It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Agra, India : 12th November 2006

Safely made it to Agra yesterday after a five hour drive from Delhi on the crazy Indian roads. The actual distance covered was only 200km or so, but everything just seems to take longer here. Passed all kinds of animals including the ubiquitous cows, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep, goats, dogs, pigs and monkeys. The cows were doing their usual “I’m worshipped and can wander about at will” thing amongst, and in front of, all the cars and trucks.  They just have no fear of anything at all. 

Had a bit of fun in Delhi with Mel and Gyumi. On Friday we grabbed a driver and a hotel car and had him take us to the Red Fort , which was huge and great to see. We didn’t see any other Western women around at all and found that we were being tailed by a bunch of Indian guys who were surreptitiously taking our photos.

This went on for the whole time we were inside the Red Fort. It got very irritating and a little bit scary and we decided we’d had enough and left, only to find that they followed us outside and kept snapping shots. They weren’t actually in any of the photos with us and we couldn’t figure out why they were bothering, but our Indian friends later told us that they were just photos to boast about amongst their friends because they’d seen Western women. Very strange and unpleasant really. Paris Hilton is welcome to a life of photographers – we didn’t like it at all.

Had a lovely dinner that night with all of our Indian 
friends at a yummy restaurant oddly located at the top of a shopping mall (along with a disco). The area where we were staying is called Gurgaon and it has only been established for about 6 years. It used to just be wasteland and now it’s wasteland with lots of malls, call centres and housing for the people who are working in the area. And cows. Lots of cows. Everywhere. The area really is just growing out of the dust and there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan.

Hotels are making big money catering for all the international businesses who have set up in the sector. The corporate rate for the hotel we were in was $US270/night and it wasn’t anything to write home about. There is such a scarcity of hotel accommodation (though lots are being built), that the hotels can charge whatever they like really.

I had my case gone through twice in the first day by the cleaning staff and complained to the manager (nothing was taken luckily) who apologised strongly and insisted it would never happen again. The hotel is quite new and I think they’re having trouble getting good staff. One night it took 30 minutes for us to get 1 x Diet Coke, 1 x Beer and 1 x Juice – there were 7 floor staff and only 10 people in the bar! Service is generally pretty average and, unfortunately, you come to expect it.

We’re now in Agra at the Sheraton Mughal and it’s gorgeous. In typical hotel fashion, you can pay extra for a room with a “Taj View” (we didn’t), but when you get to the room it doesn’t actually have a Taj View at all - it did once and now they’ve built something in front of it!

Had a lazy day today and hubby got to have a good sleep in (he needed it). Then had lunch by the pool with Gary, Gyumi, Craig and Mel (it’s her birthday today). I was reading my book after lunch on a lounger by the pool and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving under hubby’s lounger. I didn’t really pay attention but all of a sudden I turned around and it was a mongoose! It had snuck out of the garden and was hoovering up all the little crumbs that had been dropped from lunch. Gave me a hell of a shock and I’ve been looking apprehensively at the gardens ever since!

Tonight is the opening dinner for the conference that the boys are here for and David has just arrived from Australia for that as well. The girls aren’t really interested in the very long business oriented dinner tonight, so we’re off to the bar and then the Chinese restaurant in the hotel for dinner. Had dinner at “Peshwari” in the hotel last night and some gorgeous Indian food – my favourite is paneer tikka which is marinaded and grilled cottage cheese, absolutely scrumptious.

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