Its huge, its white, its marble

Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The last time we talked I had just endured the border crossing from hell and had taken up residence in new Delhi. I spent a few days puttering about and trying to take in some of the sights. Seeing where ghandi was cremated was interesting but was diminished by the roar of a nearby smokestack that towered over the sight. And when I say roar, I mean jet engine, ear drum piercing roar. I think they could have picked a better place to build a power plant but that's the Indians for you.

I think the best part of a city of 12 million people who don't believe in basic sewage reclamation is that there was actually a McDonald's. I know I know, you are all shaking your head but it was a really nice change even if I was eating a "marahja mac" (remember, no beef allowed). It was interesting going in there because all the "western" stores and restaurants have guards who go through your bags to make sure you are not carrying a bomb to send the infidels to hell. I remember landing in kolkotta and being prepared to see cows. I mean we all hear the passed down saying that cows are just "walking in the streets". I think I had mentally prepared myself so much that I half expected to see some bovines on the runways with dayglow orange safety vests on. Well kalkotta didn't have any cows wandering around but let me tell you....Delhi may as well be an open cattle ranch. Huge cows and bulls just walking down the street or my personal favorite.....Lying in the middle of traffic for a brief nap. I mean you don't have to kill them but would herding them out of a downtown intersection be so hard?

I spent a few days in Delhi and then waited in line for 3 hours in the "tourist" office to buy my train ticket. I don't understand how a country so big can be so damn inefficient but they really bring bureaucracy to another level. I bought a morning ticket to agra which is where the taj mahal is, and then I bought a ticket for that night to verannasi. The plan was to get into agra early in the morning and see the sights and then get on a train into verannasi. The train from Delhi to agra was only 2 hours and I ended up sitting next to this Australian family. They were really nice but I think slightly insane. I mean who travels through India with 3 kids...12, 10 and 7? I mean you are just asking for a hard time. It was a 2 hour train ride and they were already breaking out the "are we there yet?" "IM bored" these poor bastards were going to take a train from Delhi to mumbai later in the week and that's 30 hours.....Good luck with that one buddy.

disembarking off the train I paid 300 rupees ($7) and rented an auto rickshaw and driver for 8 hours. He drove me around and kind pointed things out and took me to all the sights. There is a huge castle/fort there that is really amazing to walk around and there was also a place called "baby taj mahal" which was one of the influences for the big bastard I was to see later in the day. What the Indians can do with marble is amazing that's for sure. In all 3 places the marble is inlaid with semi precious stones but the fit is so perfect you cant feel a bump or a crease in the marble at all.

I reached the taj mahal around sunset and that is the best time to see it usually because the setting sun will turn the white marble different colors. That day though the weather was a bit overcast so no changing colors but holy crap is this place amazing. I will compare it to the grand canyon simply because when you see it on TV you think "oh well that's nice" and then when you see it for yourself it just floors you. Its huge, its white, its all marble and it took 20,000 people to build it. Pretty damn impressive to say the least.

having seen the sights and had a meal I got dropped off at the train station and waited a few hours for my ride. The train was about an hour late but on a 16 hour ride who cares really. I will write about varannasi in a day or two when I have time to digest it. At the moment I just got off the train in kalkotta and my plane leaves for Bangkok in the morning......Its been a time for sure
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