Tag Archives: SpiceJet

India trip overview and travel tips

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Well is been a few months since we have been back from India so I thought it was about time I wrote about our trip as a whole and to supply some tips for anyone who is thinking on a extensive trip around the country, and to also say some thanks to the many helpful people we met on the way. The first thing I would like to say to anyone who is going to travel around the country for the first time like us is don’t imagine that anything you are used to in the western world will be the same in India, like the roads, transport system, way of life and the infrastructure it is total and utter chaos in a nice way I might add, the people are wonderful and so very helpful, but if you approach your trip with a very open mind, expect the unexpected you will not go far wrong. 

Roads

Driving or being driven in India is just like being in a surreal version of Mad Max or a demolition derby without in the main any contact, add to this the conditions of the roads “I use the term roads loosely” with potholes so big you could loose a small child down with conditions similar to driving off road. Add to all of this that there appears to be no driving laws at all, even the traffic police have no control as we discovered when a uniformed officer tried to stop the traffic to let other vehicles cross the junction but no one took any notice and he was nearly run over, quite how many people are killed or injured in a year one only wonders. With all the above in mind don’t let it put you off as it can be quite hilarious at times, just try to relax and enjoy the trip. 

Trains 

During our trip we had four train journeys planned. We booked our tickets using the Cleartrip.com website also we got a lot of useful advice from the “Man in seat 61” website, also we viewed various videos on YouTube in regards to the seating so we though we were pretty well set. Our first journey from Jaipur to Ranthambore was quite pleasant seating was just as we had researched, we met a very nice Indian family and had a very pleasant journey. There were plenty of food and drink vendors walking up and down the train selling all sorts, samosas, dosa’s, fruit etc. toilet facilities were not bad, not the conventional toilet pan variety I might add just the hole in the ground sort, it seemed quite strange standing there doing your business and watching the train tracks fly past you underneath. The downside to this system is when standing at the train station waiting for your train to arrive the strong smell of human excrement is overpowering, I say no more. Our second journey was a different story all together. On boarding the train at Ranthanbore to Agra “which incidentally was two hours late” it became immediately apparent that our trip was not going to be quite as smooth. The train had started its journey some 24hrs or more from where we had boarded all the compartments had their curtains drawn and it was extremely dark and this was at miday so there was no natural light coming in, we also discovered that the three of us were split up even though the tickets were all booked together, the girls were at one end of the carriage and me at the other also I forgot to mention that someone still had their bunk made and was in asleep in my seat “sounds like the three bears story”, so because of this we all decided to sit together on a not very comfortable isle seat. After a while I needed to give my numb backside a rest and decided to walk along the train, so with action camera running off I went. On reaching the end of our carriage I could not believe my eyes, you see in the area in between the carriages were the toilets and washing facilities, I witnessed a Indian chap stripped to his pants having  a wash, other people asleep on the floor, a card school in progress and the most disgusting toilet facilities I’ve seen, we all could not wait to get off. So the decision was made that to endure three hours on a train under these conditions was bad enough but we all felt that an overnight journey would be to much to endure, so our trip to the Hampi was cancelled who as it turned out to be a good thing, see below. 

Domestic Airlines 

Whilst we were in India we had four internal flights booked, two with Indigo and two with SpiceJet. Our flights with Indigo were excellent, we knew what they were like from previous experience, but our dealings with SpiceJet was somewhat different. Our first flight from Cochin to Bangalore was ok but not as polished as our Indigo experience, they seemed to be less organised and professional, they even tried to charge us excess baggage on arrival at the check-in desk even though we had paid for our excess in advance. The next problem was the fact that our flight from Bangalore to Hubli was changed to a little know military  airport called Belguam as the runway was closed at Hubli for resurfacing, which was not ideal as Belguam airport was some two and a half hours further on by road making our total journey from Hampi approx six hours by road, and if anyone has travelled by road any distance in Indian would know can be a nightmare. So we decided to add a couple of more nights to our stay in Mysore and change our flight from Bangalore to Hubli to Bangalore back to Mumbai for our  connecting flight back home, but as I wrote in my post on Bangalore the day before we were due to fly to Mumbai SpiceJet cancelled our flight altogether “great” but thankfully we managed to get a flight on the same day with trusty Indigo.

Hotels

And special thank you to all at Stanley Wilson Travel for our transport in Cochin and Munnar.

Useful Websites:

Bangalore

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After our nice relaxing four nights in Mysore it was time to move onto Bangalore and this was not without more problems “it seemed that everyday we have been in India something has gone wrong”. I received an email from SpiceJet to say our flight from Bangalore to Mumbai had been cancelled and was instructed to call them for an alternative. So I called and was offered none as there were no flights going to Mumbai on the day we wanted to travel, great! So with with refund processed and iPad in hand we managed to get a flight with Indigo airlines at the same cost thankfully.
The journey back to Bangalore took around three hours,. Before leaving Mysore we checked the website that we had used to book our accommodation with to refresh our memories to make sure that the apartment which we had chosen was the one we were getting. On arrival things seemed to be in order as the outside of the apartment block was just as the photos on the website. Once we checked in the staff took our luggage and started to trundle up the street, “not a good sign”. We walked about 100m up the road to a different block altogether. Inside it was nothing like what we had booked, It wasn’t very clean, everything was shabby, it was dark and it had no terrace, the room we had booked specifically stated it had a terrace, we had even stopped on the journey from Mysore and bought some wine and beers so we could sit on the terrace and relax. I informed the manager that this was not the apartment we had booked an we were not prepared to stay unless we got the one we wanted, he told us that there were no apartments with a private terrace, only a communal one I explained that the images on booking.com clearly showed a terrace and a far better apartment than the one we was in but he wasn’t going to budge. I was not prepared to debate the matter anymore and called booking.com who thankfully sorted it out so we was not going to get charged. “Like I said always a problem” so iPad in hand “again” we booked a stay at the My Fortune Hotel which looked very nice indeed, and on arrival thankfully it was,
The guide books state that there is not really a lot to see in Bangalore “we only visited as we had to change our plans, the main attraction seems to be the palace. So on our first and only full day in the city we grabbed a Tuk Tuk and headed for the palace. On arrival the palace grounds was buzzing with activity as it appeared that their was an Indian wedding going to happen later in the day. Everywhere was very brightly decorated with bunting, flowers and large statues of elephants and Hindu gods, it was spectacular. We all thought it must have been someone important or very rich, as there were people setting up large spotlights to illuminate the outside of the palace, some guys setting up a remote controlled helicopter with a camera attached for arial filming, we also saw a TV crew setting up vehicle with a huge satellite link dish on top, and the colours of dress especially the woman’s sari’s were spectacular. After we watched the proceedings for a while we went into the palace.
Once inside it was all a bit of a disappointment, pretty bland really, nothing like the Mysore Palace, but we are glad we went as we would not have witnessed the build up to the the Indian wedding.
After our visit it was time for a coffee so we headed back to the MG road “most cities in India have a Mahatma Grandi road”.
Whilst we were having coffee I was trying to arrange a taxi to take us the next day from our hotel to the airport for our flight back to Mumbai. I telephoned the driver who had brought us from the apartment that we had originally booked as he had given me his number, but unfortunately I had difficulty with getting my requirements across, so I gave up. Fortunately for us a very nice Irish chap who had lived and worked in India for some for years had overheard my conversation and put us on to Meru Cabs. So I gave them a call, spoke to a really nice lady who spoke good English and made the booking, a very professional outfit indeed. You get a text to confirm your booking, a text about twenty minutes before the cab arrives then another when it’s outside, the distance to the airport is some 40km and on arrival the meter read 840 INR about £8.40 just amazing.
I had quite a long conversation with our new Irish friend and during our chat I asked if he could recommend a place to eat for later that evening, when he told us a place called the Thirteenth Floor down the MG road. Now the thirteen floor is just was it implies the thirteenth of a block which has a couple of restaurants and a club. We decided to eat one of the restaurants called Ebony , it turned out a very good recommendation, the view over the city was amazing, the food was very good and the prices very reasonable indeed.
Well Bangalore was the last city on our trip before we fly back to Mumbai.

In my next post I will say thank you to some of the many helpful people we met on our travels, and post,  hopefully some valuable “Top Tips”

The planning of our trip to India

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The planning of our trip to India

Like I said on my previous post it all started way back in January 2014 when we all decided on going back to India, first stop was looking into flight prices. Now I have no real advice on when to book your flights, as if you leave them to the last-minute prices do go up especially short haul, but long haul is always a bit of a lottery, you see we booked flights to Thailand last year well in advance and discovered that we paid much more than leaving it to last
minute, but this year we booked well in advance and paid much less that last-minute so from the flight point of view it’s always a gamble. You can use certain flight price tracking tools such as Tripadvisor, Skyscanner, Kayak etc which can be useful, but we found that this year we got a price we were happy with it and so booked them, it’s all a case of personal preference.
Domestic Flights
There are a couple of airlines we used these being SpiceJet and Indigo, we have used Indigo before on a previous trip to India and they were very good indeed, SpiceJet I will post my opinion when we have flown with them, both offer a good selection of destinations throughout India and both are very good value, booking via their website is very easy and straight forward.
Indian Railways
During our trip we will embark on four train journeys, these being from Jaipur to Sawali Madhopur (Ranthanbhore National Park), Sawali Madhopur to Agra, Agra to Delhi and an overnight journey from Mysore to Hospet (Hampi temple complex, these were all booked via the website Cleartrip, the booking process is quite painless but you have to look up the rail stations nearest your destination as there are 1000’s of rail stations throughout India as you can imagine, looking up the stations sounds obvious but the station names don’t necessarily match the place you want to go for example the station for Ranthambhor National Park is Sawali Madhopur, but the fix for this is to use good old Google to search for the station nearest rail station to where you want to be. The next problem is getting your head around the different classes of tickets, so after some trawling on the net I found a couple of really useful sights which are far more informative than I can ever do justice on here. First I would like to mention the really useful website Indian Mike this is where I found a great post on the Indian railways booking system (click here) Now I found the Indian Mike website a very useful and informative especially for the independent traveller also a very good source of information on all things India in general. Another useful site to mention whilst on the subject of transportation is the Red bus company who have a good network of luxury coaches to various locations around India, but unfortunately they take card payments from outside India so they need to resolve this issue, but once in the country I’m sure it would be easy enough to find an agent to do the booking for you
Accommodation
Finally the accommodation, all our hotels were found on booking.com I have used them for a number of years now, and had excellent service from them, that is not to say that there are not many other hotel search engines out there that are just as good, it’s a matter of personal preference. One thing I will say is once you find a hotel you like on a hotel search engine it’s always worth seeing if booking direct with your chosen hotel is offering a better deal we have found this on more than one occasion.
Well that’s about it for now but I will post some more tips after our trip as I’m sure there will be a few more. So stay safe keep well and most importantly keep following.