The contents for this report would be as follows:
Fascinating India: Introduction
Fascinating India: Le Méridien Jakarta Executive Suite
Fascinating India: SQ Regional First Class to Singapore
Fascinating India: The Private Room by Singapore Airlines
Fascinating India: SQ First Class on the 77W to Delhi
Fascinating India: Hyatt Regency Delhi
Fascinating India: A Day in Delhi and Dinner at Bukhara
Fascinating India: Hyatt Regency Gurgaon
Fascinating India: Fairmont Jaipur
Fascinating India: Amber Fort and the Pink City
Fascinating India: Lunch at the Rambagh Palace Hotel
Fascinating India: Fatehpur Sikri and Taj Mahal
Fascinating India: ITC Mughal Agra
Fascinating India: Air India Economy Class Delhi to Mumbai
Fascinating India: Grand Hyattt Mumbai and Dinner at Soma
Fascinating India: A Day in Mumbai
Fascinating India: JetKonnect Economy Class Mumbai to Goa
Fascinating India: Grand Hyatt Goa
Fascinating India: Park Hyatt Goa
I had the chance to visit India during the end of 2013, which is also why this blog was not as up-to-date as I would like it to be. End of the year has basically become a busy travelling time for me. This started as I redeemed a North Asia to South Asia award on US Airways Dividend Miles, providing me the opportunity to try out Singapore Airlines First Class to New Delhi, as India is one of the few destinations which has First Class cabins on Singapore Airlines. In addition, this trip will also add another new country visited in 2013.
When I started planning for the trip, I was fascinated by the travel packages offered by Oberoi Hotels and Resorts around India due to the beautiful scenes but I decided that it probably was not worth the money since they would cost me about $575-585 per night and I am not sure if I am ready yet to pay those kind of prices for hotels in India. Thus I decided to forgo Oberoi and instead chose to stay in a Park Hyatt since India probably has the cheapest Park Hyatt stay anywhere in the world. And they do have up to 3 Park Hyatts to choose from, which I settled on the Park Hyatt Goa.
The winter Fairmont promotion also allowed me to take advantage of the promotion between AMEX and Fairmont allowing me to save further on my stay in the new Fairmont Jaipur. For the rest of my stays in India, I chose to stay with Hyatt since they have some decent properties for a good value around the city. And for the landmark Taj Mahal visit, I picked the ITC Agra, a Luxury Collection property part of the Starwood Hotels Group, which was running a promotion that would include a major meal.
After finalizing my destinations and lodging, it was time to decide on transportation arrangements within India itself. When I embarked on the trip, I had no plans on how to get myself from Delhi to Jaipur, then to Agra and finally returning to Delhi. All I knew was there was a way to hire a driver and cab for the ride and thus I negotiated with a driver for a rate of 30,000 INR (~US$500) for 5 days of driving between Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and back to Delhi. This would cover all tolls, parking fees and any other incidentals related to the car. I thought this was a decent price since I know the car was clean and the driver was a decent guy who speaks good English.
With me returning to Delhi, I would take a flight from there to Mumbai that was booked on an Air India 777-300ER and one that I was eagerly anticipating for. There was also a short Mumbai to Goa flight on JetKonnect and a Goa to Mumbai to Delhi flight on Jet Airways that would connect to a Malaysia Airlines flight to bring me back to South East Asia. Well that was the plan until the domestic flight segments got messed up big time, but that would be in the tale from here on!