Northern India

Well, we fly North. We are looking forward to arriving in the cooler region. The south has proved to be quite hot, and it's only January! We have come to Delhi to see it's sites but also to get our Chinese visa's. But, we discover why we have not been able to call the Chinese Embassy - they are closed for a 2 weeks for the Chinese New Year!! So, it means a return trip to Delhi. We leave Delhi and plan on seeing it on our return. The route: Agra (home of the Taj Mahal), Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalamer, Udiapur, Delhi, Varanassi, and on to Kathmandu (Nepal). See below for the route.

For a story about obtaining train tickets in India click here

For a story about a tout that puts shit on your shoes, click here

First stop, the little town of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. We are amazed, certainly the most amazing site in India. For a story about touts on the train to Agra, click here.

A beautiful white marble structure. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631-53 for his dead wife, Mumtaz Mahal. He was greatly grieved after her death in child birth. Inside you find the crypt of his wife. He was also placed in a crypt inside after his death.

What really impresses you on closer viewing is the in laid stone work. Inlayed is semiprecious stones to make the color and designs. It's fabulous.

We watched the sunset on the Taj 3 times, it changes color as the sun sets and the light changes. I highly recommend it.

One bit of local reality, an Indian lawn mowing team!

We ran into a locals who wanted their picture taken with us, for the story click here. I also did some more sandal shopping and discovered the value of my shoes. For the hole story, click here.

We experience bus travel on our journey to Jaipur. The bus pulls out of town on time, but we only travel for an hour before they stop to change a flat tire (one that was flat before we left!). While they are trying to figure out how to get the bus off the jack, the bus leaving an hour later for the same destination passes us by. The ride continues. For a more detailed story on the tire changing experiance, click here. We arrive at Jaipur. The city of shop til you drop. We see some of the sites, but shopping occupies a bit of our time. On a day trip out of town to the old capital city Amber, we see elephants working hard,,, at moving tourists up and down a hill!

During our time in Jaipur we enjoyed wondering through the back streets for views of people living life. Tea is a way of life in India. One main benefit of drinking tea, the water has been well boiled -so it should be safe to drink!

We board a train and continue on to Jodhpur, the fort city. We only spend enough time to have a view of the fort and then continue on to the Jaisalmer. On the overnight train we discover the cold of the desert night! Jaisalmer, the fabled desert city. Land of the colorful Rajasthan people. We find a hotel in the wall of the fort, great views!

We discover respect for the desert cattle as well, for the story, click here.

We had altered our schedule some to arrive in the city for the desert festival. A colorful event when the Rajasthan people come out in full color.

They had competitions going on amongst the local people. Once was a turbine tying competition. They had 3 minutes to tie on their turbine then they were judged for looks. We were amazed at the volume of cloth that goes in a turbine - about 20 feet!

And, since we are on holiday, when the opened up a competition to foreigners, I had to have a go!

Mine did not turn out as good as the locals, but I still managed a 3rd place, even though I'd never tied a turbine before! Also came across a group of girls coming in from the fields, in the classic transport means in Asia (try this at home)!

We also had to participate in the standard tourist entertainment in the desert - a ride in the desert on a camel!

We had a little run in with the Indian army on the way back from the camel ride, for the story click here.

We then boarded a train overnight then all day on a bus to arrive to the city of Udiapur. The city has a famous hotel built on an island in the lake. It made it's mark in the James Bond Movie, Octopussy.

We enjoyed a few days of rest and recovery (from a little Delly Belly). Here I meet with a couple of real travelers who had passed from Pakistan, into Tibet, and then into India. They were living on 2 dollars a day! We railed back up to Delhi from here.

Delhi, the capital and access to modern life. We stayed at the YWCA and enjoyed some fine food -friend chicken. We were pretty much ready from something beside vegetarian food. Our arrival in Delhi occurs on election day, for the story click here. In Delhi, we see the famous Delhi Fort.

We also see in elephant in the city - a real working elephant, in Delhi of all places.

The biggest mosque in India.

For a small fee I went up the top of one of the minaret's - quite a view. We traveled on to the holy city of Varanassi, along the holy Ganges River. Every morning the holy are down at the river bathing (despite the pollution).

We also observed the holy men down on the river at dusk, blessing the river. Such faith.

But, the practical side of life also takes place along the river - fishing poles.

This is the final stop in India. From here the 3 of us taxi (yes, taxi) our way to Kathmandu. It costs about the same as flying, but all the flights are booked up.

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