Published: March 24th 2012March 16th 2012
We decided we needed to move on from Jaipur sad that we missed the number one thing to see on trip advisor but very happy we saw holi and the elephant fest which were probably once in a lifetime experiences.
We tried to get the train out of Jaipur but were unable to due to them being full, so far we have a 0% success rate with the trains as everytime they are full. The system is pretty useless unless booked way in advance, so we had to get the bus. The bus left at the awful time of 6.30am so we forced ourselves out of bed and got to the station. On arrival we had to avoid the local scam of trying to take your bags for you, ended up Litterally having to grab onto to our wheely backpacks while explaining to the man that to wheel a bag is no trouble and we can manage on our own. He walked off annoyed. The bus journey went pretty fast as I think I slept most of it only 5 or so hours. We stopped and a man came on the bus telling us it was our stop, we got off and got our bags out avoiding the shouts of ‘rickshaw’ ‘taxi’. Still sleep, something didn’t feel right as the address that we were looking for was not in site. After blanking the man shouting tuk tuk at us and asking the driver, we realised this was one stop to early so back on the bus!! While looking up something later we found this was a common scam by tuk tuk drivers who then go on to charge you a lot for the journey to the correct stop. Why they allow them on the bus in the first place I don’t know.
Hotel we are staying at in Agra is called the tourist rest house owned by the same people who owned our last hotel the Sunder palace. It’s not great, nice staff apart from the restaurant, no hot water, wifi occasionally, 1 English tv channel and sort of clean but with a bad smell which we worked out seems to be the smell of Agra. The person who picked us up tried to scam us for a visit to the Taj Mahal charging 650 ruppees for services that even he wasn’t really able to justify for the cost. He is also the waiter at the hotel restaurant. We decided to eat out the first night as the Hotel restaurant couldn’t cook anything we wanted and all we got was a blank look from the waiter. The kind of look like he hates us, hates his job and is probably not going to wash his hands before preparing our food. They must recycle their glass bottles here (good) as every Pepsi bottle looks like it is from the 80s and has the thick crust of dirt round the top to prove it (bad).
I left the hotel feeling rough and sneezing due to the lack of sleep, food and hygiene that we take for granted. I can only imagine my body being confused after going from 8 hours sleep , daily raw vegy juice and smoothies and a reasonable level of hygeine to pretty much nothing. This was taking it’s toll so we decided a good meal would help. Outside the hotel a very thin and very old Indian man peddled up to us at about 1 mph on his cycle rickshaw. We denied the offer as honestly we felt guilty making this man peddle us anywhere as people at his age back home generally can’t walk or even change a tv channel. We carried on walking, dodging other offers till the man caught up with us saying this was his Indian helicopter and very good for environment. This made us laugh so we agreed as he seemed to really want the business. On the 2k journey to Taj Ganj where we wanted to eat, the guilt did not stop, it was frankly terrible watching an elderly Indian man peddle two young and reasonably fit English people around. We felt so bad in the end we asked if I could peddle and he could sit in the back with Laura. He said no as the police were around and it may not be allowed so the guilt continued. We paid 100 ruppees for the journey 20 more than asked and agreed he could take us the next morning to the Taj Mahal at 6am.
We eat on the rooftop of a place which claimed to have a good view of the Taj, it wasn’t a great view but the huge veg thali hit the spot. After this I did some more sneezing choked on toothpaste so bad I was nearly sick then called it a day and went to bed as I felt awful. Laura did a good job and booked our ticket out of here to Delhi and then down south to Kerala online as we couldn’t get to varranassi at all, which is a disappointment as we have heard it described as the dirtiest place in India and a real eye opener which is always good to hear, when we thought what we were already seeing was bad enough.
Today we visited the taj mahal and Agra fort. The morning was awkward as the scamming tuk tuk man caught us in the lobby thinking we agreed at his stupid 650 ruppee fare we just said no and got on our dodgy peddle powered one instead to make a slow exit. The old man looked even more frail early in the morning, wrapped in a dirty shawl and possibly thinner than yesterday we had our fingers crossed that he had a good breakfast and the snorts coming from the front where just the usual Indian mans spitting and hacking and not his last breaths. We got to the west entrance of the Taj and walked the short journey to the gate. We got there for 6am like everyone recommended unfortunately as expected everyone else did this too so the queue was still big. After paying the huge 750 entrance fee and another queue we finally got in. Where we’re the rides???
Unfortunately no rides not even a log flume but the building made up for that. It was nice, I was expecting it to be a huge disappointment as it is hyped so much but it is good to see and well worth the trip and photo op. We then went to Agra fort which was ok. Worth seeing but didn’t blow me away. The history around it is interesting so we need to do some reading on it. After that we went back to the hotel after the usual detour round the tuk tuk shops. I did get to peddle a tuk tuk though as again we felt bad and he let me do it. India so far has been mad, dirty, unorganised, amazing, colourful, dodgy, and pretty much any other adjective you can think of but also annoying and tiring at times too, and we have just done the touristy things!! We are off now to Delhi then Kerala which were hoping is more relaxing.
Speak soon Namaste