Agra and way to Jaipur?..Jaisalmer!

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September 22nd 2007
Published: June 5th 2008
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Street of Agra on the way to the Agra Fort
We started our bus trip. Already late but I was happy of leaving Delhi (still anyway had to get back there to catch my flight to Kathmandu). The bus ride was allright. On the way we stoped couple of times for brakes, and to get some snacks. I spend most of my time on the bus talking to the brazilian girl. As I found out she was going to Agra for one, two days to visit Taj and places around it. After she would head to Indian Himalayans for 16 days trek which would finish at her Yoga Master town, where she would join yoga-meditation camp for couple of weeks. She was really spiritual person, a lot of different then me, thanks to what we had amazing conversations about life. The bus journey was almost over after almost 5 hours. We reached Agra just before 1pm. The last our on the bus I were sleeping , trying to get some rest after early morning wake up.
When we got to some bigger town( as it appeared later it was Agra) one person of the bus staff come to us, and start asking questions: do we have a room reserved, what are

Kids playing cricket
our plans etc. He offered us "a good cheap hotel", btw: In India everything is always "the best quality and cheapest", no matter where you ask. As I found out, a brazilian lady she had her room booked already(it was to expensive for me, I couldnt go with her) so the guy he focused on me. The bus stoped rapidly. One member of the bus crew told us we had to get out in here, its center of Agra. It would be fine for me but why nobody else besides us foreigners its getting out. With a perfidious smile on his face he announced its a tourist arrival place, locals will get off later. To convince us we were told there were taxis outside waiting for us which would take us to our hotels, of course "free of charge", the price of it was included in the bus ride.
I saw its pointless to discuss with this person, so we took our stuff and walked out of the vehicle. As I expected there were taxis waiting for us. I have just made one step out of the bus and was already aproached by one guy he wanted be my chauffeur
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View from roof-top restaurant in my hotel
around the Agra town. I was offered a free ride to a hotel of my choice. So I said why not. If he will start offering me other services: shooping, tours, sideseeing I will "politely" refuse. I forgot the name of the hotel that I stayed in but it was just 5-10 min walking away from Taj. We departured for our ride. His friend was driving and the other guy started interrigation. Supriseingly he spoked english pretty well. To most of the questions I anserwed: no, dont know, no plans. I didnt wanted to share my plans for Agra with him, or even with any other local. During a ride I was offered a trip around Agra to some sideseeing spots and to other side of the river to enjoy view of sunset over Taj from there, where there would be no tourists. It sounded interesting, like always the question was about the price. The guy said 250INR. I didnt want to resign at that moment, so I decided to think about it in my hotel room. I told him to met me at my hotel in 3 hours, then I will let him know if Im going or not.
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Deal. I took my backpack and went inside the building to look for a reception. There was older, in his 50's, guy, 5ft6" tall, smilling at me entering. I walked towards him asking about rooms availability and prices for one room with fan. The answer was 600INR. I've opened my mouth without saying a word. That was not the answer that I expected. I told him I found out from my friend who stayed here just 2 weeks ago the room used to be 300INR. "Now its high season, its just started 1 week ago(high seasn in middle of September?!)" - thats what I got back. I could see this evil smile on his face. It made me think. I looked behind and I noticed my "chauffeur"- rickshaw driver standing at the hotel hall. Another scam !!! Thats why ride was free of charge, couse now that extra 300INR for the room would go to a rickshaw guy who brought the client to a hotel. I were pissed like hell. I have ran towards him, yelling to get the f... away. I let him know I will think twice now before I will use his service again. He left. And
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Behind the trees...
I had to leave as well, I didnt want to pay double price for a room. I remembered there were many budget hotels on this road, so I checked the one next door. I was given a price 300INR for a room with AC. Good, that what I was looking for. But.. as it appeared later there was power shortages in the town that day which affected my AC - it didnt work. TV as well , obviously. I went straight in to the bathroom to take a shower ... at least there was running water.LoL. After kind of long journey in insane heat in the middle of the day I decided to wait it over, till evening when the sun will go down. I felt asleep.
Arter waking up after 4pm, it was almost time to meet with my "favourite" rickshaw man. I was thinking about setting him up, but finally I decided to go out talk to him. I saw him waiting already for me. He was smilling like if he would see his long havent seen relative. He pointed to the seat next to him that he is "ready to go". But I were not. I told
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Crowds of tourists ...locals as well..
him Im not going anywhere. Then it started again. He yelled how can I do it to him. He was waiting for me for 3 hours without any bussines. I hired him so I need to pay him even if I dont go! I explained him calmly that I didnt tell him to sit on his a.. for 3 hours waiting for me, he could go and look for some other tourists during that time. Also I havent promised him anything before that I would use his service later. Specially after the incident in the other hotel. He just made a stupid look on his face and havent said a word. After couple of seconds he offered me a free ride anywhere I want, we would have just to "step by" to three of his friends shops. I would go in, dont have to buy anything just look around for few minutes and we would keep going. He told me he gets 100INR for every tourists he brings out there. My time is more precious I dont want to waste it wandering around some shops. I walked away, paying no attention to his yells after me. I were really glad of geting rid of him. Now was time for a late lunch. I were still kind of tired so I just took a menu and order a meal with a request to bring it to my room downstairs. Power came back so I could enjoy peace of my room with some movies on HBO.
Next day morning after the breakfast I went to see Taj Mahal, place that I always dreamed off, this romantic place, destination of many couples in love. That was as well my first Wonder of the World that I have visited( still had 3 more to go: The Great Wall, Machu Picchu, Statue of Christ in Rio). It was my first one and my favourite one. But slowly. I went to the gate to buy a ticket, small line it took me few minutes to get to the ticket counter. Suprise again. Ticket was 750INR when locals have to pay only 30 INR...fair?I dont think so. But what could I do? Do not go inside, I dont think so. I got a bottle of water which was included in the price . Of course there were touts every were offering me theirs guide services, that its
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View of the town from top of the fort
for free(nothing is free in live). I ignored them. After crossing the main gate I entered some kind of plaza square with another huge gate(they had some works on it that time) leading me to Taj Mahal gardens with Taj at the far end. I couldnt wait. I saw all those crowds standing just at the exit off the gate.I was wondering why. Then I understood. That was the first place of newcomers where whole Taj appeared in front of them. I was amazed as well. It was marvelous, gorgeous. I could stay there for hours just to let my eyes enjoy this magnificent view. I wanted to look at it from every angle. I started walking around the garden. There were some exhibitions presenting history of India. On the main middle path towards Taj there were photographs offering you taking a picture of you & Taj in the background, people selling postcards, water. I walked around on the small paths of the garden trying to run away from those crowds. Whenever I found a quite spot I sat there, took 1 shoot of Taj and then relax and let my eyes wander around. Slowly I kept moving ahead towards
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On the way to the desert
Taj to explore it from the closest. Before you are able to get on it, you are requsted to take off your shoes or put a protection plastic bag on them. I did took my shoes off and leave them in a deposit box(where while exiting they asked me for some donation, like always). The floor was so hot that I was barely able to walko on it, I had to look for a shadowed part of it to be able stand on it for longer the few seconds. It was really hot that day. I have noticed a enterance to go inside of Taj. Huge crowd around it. It was a Tomb.People were waiting in a line to go inside. Inside people were walking clokwise around the tomb(btw:the real tomb with body is underground). Despite of that taking pictures were forbidden in there, many tourists didnt give a shit, a bit of respect to that. Sad but true. Inside Taj its not impressive at all...It reminded me a Humayan's Tomb a little bit. After 1 more hour of walking around the place, I had to go back to mine hotel to collect my bag and check out before 12pm.
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Tinkerbell , Luke Skywalker and... :(
Last view of Taj will stay in my memory for years.
On the way back I couldnt get rid off all those touts offering me theirs services. What supprised me that after not even 24hours that I have been in Agra some locals were calling me: "He polish guy","Hello Mr from Poland". Weird. Probably my "favourite" rickshaw driver or someone from hotel spread the news that Im here(If I would be somebody important😉. I took my bag check out from hotel and had to do something with a time which I had left till mine train to Jaipur @ 5:40pm. I wanted to go for a lunch to toproof restaurant at my hotel, but as I found out, there were filming some Boolywood movie scenes out there, adn they closed the place. So I went to the other place almost next to it with a roof-view restaurant, where I could also check out whats going on at my other place.
The place I have choosen for lunch was really nice owned by old man(in his 70's probably) with his grandson helping him as I found out later. Mine table had nice view to the north of main gate & Taj. I wanted to sit there and enjoy peace of it. After my food has came, I heard nosies coming from the street. As I looked down from the roof I've noticed a huge parade coming towards me. People singing, playing on instruments, elephants, donkeys decorated all over. They had even those funny mobile/riding platforms (it remind me ones from Rio Carnaval, but these were smaller). I asked the owner what is that, whats going on? He explained me there is a weeding of rich people taking place. They want to let the whole town know they are getting married. Its interesting. It was nice experience. After the while the streets were quite again.
I stayed there in this restaurant for 2 hours after what I went to use the internet to one of the internet cafes around, let all my friends know Im still alive. It was almost 3pm when i decided I would go to the train station. My train departured from Agra Canteen TS, I didnt want to take a auto-rickshaw(couse would pay more and after yesterdays adventures with my driver I decided to do not use it again). So I found a bicycle rickshaw. I found
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Kids asking us for "one photo"
it much better couse at least I know this guy is working hard for his money.We took off to train station. The road was flat but after a while it started going uphill. My driver was like 17 years old and was not able o ride anymore, he get off of his bicycle and started pushing it. I felt bad about him, specially when I saw how hard it is for him, how does he sweat. I got off as well and helped him pushing his rickshaw. I felt much more better after that. When we reached our destination point, I gave him agreed earlier ammount of money -25INR plus 25INR of tip and mine bottle of water.
When we got there it was 3:30pm so still I had 2 hours to wait for mine train. During that while waitng outside there were some indian students talking to me. Thery were on the way back to Delhi with local train (8-10 hours trip). There were relly nice and polite, completly different then the people from "tourism industry" you have to deal with on every step in India. My waiting time extended tio 3 hours couse the train was running late.
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Our private band @ dinner
Later I got used to that in India. On the platform of the train station I had short conversation with few tourists thanks to which time ran a lot of faster and waiting become more pleasant. Train arrived and I hopped on it. Mine vist in Agra become a history already. It was time to foucs on my futher destinations.

Additional photos below
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Morning 2nd day ...
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Our 5* beds;)

View of temples of Amar-Sagar

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