Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 7 - Taj Majal and Jaipur

We were awoke by the sound of the Muslim (or Sikh?) call to worship thing blasting on the speakers throughout Agra ... at 4:30am. When do these people sleep?! They were definitely still up partying last night!

I was actually feeling a little better and slept alright. I woke up once sweating. Wonder if I had a fever or if the jacket and socks were too much to sleep in? Jacket and socks were probably my a bit much... :)

Anyways, still had some weird pains in my stomach but I think the cipro last night will do the trick. That stuff is like good when you're traveling to a place like this. 

The alarm was set for 5:30, but I decided to get up around 5:15 (I was awake anyways) and try the fancy shower out. The bathroom wasn't the cleanest and the shower head was barely hanging on by a thread. And I knew we didn't have any hot water. But I really just needed to rinse off after sweating so much yesterday and last night. I'm pretty sure I sounded and looked pretty ridiculous as I was hopping around in there on one door and the other and making weird sounds every time I stuck a body part in the water. Lets just say it was one of the colder showers Ive had in my day... 

Sure am glad I brought soapy Kleenex packets and a bar of soap. Both have come in very handy. No tp or soap - or towels here. It's just the bare minimum. But I did remember that I brought a wash cloth with me. Worked great as my make shift towel to dry off with!

The walls are thin and there is actually an opening - kind of like a window - at the top that opens up to the next bathroom. Weird, I know. Last night Angie said she could here someone "popping a lot" over there. And this morning, I heard the poor girl growing up. Ugh. I felt so bad for her! At least I didn't have it that bad. Nice little reminder things could always be worse...

We threw some clothes on - I had to rep my K-State shirt today - and were out the door a little before 6am. The Taj opened at 6 and we wanted to be there right on the dot, but we were a few minutes behind. 

The guy at the front gate of our hotel told us to turn left for 2km walk to buy our ticket. There we more cows on the road this morning than there were people. 

As soon as we walked out, we were surrounded by rickshaw and tuk-tuk drivers clamoring for our business. I don't know how many times we said no thank you, we'll walk. But one guy just kept riding along beside us and talking to us. And after we realized 2km was more than a couple of blocks, we got on his "air conditioned helicopter" as he called it to take us to the ticket window. 


We chose the worst spot to get on - coming up a hill. So he had to drag our butts up it. The ticket office wasn't far away. 750 rupees for the ticket, and that includes a free bottle of water! Back outside, our driver was waiting to take us back to be easy gate of the Taj Majal. 

We really could of walked it, but the guy was so nice and it was only 20 rupees (less than fifty cents). A guide was only 50 rupees (still less than a dollar) but we decided we were too cheap for that, haha. (Yea, we're that cheap.)

There wasn't anyone in line to go through the ticket booth and security line at the Taj. Just we wanted. To beat the crowd. It was a nice cool morning and was spitting just a little when we got inside. 

We turned a corner and there it was. The famous Taj Majal. It was beautiful and huge, just like you would expect. We spent the next 30 minutes taking a billion pictures. :)

Oh wait, as soon as I knelt down to take a picture for someone else...riiiipppp. Out went the low crotch of my new baggy pants! Whoops! Guess it's a nice little way to cool off down there now?

Giant hole in my pants!!


You can kind of tell just how giant it is from this picture compared to be people walking by. 

We put on our little shoe cover booties and went inside. No photography allowed, of course. It was less impressive from the inside. But seeing the giant marble slabs up close and intricate details was still cool. 

It had started raining good enough for me to get my umbrella out by that point. And we had had our fill of pictures, so we decided to walk back to Hotel Sheela (best location ever, by the way) and get packed up. 

All the little tourist shops right outside the gate (and just across the street from our hotel) were too hard to pass up. I caved and decided to just peek inside one. I showed some interest in a little marble replica of the taj and all hell broke loose. Guys from other shops were coming in yelling about how cheap it was at there place. 600 rupees quickly dropped down to 200 as they continued to yell and compete with each other. I didn't even want it, so no one was too happy when I walked out empty handed. Jeez...

I quickly face timed with my mom and then Matt (to let them know I wasn't dying in India) and this cute little dog just came right up and crawled in my lap. Every time I moved him off of me, he hopped rift back up and just burrowed down in my crotch, haha! 


We grabbed our bags and waited in the reception area for our cab. "5 minute" the guy said. So I walked across to the restaurant and bought a bottle of water. Of course the one time I forget to make sure the water bottle was sealed, it wasn't. And I didn't notice until we were already in the car. Dang it! We were told places re-fill used water bottles with unclean water. No way was I taking a chance. I dumped it out the car door. 

I was a little weary of what kind of "cab" we were going to end up with for the 4-5 hour journey to Jaipur, but thankfully it was fine. I sat in the front seat so I didn't get sick and we took off through the filthy crowded streets of Agra. The place is dirty. Very dirty. Pigs rolling around in trash piles on the side of the streets..

I thought (or was hoping) it would be smooth sailing once outside of Agra. But if that were the case, I wouldn't take 5 hours to travel 130 miles.  The roads were not that nice in a lot of spots, and the highway constantly went through little towns and villages where we had to dodge monkeys (literally), camels, cows, rickshaws and people. 

After about two hours (I was laying down trying to sleep), the car stopped. Our driver dropped us at a tourist shop and went to have some breakfast. Well that wasn't part of our itinerary. But we did have to use the bathroom and I needed some water. Of course the shop was nice and I wanted one of everything in it. I carried around a pair of silk pants forever and did some hard bargaining for a piece of elephant embroidered sparkly cloth, but thankfully walked away with nothing. I am seriously out of room. I wonder if I can ship things home from India? I might have to look in to that in Jaipur. I just can't pass up all the bright colors and shiny fabrics over here. I was made for this country!

We continued the long drive to Jaipur. Nothing else too exciting along the way. Some beautiful country every now and then. And then some not so beautiful toll booths. 

(Angie was reading about it in my book along the way and informed me it is a "shoppers paradise" with jewelry and textiles. I'm in trouble.)

~~~Okay, sorry, but another super short version... The afternoon was so incredible. Maybe most fun day yet. But it's late and I just now started not feeling well again, so I'm going to have to update this another day!~~~

Pulled in to Jaipur around 11:45 and couldn't find our place Angie had booked. Drove around for at least 20 minutes looking for it. Guy have horrible directions. Nice place though!

Had the owner book a driver for us all day. He picked us up, took us to an ATM for cash, then drove us to Elefantastic, an elephant farm. Said it was "very close."  I guess that's a relative term, but 45 minutes to me is not in the very close category. 

Pulled up and were introduced to Birley, our 28 year old (9.5 month pregnant) elephant. They eat all day - corn in the mornings, mallot in the afternoons, and sugar came in the evenings. Rahul's family has 24 female elephants and 1 make. Each elephant has one mahout who lives with the elephant and takes care of him 24/7. We got to feed her, which was pretty awesome. 

Then we went in to Rajul's families home where his mother had made lunch for us. Ate lunch in the bedroom / family room w... With a per rabbit on the floor. So weird. 

Met another cool young American couple from California. They were paired with us at Elefantastic. 

When we got back to Elefantastic, it was time to ride the elephants. We climbed up the trunk and pulled up with their ears to get on!

We rode them around the area for about 45 minutes. They are super slow moving... Birleys ears kept flapping and smacking my legs. They have super thick skin and wiry hair. 

When we for back we got to paint them. Of course I had to attempt to draw a powercat. All I could think about was how disappointed my sister in law would be at my artistic abilities...

After painting, we walked the elephants down to the water and swam with them. Swimming with elephants in India should be on every one's bucket list. 

(I have so many pictures of all of this!)

We left Elefantastic after swimming. Such am awesome experience. 

Our driver took us and our new friends to the monkey temple next. The best time to go is around sunset so it was perfect timing. Mo keys galore when we got out of the car. Of course I had to feed them!

They're crazy little things. And aggressive. I had one literally hanging on my pants and another snatched the entire bag of peanuts out of my hand. 

About half way up the hike to the temple, we saw a little girl playing with snakes. Two cobras to be exact. Next thing I knew, they were around my neck. Cobras around my neck in India. Yea, that happened. 

More monkeys and great views of the city up top. 

This sucks because I really do have so much more to write about all of this, but I just don't have it in me tonight!

Our driver wanted to take us to some textile shop to show us block printing and how they make different textiles. Since he had been so nice and waited on us all day, we obliged. And sure enough, we all got sucked in. I bought not one, but two bed spreads and a wall hanging thing. Ridiculous. I seriously wanted about six other things so I'll just consider it good that I restrained myself some. :)


I bought that... :)
We were there forever, and I'm not sure if its lack of food/water/sleep or what, but I'm sick again. And by sick, I mean diarrhea every 2 minutes. So pissed and can't figure out what's going on. Ate the exact same things as Angie today and she's fine. My stomach is just really not happy with me. So just chugged some water and took a cipro and am going to hope for the best...

The plan is to do some shopping in the morning and then catch our 5.5 hour train to Jodhphur in the afternoon!

(Sorry this is another crappy update.  We're just having too much fun and I can't keep up!)

1 comment:

  1. We got video of the monkey stealing your first bag of peanuts! We'll have to send it to you.