India – Agra, Jaipur & Pushakr

Agra

We met our driver Manjeet in the morning and drove to Agra. We were very glad to be getting out of Delhi, safe to say it was our least favorite place in India. Manjeet was a very strange and quiet man, but we were determined to get a smile out of him!

I slept most of the way to Agra, much to Lewis’s annoyance. The first thing we did when we got there was go to the Agra Fort, it was okay but I just don’t really get forts I guess. Our hostel in Agra was called GoStops and was pretty nice all things considered and was in a very good location.

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There isn’t much to do in Agra apart from the Taj Mahal so we just went for a late lunch. We went to Trip Advisor’s number 1 restaurant in Agra, a place called Good Vibes. This place definitely didn’t deliver the ‘good vibes’ as advertised. I ordered the mix veg curry thinking it was a safe option. This was, hands-down, the biggest mistake I made on this trip. It was lukewarm and tasteless and it made me incredibly ill – which I found out the next day.

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I look happy here, but it didn’t last long

On said day, we got up at 5am to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Getting up early was so worth it, the Taj itself is beautiful but you also miss the crowds and can actually get a decent photo without millions of people in it! We got a tuk-tuk to the ticket office and then just walked straight in without any queues. It really is a stunning building, you notice that the moment you walk in. The whole thing is made of marble with exquisite detail on every wall, especially on the inside. While we were walking around inside of the building I started to feel a bit sick, I thought it was just the heat and lack of breakfast so passed it off as nothing.

Taj Mahal

By the time we got back to the hostel I was feeling way worse – I tried to force down some breakfast and we got into the car to head to Jaipur. The car journey was horrible, I actually thought I was going to die. I hadn’t felt this sick in years. I threw up at a rest stop which wasn’t my finest moment and then tried to sleep the rest of the way. Even though I was on death’s door,  Lewis made us stop to see the Chand Baori stepwell on the way (because it was in bloody Batman!?). Luckily it only takes 5 minutes to walk around it so if you can stop and see it do, as it’s quite impressive, but if you have to make a long trip to see it, it’s probably not worth it.

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Chand Baori Step Well

Jaipur

When we finally arrived, we checked into our hostel (Hoztel) and I went straight to sleep. My body must have been using every bit of energy to fight this thing because I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I slept the whole afternoon and then the whole night. Lewis went and socialized with people in the hostel but I was very happy in my AC room, alone.

I was feeling a little bit better the next day so we went sight-seeing. Our first stop was the Amber Fort – this is the main thing to see in Jaipur and is a big red and marble structure. From it, you can see the wall that marks the perimeter of the Pink City, India’s version of the Great Wall of China.

Amber Fort

After the fort we went to the Jal Mahal which is a palace built in the middle of a lake – this is the type of sight-seeing I like, you can see it, take a photo but you can’t physically go inside because you’d have to swim across.

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Jal Mahal

The final place we visited was the Hawa Mahal. This is a grand building with 953 windows, it was incredibly striking and was my favorite sight in Jaipur. It was built so Royal ladies could see everyday life on the streets without being seen. It had loads of small holes in the windows which they could see through and which encouraged the cool air to flow through.

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Pretty impressive isn’t it?

As it was raining, our driver took us to a local fabric shop They had some fantastic stuff in there and I would have bought a lot of stuff if I’d had the money or space. I did buy a tapestry for my new room though! As we all know, no uni room is complete without a tapestry on the wall posing as real wallpaper.

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Hand-made carpets

By lunchtime I was done with being outside and was feeling worse, I needed to go back to bed.  Luckily for me, the hostel had amazon prime on the TV in the room! I stayed in bed very happily and watched all three Men in Blacks while Lewis played beer pong on the rooftop.

I 1000000% blame that disgusting curry in Agra for being ill. I mean, everyone gets the runs in India, it’s a given, but vomiting? Really!?

Pushkar

I awoke a new woman. I was SO happy – no more cramps! We were in high spirits on the short drive to Pushkar. We got there before lunchtime and used the early afternoon to explore the markets and have a bite to eat at Baba’s rooftop cafe. I still didn’t have much of an appetite but managed to nibble on some hummus and bread.

I got roped into getting a henna by a woman who just grabbed my hand on the street – she had a baby on her back so I just gave in. She tried to charge me £10 for it! In the end, I gave her the equivalent of £2.50 which was too much anyways but I guess she needs it more than I do.

Had to get henna at least once anyway

Pushkar was much calmer than the other places we’d been to and was quickly becoming our favourite place. In the late afternoon, when it was a bit cooler, we walked to the base of the Ratnagiri hill which has the Brahmaji Temple at the top of it. You can walk up but for £1 you can get a cable car up – guess which one we chose.

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Hill & temple in the background ft. camel

The views of Pushkar and the lake from the top were phenomenal. We sat up there for a while just looking down on everything and enjoying the cool breeze.

Views from the top

On our way back down I started to feel sick again – not a great sign. While Lewis was in the shower getting ready for dinner I fell asleep and woke up feeling worse than ever. During the walk to dinner, I was just feeling worse and worse. As soon as we got to the restaurant I was violently sick and spent the whole meal running to and from the toilet. It was rough.

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At least someone was having a good time…

By the time we made it back to the hotel, I was in agony. I was so so ill. Once I’d stopped being sick I decided that sleep was my best option so headed to bed. This is when the power cut out. This hotel was awful by the way, one of Manjeet’s suggestions – it was his first and his last. I just lay there, in the heat and the dark praying sleep would come to me soon. I must have fallen asleep because I woke up at 4am with the sound of the power going off again. This illness was not done with me yet! Sitting in an Indian loo in the pitch black with only my phone torch for light and zero ventilation while chucking my guts up was not my favourite part of the trip, I was really starting to question why on earth we had come here in the first place. We could have been on some Mediterranean beach sipping cocktails and tanning, but no, we decided to do this instead. Eventually, the power came back on and I managed to get some sleep, how Lewis slept through my whole ordeal baffles me – at least one of us was having a good time!

We woke up early with the power off AGAIN and a whole group of pigeons having a mothers morning on our AC unit. I was so angry that I asked Lewis if he would go out and ‘wring their necks’, I think was the exact phrase I used, but he politely declined #FakeLove.

The only option was to get out of this horrible hotel and get some fresh air, at least I was finally feeling better, the worst of it was over. There was only one slight issue, we hadn’t even walked out of the hotel room door before we discovered the cause of all the power cuts – the whole place was completely flooded. I’m sorry but there was no way in hell I was walking through that dysentery-infested water just for some banana and toast so we were forced up to the hotel ‘restaurant’. Correct me if I’m wrong but I somehow don’t think that some fly-covered table and chairs in a grimy room constitute a restaurant but I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I had something called a ‘lemon soda’ with my hot bread they were passing as toast and it was literally just lemon juice in a glass with a bottle of soda. I loved it, it was almost as bitter as me.

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I was not walking through that water

We hid in the room for as long as we could before getting cabin fever and forcing ourselves to brave the big, bad outside world. We paid an extortionate tuk-tuk to drive us through the worse of the flooding but it was worth it. Our destination was a small cafe called the Coffee Temple. This place was a little gem with a nice rooftop overlooking the lake. They had really good coffee according to Lewis (I still couldn’t stomach much).

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View of Pushkar Lake from the Coffee Temple

Pushkar is a very religious town with no alcohol and people come from all over to bathe in the holy lake/ghats. As a foreigner, it is basically impossible to get to the ghats without a million fake ‘priests’ trying to scam you. They try to give you flowers so you can go and be ‘blessed’ by the lake, but after you do they try and charge you up to $500 for it! If you refuse they say you’re disrespecting their culture and religion and say your whole family will be cursed – well jokes on you pal, my family are already cursed.

After coffee we went back to the Energy Cafe for dinner – I even managed to eat 2 whole pieces of pakora – plus side, I should be losing some weight right? We were told by the owner of the restaurant to head to the Sunset Cafe on the other side of the lake to watch, well, the sunset. We were not disappointed. This little place had outdoor seating directly facing the lake while the sun set behind it. Watching the sunset with a lemon soda in my hand and some traditional drumming in the background was dreamy. This was a much nicer side of Pushkar and we wish we’d found it sooner.

 

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