Monday, October 11, 2010

Agra monkey hotel and ther tardge.

I managed to get up easily and had a shower before breakfast- That was going well until the towel shelf fell off the wall as I took my towel. Ever the engineer, I then got out my leatherman multi tool and proceeded to fix it back onto the wall dressed in only my towel. It was then a quick pack of my kit and down to breakfast just before 6.30am. I ate quickly as everyone turned up and then left the seating area so there was room for everyone else to get some scoff.
As we left Delhi on the bus it was beginning to get busy on the roads – we saw some kind of liquid carrying talker that had spilled its load on the street and also just passed as one unlucky pedestrian was mowed down by a motorbike as he crossed the road. He stayed on his feet though as the bike rider fell off and then they stood in the road arguing about who was at fault. I think they will both be fine! The traffic got busier and busier, so I could understand why we saw so many tuk tuks with more and more people on them. I saw one with 7, then 8 people on – then one with 10 and another with 11. But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw one with 6 people inside, another 3 hanging out of the back, 2 on either side stood on the footplate's and 1 more on the rear footplate – that’s 14 people in total, plus the driver all in one tuk tuk!! Just another day in India.
We travelled for a couple of hours and had a pit stop at what appeared to be a mixture of a service station and bazaar. There were all sorts of trinkets for sale, plus mentos and gummi bears, which were bloody expensive, but nice all the same. They also had multi lingual versions of the kama sutra which amused us for a few minutes! Outside there was a geezer with a snake and a dancing monkey in a dress – 2 weeks ago we would have been amazed at the sight, but now, as battle weary travellers, it was just a small distraction away from whether the toilets were any good and how bloody hot it is outside the bus!
We travelled onwards to wards Agra and I had a rest, but was woken by people chatting as we stopped again just after 11am. The magical golden arches of Mcdonalds had appeared by the roadside and we were all invited in to taste the delights. Most people opted for chicken burgers or fillet o fish, whilst others made do with the coffee. We know we are in India, but after 10 days of trying to find something decent to eat or making do with crisps it was lovely to have a proper hot lunch again. Plus their was free wifi, so we all managed to check up on emails and facebook, as this morning the internet in the last hotel wasn’t working.

We arrived in Agra at about 1pm and headed through town towards Hotel Alpine. We all spotted the Taj Mahal on the left as we drove down by the river and a whooooooooo, erupted from inside the bus! It was the first whooooooooo for any of the sights we have seen so far and reminded me of the whhoooooos and aaaahs that you hear at firework displays.
I had already checked up online about the Hotel and it didn’t look favourable – The hotels facilities include:- Car parking, First aid kit, Oven, Microwave and Adjoining rooms. We were therefore unsurprised when the strangely named Hotel turned out to be just as we had imagined. The rooms for all the lads, were not yet ready as the previous occupants had left their luggage and gone out for the day -so us lads had to wait nearly 2 hours till we could finally move into the rooms. They aren’t a bad size, but the sheets are not the cleanest ever and probably need throwing away. The beds are very solid and not too comfortable. However on a plus side the air-con works OK. There is also a lack of wifi, so everyone will be searching around for somewhere to connect to the net – There is a mcdonalds just 200m down the road, but that doesn’t have wifi either! Some people are going to be a little stressed out if they cant get their beloved connection to the net!
We have now settled in and I am writing this offline – Its half past 3 and we are due to meet up in 45 minutes for a tuk tuk ride across the river and to a location where you can view the sun as it sets over the Taj Mahal. Its just another day in the life of an Ozbusser.

To fill in a few minutes till we leave I thought I would add a few things about our India trip so far:-

It is weird how you see people living on the street and begging, yet right beside them are adverts for New Housing developments and apartments in Delhi with helicopter landing pads on the roof.

The commonwealth games facilities are not yet finished – but will be in time for the start of the games – in Glasgow in 4 years time.

Air conditioning is a must.

It is too easy to walk down a road and completely ignore small children as they beg for money or food. But unfortunately you cannot do anything else. If you do give them something then a swarm of others will appear. The best you can do is smile and wave, maybe shake their hands, but move on

White people are treated like celebrities – We have lost count of an now accept it freely, when the locals ask us to be in photographs with them.

Everything is trying to sell me something.

Indian time is slower than even Greek time.

Beer is a must.

Brushing your teeth with bottled water, beer or last nights rum and coke is just normal.

T shirts dry in under 4 hours.

Deodorant is a must (But not for locals, obviously)

Finally – the fine for spitting on a metro station in Delhi is 200 Rupees, but the fine for travelling on the roof of the train itself is only 50 rupees. (See photo from Day 33!) That rule sort of sums up India to a tee!

Today is Sunday. We were all up at 5.30 this morning and ready for 6am to go to the Taj Mahal. Breakfast had been asked to be sent to all rooms at 0530, but didnt turn up till we were leaving on the bus after 6. It was also shite.
We had raced to the other side of the river last night to see the Taj Mahal as the sun set. It is a great view from the other side of the river and after racing there in the fastest Tuk tuk ever – driven by Laalaa, we spent a while just watching and taking photos. We were all then planning on an early night because of the early start, but myself, Donna, Bev, Lisa and a few others had spent the evening sitting in the Hotel steps drinking beers that we had bought locally. The night had been a lot of fun and in-between scaring Bev with the creepy crawlies that we found and playing with the local dogs and mosquitoes, we had had a few too many!
So we weren’t in the best order to go and visit what is widely thought as the most beautiful building on earth. However, even with a slightly bad head we were all blown away by the Taj. It really is an amazing place and pictures don’t do it justice. Its impossible to take a bad photo of it.
We spent a while wandering around and taking photos – particularly on Princess Di's bench, where Bev was a little abrupt with the people who were getting in the way of her photograph.
It was then back to the bus and off to the fort just down the road. By now a few of us were suffering so Bev and Donna got off at the Hotel to get some well earned rest.
The rest of us arrived at the fort and spent 45 minutes wandering around and just mellowing out. Matt and Awal decided to push each other around in Frankie s wheelchair (Frankie still has her leg in a cast.) We all made it back to the bus eventually and after avoiding the hawkers selling taj mahal books, postcards and snow-globes, plus whips, we headed back to the hotel ourselves.
On arrival we all ended up in Mcdonalds just down the road, as we were in need of some food!
Someone remembered that the Formula 1 grand Prix was due to start soon and so we went back to the hotel to watch. Unfortunately halfway through the race the bloody channel went off and has not yet come back on!! This hotel is really grating me now. There is another trip this afternoon, out to another fort – Now I am all forted out, but the thought of hanging around in this dump of a hotel till everyone comes back is doing my head in, so I may well go along on the trip just to get out of here for a couple of hours. For now its time for shower!! After my shower and a bit of hand washing I went outside to relax and met up with Becky, Frankie, Bev and Jaime who were trying to ignore the local kids who were asking for food. Its really hard, but after ten days here we are all sick to the back teeth of everyone wanting to beg for things or sell you something – It is horrible to say but it just grates you. We sat outside for a while and chatted about India, the hotel and other stuff before the trip was due to leave
I went along for the trip and was glad I did. It was a small group of just 8 of us in the end – Me, Barry, Mark, Linda, Janet, Vicky, Kenneth and Lana plus the tour guide.
This morning the tour guide had told us all about his family and sons and daughters and he is such a lucky guy. He is so happy and settled – He even told us that at every meal him and his wife feed each other the first mouthful of food. Its such a nice way to begin a meal and he seems so settled and happy wit his life – In a lot of ways I am very very jealous of him.
Anyway, this afternoon Vicky spent a lot of time chatting with him as she is very interested in the normal day to day life of an Indian family. He is completely open and honest about the good things and the bad things about his country and the people and is a lovely fellah. He also loves his old Royal Enfield motorbike that he loves to ride – I am even more jealous now!
The trip itself was really relaxed, the fort we visited was OK and nice to look around, but the afternoon was just a nice relaxing time away from the Hotel Shithole.
On the way back we were stopped at a Railway crossing and me, Kenneth and Lana sat in with the driver of the coach and watched the chaos as the train passed by and then stayed in there for the rest of the journey home. I cannot believe how the coach driver didn’t kill anyone!! The roads here are better viewed from the back of the bus through dark glasses.
We went out for a bit of dinner when we got back to Agra and then it was time for an early night.

Its now another day. We were all expecting to get out of bed at 8am when breakfast was due to be delivered – But just like yesterday, the staff here at Hotel Fooking Useless, had a surprise for us – Yes, you have guessed it, they delivered breakfast early – over 2 hours early to some rooms -at 5.45am. Some people took the breakfast and went back to bed, whilst others like Bev, didnt exactly give them a warm welcome. Myself and Mark were reasonably luck y and were woke just before 7 with our offering. I had actually been up most of the night anyway, switching the air-con on and off as the room got too hot or too cold. This great hotel decides to set the air-con to whatever temp it likes and you then have the choice of on or off. Hotel for clowns strikes again! After the breakfast delivery it was then a case of getting up slowly, have a cold shower and get down for the bus at 9am. Today was very exciting as due to tax on the previous bus, we were due to get a new bus and different driver – So just before 9am, what appeared to be exactly the same bus turned up!! On closer inspection however it was a different one – It was a little cleaner and the armrests by the windows will fold up! Bonus!! Its the little things!
The journey today to Lucknow, was overall uneventful. I sat near to the back and chatted with Liv, Lisa and Millsy about Couch surfing, India and all sorts of stuff, until the first toilet stop. I did manage a 10 minute kip on a bed that was lying outside in the sun as we waited for everyone to take their turn in the single squat toilet. Then back onto the bus and on towards Lucknow for a one night stop. Everyone is hoping that the Hotel is an improvement on last night (If it has people working there instead of blind monkeys, then that will be an improvement!
Its just after 4pm and we have about 45km to go. We might be there by 6, but first we have a last toilet stop.
Whilst I waited I did what has become my normal time-waster – I found a pile of stones and a 'wicket' and spent a few minutes practising my bowling. Today’s practice was really good though as there were 3 pipes, just the same width as a normal wicket, for me to bowl at. When I hit them there was aloud clang and everyone looked around to see what made the noise. This included 3 Indian teenagers who were on the other side of a fence and they spent a few minutes watching me and giving the 'Out' finger every time I hit the wicket! It was nice to have a laugh with them and they gave me a wave and the thumbs up as we left on the bus


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