Thursday, February 7, 2013

Taj Mahal!!!

Oh what an experience today was!!!
So... I booked a bus ticket for this morning at 7am, and booked a taxi to take me the 15km at 615am.  Of course I woke up at 2am and couldn't sleep again because I was nervous or something.  So, can driver is late, got lost on the way to get me.  Then, gets lost THREE TIMES on the way to the bus stop.  He takes me about 25km out of the way and I end up missing my bus. And he wants me to pay because the meter was running.  After a screaming match in the gas station (aka bus station) parking lot, he drives off and I call the bus company.  "5 minutes, ma'am. My driver is coming."  I called again after 15minutes, and again after another 15minutes. Finally, a mini bus pulls in, shows me a piece of paper with my phone number on it, and tells me to get in.  Fine.  So then we're off.  The drive should take no more than 3 hours. We left at 8am.  We finally reached the Agra Fort just after 1:30pm.  And the whole time I'm freaking out, not only because I was in the front seat and worried for my life with the driving here, but also because I didn't have a ticket home yet, and hate traveling at night.
So... all of the sudden a man gets on the bus, who speaks English!, and tell us the tour will start from the fort and then we'll go to the Taj.  Tour? Apparently when I missed my first one-way bus to Agra I got on a bus that would take me there, take me to several different temples, and bring me back to Delhi in the evening (aka 1am). Well, why not?!
The Agra Fort was beautiful.  And enormous.  I loved wondering around.  I can't tell you much about it because our tour guide was horrible, but beautiful none the less.  Then he took us to a little shop to buy things.  The shop owner literally locked us inside the building so we would shop! We were stuck there about 30minutes.  Then to lunch at a little dive place. I liked it but apparently I was the only one with a stomach strong enough to handle it.  Then, finally, around 4:30, to the Taj.  It was fantastic.  Of course there were a million people, but it was still towering over everything and shining in the sun.  I'd by now become friends with another solo traveler from Australia, so she and I wandered around taking pictures and getting our picture taken with countless babies and children.  (I still don't understand why white people are so fascinating to Indians- there are tourists everywhere in this country!!!).
Finally we head back to Delhi. But not really.  Another shopping stop (I didn't get out of the bus for fear of imprisonment).  Then, around 7pm, we stopped at another temple for 30 minutes.  Again at 8pm we stopped for 30minutes at a temple.  At 10pm we stopped for our driver to take a leisurely dinner while we waited in the bus.  At 12:10 we rolled into Delhi. The metro, which at this point I fully understand, stopped running at 12:00.  The driver finally pulled over in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere and talked to a rickshaw driver to take me home. Of course the driver got lost on the way, stopping to ask for directions several times (at least he asked!!).  I made it home at 2am.
So, one of the hardest, most confusing, aggravating, worrisome travel days of my life.  In Moz I felt more comfortable- being able to speak the language and get myself around.  This was different.  Anyways, I saw the Taj Mahal- it was beautiful and worth all the hassle.  And I promise, I will work on getting pics up.

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