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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Agra

Our car ride to Agra took 12 hours!  It was brutal. Driving in India isn't much better than in Bangladesh except that they have highways here. The drivers are still just as crazy as the Bangladeshi's.

We were traveling for about 2 hours and I asked the drivers to stop when there was a bathroom we could use. They pulled over after about 30 minutes but that was a "tea stop" with no toilet. They asked if we wanted tea but we both declined since we needed to pee. The driver and his companion took about 10-15 minutes and then we were off again. I reminded them again that I needed a toilet. I used every word I could think of to make sure the request was understood- toilet, bathroom, restroom, washroom, I NEED TO PEE!!!!

I kept passing in and out of sleep but every time I woke up I would look at the time and feel my bladder and think "are they f*#$ing with me right now?". They pulled over a couple of times but there were never  bathrooms available for travelers. Finally after 4 and a half hours we found a toilet and by toilet I mean a trough in the ground with a door. I used the trough, checked to see what the place had to eat, but there wasn't much. We told the drivers we would now like to get some food. They told us that they had already stopped for tea. Apparently there was a misunderstanding there. We thought they were literally stopping for tea, which is quite common in both Bangladesh and India, but tea also means lunch in British English which Angela and I both overlooked. We waited another couple of hours and finally got to eat a meal. At this point I had decided to stop drinking water so I wouldn't incur the previous situation again. We stopped for a meal and used the bathroom there. The meal was good, but they saw two white girls and tried to WAY over charge us. Our driver had a few words with them in Hindi and we paid more than what was fair and continued on our journey.

We finally arrived in Agra at about 12:30am. We had contacted our hotel ahead of time to let them know we were coming in late and asked if there was any chance of getting a meal. They said they would have something ready for us when we got there. We checked in and got a very simple but nice meal. The two young men who ran the hostel there were very friendly and sat and talked to us while we ate. One of them was very nice and mellow. The other one was a bit high strung and kept telling us that the hotel was offering massages to their guests to help get good reviews (reviews are EVERYTHING in India). He said that they weren't charging for the massages but that we could just leave whatever donation we thought was appropriate. Angela and I both declined and said we just wanted to go to sleep. He was very persistent and getting very annoying. In India and Bangladesh it is customary that women only receive massages from women and men only receive massages from men. I think in India it's getting a little more liberal but Angela and I had just come from very conservative Bangladesh and we were beginning to feel very uncomfortable with this guys pestering. We thanked them for dinner and went upstairs to our room where we locked every lock provided on the door.

This hostel was not very clean so I pulled out my sleep sheet and dozed off for a few hours. Angela wanted to get to the Taj Mahal early for good lighting. We got there at 7am when it opens. We bought our tickets and went in. Words and photos are not enough. The Taj Mahal is something you have to see in person. It's beautiful. Aboslutely amazing. We walked around and took lots of pictures. We found one man from Rajasthan wearing a turban. We got our photo with him and then he took his turban off and put it on MY head!  I was so happy!!!

Sadly we discovered that the Taj is really the only thing to do in Agra.  The town itself is very dirty and run down. The few shops that are there have inflated their prices so much due to all the tour buses coming in and not knowing what correct prices are that it's just ridiculous. We had extra time so we visited Red Fort which was pretty cool too, but all the forts in India are pretty similiar.

We boarded an afternoon train and headed to Jaipur...





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