I really don’t know how I managed to “escape” from Nepal but I did. I actually almost missed my flight because the taxi I ordered for the airport “surprisingly” arrived late… And for this reason I didn’t manage to change my Nepali money into India money (the importance of this will be clear later)
When my India visa was granted I was almost disappointed. I applied just for the sake of it but at that time I had lost all my will to travel. I just wanted to go home but since I was just around the corner I thought… “eh, what the heck! ”
So when I finally landed in Delhi I was tired and had no interest in visiting anymore but the idea of finally seeing the Taj Mahal was too enticing. I had managed to get myself a host that promised me to come and pick me up at the airport. Yeah, the airport. A pretty big area… And of course no Wi-Fi… I thought Deepak would wait for me at the arrival but I exited the airport and he wasn’t there. OK then I’ll change my money, I will by a SIM and I’ll text him…. Naive me. Nepali money has barely no value outside Nepal. Only 1000 rupees banknotes are accepted and of course I didn’t have any. OK then I’ll use the ATM…. as if… Same issue I had in Nepal. I had money but I couldn’t get it. I almost cried…. I was stuck once again and blamed Nepal once again. And I thought of all I read about India where everything is a scam and everyone is a bad person. And then I saw this guy and asked him if he could call my host… And he did and Deepak came out of the airport and together we took the metro. I was so relieved that I almost cried some tears of joy. But I was still very on the lookout if my host was really there to get my money (that was worth nothing!!!)
On the way to his place – that is pretty far our from main Delhi – I thought he would kick me off the motorbike that we took from the last metro station, and steal my money and my passport. Again all the voices in my head, telling me to be alert, in India they’re all criminals and thieves. But we finally arrived safe and sound to his place and he introduced me to his family and his dog Stella which I fell in love with. We then went out and met one of his best friend. The following day Deepak took me to a money change place and even if I lost money in the change I still managed to get rid of stupid Nepali rupees.
Unfortunately those days Delhi was covered in a very thick “fog” and the air was pretty bad. I visited from outside the red fort. I was not ready to spend easily the cash that was so hard for me to get, especially when, once again, the entry fee for the tourists was 5 fold the price for locals. The rest of the day I just walked around the city waiting for Deepak to leave the office and when we met it was dinner time and we went home where upon request I cooked dinner for the both of us.
The two nights I booked with Deepak were over and even though he said I could stay longer I preferred to book a hostel closer to the center to make it easier for me to do stuff. HOG hostel was not what I had really expected but it was cheap, OK clean and easy to move around from. But that day I didn’t leave the premises. I was so tired and overwhelmed by the “fog” and the constant honking that I preferred to stay inside and take a rest. The day after was my last day in Delhi and I said to myself why not visit a bit before leaving. I was in touch with a couple of couchsurfers and we were supposed to meet to visit some sort of old village in the city but I got there before them, the place was impossible to find, no one knew where that was and I had a nervous breakdown and had to go back to the hostel. I slept it off and later in the afternoon I met with the same two CSers from the morning and visited the stairs well an ancient well that now is empty but the structure is absolutely fantastic and then we visited a Sikh temple, watched them prey and we had a communal free dinner with them. It’s been quite an experience.
Morning comes and I board a bus to go to Jaipur to start my trip towards the south. I took a local bus that it’s an adventure for itself but I would have never expected to see at some point boarding the bus some policemen taking into custody a “criminal” kept on a chain (on his wrist) like a dog. It was almost surreal but the prisoner looked pretty at ease and even joked with a couple of passengers. Only in India!!!
In Jaipur I booked a room at Lazy Mozo hostel for just 1€ for two night I wasn’t really sure what to expect but for 50c a night I couldn’t ask for much. The place is new, just opened one month ago. And you can tell. They need to find their marks, how to behave and how to do things but it was fairly clean and the house is very nice. In Jaipur I visited some building in the Pink City but the only one I was ready to pay for was the Hawa Mahal especially because for once, locals and tourists pay the same price to enter. The place is pretty amazing but it’s missing some soul. After that I met with a CSer for lunch and had dinner and beers with another.
The two days planned in Jaipur were over and I was ready to go to Agra to finally fulfill one lifelong dream: visit the Taj Mahal.
I arrived in Agra in the evening and had dinner with some guys from the hostel I checked in. Moustache hostel is a pretty cool place, clean and with a nice atmosphere. It’s also very close to the Taj Mahal so in the morning I got up at 5.30 to avoid the mass of visitors and went to get my ticket. 1000 rupees is kind of a lot of money (around 13€/15$) but I came to India basically just to visit the Taj so I couldn’t not go. After I got my ticket I stood in line to wait for the doors to open (from sunrise to sunset) and when I finally enter the site at 7 my heart was beating fast. Visiting the Taj Mahal has been a dream since I can remember and I don’t even know why. When I finally faced it tears almost filled my eyes. The place in the fog of the early morning has a charm that no words can express. And as the day went by and the sun came up, it totally changed to become a spectacular garden for the beloved princess to find her resting peace. To make my visit more interesting I downloaded a free app called Captiva Tour with which you can listen to the story of the origins of the Taj Mahal without having to hire a guide. It’s been just perfect.
I spent the rest of the day at the hostel and took a little walk around the city. But Agra is an ugly town and people are just there to harass tourists trying to sell you everything they can. Thankgod I took the bus to Varanasi at 7.30pm and left.