Monthly Archives: December 2011

Taj Mahal adventures

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“Everything will work out” –Amanda and I’s Indian motto

When Amanda and I first went to the travel agent to find a cheap hotel, he also told us about tours to Agra.  We hadn’t really thought much about getting a tour but it was only about $12 and would get us there and back while showing us a few things along the way.  So we decided to sign up and our second day in Delhi, that is what we did.  The travel agent told us we would have a full two hours at the Taj Mahal and be back to Delhi by 10:30.  Our flight to Rome was at 5:10am the next morning so we thought we would have plenty of time.  I guess that’s what we get for forgetting about Indian time before we were out of India.  The morning started out with a rickshaw driver or friend of a rickshaw driver coming onto the bus and singling the two of us out of the crowd and trying to get us to go with him, telling us we would be dropped back off at the bus before it left.  We told him no because we wanted the tour we paid for, and didn’t want to have to pay someone else in addition.

In the Agra fort

Our first stop was the Agra fort.  Pretty cool but also very similar to the Red Fort in Old Delhi.  Amanda and I knew we could probably get the Indian price (Rs 10 instead of Rs 300) with our Christ student IDs like we had in Delhi but the bus guide was not very helpful and we ended paying the full price.  Then our guide for the fort also singled Amanda and I out and treated us like little kids because he wouldn’t let us wander any distance away to take pictures.  The problems with blonde hair.

We spent too much time at the fort and then too much time at a souvenir shop, stopped for lunch and when we finally went to the Taj Mahal we had only one hour to be there.  Amanda and I’s plan of action was to go in,

No words to describe the beauty

take pictures, touch it, and maybe walk quickly through.  Well, turns out you can’t take laptops in with you and both of us had ours in our purses.  We hadn’t wanted to leave them in the hotel room, on the bus, or in the security lockers because they said not to leave valuables.  So we had to go to the South Gate (we were at the East Gate) where they had more lockers.  It was about 10 minutes’ walk.  We finally got in and of course it was worth all the hassle because the Taj Mahal was absolutely breathtaking.  I could have probably just sat and looked at it for hours.  But we didn’t have hours.  So we took pictures and went up to touch it.  We didn’t have time to go inside but I guess that just leaves something to do next time, right?

Last day in India

After the Taj, Amanda and I just wanted to get back to pack and relax before leaving for our flight.  Well, that didn’t happen.  We still had two stops, Lord Krishna’s birthplace and his house, which would have been much more enjoyable if we weren’t stressed about getting back to the hotel on time.

When we stopped for dinner at 10:30pm and the bus driver told us we still had 2.5 hours until we returned to Delhi, the two of us were really getting worried since we had to catch a taxi at 2am in order to get to the airport on time.

A guy at the restaurant heard us asking if there were any taxis we could call to take us back sooner (there weren’t) and came over to talk to us.  He said he was a driver and could talk to his customers to see if they wouldn’t mind having us ride with them.  He did and the three guys were very understanding and said we could leave right away.  It was actually an enjoyable ride back.  The three of them had all studied in Ukraine for 6 years and we all had lots to talk about.  They even got the driver to give us a good deal on waiting for us to pack and take us to the airport after dropping of the guys at their hotel.  We got back to our hotel at 1pm, packed in an hour and headed to the airport.  We would have missed our flight if it wasn’t for those three guys and the driver.

And it was lucky we got to the airport early because Turkish Airlines requested Amanda to show the credit card she made the purchase with to confirm the card number but that card had been hacked in Sri Lanka so she had a new card.  They had to call Headquarters but in the end Amanda remembered she had a photocopy of the old card and they accepted that.  It felt good to finally relax and sleep on the plane.  For the extent of our stay in India, Amanda and I’s motto has been “Everything will work out” and it always has, even the times when we really think there’s no hope.

After we boarded, we were delayed for an hour due to fog but then lifted off and headed to Istanbul, Turkey.

Indian Travels

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“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

So I have pretty much failed at posting blogs since October, but since I’m now on the move quite a bit I decided it would probably be a good idea to update at least a little bit

Tea!

School ended on Dec. 9 and we left for Kerala that evening with 8 others, two of whom were Brian, our professor and Jacob our program director.  I am going to super summarize that week by saying that it was a much needed relaxing vacation after the semester.  We had all paid for the trip back in February so Jacob bought all of our food and we already had the hotels.  We didn’t have to think at all and all we had to do was enjoy ourselves.  Which wasn’t hard at all.

My favorite part of Kerala was definite absolutely gorgeous and I think I took 300+ pictures that day.  All of it was fantastic but one of the best parts was when 5 or 6 of us did the Cotton Eyed Joe line dance to a Bollywood song from Bodyguard.  Pretty awesome =)

Complimentary coconuts

Houseboat traffic jam!

After Kerala, Amanda and I had a quick morning/early afternoon in Bangalore to finish packing which we did barely.  We took a 23 hour train up to Mumbai.  The majority of our coach belonged to a wedding party.  Definitely the way to

Laundry business

travel on a train.  They were super nice to us and gave us snacks and played music and dance.  Mumbai was really fun.  Definitely different from Bangalore, but still cool.  We saw a couple of film shootings, actually went to the cinema to watch a movie, wandered around, took a private tour for $20, spent a morning reading on the beach and overall had a good time.

From Mumbai, we traveled up to New Delhi.  Our train was supposed to be 16 hours but arrived in Delhi 6 hours late due to very heavy fog.  So on that day, I

In front of the Red Fort

guess it would have been 20 Dec. (I’ve kind of lost track of days at this point), we basically just found a hotel for $20 a night by walking into a tourist office.  Our first full day in Delhi we spent seeing the Parliament, President’s House, and the Government offices in the morning and then Old Delhi in the evening.  We actually finally found a rickshaw driver that knew where the Iron Pillar was.  The Iron Pillar is a very old pillar that doesn’t rust and has baffled scientists for years.  The same rickshaw driver offered  to drive us to Old Delhi as well so we agreed and I finally got my picture of a rickshaw driver holding my WSU flag =)

I think the Taj Mahal and the adventures we had afterwards deserve their own blog so I’ll end this one here.