India – Agra
I’ve got to start with this place and the Taj Mahal because the effect it had on me when I first caught sight of it was more than breathtaking. It is and enchanting experience and it is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is early morning. It is magical to watch it slowly appearing through the mist. The marble will dazzle you and the colour of it appears to gradually differs throughout the day as the light changes. It took 22 years and 20, 000 workers to build it and the results are awesome. However, be careful of the touts outside. They can be very persistent and quite intimidating if you’re not used to that sort of thing. If you don’t want them to be so pushy, then you need to be firm with them. If you don’t want their services, then let them know. Show them the slightest bit of interest and they won’t leave you alone and there are a lot of them there trying to make money out of you. You have been warned!
India itself is a very unique country, unlike any other with its diversities. Doing the Golden Triangle is very popular, taking in Delhi and Jaipur. Both places are well worth a visit. We hired a private driver to show us round which works out very reasonable, cost wise. Most service industries work out very reasonable as labour is cheap in India on the whole. I had the best pedicure I’ve ever had in India. They took so much time preening my tired feet, it was very impressive.
I also visited Mumbai, which was another memorable experience. Indians don’t appear to take much notice of authority, for instance, most seem to ignore traffic lights, and I witnessed many of them driving down one way streets the wrong way. If that wasn’t enough, then you’ve also got the rickshaws driving too fast as well as the many different animals that suddenly come into the road including goats, cows, horses, camels. You really are taking your life into your own hands when travelling by road. It is an amazing place though and you won’t experience anywhere else quite like it from the huge span of slums to the marvels of the opulent architecture, this has to be one of the most unique cultures I’ve ever experienced. It is buzzing, vibrant, and you will see and smell sights and sensations never experienced before. Whether it be 50 people hanging off a bus or visiting beautiful temples, it will live long in your memory. The food is great here, especially if you love spicy food like me and it’s more cosmopolitan than I was expecting. I will say though, Indians don’t like queuing. Be prepared for a tussle whether it be in a shop or airport terminal, it feels more like being at a football match.