Agra, India
23° 55' N 77° 33' E
Mar 20, 2007 10:00
Distance 528km

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Text written in: English

The Taj, and others

AFter watching India set a wolrd record in the cricket, I managed to get a few hours sleep before rising at 5am. Let me just way that it was great watching India do well in the cricket, as you can hear the cheers from the streets everytime they hit a six.

So by the time I got to bed, it was past midnight. I actually woke up again at around 3:30am and only managed intermittent sleep after that, again due to cricket. I went to bed late because I was watching the cricket, and awoke early because there was a cricket (the insect) somewhere in my room. The thign wouldn stop chirping for a while when I swtiched on the light, but otherwise it continued till 5am when my alarm went off. It's alright - I'll get some sleep on the train, or so I thought.

It was a Shatabdi train, so I have a nice AC seat (no sleeper), but it was more comfortable than my BA flight. As soon as we boarded, they served tea with a newspaper. After tea was breakfast, and by the time I finished that, we were almost in Agra. So much for my plans to sleep...

Upon reaching Agra, I deposited my rucksack in the station cloakroom. I then went out to the pre-paid rickshaw counter. The guy at the counter, and 1 or 2 drivers, managed to convince me to just hire a rickshaw for the day. I had budgeted 3 trips each at Rs50 and it cost Rs250 to hire a rickshaw for the day. So it made reasonable sense to do that.

This turned out to be a sound investment as the heat reaching the mid/upper 30s again and without clouds to offer any relief. So it was good to leave a monutment and have a ricksahw waiting to whisk me off to the next sight.

The Taj Mahal is very impressive, although I was a little disappointed with the inside of the it. I had no problems getting the cheap Indian tourist ticket (Rs20 instead of Rs750), although my rickhaw driver had warned me they may question me at the gate (who's the chief minister etc). They didn't , but one of the two ticket attendants was not convinced I lived in Gujerat. I didn't really give him a chance to object and went straight through.

The Agra fort was a lot less hassle. It is one of the nicer palaces I've visitied, even though large portions are sealed off, as they are still used by the military.

After lunch, I didn't really have anything I wanted to do. The rickshaw driver suggested I go to some handicraft stores. He said that I should not speak Hindi, as he gets Rs50 for every tourist he brigns in, whether they buy anything or not. I decided to go along with it, as I hadn't actually visited any handicraft stores yet. After visiting 2 shops, we stop to buy some Agra Petha, a mithai that is the local speciality.

I now find myself back in the station waiting room. I relax for a while, write this entry and wait for the train.

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