5-star Delhi – a poisoned chalice!

The ceremonial guard on leaving the Hotel Samrat in Delhi.

After 3-4 consecutive nights of staying in grimy roadside hotels in nondescript towns, I decided to use one of my “Fast Forward to 5-star Hotel”.  (I have budgetted for a small number of nights in 5-star hotels along the way whenever I feel I really need it). However, I hadn’t anticipated using one so early into the trip. I had initially decided to skip Delhi completely and even with the forced route change I was keen to bypass it if at all possible. But I’m afraid I got sucked in by the half-decent road and the lure of a hot shower and a comfortable and clean bed. Deeper and deeper into the morass of urban squalor that houses the 10-15million people of Delhi. With  some help from friendly locals I managed to find my way to the diplomatic precinct on the far side of the city close to where most of the big hotels are. The Hotel Samrat wasn’t really 5-star. It would probably just scrape in as a 4-star hotel in Australia. But I didn’t care. It had A/C, two clean sheets and a towel. In the morning, I even discovered they had a complimentary buffet breakfast – bonus!

However, I knew that I would pay a heavy toll for my night of comfort. After catching up on some much needed sleep and dawdling over a lazy breakfast, it was nearly 10am before I pulled out of the carpark.

I had a feeling it was not going to be a good day when the two gentlemen behind the desk couldn’t agree on what was the best way out of the city north to Chandigarh. So, after fuelling up, I set off in search of the Ring Road. With only a few minor “recalcula-tings” I found the Ring Road and headed for the major turn-off that would take me to the Grand Trunk Road (GT Rd). Arriving at the T-intersection, the bulk of the heavy highway traffic turned left. A bit perplexed, I pulled over to check the mudmap that the hotel man had given me and it definitely said to turn right at the major T-intersection.  So, right I turned, ploughing me straight back into the worst of Delhi’s traffic coming up to the hottest part of the day.

After persevering for about 20 min I stopped for a water break and to ask for directions. As I had originally suspected, I was going away from the GT Rd not towards it. This little “recalcula-ting” had just wasted almost an hour and, combined with my late start, meant that I had no realistic chance of making it to Chandigarh for the night.

So tonight would be yet another night in a budget hotel in the charming truckstop town of Karnal.

Lesson learnt.

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