We've left the Himalayas, the place where we stayed for the first part of our journey, and the people who made it home and set off on our travels south.
First of all I'd like to say thank you to everyone who took such good care of us in Dharamsala:
Grover for letting us come even though I never met you. Bridget for grounding us and being so welcoming, showing us what to do and helping us to settle in. John for keeping us entertained in the evenings with his stories. Morning! Rachel for always being there to talk to and for being such a good friend to Sean. Bodi for just being so cute even if you wouldn't speak to me unless it meant you might get to ride a motorbike in return. Tsering for all the great food and friendly smiles. Nyima Tashi for the flirting and evening chats. Niku for sharing the house with us and always being so willing to help. Kanta for cleaning for us everyday with a smile. Kanchan for helping me with my SarisJ Elise and Raja for being the amazing family downstairs who I could always turn to when I needed to talk (so pretty often) and for helping us with our amazing trek! Mona and Family for being so caring and for helping to organize the whole thing in the first place. Also Tony and Betsy for keeping me company at night on the way home. You barks frightened all the scary things away. Thank you all for letting us be a part of your little community. The soap opera was highly interesting. What a shame we missed the end:-P I will remember you all with fond memories especially Diwali with the Ceilidh and Firewoks and our leaving meal.
Once we left all that behind on our little rickety bus we headed for Amritsar and the Golden Temple. It is a Sikh temple plated in pure gold. During the day it is so brilliant it looks almost tacky but at night it is lit up by millions of tiny lights and looks like a vision from fairy land which will fade any minute.
We stayed in the temple complex and slept and ate there for free. It had a really lovely atmosphere with thousands of colourful pilgrims milling around, and the best Chai ever. We also bumbed into Paul again, one of Elise's couch surfers who we met the previous week which was really nice. We had some good conversations with people, including a dutch guy as tall as my Dad!, while we sipped chai.
The following morning we set off for Agra. We had to change in Delhi which all went quite smoothly but then while waiting for the train t leave the station Cait turned her back on her bag for 5mins and it was gone. We had a frantic 15mins looking for it which even at one point meant both sean and Cait were on the Platform when the train started leaving but to no avail. The bag was gone! Luckily the passport wasn't in it but Cait's most treasured possessions - her Diary and Camera were. Understandably Cait was devastated and all Sean and I could do was sit and do nothing.
In Agra we went to the Police station to report it stolen in order to make an insurance claim. Two hours later sometime early in the morning after talking to at least 6 different people and waiting around a lot we had the desired document. It was a great insight into the Indian legal system. We learnt that nothing but severe amounts of patience will get you anywhere. However they did provide us with an armed escort back to the auto rickshaw stand and made sure we were delivered safely and without being ripped off to a Hotel which at that time was greatly appreciated. Thus we arrived in the City of Agra home to the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal lives up to all expectations! We went to see it at sunrise the following day, although by the time we'd got through the queue it had pretty much risen. It is magnificent. Close up it is nothing special but from a distance it radiates beauty, simplicity and strengths. It has a real aura something which I've never felt from a building before. It is the greatest monument to love in the world and one day, when I'm in love I will return. Another reason I'll return is that that evening I got Delhi Belly again. It held up for Amritsar but then just couldn't cope any longer so my remaining sight-seeing in Agra consisted of my hotel room and the bathroom. Which meant unfortunately I didn't see the city of Fatehpur Sikri or anything else for that matter. Next time! We chose to stay an extra day to give me time to physically recover and Cait tme to gather herself again. I also managed to lose my purse which was found the following day by which time I'd cancelled my cards. More Drama!
Eventually we left for Jaipur were we got stuck for a night as our promised connection to Sawai Madhopur didn't exist. Luckily we met a lovely Slovakian lady, Flo, who I shared a room with to cut expenses. I talked for 3 hours straight and she still wants to meet up again in Jaisalmer. Amazing!
The following day we arrived in Sawaii Madhopur a very uninspiring Town with a nice market but otherwise nothing except it is home to the Ranthambhore National Park, home to Tigers. We went on a Safari and saw Tiger foot prints and lots of deer, monkeys and Peacocks but no Tigers. The Canter behind us did but we just weren't the lucky ones that day. Maybe another time, another Park.
Now we are in Pushkar at the Camel Fair but I'll write more about that later. Right now I'm hungry! xXx