Taj Mahal

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Nov 15, 2007

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Taj Mahal

It was a hot and sticky morning but at 6am the tuk tuk was ready and waiting to take us to the Taj Mahal. This did not disappoint. The wonderfully carved marble was so outstanding and variant, I couldn't stop touching it. The inlaid coloured marble was just gorgeous and I took many photos of everything (with Lou's camera as my batteries died when I entered). The Taj Mahal is a tomb, so a respectful air was evident all around. It was lovely, peaceful, quiet and clean. The Indian people have done themselves proud on this one. The extensive gardens and red sandstone buildings all around the Taj Mahal are a credit to all the people who take such good care of it and are extending it still.

After checking out of our hotel and paying the guard who watched our vehicles for 2 days, we headed on to Kanpur. The highway was potholed and our speed ranged between 40 - 60 kilometers all day. At one stage both Lou's back wheels left the road as he drove through a giant ditch. With the many cycles, motor bikes, animals and heavy vehicle traffic coming towards us in the fast lane, going in the wrong direction, it made the driving tiring and frustrating for Des and Lou who had ample opportunity to try out their new car horns.

A bus broke down right in the centre of a town causing a huge traffic jam. A bottle neck of bikes and our smaller cars inched ahead to a side road to get out of the mle. During the hold up in the flow of traffic, lots of older boys came to our car and started slapping the car and windows, shouting, I guess for money. One of the lads opened my car door. Lou said, on the CB radio, that a group of 5 boys were standing on his rear bumper bar. I suppose the traffic jam was a bit of a novelty for them and as we had the only non Indian vehicles, we were a bit of a target for their antics. Nothing happened, but we did feel a bit vulnerable. If we had caused an injury to one of the locals, how quickly it could escalate into a problem. We don't speak the language of Hindi and at the last village we were stopped, only one young man in the group of 15 or 20, who came to watch us purchase supplies at the local stall, could speak any English. Turning off the highway though, did mean that we had to negotiate the small town we had turned into. No mean feat. We managed to pull down a bamboo awning from one of the shops which unfortunately struck a woman on the head. I felt badly about this, but we could not open either door of the car to do anything about it. Bikes and rickshaws just kept pushing past, they have a living to earn. We moved forward slowly and after awhile, found the main road out of town again.

At this stage Des was wishing for a rich, juicy steak from Glenelg BBQ Inn. I think all his energy was sapped. I was just picturing myself walking around in the air conditioned comfort of Westfield Marion Shopping Centre. We are terribly spoiled and don't even know it until we come to somewhere less fortunate than our own country.

By nightfall we still had not found any kind of motel and were becoming a little anxious in the never decreasing traffic. The trucks were loath to use their headlights (saving battery power) and relied on our head lights to light up the luminous triangle they displayed below their windscreen. It looked like everything was moving around in the dark except us. There were no tail lights on the trucks, just red dots marked on the rear bumper bar with paint!

The Rennaisance Hotel sign loomed red in the distance and we thank God we made it safely through the day. So there's no hot water in the shower, who cares. Later one of the lads brought up 2 large buckets of hot water for our ablutions.

The food was also good here. We can't fault the restaurant food in India and the staff are helpful too. Sometimes our requests are a bit strange like, beer with alcohol or cold coffee with ice cream, but the Indians are good natured and will tell you what they can and can't provide.

The bed was rock hard and I thought it would be softer on the floor tiles. I had to think of the people sleeping outside that night and felt a little uneasy about the comfort in which I found myself. It was cool, with the old air conditioner going, and there were no mosquitoes. We were grateful for the accommodation.
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