We did manage to wake up at 5:00! Being as resourceful as possible, we used our pillow cases as towels when taking a bucket shower and praised God for the toilet paper Bethany brought! We headed to the West Gate for The Taj by 6:00AM!! Yeah!
The “business day” had not started yet, so the streets were somewhat quiet except for the animals and small children!
You have to be more persistent than the obnoxious hawkers trying to sell you everything from booklets to magnets! We were.
Since the Taj Mahal is one of the eight wonders of the world, I’m posting pictures. How can I describe it? However, it is sad that the even pictures really can’t convey its beauty. First is a view of the Taj from the entrance, then a view of the entrance from the Taj and inside the Taj. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, sorry. To go up we were given shoe covers. Can’t believe the intricate detail of the structure.
After we strolled through history, we returned to our hotel to have breakfast on the roof and continue viewing this wonder from afar. It was then that we read why no cars can drive near-pollution! To prevent damage to the Taj, no exhaust producing vehicles can get within a certain distance.
We hired an auto rickshaw to meet our taxi and drive to Fort Agra, The Red Fort. It was actually built before the Taj. It is also hard to capture on film, but here is my attempt.
If you are a white American, you are most desired to be photographed with Indian people!!! Here’s Bethany in her “famous person disguise.”
The driver didn’t want “fatty foods” so we later stopped for him to have lunch at a resort looking place. Bethany and I found the beautiful lawn with flower beds and I stretched out on the grass while she did some yoga. (She also typed in a list of what we had been doing for the last few days before I forgot it!)
In preparation for a mountain climb on Bandar Punch, 20,000 feet up, Bethany wanted to look for some ankle weights. We found a mall, yes, a real live mall, with shops and everything! What do you guess we did first? Found a hair salon and got our hair washed! But, there, it isn’t just a wash and blow dry, it included a head and neck massage. AHHHHhHHHHH! A very welcomed pampering. We did find the ankle weights for Bethany. Then, to complete the experience we did (as Bethany named it) “stone soup” shopping. We found a store with perfume to spray on and a make-up store for a complete make over! Now I was ready to fly to Japan and Bethany was ready to ride a train all night and then a taxi and get to school in time to teach class!
I was dropped off at the airport. I felt confident enough to handle it solo. I went into the bathroom to change clothes before I checked my luggage. And then the bomb. I was asked, “Where’s your Japanese visa?” “What?” (Mentally freaking out, racing through my memory to search for any mention of a visa for Japan…..I had nothing!) “I’m American. I don’t need a visa for Japan.” “One moment,” then she disappeared. Wait….wait….wait. Finally, she returns. I made sure that my luggage would go all the way to Osaka. I was told it would but that I did have a plane change in Hong Kong. I only had an hour and 15 to change planes………(DAY 31 with the rest of the story.)
I boarded the plane and left India at 11:20PM. (end of DAY 30, end of India)