Hi, Chris here with my first go at a blog :)
As I write this we are lying in our hotel room in Agra. Its 4o clock here and we have been up since half 5 and have already packed in the taj mahal at sunrise, which was amazing, Agra fort and the baby taj. Later on we are going for a meal with an Indian family :)
India so far has been a mixed experience. The first thing to say is we have been constantly harassed or stared at by people in the street. Wherever you are there are always people coming upto you trying to sell you bracelets, books, statues, saris and little trinkets and they're blooming persistent and it gets a bit tiring! You just have to ignore them or give a firm NO! That coupled with the fact that the city streets are so crowded and the air so polluted you can feel a bit suffocated by it all.
The next thing to say is the roads are crazy! Lane markings mean nothing, people overtake in the smallest gaps and the horn noise can be deafening. We had a 5 hour coach trip from Delhi to Agra yesterday and it was like being in a formula 1 race the way we were weaving in and out of the traffic, it's all a bit hairy with a few stomach in mouth stops to avoid hitting cyclists, tuktuks, trucks or cows! All that being said we haven't seen any accidents, the road surfaces aren't too bad, it makes the journeys fun, we managed to get a little bit of sleep on the coach and the whole system strangely seems to work!
Also India is not the cleanest country we've ever seen! The smells can get a bit interesting and there's dust, boulders, bricks, paving slabs, rubble, rubbish, carcasses and any other dirty thing you can imagine strewn on the side of the road and in the streets. Everything seems half built, it's like they say 'that's good enough, let's move on to the next thing'! There is advertising everywhere on shops, road side stops, garages, banners and billboards and it all seems to be for Vodafone, Pepsi or coke :s
The countryside is really nice and looking out the window of our coach we could just as easily be driving through the English countryside.
We are on a tour with 13 other people from a variety of countries and backgrounds, many just starting out on round the world trips like ourselves and the whole group seems to get along really well. A few are heading to the same places as us so we are arranging to meet up after our tour ends.
The hotels and food so far have been really nice. There is a mix of food here including chinese, south Indian, north indian and some western dishes. A typical meal cost about 150-400 rupees + tip. Ah the tips, people want tips for everything out here, which the Americans don't seem too bothered about but for us Brits on the tour it's a source of much moaning, griping and discussion about what is an acceptable tip! I expect we'll get used to it!
Overall we have enjoyed India so far and once we got over the culture shock we've had a good time. I think being with a nice group of people who are all going through the same thing helps a lot :)
Miss you all,
P.s. We cannot upload photos to this blog so we will start a flickr account soon and upload our photos there.