As I woke up I did a quick self analysis of how I was feeling. Last night I was ill with food poisoning and at my lowest point questioned what the hell I was doing here and if there was a point I was trying to prove, what the bloody hell was it and who was it to. But after a good nights sleep, I was emotionally recharged and had nothing in my body to expel!
I skipped breakfast as we had a long bus day ahead to travel from Jaipur to Agra where our main event, the Taj Mahal waited for us.
I settled into my seat on the purple people eater (the bus) and an hour in I was hungry. Thank you past Skye for packing supplies for times like these. I pulled out of my day pack a musli bar and some dry biscuits with a dried apple filling. It was the perfect breakfast for someone who was sick the night before. I really felt I was winning at life. Much to my delight as well, a few others had also been sick. Why am I happy that others also suffered? Because dear reader I didn’t want to be the first one down….from a pizza of all things!
After a morning snoozing as we travelled, we stoped for lunch and I was actually a bit hungry. I must admit I felt a bit sorry for the restaurant owners as everyone apart from 3 people played it safe with French fries and a coke. This was the start of ongoing tour joke as hot chips (French fries) were called finger chips on the menu. You knew when someone was not having a bar of India when in the coming weeks they ordered finger chips for their meal!
We pulled into Agra around 3pm. As we were driving through the city at first I thought “wow they are really into tree pruning, must be council clean up…”. I seriously thought that, until AJ pointed out that they received a much worse storm the day before than we did in Jaipur. Then I noticed all the other damage. Fences and brick walls were crushed. Trees pulled down a lot power lines. Roofs were crushed in certain parts. The damage was bad
We had an hour to freshen up before we headed to the Taj. In that time Ria located a kettle in the room had made me a cuppa and I even splurged by providing my Australian tea bags….. a cup of Bushels never tasted so good. The girls had spruced themselves up with make up as today was the money shot!
I squealed with delight as I saw the top of the dome when we got off the bus!! There it was. We proceeded down a long wide path. Cars and buses couldn’t get close but we still had to dodge motorbikes, cows and hawkers. We walked past the Oberoi hotel and we all joked about going for a cocktail or champagne at the hotel bar. It really did look like an oasis.
We arrived at the gate and the line was split into genders. We were pat down and I was told I was not allowed to take my go pro stick in! I was getting angry as I didn’t want to leave it. I called over AJ to help defuse the situation. He was amazing as he took my stick and chewing gum that also wasn’t allowed in, and he organised a vendor outside to look after it. It was the vendor that supplied the tour company with bottled water when they come through. I was most impressed he did this for me. I then got pissed off when Stefan pulled out his selfie stick he had in his pocket!!
Anyway my problems disappeared when we stepped through the gate and there she was. It was more beautiful than I imagined and the gardens were also very pretty. It was the nicest place we had seen since arriving in India. AJ gave us a run down on the history but the only thing I was really interested in was which bench had been THE bench the late princess Diana had sat on. I found it and waited patiently for a group to vacate. They were taking far too long so I perched on the end and did the best I could at taking a selfie.
Next we took turns taking each others photos. I had to get a bit bossy with a group and told them to “back up”,a phrase I would repeat constantly in a loud authoritative voice throughout the trip in which the guys would find amusing and tease me over.
After the photo shoots, we donned on some white shoe cover booties and walked around on the marble around the Taj. We went inside but it was a manic shove of a hot, sweaty, noisy mess. Back outside the sun was starting to set and it changed the colours of the Taj Mahal. It was beautiful watching the locals in beautiful saris with this spectacular backdrop. I was just taking it in and loving it.
We spotted a vacant bench and made our way to it. Our plan was to just sit and stare at the structure. Next to us was a large Indian family who found us as fascinating as we found them. Next thing I know we all posing for photos together. We wanted them to make our pics look authentic and better and they wanted photos of us for….. well no one really knows why!!
As we were leaving, Aj pointed out a column that had fell away from the entrance building during the storm. A tour member who shall remain nameless…. collects rocks from all over the world. The fallen column was tapped off but still easily accessible. They managed to duck down and collect a bit of the ancient column. What a great souvonier! Lets hope they don’t try and rebuild it cause there will be a small bit missing!!
As we left, I collected my GoPro stick and purchased my important trinket for my travel cabinet…my own Taj Mahal.
We then headed off to dinner. We dined at South Indian restaurant.
On tour, we had that one person who likes to be different, would ask the most inappropriate questions and say some socially unacceptable things. To protect this persons identity I will refer to them from here on out as Carol, because in my head I was quoting bridesmaids (Get your shit together Carol!) when they would commit a faux pas. Now remember I said there was a huge storm, cutting power and affecting the town? Well in front of the restaurant was a HUGE generator. It was puffing out big black smoke when we arrived and it was noisy. We all settled down and was browsing the menu when Carol jumps up and marches outside, we were joking but she actually went out to inquire if they could turn it off because it was too noisy! Um Carol, how do you think our food is being cooked and the lights are staying on? She was content on having no power and a candle light when the food was cooked. That was her actual suggestion! This was the first incident of selfish Carol only thinking about herself.
All of us managed to eat Indian cuisine that night. Of course I was looking forward to dessert. Stefan and I decided to share a banana split. The way it was described on the menu was a huge delicacy that possibly could not be consumed by one person alone. What actually arrived was a soft drink glass with some banana and ice cream. Not quite a sharing desert but still tasted good!
It was then back to the hotel and off to bed as we had a early train ride in the morning to Orchha.