Cuenca to Delhi

On our way to Guayaquil

We made it to Delhi without any significant mishaps.

Flights were on time, and there was no lost luggage! However, I do have to mention our airline, KLM.

Ron and I decided to pay extra for what KLM refer to as Comfort Economy.

What a disappointment. The seats were hard and barely any wider than the regular Economy seats. We did have extra legroom, as we’d prepaid for seats next to the Business Class bulkhead. I was even more annoyed to discover our cutlery was a set of ‘wooden’ (or maybe bamboo) utensils.

I’m not one to complain; I’d rather make do, but wooden cutlery? Give me one good reason why Business Class passengers are entitled to ‘proper’ cutlery while those in Economy are not. There’s something about the texture of wood, especially wet wood, that sets my nerves on edge, my throat to go dry.

Realising I wouldn’t budge the attendant finally offered me Business Class cutlery, insisting I returned the precious items once I’d finished my meal!

So why wooden cutlery? Who has done a selling job on KLM to make them want to use this awful product? It all seemed odd, especially as the airline offered each passenger two plastic bottles of water. That’s over 600 bottles on each flight! Madness!

Enough of the gripes.

Delhi – The Scam

With twenty-plus hours of travel, I knew we’d need a day or two to recover, so I booked into a hotel close to the airport, thinking we could then find an ATM for cash and buy SIM cards for our phones once we’d had a good night’s sleep.

I’d messaged the hotel, Hotel Sky Land, six times to arrange an airport shuttle without reply.

There were no problems getting through Customs and on exiting the arrival hall, it didn’t surprise me to find there was no one there to greet us.

With no working phone (it takes two hours for the SIM to activate), we decided to take a taxi to our hotel. I’d done some research regarding taxis and had found information suggesting Meru taxis. Their booth was easy to locate outside the arrival hall.

I handed over the details of our hotel to the man behind the desk who simply passed the piece of paper to a colleague lounging nearby. 

Before we could stop him, he and another two men walked off along a line of black and yellow taxis with our luggage with Ron and I walking behind them struggling to keep up. 

They stopped beside a battered taxi and before Ron could ask, ‘How much?’ our suitcase was on the taxi’s roof and our backpack in the boot.

Then came the scam. The man in charge asked me to give him the hotel’s phone number. I read out the number and watched as he tapped the number into his phone.  He then handed me the phone and a voice at the other end of the call said, ‘Hotel Sky Land’.

Ron, who’d been watching what was going on, shouted to me and pointed in the direction of another of the gang standing off to one side.

‘It’s him over there! He’s called him! It’s not the hotel!’

Sure enough, by some sleight of hand, the guy I’d given the phone number to had called his mate.

We were about to be told the hotel didn’t have our booking but that the taxi driver could take us to another hotel.

Their scam discovered, we grabbed our bags and quickly returned to the arrival hall, where a distinguished-looking Sikh guard with a neatly folded turban and wonderful waxed moustache allowed us back inside when I explained what had happened.

We took a few moments to regroup and then searched for someone who could phone our hotel for us and find out what was going on.

An hour later, after a very kind young man had called the hotel and insisted they send our transport, a surly young man arrived, carrying a piece of paper with my name scrawled on it.

With our bags stuffed onto the front passenger seat and Ron and I wedged onto a very uncomfortable back seat, we finally set off for our hotel.

The Hotel

Ten minutes later, we pulled up at the entrance to a dark, dirty alleyway.

I watched in horror as our driver took our bags and led the way up some grubby steps. Inside, it was evident the manager was annoyed with us; his curt, brusque manner, verging on rude.

It was four o’clock in the morning by the time we were shown to our room.

The flight, the scam and finding ourselves in a grubby unwelcoming hotel, had me near to tears.

Needing somewhere to sleep, if only for a few hours, we made our way to our room. Opening the door, we were faced with a double bed, a wooden wardrobe, no window and huge bolts attached to the en suite bathroom. I could only think they were there to prevent anyone from breaking in from the alley that ran outside the room. 

We survived our two days at Sky Land Hotel, breakfasting on bread and jam (neither Ron nor I were prepared to try the cooked food) and bananas. The review I posted once we left was scathing.

Why didn’t we move?  We were exhausted from our trip, didn’t know where we were in Delhi and didn’t have a working phone to find alternative accommodation. Plus, I didn’t want to blow the budget before we’d started the holiday.

It wasn’t a good start to our trip; I could only hope it would get better once we moved to Villa 33.