

I47
I was given a tour of the kitchen by the Executive Chef, Singh.  He is pretty famous in the culinary world.

I48
After returning to Kolkata from Delhi, we went to visit my relatives.  This is my grandmother on my dad's side in Hindmotor, which is a town near Kokata.  We are on top of the roof of the house.  Indian houses have rooftop verandas usually.

I49
Here is a picture of my grandmother, aunt, and cousin in Hindmotor.

I50
This is a picture of my other grandmother in Kolkata.  She was pretty sick when I was there to see her.

I51
I took my cousins on my mom's side out to dinner and drinks at the five star hotel, ITC Sonar, in Kolkata.  It was $189 for all of us.

I52
I am about to take a ride on a human pulled rickshaw in Kolkata.  Certain areas of Kolkata have human pulled rickshaws.

I55
This is a tram in the city of Kolkata.  Public transportation in India is usually pretty crowded, and I do not recomend using it.  It is better to take a taxi or hire a car service.  Driving is impossible in India also.

I53
Here is the Airbus that I took from CCU to DXB.  For some reason, Emirates deplaned us using the stairs when we flew from Kolkata.  We got a jetway when we were deplaned from the US.

I54
Since I had about a 10 hour layover in Dubai, Emirates gave me a hotel room.  I took a taxi tour of Dubai by night.  This is the Burj Khalifa, which is the world's tallest building!

    In January of 2014, I embarked on an adventure to India and Dubai.  My journey took a long time.  My girlfriend dropped me off at the airport in Sacramento early on Saturday morning.  From Sacramento, I flew to Seattle where I had lunch with one of my friends since I had a 4 hour or so layover.  I figured it was my last chance to get some sushi for a few weeks.  LOL.  Around 5:00 PM, I boarded a Boeing 777-200ER that was operated by Emirates Airlines of Dubai.  Emirates is known for great service, and they lived up to their reputation.  They have employees from all over the world, and they also have a huge fleet and flight network.  I had outlet power at my seat too which was nice so I could charge my old iPhone which I took with me instead of my new iPhone 5S.  My old iPhone is unlocked so I had my global sim with me.  Moreover, I had a touch screen monitor with tons of movies and music options to choose from.  We were served a cocktail service with fine spirits including Jameson after take off.  For dinner, we had a choice of a few different meals.  I took the lamb dish.  It was so delicious.  They had great wines to pair the food with also.  Mid-flight, we were served a small pizza.  Before landing in Dubai, we were served a nice breakfast that was more British style with eggs, baked beans, and chicken sausage.  The flight to Dubai was 14 hours.  Our flight path took us north over Canada and past the North Pole, and then we went south over Russian, Georgian, and Iranian air space before landing in Dubai.  In Dubai, I got a meal voucher from the airline for dinner.  The airport was full of duty free shopping.

    I arrived in Kolkata two days after I took off from Sacramento.  My dad picked me up at the airport in Kolkata since he was already there.  The next day, we departed for Delhi on an Indian airline called Indigo.  After arriving in Delhi, our driver and private tour guide, Anil, greeted us and took us to Agra by car.  We stopped at an Indian McDonalds for lunch.  After arriving in Agra, my dad and I were greatly disappointed by the Indian style hotel.  The rooms were so primitive, and the power kept going out.  After complaining a lot, they moved us to a so called "Executive Room" from their "Deluxe Room" and even that was crappy.  We were so disgusted at Indian accomodations by now.  My dad asked if we might be able to go back to Delhi and get to the Marriott I booked sooner.  LOL.  He was like screw the Taj Mahal, but I was like let's endure this torture for one more day to see the Taj Mahal.  The next morning, we were shocked to see that there was no hot water in the room.  A housekeeper brought us boiling water in a bucket so we could mix it with cold water to bathe in.  It was so old school.  LOL.  Afterwards, we went to see the Taj Mahal.  It was a spectacular site even in the rain.  The next day, we took off for Jaipur.  On the way, we went to the Mughal Emperor Akbar's palace, Fatehpur Sikri.  The drive to Jaipur took us most of the day since Indian roads are not the best, and one can not drive that fast on them either.  The hotel in Jaipur was just as crappy as Agra.  We were so disappointed.  It was so cold too in Jaipur, and there was no heating in the room.  They gave us the only room with a hot water heater in the room, but the beds were so hard.  I asked the hotel manager if he could change out the mattresses, and he said that the room with the hot water gets the hard beds.  It made no sense to me.  Was this guy "f"ing with me.  WTF!  I was counting the days till getting to the Marriott.

    We toured the major sites in Jaipur the next day.  We saw the City Palace where we saw a snake charmer.  My dad and I were freaked out, and we ran out of there.  LOL.  We were like who wants to be so close to a cobra.  We also saw the Hawa Mahal, which is the wind palace.  It was pretty cool.  Jaipur is known as the "pink city" since the old city of Jaipur has this pinkish hue in the structures.  I rode a camel in Jaipur also.  During the camel ride, I saw the Jal Mahal, a palace built inside a lake.  Then, we saw the Amber Fort which was neat.  It was a huge fort and palace built in the 1500s.  The architecture was similiar to the Mughal structures since the Mughals had alliances with the Rajas of Rajastan.  We also saw a Hindu temple in Jaipur also.

    The next day, I was relieved as we left for the Delhi area.  After a long drive, we arrived at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Gurgaon.  They had a bomb sniffing dog along with a few guards inspect the car before we were allowed to pass inside.  Since I was an elite member of Marriott Rewards, I was greeted accordingly, and we were quickly checked in.  The room was nice.  It was great to be in a room with carpet, hot water, soft beds with soft sheets, constant power, and English channels on TV!  The degenerates at the hotel in Jaipur did not pay for most of the English channels on their cable/satellite package.  WTF!  Also, whenever I ordered cold milk with my cereal in the mornings in Agra and Jaipur, the idiots brought me hot milk and cold coffee.  It made no sense to me!  The Marriott even had a gym attendant on duty.  The staff was very courteous also.  They were quite surprised to see a Marriott Rewards Elite member since most people in India probably do not travel that much and/or stay at Marriott properties that much.  I enjoyed my meal that night at the Marriott and slept so well!  The marble rain shower was nice!

    We had a great international buffet breakfast the next morning at the hotel.  We were served pancakes, chicken saugage, eggs, variety of cereals, muffins, cupcakes, donuts, baked beans, and even dim sum!  The juices were freshly squeezed  They even had fat free COLD milk!  Moreover, I had splenda!  The weird thing is they kept bringing me hot water that was only 3/4 full for my green tea, and then I realized that most Indians take milk in their tea so they leave room for that.  LOL.  I drink my green tea without milk.  It's a whole other world over there!  Our car service arrived promptly, and we took off to tour Delhi.  We saw the Qutub Minar complex first.  It was amazing to see how they could build such a huge tower in the 1100s.  Then, we saw the Lotus Temple.  Afterwards, we saw Humayan's Tomb which reminded me of the Taj Mahal.  Then, we saw the India Gate, which is like a mini Arc d'Triomphe.  Afterwards, we saw the Indian parliament and the US Embassy.  After returning to the hotel area, we tried some Indian KFC.

    The next morning, we enjoyed the breakfast at the Marriott again.  I was able to work out also.  The Marriott's wifi was fast enough for me to make WIFI calls via the Vonage app on my iPhone to call back to the US.  We went to lunch at the famous Bukhara restaurant at the ITC Mauyra in Delhi.  Most foreign heads of state stay there.  Bukhara is a very famous Indian restaurant, and it is like the top restaurant in Asia.  Moreover, it is ranked in the top 50 restauranst in the world.  They were featured on Andrew Zimmerman's "Bizarre Foods" episode that was filmed in Delhi.  The food was really good.  Bukhara serves meats and lentils cooked in a tandoor oven.  We also had breads baked in the clay tandoor oven.  The service was great too.  They have served the last few US Presidents too.  I got a tour of the kitchen by the Executive Chef also.

    We returned to Kolkata after about 7 days on the road in the Northwestern part of India.  In Kolkata, I visited with my relatives.  It was nice to see my two grandmothers and other relatives.  My relatives were very nice to me during my visit, and they cooked delicious foods.  I also took my cousins to dinner at a five star hotel in Kolkata called the ITC Sonar.  I was able to have some Jameson and ginger there, but I could not find any good American bourbon like Maker's Mark or Buelleit in India anywhere!

    I flew back to the US after about two weeks.  My flight took me through Dubai again.  Emirates gave me a hotel room in Dubai since I had a 10 hour or so layover.  The hotel arranged a Lexus taxi for me to take a short tour of Dubai at night.  The Burj Khalifa was so neat!  The flight back to Seattle took about the same amount of time.  The food was good on the way back also.  I had a long layover in Seattle so I just used a United Club pass to go chill in the airport lounge.


Last Updated:  February 9, 2014 11:15 PM
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