After three months travelling India, at the beginning of April I found myself heading to Thailand to continue my travel adventure in South East Asia. It didn’t feel right to me from day one as I knew three months in India just wasn’t enough, and not a day in Thailand went by without me making constant comparisons to India. The same magic just wasn’t there. So within days I decided I just had to come back. I researched volunteering opportunities at NGOs and eventually found the perfect one, with one big downside: it was based in Delhi – my least favorite place due to a few previous bad experiences.
I am a solo female traveler from the UK, and on my first visit to Delhi which was only for one day I was scammed and harassed, and on my second visit I ended up staying in a dirty and unfriendly hotel in an even more dirty and unfriendly area – Paharganj. And of course I got food poisoning. I had been told that Paharganj was the best place to stay to meet other travelers and absorb Delhi. Maybe this is true if you are braver than me, in a group, or drunk. I just found it to be a very intense experience, where I was stared at and hassled constantly in the burning heat looking for somewhere to stay fully loaded with my backpack. The one hostel I could find there also seemed pretty dirty and inhospitable, and was inexplicably full, so I ended up in the aforementioned hotel where one filthy room for one night was 1000 rupees, and nothing was included except wi-fi that didn’t work, and rude staff who constantly looked at me disapprovingly. Needless to say I wanted to get out as soon as possible.
As I write that, I can’t believe not only that I’m back in Delhi, but that I’ve grown to love the place, and it’s largely thanks to finding the perfect accommodation. I checked into The Hosteller on the 26th April and quickly made up my mind it would be home for the next month. It’s in a perfect location next to the metro station so it’s quick and easy to get into town, with extremely relaxing and comforting communal areas, and the value for money, cleanliness and location attract the best kinds of travellers too. All of this, along with awesome staff who really go beyond the call of duty to help, combines to provide my favourite thing about the place, it’s atmosphere: I can never not feel relaxed or happy around this place. And I’ve (hopefully) made some friends for life.
And as for Delhi, when you have such a perfect home to escape the city from it gives you more confidence and bravery to explore. It’s a city that is so extremely different to anywhere in the UK that it can be intimidating at times, but with The Hosteller in my heart, I’ve been able to explore Delhi and soak up the unique beauty and spirit of this fantastic place, knowing I have a second home and a second family to go back to should things get too much. There are so many varieties of interesting sights to see and things to do, but it’s so much more than just a sight seeing checklist. Every street chai you drink and every local person you chat too strips off another layer of the real Delhi, which is a destination maybe no visitor can ever really know, but the journey is so worth the effort.
– Gill Walter