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In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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  • Traveling from Delhi to Mumbai

    Posted on September 4th, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    The Taj Mahal, one of the World Marvels.

    The Taj Mahal, one of the World Marvels.

    There is roughly a distance of a thousand miles between Delhi and Mumbai for a traveler willing to see the Taj Mahal and the capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur. This was the road I planned to take as I arrived in India.

    Delhi Tuk-Tuk and rickshaws.

    Delhi Tuk-Tuk and rickshaws.

    My plane touched down at four in the morning, and I took my time passing the immigration checkpoint and collecting my luggage. I had no hotel reservation, and arriving as early in the city would not help.
    I left the airport to reach the center and try the first of the hotel address I had wrote down. The place was full. I switched from the airport minibus to a three-wheel tuk-tuk, a common means of public transportation in urban India, and continued my quest for a place to sleep.

    Alley in Delhi's wedding district.

    Alley in Delhi's wedding district.

    The multi-layered mess of Delhi.

    The multi-layered mess of Delhi.

    One should not mistake tuk-tuk drivers in Delhi for friends. All of them will try to squeeze every rupee out of an innocent traveler pocket. They will use all methods available at this effect. You do read about it in India’s guidebooks, but experiencing it first hand is so striking, and the guys are such great actors that you can’t help but wonder if the tales you are hearing are legit or not. And of course it’s all lies.
    One of the common scams goes like that. You ask to be transported to a hotel of your choice. If they figure you don’t have a reservation, they tell you that the place closed two weeks ago, or is under renovation, or even burned down the previous night. They will then drive you down to a hotel where they get a hefty commission when bringing a victim.
    In a variation, they could also drive you to a fake government tourist office. There, you will be told that due to festivals in the city, all the hotels are booked, and there is no way of staying in the city for less than US$150 a day.

    Quiet alley in Delhi.

    Quiet alley in Delhi.

    In my case, after several similar experiences, I went to one of these tourist offices where I seemed to agree to use their services to get a room. “But first”, I asked, “Can I check my emails?” Few minutes after they agreed, using their computer I had booked a room in the city at a rate of US$22 and fled in the street toward a well deserved bed.
    Of course I still had to fight with a new tuk-tuk driver, insisting to go to the place even if the hotel had been demolished recently. Of course it was not, and around 11 a.m. I was able to crash in a bed.
    Few hours later, I was back in the streets, this time trying to arrange for transportation to Mumbai where I would retrieve my truck. My new “friend”, the manager of the hotel, guided me to a travel agency he knew. There, I was told there was no available seat in the train to from Mumbai to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. It was true as well for the train to Agra from Jaipur. By now I was not trusting anyone, and found it even stranger when the agent added that there was only one bus on the Mumbai – Agra route, and that the bus was not suitable for tourists. The best – and only – solution for me would be to take a car with a driver…

    Delhi counts 12 millions inhabitants.

    Delhi counts 12 millions inhabitants.

    In all the countries I crossed during this trip, I always have been surprised by the multitude of bus running between the most unlikely locations. I could not believe it would be so difficult to get around in India…
    I left the tourist agency and started shopping around. An hour later, I was in possession a bus ticket Mumbai – Agra (US$13) and a train ticket Agra – Jaipur I paid US$14, which is double the usual price, but was enough to persuade the railroad employee to give me a ticket in the already “full” train. Another ticket in the overnight train from Jaipur to Mumbai arriving Sept. 1st did set me back another US$32.
    Now I would finally be able to enjoy some Indian food. And that was a highlight. The best food I had in a long time, probably since Ethiopia, the last country where they used some spice in the cooking. Of course cold beer was also nice to have after the restrictions of the past few weeks. Back at the hotel, I continued work on the logistic of the following days, and book hotels using the internet.

    Inside the Red Fort.

    Inside the Red Fort.

    After a short night of sleep, and now that I was done with the advance planning, I went out to enjoy a day visiting Old Delhi. I paid a visit to the Red Fort, the greatest of Delhi’s Moghul palace-cities. Built in the 17th century, the palace saw imperial elephants court ladies carried in palanquins and armies of eunuchs. The British moved into the fort in 1857.

    The mosque courtyard.

    The mosque courtyard.

    Diner at Monika's relatives.

    Diner at Monika's relatives.

    Ironing in the street.

    Ironing in the street.

    Also in the city is India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid. It has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful place or worship in the world. It took six years to 5,000 workers to finish the impressive building.
    I spent a lot of time walking up and down the old streets Old Delhi is made of. I continued to eat like there is no tomorrow. I lost some weight during Ramadan, and now was time to gain it back. In the evening, I visited the relative of Monika, a former AP colleague, which is a good occasion to try some of Indian home-cooking.

    The Taj Mahal is also visited by millions of Indian tourists.

    The Taj Mahal is also visited by millions of Indian tourists.

    Inside the Taj Mahal.

    Inside the Taj Mahal.

    After the tiring day, I sleep for four hours and wake up before sunrise to take the uncomfortable bus to Agra, some 150 miles (250 km) south of Delhi. Upon arrival, I throw my bags at the hotel and immediately go visit the Taj Mahal.
    Set on the river Yamuna, the Taj construction started in 1632 and took twenty years to complete, while the Mughal Empire was going downward. The cost of the monument was high, and the emperor Shah Jahan who built it in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal was imprisoned by his own son for overspending of state funds.
    Some three millions tourist visit the Taj every year, as the mausoleum is regarded as one of the world wonders. On my part, I am always nervous about visiting these huge tourist magnets as you can be easily disappointed after hearing so much about such monument. But the visit was pleasant, and the stroll in the outside garden worth it. I found the inside of the monument a bit disappointing, but overall it was a nice visit. Probably one of the costliest in a while as well, at US$17.

    The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, seen from the the Agra Fort.

    The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, seen from the the Agra Fort.

    The Agra Fort.

    The Agra Fort.

    After leaving the Taj, I took a Tuk-Tuk to the Agra Fort which dominates the center of the city. It is the most important fort in India. The rulers lived here, and the country used to be governed from here. It was visited by ambassadors, travelers and the highest dignitaries coming from all over the world.

    It is also a good place to see the sunset on the Taj Mahal, which I did before getting back to my hotel. After this other well-filled day it was not difficult to fall asleep. Few hours later, at 5 a.m., I found myself on the train to Jaipur.

    No wonder I am traveling alone if some guys take 5,000 women...

    Seen in Agra Fort. Some guys travel alone, others live with 5,000 women...

    The train from Agra to Jaipur.

    The train from Agra to Jaipur.

    In the last few days, I seem to have gain the ability to fall asleep everywhere I stop for few minutes. So as soon as I am in the train, I collapse only to wake up as we arrive at destination.

    A gate leading to the Old City, Jaipur.

    A gate leading to the Old City, Jaipur.

    Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is also known as the pink city, thanks to the pink wash that most buildings are given. There are some atmospheric places to see in the old city, including bazaars and palaces.

    The Palace of the Winds, detail, Jaipur.

    The Palace of the Winds, detail, Jaipur.

    The “Palace of the Winds” is possibly one of the most famous buildings in town. It was built for the ladies of the harem, and features almost 1,000 windows on its façade, enabling cool air in, and allowing the ladies to take advantage of the spectacle of the street.

    Jaipur City Palace.

    Jaipur City Palace.

    The nearby futuristic observatory.

    The nearby futuristic observatory.

    The City Palace is still a royal residence and has a vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. Just outside is an observatory, Jantar Mantar. It was built around 1730, and each huge stone and marble instrument was used for a particular function to give an accurate reading. For Hindus, the horoscope is very important, which explains the vast interest in the science.

    Selling vegetables in the street.

    Selling vegetables in the street.

    I am scheduled to stay for two days in the city, which I use to take a lot of rest, and also try multiple restaurants. On August 31, after lunch, I take place in a sleeping car part of the train to Mumbai. There, as usual, I fall asleep and remain in this state for most of the trip.

    Street of Jaipur old city.

    Street of Jaipur old city.

    Arriving in Mumbai early in the morning, I took a cab to see an old friend. Vikas, who I met few years back in New York where he was working for the New York Times, now lives in India, and invited me to share his flat for few day. As I arrived, I checked the status of the container I was waiting for and was supposed to arrive the same day. It turned out that unfortunately, the box was still laying in Iran. After speaking to people there, it seems that it may arrive in Mumbai Sept. 10. But that remains to be seen…
    As I write this overdue entry in the blog, it seems that I felt sick. Not sure exactly what it could be, but I am running a fever since yesterday. It has been the first time since the beginning of the trip I felt ill. Hopefully some small food-related issue.

    Arriving in Mumbai.

    Arriving in Mumbai.

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40 Responses to “Traveling from Delhi to Mumbai”

  1. Murali in Reading PA

    Hey Nick,

    Great update! Have been waiting to hear from you. Your knowledge of Delhi, Agra & Jaipur impresses me. You outsmarted the tourist scams….good for you.

    Whenever we go back to India from the US we always get sick for a 2-3 days. Usually GI upset. Hang in there I am sure you will soon be better. Stick with bottled water.

    Hope the SUV arrives soon.

    Happy travels,

    Murali

  2. Feel better soon Nick! Get some well needed rest, it appears your body is now requiring it. The truck being delayed may turn out to be a good thing, it means you can recuperate before heading into the home stretch!

  3. Nick,

    Rest and get well quickly!

    I have loved followed your trip every step of the way!

    Michelle Ross
    New York

  4. Sorry to hear about the delay of your truck arriving into India. What are you going explore to kill the time? 🙂 I’m sorry that you’re not feeling well at all. Hopefully it’s something you ate that will pass on its own and nothing more serious.

  5. Hi Nic, finally you have arrived in India, sweet. Do you have specific plans for India? In case Bangalore is part of your agenda, you are invited to stay at my place. Happy exploring India and do highlight some part of Urban India and the changing landscape as well. Most tourists tend to highlight the negative aspects….

  6. Good to hear from you but not good to hear you are sick. If the truck doesn’t arrive until Sept. 10 you will have time to rest up and feel better. Your writing and pictures are amazing. You are amazing for traveling by yourself and figuring everything out! Enjoy your down time.

  7. Hello Nick:

    A special prayer of healing is yours today, Nick! It is far better to regain your body weight when you are eating food that is familiar to your body. Indian food is great and I cook it twice a week here for my family, but remember you are living and eating in unusually crowded conditions and must take your time and perhaps eat in restaurants that cater to tourists (bottled water, you know). We have a home in Mexico and travel there a lot. But, we still insist on bottled water and such. We’re traveling to India in February (my first time) and your being ill is a reminder that I must also be careful, as I am so anxious to enjoy authentic Indian dishes. I am enjoying the photos and it is of course interesting to see India from your perspective. Take care, and I know that the next time you write you will be all better. Hugs,
    -joyMaria

  8. Donna Ft Lauderdale USA

    Hey Nick, yep, when we don’t slow down, God will help us to do it. Your truck is late and you’re not feeling well, sounds like God working to me.. 🙂 !! So time for a nice kick back, rest and let all that over eating you’ve done take it’s time to start sticking to your bones. Seriously, I do hope it’s just a small something & you’re back to your ole self by tomorrow. I’ve been lovin’ the trip & the pictures. So amazing to see the streets so crowded, can’t imagine how people live day to day like that. Also the animals walking in the streets, geez, when we see cows, goats or the like on a farm in a rural area, we pull over to the side of the road to get a good look (kids!!!, wake up.. quick, look.. cows… !!! ) haha… yes, you might say I’m a city girl, but I’ve done alot of world site seeing thru your eyes my friend. Thank you.. and feel better. With hugs from good ole US of A…, Donna

  9. first – i can’t believe you didn’t feel sick sooner. you have ‘delhi belly’… 1/3 of my 120 classmates got Delhi Belly after only 3-days there. We were all sick for another 5. careful what you eat, especially the water! I thought it was only ‘tourist-nonense’ warnings too, but its pretty tough.

    Second, if you have ANY extra time at all, you must go see Varanasi. I took SpiceJet for a cheap ticket, but trains will also do. unfortunately its closer to Delhi than Mumbai. But do some research on Varanasi and get there in the morning…hands down my favorite few hours in India after 2 weeks.

  10. Right on Nick!
    You’re already a well seasoned world traveller. Taking full advantage of every second of time. Seeing all the sights at a frantic pace. Avoiding scam artists. Eating the regional foods…that’s awesome. Sorry to hear you may have acquired Montezuma’s Revenge…I got It once on my 2 year trip in the Americas…It was awful for 2 days… hope you don’t have the same 🙁

    Surfer Dude

  11. Glad to hear you made it to India. It’s a shame you had to deal with the scams as soon as you touched down, but you caught on quickly. For years after I moved back to the US, drivers in Bangalore were telling unsuspecting colleagues of mine that they would take them to “Miss Fran’s favorite” silk store, or rug shop or jewelry shop or whatever and of course they were NOT my favorites. Usually it was the one place I went to 1 time and never again after the shop owner scammed me and I realized a driver took me there because he got a cut. Really pissed me off that the drivers went around town telling people from my company this nonsense.

    Be careful what you eat and drink. It’s not fun when you get Delhi Belly and it can take some time to get over. If you’re down from something you ate and don’t have antibiotics, see if your friends know of a reputable doctor that can help you. It takes time for our Western intestinal tracks to become accustomed to what’s there and it’s surely no fun.

    I had a bottled water dispenser in my kitchen AND bathroom so that even when I brushed my teeth I was using purified water and NEVER EVER opened my mouth in the shower. I only got struck 2 times while living there, but I was militant about what I ate.

    Sorry, but I’m going to play the doting mother here — the B.R.A.T. diet is the way to go — Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. It’s boring and bland, but very helpful. You can add yogurt and if you can find some good home made chicken broth, get that into you as well as purified water. Ok, that’s all of the mothering I’ll foist on you.

    Hopefully you’re on the mend by the time you read this.

  12. So happy to see that you are in India! Hope you feel better soon. I truly enjoy your updates and check every day for new ones. Have a wonderful time in India. Until next time….Cheers!

  13. Nick,

    Nice update with the pictures. What’s the route you are taking in India?Are you travelling to south India. I am kind of amazed as to how you are going to drive LHD car in India which drives on the left?

    Good luck and don’t eat too much spicy food which upsets your stomach. As someone else has suggested, drink only bottled water.

    Vijay

  14. very cool and interesting, thanks for sharing!

  15. Nick,,Have been waiting for update and am amazed at the wonderful photos,,
    Thanks so much for sharing,,of course you are taking all the bumps and bruises
    and whatever comes your way ,but I am taking this journey with you..
    Feel better soon,,As always,GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE,,

  16. Hi Nick

    Glad you arrived safely in India. Hope you are feeling well soon. Take advantage of the delay and catch up on your rest.

    Anxiously await your next post.

    Judy
    Illinois

  17. Hello Nick,

    I am fascinated with all your adventure. I want to drive to Argentina as well (currently living in NY). I am from Barranquilla, Colombia and I am glad that you could drive through some of the towns there. Feel better and keep us posted.

  18. Sorry to hear you are not well. Glade you did not fall for the scams of the people in this land. Hope you fill better soon.

  19. Glenn Upton-Fletcher

    Hey Nick

    Good to hear you are on the mend. Not bad for a first illness of the Journey. A flu at that and not some nasty food related bug. Hope it passes sooner rather than later. Lets hope that the LC is indeed going to pitch on the 10th. Should give you a few days to recover. I hear curry is not bad for flu’s.

    Wish you well

    Glenn

  20. Sorry to hear you are ill! I hope you are staying in a comfortable place to get over the flu. Those pictures are so interesting! On the first day of school, I showed my students a slide show of the pictures of where you have been so far. I am teaching French II this year and had most of these students from last year in French I…so they all knew about you. They were fascinated about your trip! Take care and get well soon!

    Jo Bedford

  21. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    When your back is broke and your eyes are blurred.
    And your shin-bones knock and your tongue is furred,
    And your tonsils squeak and your hair gets dry,
    And you’re doggone sure that you’re going to die,
    But you’re skeered you won’t and afraid you will,
    Just drag to bed and have your chill;
    And pray the Lord to see you through
    For you’ve got the Flu, boy…You’ve got the Flu.

    When your toes curl up and your belt goes flat,
    And you’re twice as mean as a Thomas cat,
    And life is a long and dismal curse,
    And your food all tastes like a hard-boiled hearse,
    When your lattice aches and your head’s abuzz
    And nothing is as it ever was,
    Here are my sad regrets to you,
    You’ve got the Flu, boy… You’ve got the Flu.

    What is it like, this India Flu?
    Ask me, brother, for I’ve been through,
    It is by Misery out of Despair,
    It pulls your teeth and curls your hair,
    It thins your blood and brays your bones
    And fills your craw with moans and groans,
    And sometimes, maybe, you get well —
    Some call it Flu — I call it hell!

  22. Hi Nick!

    Love love love the pictures and stories! 🙂 I love the spices of Indian food so I can understand your enthusiasm to eat it! 🙂 Feel better soon! Bless ya!

  23. this is why i’m following your travels around the world: a real recording of foreign cities with all their warts and beauty marks exposed. WONDERFUL! your pictures are amazing. thank you! thank you! take care and hope you’re feeling better soon.

    suzanne

  24. Hi Nick,

    Glad to see your India update.
    I am following your blog since day 1 and feel very thrilled to read ur adventures as I too love travelling and exploring new places.
    Being an Indian myself I have some tips (which surely u must have got from other Indian friends as well).
    India like any other developing country has its ups and downs, cities and villages, nice people and bad people.
    Tourists though being warned still sometimes try out things which are an absolute no-no (Even for Indians).
    I have been to delhi many times and definetly rickshaw (tuk tuk) drivers would not be the right choice to get your information about hotels. They are really poor people and have their first priority as food and survival rather than ethics.
    In India you always need to contact ITDC Offices for accomodation and travel info or consult sites like make my trip.
    Similarly for food , tourists should avoid street food and water. You should stick to branded 5 star , 4 star restaurants, or Mac Donalds, KFC , or home made food at your friends place 🙂 .
    Also, try to make the route of your travel through known cities and while camping its advisable not to camp in lonely areas.
    You would surely not have any negative experience just being a little cautious.
    Note: Since you are in Mumbai and in case you crave for american food there is a Ruby Tuesday, TGIF and Subway in Inorbit mall, Malad(W) in Mumbai.
    In Mumbai if you need any reliable information for free just call 6999 9999 (Just Dial – mumbai.justdial.com. This service is there in US as well, and they are really good in giving information about anything)
    Have a nice and enjoyable trip. Your trip surely is an inspiring one and makes us want to make our life meaningful by this kind of expedition.
    Keep us posted.

    Abhinav.

  25. Hi
    Charles Apple told me about your visit to India.Are you planning to visit Kerala

    tksajeev

  26. Nick-
    Our reading group loved reading about your adventures. We looked at the pictures on your blog. They are cool! Have you visited any schools on your adventure? Do you see computers in other countries? We’ll keep following your blog!

    Your friends in Nortonville, Kansas
    Teacher: Mrs. Liebsch

  27. Hi Nick,

    I work for a major hotel chain and would be happy to assist you with any ressies you may need during your travels…may even be able to share my discount.

    Email me –

    – Cheryl
    Orlando, FL

  28. Nick,

    Hope you’re not getting sick! If you are it sounds like you have a few days so it may actually work out well. I didn’t realize that the tuk-tuks give you so many excuses. Sounds like a taxi ride I had in China.

    Looking forward to your next post

    -Chris
    Minneapolis, MN

  29. Marlon Trivino (Corona, CA)

    To Nick’s followers:

    Guys, Nick’s route is shown on the map called ‘THE ROUTE’. It shows his current planned route. Check it out.

    To Nick:
    I hope you get well soon. Looking forward to your next post. Thanks for the wonderful pictures.

  30. I loved the pics of the “full” train. I’m praying for your health and safety. Can’t wait for your next post.
    Mindy

  31. Our class is reading about your adventure through http://www.news-2-you.com (a wonderful web-site) WE are also learning how to plan a trip. Thank you for sharing…and we hope you will soon be feeling much better–rest and chicken soup is our suggestion.
    Take care,
    EHS class

  32. Nick,
    Hello, we are a Middle School from Texas. We hope you get better and eat healthy to keep your strength up. We think you are a great man for sharing your trip with the whole world. You are a brave man for traveling to countries where you have no friends. Be safe and keep us posted on your trip.

    Thanks,
    Texas

  33. Ms. Warren's Life Skills Class

    Hello Mr. Nick,

    We are reading about your journey around the world in our class. We found out about your adventure from our News 2 You program. We wanted to say hi. We discovered you are in India. We were hoping you could mail us a post card from your adventure and if you minded keeping in touch with us.

    Sincerely,

    Ms. Warren’s Life Skills Class
    Landrum Middle School
    2200 Ridgecrest Drive
    Houston, Texas 77055

  34. Hi Nick,

    It’s been a few days since your last post. Wondering how you’re feeling. Better I hope. When you started this adventure did you have any idea you would have so many followers? Seems like you have quite a number of school classes following your blog. They must be enjoying it and learning a lot about the world through your eyes. I know I am. Thanks for sharing. Feel better and travel safe!

  35. Wow India seems exhausting! Good thing you have some time to rest and sleep off your sickness. Hopefully your Land Cruiser arrives soon.

  36. Your resourcefulness and connections with locals continue to amaze me! Praying for your strength and good health to return.

  37. To Nick,

    We’re reading your story in News-to-You. This is the first time we have visited your Blog and we really enjoy it. Thank you for your interesting journey! We will keep checking in.

    From Brenda

  38. Nick,

    What a bummer you got a stomach bug! That is the reason I don’t enjoy eating Indian food! I like spicy and all but I will stick to Ethiopian mita mita and Mexican food…lol

    Seems like there are a lot of school classes following you now too. That is really cool. Hopefully you get a chance to write them back and send post cards too them. I’m sure they would get a huge kick out of it and maybe inspire them to make the trip some day.

    Good luck with getting your truck today and Eid Mabarak!

    As always, safe travels!

    Dave

  39. Nick,

    We have enjoyed reading the news 2 you story about you Driving around the world. Our class thinks that is really AWESOME! We hope that you feel better and continue your travels safely.
    Drink lots of bottled water!

    Mrs. Craft’s Class
    Oak Hill Middle School
    Milledgeville, GA 31061

  40. OUSD Parkside Transition Class

    Dear Nick,
    We just read about your journey in our class and we checked out your blog. We are looking forward to following your travels. Hope you feel better and have received your car. Our class would like to know what your favorite food has been so far.

    Bye for now.
    Parkside Transition
    Orange, CA

    (Our class has 18-22 year old special needs students who are learning life skills.)