My trip plans for 2011 were thrown into disarray due to the Arab Spring. My original intent was to continue the Balkan trip by travelling across Turkey and then travel through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Libya ending up in Tunisia and then returning to Europe via ferry to Malta. While the situation in Tunisia and Egypt settled quite quickly the same could not be said for Libya and Syria. The tentative plan was quickly abandoned, and I urgently needed to create a new one!
I briefly considered South East Asia but decided here was an opportunity to travel in India. I decided to mix a trip with Dragoman with some time exploring alone. I found a trip starting early September from New Delhi and ending in Kathmandu, Nepal. I couldn't decide whether to go into Nepal or leave the tour before the border and return to New Delhi solo or continue the tour all the way to Kathmandu and return home from there. I decided to keep my options open which meant I needed a dual entry Indian Visa.
The Indian Visa process is in some respects a little simpler than when I applied for a business Visa in 2007. The online form completion was better but you can no longer get a visa on the day and the visa is effective from the day it is issued. I decided to get the application processed in person and after supplying all the details online I applied for an appointment, also online, and turned up at the Birmingham office only to be told that they couldn't process the form there and that I would have to go to London! Next day I spend travelling to London and after 5 minutes in the Indian visa centre I'm done. Most of the 5 minutes was paying the fee, which I had already paid online, this involved them refunding the amount and then charging it again! I was told I may not get the double entry visa. However, the rest of the process went smoothly with email and text message updates as the application proceeded and a few days later a dual entry visa arrived in the mail.
- :: New Delhi
Warm feelings about New Delhi were not forthcoming, my flight from London has a scheduled arrival time at New Delhi of 23:15IST. Finding reliable transport, particularly at this time of day, is reported to be tricky.
The Dragoman trip starts from Hotel Good Times so I decide to book a room there and get them to collect me from the airport.