I must admit, today my tiny universe was filled with many frustrations. Mostly it's that I am fighting off yet ANOTHER bout of sickness (sore throat, cough, swollen tonsils, chills, aches, blah blah blah) which renders me fairly unable to cope with anything even remotely out of the ordinary. Case in point: the internet felt the need to suck all day, making it impossible to upload all my new pictures to Facebook...should I whine some more? Anyway, I am sick and a tad annoyed...although still reeling (in a good way) from an incredible five day adventure...first to Agra, Uttar Pradesh to see the Taj Mahal and then to Jaipur, Rajasthan to experience everything about "The Pink City."
First, we begin our journey in Delhi where we hopped on a 6am train to Agra this past Monday morning. We arrived in Agra around 9:30am without hitch and were fast on our way to see the Taj via auto-rickshaw. I would try to explain the Taj but there are no words...literally, there are NO words. It was more than I imagined, a jewel of perfection as far as man-made structures go. It's rather mind blowing, breath taking, and one of the most incredible things I have ever laid eyes on. I had very real chills the first moment I saw it. We spent hours there exploring, taking a tour, taking hundreds of pictures, and sitting in the shade basking it the Taj's glory. It was the most relaxed I have felt in a very long time...and every bit worth coming to India to see...so do it.
That same evening we boarded another train to Jaipur, running only 90 minutes late, a great feat of success for the Indian Railway system. I was surprised to find that Jaipur was one of the cleanest big cities I have been in so far in India...which isn't to say it's clean, just cleaner than most. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this city, there is a large portion of it that is walled in and everything inside the walls is painted pink, thus it's nickname, "The Pink City." It is very well situated for the Western tourist, in other words there were Western bathrooms, toilet paper, and restaurants with "continental" cuisine nearly everywhere. It was a welcome change after nearly 6 weeks of real Indian living. I won't lie, I had my share of milk shakes, french fries, and pasta.
We were able to hit all the major tourist spots in the city including a huge old fort/palace called Amber Fort and (my personal favorite) a place called Monkey Temple, aptly named for it's thousands of monkey inhabitants. After spending a whole 10 rupees on a bag of peanuts (about 20 cents USD), we were able to feed the monkeys while they grabbed our hands and held onto our legs...it was one of the most fun and exciting things I have ever done...and I'd like to think I have lived a fairly exciting life thus far...maybe?
Anyway, on to the piece de resistance, the pictures! I'm not much in a storytelling mood, at least with my words, so I will allow my pictures to do the talking. Bon appetit...