The preparation has become a routine. Taking the same flight by Air India departing from Singapore at 8:25am. It is a 5 hours 40 minutes journey but due to time difference of 2.5 hours between Singapore and India, the estimate time of arrival at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport is 11:15am India time. From past two experiences with Air India, I am prepared for the departure to be delayed but surprising, it took off on time. The plane only took 5 hours to reach Delhi. Due to heavy air traffic, it has to circulate in the air for about 40 minutes before given permission to land! It was quite weird looking at the flight screen to see the plane going round and round.
The entire check out process took about an hour, which is my opinion is considered fast. The first thing to do on arrival is to get the mobile pre-paid card from Airtel counter that is located just outside the arrival gate. Again, I am surprised that it took less than 10 minutes compared to more 30 minutes in the for my last two visits.
The pre-paid card cost Rs. 1455 and needs verification before it works. When you purchase the card, they will ask you for your name, your father name and the place where you are staying (address must be in Delhi). After you purchase the card, it will take about 3 hours for you to see the Airtel network (you may have to turn off and turn on your phone). When that happens, dial the number given to you (59059) and speak to the operator who will verify those information that you have given to them earlier. The line will be activated about 10 minutes after they complete the verification.
Getting to New Delhi by Airport metro is a breeze and it takes about 22 minutes for the whole train journey. When you exit from gate 5 at the arrival hall, turn right and there is a lift that will take you to the overhead bridge on level 1 (the arrival hall is counted as level 0). You may use the airport trolley to bring your luggage all the way to the security check before entering the metro station. The ticket cost Rs 100 and can be purchased next to the security check. The train is spacious with luggage rack and is arguably one of the cleanest places you can find in the whole India!
As I plan to go to Manali as soon as possible, I head straight to Smyle Inn, a guest house located at Pahargan Delhi, Main Bazaar, where I usually stayed whenever I am in New Delhi. They had a travel desk for which I could purchase bus ticket to Manali departing on the same evening.
Having sorted out the bus ticket, it is time to relax and have a simple lunch (more like snack) of Tuna Sandwich and Tomato Soup at Everest Bakery Café. I left for bus station at 4:30pm and boarded the bus to Manali, which eventually left Delhi nearly 8pm after stopping at several places to pick up passengers.