Our train from Delhi to Agra was at 10.20am. We arrived at the station about 10 minutes before and we found the platform, which was packed full of people! The train rolled in, and they don't open the doors straight away, and people were climbing in and out of the windows!! We watched for a while and then realised that we were going to have to get on!! They opened the doors and everyone was pushing each other to get in. I was a bit worried as to how much space would be on the train! I went in first with Jack about 1 person behind me, and when i looked around there was about 7 people between us! They're sneaky like that! When I got through the crowd, Jack came through about 20 people later! It was quite funny, because when you got on the train there was lots of room - everyone just wanted to get on first i suppose!!
The journey was only 3 hours, so we booked a cheap seat with no air conditioning. It was ok as the train started moving, and we got used to the heat. There were some other tourists sitting next to us, who were really rude and it was quite embarrassing! One of them started shouting at the Indian person who was sitting in their seat, and when the train was moving they were throwing rubbish out of the window! I know that there is a lot of rubbish in India, but adding to it isn't going to help! We met a nice guy from Spain called Jose who was travelling by himself, and he was staying at the same hotel as us so we all shared an autorickshaw when we got to Agra.
The hotel was nice, but the room got sweltering hot in the night - we had a fan but it didn't seem to make much difference, so i'd get up in the night regularly to have a cold shower before going back to bed! The rooftop restaurant had a view of the Taj Mahal -the first glimpse was really cool! That night we went with the autorickshaw driver, Jamal, to the back of the Taj to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it doesnt set behind the Taj, but it was still really good anyway. We arranged with Jamal to go with him (Jose aswell) to see the baby Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and to a Moghul Village the next day after we had visited the actualy Taj Mahal, which was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel.
We got up at 5.30am the next day to see the Taj at sunrise. It was easy to get up, because there was a powercut, and with no fan, the room temperature was unbearable. We walked round to the East Gate to get in, to find a big queue. When we got inside, the sun had already risen anyway! At least it wasn't too hot at this early hour of the morning though! When you walk through the main entrance and see the Taj (amongst the many, many tourists!!) it is amazing. It's a lot bigger than i thought it would be, and is so beautiful. We walked around and on to it (you have to wear these shoe protectors - well, Taj protectors really, to stop it from getting dirty) and we also went inside. Inside is the tombs of the guy who built it and his wife - it is supposed to be a resting place, but it was heaving with tourists and it was hot, so we didn't stay in there for long. We spent some time sitting in the shade just looking at it, before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
Later that morning we went on our tour with Jamal and Jose. The baby taj was pretty cool, a much smaller scale but has a lot more detail on it. It is right next to the river and there were kids swimming in the river, which made me feel sick, the river is so polluted and disgusting! They seemed pretty happy though! After that, we went to the train station to buy our tickets to Varanasi where we wanted to go next. We discovered that there were no trains, and it's because its the school holidays at the moment and there were no trains till 15th October! So we had to rethink our plans. We went on to the red fort, which used to be a prison. We walked around for a bit but it was so hot, we sat down under a tree for a while - and i got shat on by a chipmunk in my hair!! It must've been up the tree - we moved on after that!!! When we were waiting at the exit for Jose, we were just sitting on a wall in the shade. Then an indian girl came over and asked if she could have her picture taken with us - so we said ok. Then out of nowhere, about 15 girls came and sat beside, behind and infront of us to get their picture taken! They were all giggling, it was really strange - felt like a movie star! Another couple of guys on the way in also asked for their picture taken with us aswell, so strange!
Jamal then took us to the 'moghul village' which actually turned out to be some shops he gets commission for if he takes us there, and they do the hard sell on us. I was not impressed and told him that there was no way we were going to any other shops! He looked really p'd off, but he'd given us this schpeel that he needed friendship more than money so he had no choice but to take us home! We decided that night that we would go to Jaipur instead of Varanasi (and try to go to Varanasi another time). We turned up at the bus station this morning and got the 'Delux bus' (not delux, wait till you see the photo of it!) to Jaipur which took 5 and a half hours. The bus wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, but they really need to do something about their roads and/or suspension!! One time we hit a bump in the road, i came flying off my seat and Jack smacked his head on the luggage rack!! All good fun...!!!
So, in Jaipur, Rajastan at the moment, and heading off in a couple of days to Pushkar, then who knows at the moment! Both having an excellent time and really enjoying every minute!
Hope everyone is well
Jack and Linsey xxxxxxx