dinsdag 12 juni 2012

English: Agra & Jaipur


Still being a real tourist now, I arrived in Agra after an interesting train ride. I didn't book a hotel upfront but I had sorted out some good ones at home by internet. That's really convenient because you can tell the tuk tuk driver exactly where to go to. (otherwise they keep bothering you to bring you to “their” hotel).
After a ride (tuk tuk) I was delivered at one of the gates of the Taj Mahal. The roads are closed at every gate and guarded, so I had to walk a few minutes to come to the hotel I picket out. Hotel Sheela. The rooms are not the best (clean but sober) but they have a nice garden and good restaurant. So was really quiet there.

I met two women who told me about a nice restaurant with a roof terrace and free wifi, so I went there to get in contact with the loved ones I left behind.....

The next day I wanted to visit the Taj very early, as advised. It's a real beauty. Like floating in the air. Because I'm not quit into reading travel books, I spend some money by taking a guided tour. It was worth while. An interesting visit with beautiful views over the river.

Later in the afternoon I wanted to go to the red fort. I asked a tuk tuk driver to get me there and he made a good business proposition: He would bring me to some nice places and would stay with me all afternoon. Very convenient. I would really advice everyone to do that. The drivers do know a lot off interesting places and can put together a good schedule for visiting them. My driver took me to the red fort (of course) and after that to the other side of the river to the baby Taj Mahal, a smaller version as the name already implicated and to a sort like building. Both very nice to visit. At the end of the afternoon we went to a park from where you have a nice view at the Taj (from the other side of the river) and from where you suppose to see the Taj changing colors.... That I didn't see, maybe because at sunset it was a bit cloudy, but the views where breathtaking.

The last day in Agra I didn't want to spend more time driving around to special places and went to a park on walking distance of the hotel. In the park where several lookouts from where you could see the Taj and look over the park. The are roofed, so I sat there for a while with my book enjoying the silence and views. At another lookout I met a dutch couple that I already met before in the hotel. They had the same idea of taking “a day off”. It was nice speaking dutch again.

That night I had to take the train to Jaipur where I would arrive at 23:30. I 'd booked a hotel upfront because of the late arrival. A very good choice! They promised me to send a driver to the station to pick me up. A good reassurance if you arrive that late. Unfortunately, the train had a delay..... I' was really tired at that point. It was hot, dirty and I just wanted to leave.... At such moments I miss my boyfriend (at home in NL).... Thank god for the mobile phone. After a few text messages I felt much better. Meanwhile I stept into the wrong train and had to change platforms....
At the other platform a man came to me and saw that I was “not amused”. I still don't no how he did it, but he was able to really calm me down and make me feel even comfortable. An amazing meeting....
The train was delayed even more (2 hours), but I felt ok with it. Then 3 french tourists: Ludivine, Catherine and Erick, came to me and where a bit desperate because they had tickets for a 3rd class railcar. That is a experience you don't want to have! It's like in the movies: lots of people packed together in the heat etc. My platform man arrived as being called and helped them out. He even guided us to the right railcar and helped us in the train.. Amazing! I hugged him like I knew him for years and it was totally natural....
In Jaipur my lift to the hotel was waiting and finally at 02:00 I arrived in the hotel, Pearl Palace, a very good hotel with beautiful rooms and a restaurant at the roof terrace. Later on I heard that it is the best restaurant in town!.

After a good night sleep I had a lazy day, went to the marked and did nothing. When I came back from the market, there was a massage for me. It appeared to be from the 3 French tourist I had met at the railway platform in Agra and had shared a compartment. I met a lot of very nice people on that train. A mother and daughter from Chicago, the mother was born in India and visiting family and an Indian man. We had again nice conversations and I learned a lot more about India (cast system for instance).
Ludivine, Catherine and Erick (the 3 French) invited me over to their hotel (with swimming pool!!!). I met them later that evening and off course took my bikini with me! This is what traveling is about: meeting nice people!

In Jaipur there is a lot to see and the next day I did the same as in Agra: hired a tuk tuk driver for the whole day to drive me around. Went to the City Palace and the observatory, Jantr Mantar, where you can see real big instruments, build for astrology etc. After that the driver took me to Amer Fort, 15 km outside of Jaipur, laying on a hill. Really beautiful! The building is interesting and the views..... great!
On our way back we passed the water palace, a palace in the middle of a lake and went to the tombs. They where not very well maintained, but that made it actually more interesting. The whole setting was macabre....

My last visit was to a world famous astrologist Dr. Vinod Shastri he travels all over the world, giving lectures on university's. An interesting visit. Not the kind of “you will forever be happy” crap.

My last day in Jaipur was again a lazy day. In the afternoon I had a long train and bus ride ahead. Over 12 hours... to Rishikesk Where I am now in an Ashram (Parmarth Niketan). Very special to be here. The journey was long and tiring, but in the train I had again good company. Upon entering the bus, I found myself sitting next to a Indian man and his friends started to laugh when they saw me .... Strange people here........

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