We arrived in Agra this morning after experiencing our first night on a sleeper bus. It had its advantages over the train- it was slightly more spacious and we had a curtain which allowed us to have a little bit of privacy for a change. The disadvantages were that it was extremely noisy, people love using their car horns in India and the general theme seems to be the louder the better, there were no toilets on the bus which gave the driver the perfect excuse to stop every few hours at dingy cafes with tacky memorabilia stalls attached, no doubt earning himself a little commission.
As we arrived in Agra, Rachael had a quick look in the guide book and spotted a section warning people arriving in Agra via the private buses, of a scam that often takes place. It explained that the bus drivers, in partnership with the local richshaw drivers dump the bus passengers off out of the centre in an unfamiliar location, insisting that you have reached your destination. Therefore you are forced to get a rickshaw into the city. Literally five minutes later our bus slowed down and reverseddown a back alley and then commenced to get everyone off the bus! Within seconds the Rickshaw drivers had penned us in and the bus driver told us to get a Rickshaw for the remainder of the journey. We were having none of it, we threw our rucksack's on our backs and started walking in what we hoped was the right direction.
After a couple of minutes, having distanced ourselves from what was clearly a money making scheme, we flagged down a cycle rickshaw who took us to Taj Ganj, the area in Agra where we wanted to stay. The first job was to get some breakfast, we found a little cafe and got our first view of the Taj Mahal. We shopped around for an hour for a hotel and eventually settled on one which we were happy with. Rachael was happy, Tom was over the moon, as our room had a TV meaning two full days of cricket were in store!
We went for a beer in the evening, Tom felt like he had been forced to detox over the last few days as there had been no beer available in Pushkar. Later on we decided to have a look for somewhere a little more upmarket to eat as we had both had dodgy tummy's for the last few days. We took a 15 minute cycle-rickshaw further into town and found a lovely hotel which was air conditioned throughout. Previously we had found that even at the pricier restaurants we could eat for a maximum of £7 between us. There was a buffet option or you could order from the menu. After a quick look at the menu we found that this place was by far, much more expensive that anywhere we had eaten before. We decided on the option of the buffet hoping it would be more reasonably priced.
We finished out tea, slightly disappointed with the food and asked for the bill. The look on Toms face said it all when the total came to £20.00, almost triple what we had paid for a meal anywhere else in India. We paid the bill and emptied the wallet, we had to walk home as all we had left was two rupees (3 pence).