Yoga retreat in the South of Goa – Yogamea

 

I arrived here in Agonda in the South of Goa almost one week ago, on Monday, around 15 after about 2,5 hours drive from Swan Yoga in Asagao. On the way here we passed by more palm trees, colorful big houses, kids in school uniform, rivers and beaches, until finally arriving in this small paradise.

Agonda is a very small and tranquil little town, not much party or people here, there is one main road and the beachside. There are so many nice little beach huts here, adorable, must be so nice to hear the sound of the waves all the time. The shops are cute here, the vendors are not as annoying either, they’re calm and sweet and you get to know them all :)

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

On the beach

On the beach

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

I’m in another yogaretreat named Yogamea, but it’s not as busy schedule as in Swan Yoga. We only have 2 asanas per day, but they are 2 hours long each, between 7-9am and 5-7pm. We have the all meals included here, but the food isn’t that good, they don’t have any spices at all, so it doesn’t really taste indian. We have been eating a few lunches out just to get some good indian food. They sell a lot of fish here, but still it’s India, so many vegetarian restaurants as well.

I’m sharing room with a french-canadian, Lydia, and we hang out all the time actually, she’s great. The room wasn’t as nice as Yogamea showed on their website at all, it’s quite basic, but the place is good. The food area is great, and the location is perfect too, we are just beside the main road and have about 2 minute walk down to the beach.

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said "it's vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit" - but when we got it, it was fresh fruit... quite wierd! the other thing was better..

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said ”it’s vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit” – but when we got it, it was fresh fruit… quite wierd! the other thing was better..

This is where I'm staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

This is where I’m staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

Our dining area, very cozy

Our dining area, very cozy

The yoga here is different, I was really confused at first about the sun salutation and some of the pranayamas we do, because there are other versions of the ones I knew and learned at Swan. But the teachers are great, we have had a couple of classes with the owner Timmy, and the other teacher Vilu, and he always corrects me and helps me to get better.

There is 200h yoga teacher course here, so there are many yoga students who also teaches us, so sometimes it’s a little bit repetitive, but it’s good for me :) There’s quite a segregation though, like when we eat, because the students weren’t allowed to speak for like 3 days except for during the class (saving energy or something), so we other retreaters had to stick together haha. The yoga-students have anatomy and yoga philosophy classes, so they have a busier schedule than us in the retreat, we are only 4 persons (with free time between 9am to 5pm).

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

Afternoon yoga class

Afternoon yoga class

 

But the times really flies here! We have breakfast and sit in our very cozy eating area between 9-10, then we take a shower, we go out for some walking or shopping or we go to the south or north side of the beach, we go back and have lunch at 13 (except for the times we have eaten out), around 14 we go out again, either beach or do the bars along the beach and have some lassi or something, and then back to do yoga again. Haha.

The bars and restaurants along the beach are much more expensive then on the main road, but they have big comfy kind of sofas with big pillows and a view over the beach, and it’s super comfortable to just sit there and chill down after a day in the sun, or when you can’t stand the heat anymore.

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

We have been out for a drink almost every evening after the afternoon asana class, there is a place just across our facility called ”My Friends place” where it’s nice and just across the street from Yogamea. One evening they had live music there and we met a woman in her mid 50’s from Canada, Flora, who had been abroad for over 25 years, so cool. She was now living in China. She was super cool!

The other night we sat in one of the beach bars in the comfy sofas and I ordered some sweets from south of goa and hot chocolate, watched the stars, sometimes a firework, and just the sound of the waves. I’m glad they don’t play music, it’s just very peaceful. And there are no mosquitos here at night, it’s such a relief!!

At "my friends place" just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

At ”my friends place” just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

I got a henna tattoo, the girl who made it is Sarsu (little bit unsure how it’s spelled) is only 19 and have never been to school! So she doesn’t know how to read or write. It’s weird to just imagine not be able to read the signs everywhere.  She has learned english through tourists! She has 4 sisters and 2 brothers, 2 of the sisters are married and the younger 2 sisters and the 2 brothers are still in school, she works here in the shop and provides for them so they can go in school. She was super sweet. :)

Getting my first henna tattoo

Getting my first henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like "Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?". So sweet.

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like ”Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?”. So sweet.

On Friday we rented 2 scooters, me, Lydia and Milo from Italy, one of the others doing the retreat. We drove to Cabo da Rama, which is not far away at all, but there’s no way to get there without scooter or hiring a car. It was fun to ride scooter, the roads here are great, and there is only one so it’s difficult to get lost, and there’s almost no traffic at all. It’s just uphill downhill uphill downhill all the time, Goa isn’t flat at all!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

So in Cabo da Rama there’s a an old fort, In the past it has switched hands between Hindu, Muslim monarchs and the Portuguese and witnessed many battles in history. Now it’s almost only ruins and some rusty cannons. It was abandoned when the Portuguese left this place. And then it was a government prison till 1955 and was abandoned again. It’s really ruins, so I don’t understand how the prison was really, since it was only 60 years back.

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

With Lydia and Milo

With Lydia and Milo

 Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

A woman on her morning walk

A woman on her morning walk

Soo many palmtrees!!

Soo many palmtrees!!

We spotted many monkeys!

We spotted many monkeys!

Exploring!

Exploring!

After sweating our asses off in 39 degrees and enjoying all the surrounding views, we took the scooters to a local restaurant along the way and had some veg thali. For 3 thalis, plus one extra portion thali for Milo, 3 extra breads, 3 sodas, one bag chips, one water bottle and one ice cream, we paid 450 rupees (about 5-6 euro/USD)-total! Cheap huh!

Then we drove back on the road against Agonda, stopped in a small village on the roadand had some Tea masala for 5 rupees, bought some petrol, felt sorry for all the cute little street puppies, and drove towards Cova beach. It was quite a bumpy road to the beach, only packed sand and stones along hills and cliffs, a little scary sometimes – but it was totally worth it!

The green lagoon at Cova

The green lagoon at Cova

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

In Cova it was super peaceful, nothing more there than a few cottages, one bar, the sea and a green lagoon with sweet water which was beautiful, you could se cows on the sides eating grass. The water in the lagoon was so much colder than the sea, really relaxing. You can’t reach this place with a heavy vehicle, the roads are to big for busses (you can drive car, but there’s enough space for meeting another car in the opposite direction).

We enjoyed a couple of hours there and then we had to go the bumpy ride back to be in time for our afternoon yoga.

 

Today, Saturday we did our last shopping, had some pastries at the main road, talked to the vendors, had yoga, and at night we went out for a couple drinks (compared to the regular 1 at night), since it’s our last night here. We had one kingsfisher beer to some live music on the beach, and then another beer at the other side of the beach.

But there’s really nothing going on even on a Saturday night here, the bar which we were closed since we were the last customers, and it was around 23-23.30. All the shops were closed when we walked back to, total silence.

Had some pies

Had some pies

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

Live music at the beach and indian beer

Live music at the beach and indian beer

 

I really like Agonda, everyone is so friendly, always saying goodnight or goodmorning, even if you don’t know them. It’s really a small town feeling. And you get to know the vendors and the waiters on the places, see them somewhere else and say hi to them to when you walk around. It’s really nice, you kind of feel at home here very easily :) This is really a place for total relaxation. 

 

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

Yes... we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

Yes… we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

So many cows on the beach!

So many cows on the beach!

Sunday is the day off here at the retreat, but we have yoga in the morning anyways, they sort of special arranged it for us because we wanted to have it tomorrow. After we are going to a place that we spotted today called Krishna where we are going to treat ourselves with some ajurvedic massage.

We have dealed the price, so we are have rejuvenating or deep tissue massage, then we have khizi and we also have a facial treatment and massage, so it’s 3 treatments, it will be about 2 hours and the price is only 1100 rupees! (around 15 euro/USD). At Swan Yoga I had Khizi too (the powders and the hot oil thing) and it was 1200 for ONLY that one reatment. So yeah, this is a very nice price!

(Updated: The Khizi was only half body, but still, the whole treatment was about 2 hours and really good. The full body massage was the best, the facial wasn’t really relaxing but more rubbing the face hard)

Then we are going to have some nice indian food somewhere, my last indian meal!

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

Sunday is also our last day here before going to our new destinations, I’m going to the airport around 14 and Lidia is heading north in India (she is traveling allover India for over 3 months).

I’ve enjoyed this week of real vacation together with yoga, I’ve learnt many new asanas and mantras, got much more bendy, even bought a yoga mat so that I don’t have an excuse for not doing yoga everyday, and I’ve eaten and treated myself as one should do on their vacation, haha. I even have a new habbit, to drink tea, even if it’s 30 degrees outside, which is good for me and my metabolism. :)

Now I’m heading to the Philippines, my first flight leaves Goa at 5pm today, Sunday, and I’ll arrive in Manila around 5pm tomorrow (Flying goa-mumbai-dubai-manila) and there I will meet up with my boyfriend Duilio! :)

So bye India!! Gonna miss you!!

Annonser

Yoga retreat in the North of Goa – Swan Yoga

I arrived in the airport of Vasco de Gama and had a driver there waiting for me, Camilo. He was very funny and sweet. We had about 1,5 hours drive in front of us to reach Asagao, where Swan Yoga is located.

My first impressions of goa was: aahhh!!! So nice here!! It’s hot, sunny, green, there’s both rivers and sea and the best thing of all; you can breathe! There’s like no pollution and palmtrees everywhere! Goa is much more laid-back, like a surfers place kind of compared to Delhi.

I arrived in the afternoon at Swan Yoga, ready for one weeks yoga retreat. I visited an ayurvedic doctor and then and I had dinner with the gang that was in the retreat. It was a nice group, which Shirin from Iran, Ayse from Turkey, Daniela from Mexico (living in China), Chantelle from Canada (living in China) Scott from US, John from UK, Britta from Canada (living in Australia), and Tine and Ann from Belgium. They had all arrived earlier then me, the retreat recommends to come on a Friday and I came on a Monday. All our teachers and the ones working on Swan yoga was also amazing.

First dinner with the gang!

First dinner with the gang!

Swan Yoga is located in the hills and surrounded by jungle. They grow almost all their vegetables and fruits them selves in their gardens. We all live in eco-friendly cottages, but the space it’s quite big, there is a kitchen and food area, a yoga hall (shala) , a temple where we do fire ceremonies or similar things, another hall (shala) where we did the Nitrakaya (stare into a candle flame), and there was a whole section with Ayurveda practices, a very cool reception and a ”fake beach” with sands and sun chairs with parasols and small bar next to it where you could buy healthy juices, fruit salad and things like that. Everything felt very close to nature and was very peaceful and with great energy.

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

The reception - so cozy!

The reception – so cozy!

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

What I liked the most about this retreat is that you don’t only do the ”Asana” – which is the physical training on the yoga mat (what we in Europe actually call yoga but it’s a very little part of it) – but you get to know the indian life and the philosophy about yoga. There is so much more, thousands of years of knowledge about this – and I have barely just touched a little tip of it. I love how incorporated yoga is together with the spiritual and lifestyle here. I got many tips and advices and a lot of food for thought while listening to the wisdom of our yogis and to of course, stories (Indians love to tell stories ;)

Our daily schedule looked something like this (changed everyday):

tuesdays schedule

tuesdays schedule

Quite busy schedule huh! We always started at 6am with about 45 minutes meditation. It was all completely black then when we started, but about the time we opened our eyes in the end, it was bright and the sun was just rising. Such a nice feeling!

I loved the meditation in the morning. It’s amazing how the mind works, how you can bring awareness do different parts of your body or your surroundings. One morning we also did it on the beach – fantastic! We went to mini-vagator beach, which is all quiet. Apparently if you go to the other beaches around, there are still people up partying around that time. We had some fruit there listened to Shivendras and Gyanmidras stories :)

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

Sunrise at the beach

Sunrise at the beach

Having breakfast at the beach :)

Having breakfast at the beach :)


We always had 2 asanas
(excersices in the yoga hall) every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In between we had another class, either yoga philosophy, yoga nidra, trataka, chakra drawing, or similar. After the afternoon asana we Tulsi Puja everyday before dinner, and on weekends we had fire ceremony.

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

Me and Tine doing yoga

Me and Tine doing some streching in asana class

So yes, we had quite a busy schedule, but between 12.30-17.00 we had free time.

The first day we went to a coffee place close to Swan (just walking 45 minutes down the road ;) and enjoyed some nice smoothies and not so healthy cakes haha. Then we walked back for the afternoon asana. Another day we went for the Anjuna Flea Market, and 2 days we had a cooking class. The rest we spent at the fake beach or on our porches drwaing Chakras.

On our way to the bakery

On our way to the bakery

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)


The Anjuna flea Market though –
what a crazy place – sooo many tents and shops, and it was super hot – and I was surprised to see so many foreigners – like every tourist is here! It was a little bit fun to bargain, like if someone sells you a pair of pants and says it costs 600, you can easily get them down to 250-300. It’s actually very cheap anyways, but I don’t like when they try to get advantage of you, but as long as I find the price fair I’m glad. Anyhow, it was kind of exhausting!

The anjuna flea market

The anjuna flea market

At the anjuna flea market!

At the anjuna flea market!


The food at Swan was amazing
, super healthy Ayurveda vegetarian Indian food, and as said earlier, almost everything is from their own farmlands, and it was all perfectly spicy and with rich flavors. We did a Ayurveda cooking class on our free time for 2 days and got to know and make Palak Panir (Spinach and soya-cheese or cottage cheese), Polow (indian vegetables with rice), a fusion salad, Dal (lentil soup), coriander chutney salsa, and a dessert called Halwa. I’m looking forward to be able to do this at home, I’ve bought some spices so I can! Hehe.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it's made with love and it doesn't go to waste.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it’s made with love and it doesn’t go to waste.

Preparations for the cooking class - so many nice vegetables!!

Preparations for the cooking class – so many nice vegetables!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen - can't believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen – can’t believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

I also went to an Ayurvedic Doctor, got to know that my body type is Pitta-Kapha, but that my Kapha is very much increased so right now I’m more Kapha-Pitta, so I got a few treatments and a diet and some exercises o follow so I can bring the Pitta down and balance my body so it works as it should. Very interesting, a little bit hard to follow while traveling, but I’ll do my best! For example I can only eat tomatoes, cauliflower, raw onion, milk products etc once a week, because it’s not good for me, but some things that are good for me are carrots, pumpkin, beetroot, citrus fruits, lentils etc. I have a whole list! So I’ll try to keep that in mind!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!


We had the Friday off,
so I went more north in Goa, about 45 minutes away with car, to a big beach called Arambol. So much life there, but it was really nice to be on the beach! I did some shopping, had lassi and coffee with a view over the beach, got really burned on my back (damn the sun is so strong here! I had cream…. But I should have reapplied like 5 times more).

The beach at Arambol

The beach at Arambol

Many nice shops along the beach!

Many nice shops along the beach!

 

I had a long conversation with one of the vendors on the beach, her name is Mona, she just sat down beside me and started talking. She felt sort of tired of her job, she is just walking the beach up and down trying to sell scarfs or similar. She told me that it’s not a very good year, not so many tourists and business, and she is tired of walking in the sun, she doesn’t want to get more tanned.

She told me that she is from another city in the north, but she comes here for the season and spends 6 months here before going back. She had been doing this for 3 years now, and she was only 15 years old!! She told me that she went to school up to 5th grade, because it’s only free up to that, and then she had to start working. Hard life! This year was her little sisters first year here to, I got to meet her, but the lil-sister hadn’t learnt English yet, while Mona had by being here working and talking to the tourists.

This is Mona!

This is Mona!


We had quite many birthdays during the week too
, Gyanmidra (the one who started Swan) had his 47th birthday, John from UK also had birthday and both were celebrated with cake.

On February the 14th, valentines day (which nobody knew or noticed until noon), it was Ohms and Gyans Gurus birthday, so we celebrated that with a fire ceremony in the temple, singing a special song dedicated to him. A guru is almost like a god here, it’s someone they have lived and eaten with for a long time, a teacher who had showed them the way of life and yoga.

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

Chocolate cake! :)

Chocolate cake! :)

Many left on Friday or Saturday and honestly it was a bit sad without them. But I was glad that almost half of the group stayed a little bit longer, like Shantelle and John that was leaving on the same day as me, and Scott that was spending one week more here, and Shirin of course who is staying in Goa for months with her mother. A new group arrived, they were all very kind and funny too, but  I didn’t got to know them to much either since I left on the Monday, but they were only 6 persons, and with Shirin and Scott a total of 8, so quite a small group.

Shirin feels like a local, she showed us and took us to different places with her car, small funny roadtrips :) We went to a big afternoon market on Saturday, we left about 21, we were like ”What, so late??” Haha. And it was really crowded! So many scooters outside!

When you were entering the market you had to go through metal detectors and security checking your bags so you didn’t bring drugs or anything in. In Goa there are a lot of drugs and party going on, but I didn’t really notice anything of it since I was at the retreat, but I could tell from the people and the stores, they have a lot of rave-stores kind of.

Inside it was huge, but much nicer than the Anjuna market, this was more personal with a lot of specialty shops, and also a food court and live music. It was really nice. We got home about 23 – quite late for us since we always got to bed around 20 the other days! Haha.

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

Live music and outdoors barhanging at the night market

Live music and outdoors bar hanging at the night market

The last thing I did on Monday was the Kriya – a cleansing – so we had salt water running through one nosil to the other, cleaning our nose, and then we had to drink minimum 4 big glasses of salt water very quickly to throw it up and clean our stomach (I wasn’t able to drink more then 2 though, but I puked for a looong time). The third cleansing was to drink about 8 glasses and do some yoga postures to cleanse the intestines, so you shit everything out later, but I didn’t do that since I was leaving the Yoga retreat and I had to be in a car for 2,5 hours haha.

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

But before moving on I wanted to send home some souvenirs and clothes I wouldn’t use more, and Shirin was kind drive me to Mapusa so I could send home a package by indian post mail. It’s quite special here – you have to put a white wool fabric around your package and stitch it (which you can go to a place outside the post office to do it) before standing in a long cue at the post office to actually send it. But it was super cheap, I paid for the box and fabric and stitching about 140 rupees (2 euros/usd) and the package that was 6,7 kgs didn’t even cost 2300 rupees (30 euro/usd) to send to Sweden by air. So cheap!!

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

Anyhow, the week at Swan Yoga passed super fast, and it was time to go. I would have enjoyed staying another week to learn more about the way of the yogis, I only got a little taste of it.

It has been a true pleasure!!

 

Group picture!

Group picture!

 

Last day in Delhi – Qutub Minar, Lodi Gardens and Sikh Temple

Slept well and had a great breakfast again, and then took the metro to the station ”Qutub Minar” and from there I had to take a tuktuk to the actual Qutub Minar, about 10-15 minutes away with tuktuk. I shared the ride with 4 people, one girl around my age who was going to a temple nearby and could English, also some words of Spanish, haha. Very sweet. Every time people asks me things I’m stumbled about their curiosity and kindness, they are just interested.

Qutub Minar, The most famous structure on grounds, it’s 72.5 m long and was the tallest ”skyscraper” in the world when it was built (1193-1368). It is as many other buildings here delicately carved, and also very well preserved, although it has been rebuilt a couple of times due to earthquake. The entrance to Qutub Minar was 250 rupees (as almost everything around here). It’s totally worth a visit.

It was really interesting to walk around there. It was much bigger than I thought, not only the tower, but half destroyed old arches and monuments.

Qutub Minar, with all the detailed carvings

Qutub Minar, with all the detailed carvings

The tower rises high above!

The tower rises high above!

I love pillars!

I love pillars!

You can see that there have been some arches and walls there before it fell apart. Must have been a majestic and cool place.

You can see that there have been some arches and walls there before it fell apart. Must have been a majestic and cool place.

Me in front of Quitub Minar

Me in front of Quitub Minar

About 90-95% of the visitors were indian tourists. So yes I had to take a lot of selfies with people, haha. A bunch of young guys, or an older woman, doesn’t matter. I still find it quite weird that people want to take pictures with ME.

After seeing Qutub Minar I sat down to rest a bit on a bench, but I couldn’t really relax, I was like a tourist attraction myself, took group photos with all the families and group of friends that passed by me. They were all very kind and curios, not so many could speak fluently English but they tried to ask where I am from and what I think about india.

One of the selfies with some indian kids :)

One of the selfies with some indian kids :)

A group picture with one of the families that came by when I was sitting on the bench

A group picture with one of the families that came by when I was sitting on the bench

I had planned to take a dance class (with 4 typical dances from here) at delhi dance academy, I contacted them a couple of weeks ago but didn’t get a confirmation on my reservation, and I had forgot about it. I called them to see if everything was ok, but they hadn’t seen my booking, they were very sweet but couldn’t find an instructor on so short notice. They said i could do it on Monday instead, but then I’m leaving for Goa. To bad. :(

Instead I went to the metro station Jor bargh that was on the same line as Qutub minar, and I walked to the Lodi gardens. It’s an amazing big garden with lots of old tombs and buildings, green and peaceful. Well, not everywhere. Since it was Sunday it was crowded with people, picnicks, games, fotball etc, very fun to watch the local life. Some people were jogging, a lot of couples kissing. I walked around and watched people for a few hours.

People on a walk in the lodi gardens

People on a walk in the lodi gardens

Sunday is a busy day - lots of families having picknick, playing fotball or enjoying themselves in the park

Sunday is a busy day – lots of families having picknick, playing fotball or enjoying themselves in the park

So cool old tombs and buildings in the park!

So cool old tombs and buildings in the park!

Having a tug of war!

Having a tug of war!

I talked to a couchsurfer I had been in contact with, Dheera, and asked her for recommendations for a restaurant, and she recommended “Saravana bhavan” in  Connaught Place, which I actually already had saved since earlier – it was recommended in a blog. So of course I went there :)

There was a long cue outside, apparently it’s a popular place, nice food and for a good price. I had my name written up on a paper and they said I could wait inside on a chair, while everybody else was standing outside the restaruant in a big hop. Inside was another couple who were from Mexico, but were very white and tall. We thought it was a little bit weird, that the proper own indian restaurant segregated us like this, white tourists inside, Indians outside.

After about 20-30 minutes wait I had a table for 1 and sat down, I didn’t know what to order, but everyone was eating sort of the same so I just pointed at the other plates and said ”I want that”, haha. It was some kind of pancake with potato inside that you dip in 3 different sauses, and a soup. I asked the man sitting next to me ”how do you eat this?”, because there was only potato in the middle and only ”pancake-bread” on the side, so he showed me how to eat it, haha. It was very good! Simple but good and for 300 rupees total with a plain lassi.

At Saravana Bhavan, had this huge pancake-thingy!

At Saravana Bhavan, had this huge pancake-thingy!

I started to talk to the man, Tarun, he worked as an accountant in a big electronic company known worldwide, so he had been on business in the states, uk and south Africa. He asked me if I had been to the Sikh tempel that is close to the restaurant, which I hadnt, and he said I should go and visit. I didn’t really know how to get there, I asked if he was going, and he said “I can go, if you want”. He also invited me to try some typical indian sweets, good but with quite much sugar haha, but I was happy to try!

The indian sweet I tried

The indian sweet I tried (Yes, I had a bite before the picture)

Then we walked to the Sikh tempel, about 15 min from the restaurant in CP. It was a very big temple with a golden roof and super crowded, Sunday is the big day where everyone goes here. The name of the Sikh house/temple is Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. It’s known for its association with the eighth Sikh GuruGuru Har Krishan.

They have a shoe deposit, then you have to wash your hands, and you have to cover your hair (the devotes have turbans) on your way up from the stairs they have also like a small pool for the feet so you wash them. Then you walk up and stand in a cue to go and pray in front of a altar with a statue, there’s live music there too and people along the sides just praying, tv cameras and all.

Me in front of the Sikh Temple

Me in front of the Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

The inside of the temple, all the people waiting in line to go to pray in the altar

The inside of the temple, all the people waiting in line to go to pray in the altar

Very crowded inside too!

Very crowded inside too!

Then you walk around inside the palace and go out along the courtyard where they have a big pool with holy water, the Sarovar, which volunteers still are helping to build.. You walk around the water pool the whole way and then you are offered some sweet like mushed thing that you eat, and then it’s done. All about 30 minutes. They pray everytime they go up for a stair or down. Very cool to see. So crowded!

Volunteers helping to build the pool outside the tempel!

Volunteers helping to build the pool outside the tempel!

At the Sikh Tempel with Torun

At the Sikh Tempel with Torun

Except for the Sarovara (pool) and the Gurdwara (temple) – they also have a kitchen there and a school and an art gallery. In all the Sikh Gurdwaras, the concept of langar is practiced, that is the term used in the Sikh religion for common kitchen/canteen where food is served to all the visitors (without distinction of background) for free. So regardless of race or religion you may eat in the langar hall. The food is prepared by gursikhs who work there and also by volunteers who like to help out. About a half million people eat there daily, and they are serving food the 24 hours. The funds of this mostly come from donations of people visiting the Gurudwhara. Lovely!

The hall where you can have food, Langar, every day! 500.000 people eat here every day!

The hall where you can have food, Langar, every day! 500.000 people eat here every day!

The hall where they serve food all they long

The hall where they serve food all day long

Then the sun went down and we walked along Connaguht circle and visited the market. I bought some bangles and scarves haha. People are very friendly. Tarun was going to meet up his friend later so he had time to show me around. Then he helped me to get a tuk tuk, took the licence plate of the tuk tuk, said it was only going to be 50 rupees (normally I have to pay 100 rupees for this road) and he took my number so that he could call and see that I arrived well. So sweet and gentleman. (You see mum, everyone takes care of me all the time ;)

Back at the hostel I organized my backpack and then sat in the silence room and wrote a little for the blog before going to sleep.

Enjoying the cuddly silence room :)

Enjoying the cuddly silence room :)

Next day, Monday, I ate breakfast, yummy as always, said bye to the staff, to Martin from Argentina and Eric from Malaysia, took a tuktuk to new Delhi metro station, where the airport metro line goes from. What a nice airport express metro!

The wagons have lots of seats and there are few stops, only people going to the airport. Very quickly. More expensiv though, costed 60 rupees (normal metro costs 15-20 rupes depending on how far you are traveling). Since I was flying with indigo they had their terminal and metro stop in aerocity, so I got down there and had to take a speed bus (shuttle bus) to the airport, 30 rupees. But funny thing is that even if the metro stops there on that terminal T3, the shuttle bus from the airport metro line to the actual terminal took like 20 minutes.

It was full but a man gave me his seat, guess it’s because I’m a woman. Sweet. At the airport it was crowded aswell. Didn’t have to pay for exceed luggage even though I had 3 kgs extra. The security didn’t allow any electronic items, had to take out laptop (that’s normal) but also phone, cameras, iphone cable, headphones, usb memories etc and they throw my lighter for macrame :(

Got many stamps on boarding card and on the bag that everything had been checked, and then went to the gate – but I couldn’t go in until it was less than 1 hour for departure. While waiting outside for 30 minutes there were like 4 other flights leaving for Goa. So yeah, there’s a lot of airway traffic here aswell!

So many stamps, both on the boarding and and on my rucksack!

Stamps, both on the boarding and and on my rucksack! 

Next post will be about my stay in Swan Yoga in Goa.

 

Salaam balaak Trust & Akshardham temple – and making friends in Delhi

So back in Delhi, at Stops hostel, I enjoyed the best hostel breakfast I have had ever. First I was so happy they had vegetables for the toasts, but then you could also order either pancakes or omelets – and they made it for you right there! Mmmm.. banana chocolate pancake, made me full for all the day! Haha.

Mmm... chocolate banana pancakes :)

Mmm… chocolate banana pancakes :)

So at 10.00 I had a special walking tour booked with Salaam Balaak Trust.
It’s an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization which provides support for street and working children in the inner cities of New Delhi and Mumbai. I took a tuktuk close to the New Delhi Railway Station and met up with the guide Sabir, I was early, but we waited like 20 minutes and nobody else showed up, so I got the tour all by myself :)

Sabir was a street kid earlier, he is 18 years old now, not completely sure because he didn’t know when he was born, but the government has made some tests on him and put his bodys age to 18 years. His father died when he was 2 years old, and his mother left him and went back to her Mumbai, and they’ve never had contact since then. He lived with his uncle which treated him badly (didn’t want him to go to school and beat him), so when he was around 11 years old he got tired of it and just jumped on a train to Delhi, which as about 6 hours train ride from his village. A man helped him when he arrived here and showed him that he could earn money by gathering together paper or plastic, you can earn about 1-150 rupees to collect bottles and 70 rupees for paper. So he survived like that and eating at temples where they offer food. Then one day this man was gone and Nader was alone again. He got in contact with the Salaam Balaak trust and started to live in one of their shelter homes until he was 18 (it’s for kids up to 18). He is now studying last year in high school and working as a guide for the Salam Balaak tour.

He was sweet, spoke English very well after studying it for one year, his dream is to become a tv-host. :)

He told me that the most common reasons why kids run away from their parents is that they have alcoholic or drug addicted parents, another reason is that many kids gets lost when there are parades or parties, and they don’t know their parents phone number or what street they live in, and they end up being street kids. Another reason is also that many kids have dreams about becoming a bollywood actor, so they think it’s a bigger chance if they leave their village and move to the city. The problem is that a lot of kids later start using drugs by themselves, because if they earn some money one day, either working or pickpocketing – they have to use all that money that day, because if not – others will steal it. If you are a girl, you will most probably end up as a prostitute, but some also get sold to domestic.

We visited one of the contact homes just by the railway stations where there had some kids playing games. After that we walked around in the narrow streets of Delhi. We saw a place where they had a lot of second hand clothes, they gather together old clothes, sew them and sell them cheaper in second hand for the poor people.

Second hand clothes

Second hand clothes

We passed by a very narrow street with a lot of different gods on the wall. The reason why they have put it there is because before – everyone peed on the wall all the time, they tried to put up signs but it didn’t help, not until they put up all these gods on the wall. Now nobody pees there, because they feel that they are being watched by the gods. Haha. Good idea!

The Narrow street with the gods on the wall

The Narrow street with the gods on the wall

Nader, my guide, in the narrow streets of Delhi

Sabir, my guide, in the narrow streets of Delhi

 

It was quite quiet and peaceful inside on the small streets, far away from the big roads with traffic. No cars would fit here, but there are bikes and motorbikes, and lots of markets selling vegetables, shops, restaurants, hotels and everything. I wouldn’t have walked here by myself if I was alone, so I was happy Nader showed me around. We even went in to a small temple. They have temples everywhere, but this was not a separate temple but more like a room in an apartment building.

 

Selling vegetables

Selling vegetables

Two dogs chilling by their bikes ;)

Two dogs chilling by their bikes ;)

The inner streets of Delhi

The inner streets of Delhi

Walking around in Delhi

Walking around in Delhi

We visited one of their shelter home for boys, it was very colorful with many paintings on the wall, and the sign “Merry Christmas!” which they never take down (anywhere in Delhi, I’ve seen it in many restaurants too). They had a quite busy schedule! They were in a class when we visited them, so sweet, so good students as well! Either quiet listening or laughing at something the teacher said.

I’m very glad I got to visit it.

at the shelter home

at the shelter home

Having a class on a saturday in the shelter home!

Having a class on a saturday in the shelter home!

The day schedule at the shelter home

The day schedule at the shelter home

The diet schedule for the shelter home

The diet schedule for the shelter home

Then we wen’t out to one of the main shopping streets where many tourists go too, I wouldn’t have imagined that it was a tourist street! Haha. There was a lot of rubbish on the streets, I got explained that it’s usually cleaner but the government haven’t paid the cleaners in 3 months either (as the nurses) – so they have just stopped working!

One thing that surprised me was to see that all the houses have a BIG water tank, usually on the roof of the building. Apparently delhi only has running water a couple of hours per day, so if you want to use during the whole day, you get a tank where you can store water and use for the day. There’s not enough water for the whole city!! Weird!!

The big shopping tourist street

The big shopping tourist street

The government only gives them 2 hours of water per day, so they have water tanks connected to the houses - so that they can use water during the whole day instead.

The government only gives them 2 hours of water per day, so they have water tanks connected to the houses – so that they can use water during the whole day instead.

We ended the tour in their main office, I met the other guides and heard some more about the organization. The tour is actually free but recommended a minimum donation of 300 rupees, and it’s a donation to the whole organisation. You can donate more if you wish. I wish it had been longer! If you are going o Delhi, I definitively recommend it, check their website: www.salaambaalaktrust.com/

The guides and former guides at SBT :)

The guides and former guides at SBT :)

 

After the tour I was going to the Akshardam temple. I had to take the big shopping street to the Metro. While I’m walking along it a lot of people stopped me along the way to ask me where I’m from and a lot of people said “please, come and look in my shop”. But one man was really like “Mam, sorry, mam!” from the other side of the street, and I kept walking like “no, no, not interested” – but when he kept walking after me I turned around, and he just wanted to know where I bought my pants. Apparently he had a factory, so he was the one who had made these pants, but I hadn’t bought that in his shop. We started talking and I went to his shop (without buying anything) and we talked for like 2 hours, he just wouldn’t stop! Haha. His brother lives in northern Sweden with his Swedish wife, very close to Kalix where I used to lived. He showed me many pictures, asked a lot, always looking for business opportunities around. He sells fabrics to friends allover the world who has their shops, haha.

Anyhow, I really had to go so finally I went to the metro. You had to buy a token for about 15 rupees, and then go through a metal detector (there are separate lines, one for women where a women searches through your clothes and body, and one for men where men searches through) and put your bag in a x-ray security bag scanner. This is on every metro station!! The metro was really nice, I was in the first wagon which is a special wagon only for women. There it was spacious, while in the other wagons it was super crowded, haha.

At the metro, the first wagon is only for the ladies!

At the metro, the first wagon is only for the ladies!

I went to the Akhsardam metro station where I met 2 swiss and we walked together to the temple. It was quite complex there too, didn’t understand anything. You have to put your mobiles, cameras, usb memories and other valuables in a box, and one security guy crosses how much of everything you have in your bag, and then you store your bag there. The only things you can bring inside is a clear water bottle and money, sort of. To bad cameras are not allowed, because the temple was fantastic, so many details! But I also enjoyed actually seeing everything through my eyes and not thinking about photography.

Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus. It has complex displays of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. It’s inspired and developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the BAPS.

 

The stunnishing Akshardham temple in Delhi. Picture from Wikipedia

The stunnishing Akshardham temple in Delhi. Picture from Wikipedia

Picture from the Akshardhams tempels website. The artwork is amazing – look at all the details and sculptures! Amazing!

Amazing gardens with a big 8 petal lotus flower!

Amazing gardens with a big 8 petal lotus flower!

About 3000 volunters and 7000 handcrafters worked to construct the temple for 5 years. It’s a really remarkable place, with a lot of carved details. Every piece is unique, and they are millions of sculptures!

The swiss didn’t have any cash and didn’t want to loan anything either, so I went to the exhibitions alone, which cost 250 rupees. But it was so worth it!! There were 3 different exhibisitions and a watershow included in the price.

The first one was a 50 min show with robotic dolls that shows scenes from Swaminarayan’s life. It was very interesting, we moved from room to room and saw different sceneries portraying his message about the importance of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to God. I thought the maning was beautiful, in the Hindu culture they promote non‐violence, vegetarianism, perseverance, prayers, morality, and family harmony.

After that I had a boat ride through 10.000 years of Indias history and heritage, about 15 minutes long. It shoed the contributions of Vedic Indians to various fields such as science, astronomy, arts, literature, yoga, mathematics. Got to know that chess was invented in India, and that they also invented airplanes and knew about the gravitation theory like 500 years earlier than when the rest of the world found out about it.

 

Then it was a 40 min movie with over 45000 casts about the life and pilgrimage of Swaminarayan through India, which was very interesting. It was a large format film, the screen was huge, about 26x20m, and it was packed with people.

I had one free space beside me, and a little girl asked if she could sit there. Sure I said. Then we started speaking. Here name is Palak.

Palak and Starsh!

Palak and Starsh!

Her family was there with us, and said that Palak should come and sit with them, but she didn’t want, she wanted to sit with me. She is 12 years old. She spoke fluently English, self taught, she has learned it by reading newspapers, books, watching movies and an app on the phone. Impressive! She said that she was happy that I spoke to her, because other foreigners didn’t like to speak to her. Probably they think she is trying to sell them something, but she just wants to converse and practice English, she is a very curious and smart girl. When she gets older she wants to make a master in science in UK, or be a scuba instructor. :)

After the movie she took my hand and presented me to her family, mother, father, fathers friend, fathers sister and her brother. Every weekend they usually go and do something, like today. They live about 40 kms south of Delhi. Her brother, Sparsh, is 8 years old and reminded me of my brother sooo much, full of energy, trying to run, race and tackle all the time.

They invited me to some tomatosoup and we watched the water show together, it was amazing! It had projections on another temple and and actors and water and colors and story, awesome. Palak translated everything they said in the show to me, so I got to know the story.

the water show – impressive! picture from the akshardham temples webiste

She also told me a lot of things, like the dowry – when a man and a woman get married, the woman have to give a gift or money to the husbands family, like a house, a car or something. If her family doesn’t have enough, the husbands family will treat her badly. Horrible. That’s why many Indians want to have sons, to receive the dowry, and not woman, because then they have to give it away.

Palak told me her mom doesn’t like her as much as her brother, but that her father loves her very much. Her father is a businessman and works with gold and diamonds. The fathers sister is only 22 years old and studies business communications. Both the sister and the mother was very interested in my hair, couldn’t believe that it was “created” and not natural, asked a lot about it. I said “don’t you know reggae? Rastafari? Bob Marley?” and they had never heard anything about any of those subjects. People here really only know Bollywood actors and indian singers, haha. So no, they had never seen dreads, more then on some guru that got it naturally. Usually very wise men has it, but that’s because they never comb their hair.

Palak tells me that it’s not good to be a girl, because you get easily raped, and that it is very shameful for a woman to have short dresses and have many boyfriends.

We talked a lot and she was very aware of the situation and the differences between man and women in India for being 12 years old. She also asked me how old I am and why I’m not married, haha. She asked when we get married in Sweden, I said that it’s not that common to be, that it depends, but where I live it would be around 35 probably. She was all “Whaaat! Mama mama, in Sweden they don’t get married until 35!!” haha. Here it’s weird if you are not married when you are 25. You also have to marry someone of your own cast, that has the same surname as you, she said. Not sure about that. But I was invited to go to her wedding, in 13 years :)

Me, Palak, Palaks mom, Starsh, and their aunt (fathers sister)

Me, Palak, Palaks mom, Starsh, and their aunt (fathers sister)

She said I was her best friend now. I asked if she had many friends, and she said she doesn’t, because here they don’t encourage you to have friends or allow you to be with them, you are supposed to be with your family. When you go to school, you get a school name, so they don’t even know your real name!

She gave me a bracelet and I gave her one of mine. After the water show, we entered the temple again, had some food around there (they made me try something new indian, don’t remember the name) and then went out, around 21, so I had really spend my whole day there! Outside the temple we changed whatsapp numbers, and yes, she is bombarding me with texts now, haha.

I took the subway back to Chawni Chowk and took a tuk tuk to the hostel and was very happy with my day. India is very interesting, people are so pacific and really kind here too.

The Akshardham temple seen from the metro

The Akshardham temple seen from the metro

Golden Triangle Tour – Amber and back to Delhi

Woke up in Jaipur quite early and had my first indian breakfast served to my room. Quite spicy!!! Don’t know how they can eat this for breakfast, haha.

Indian breakfast - Aloo Paratha. Spicy!!!

Indian breakfast – Aloo Paratha. Spicy!!!

Then for the first time my driver Mahender was staying at the same hotel, so we met up about 7.45 to drive to the city of Amber.

I noticed the first time that neither motorbikes have rear windows installed at all! I know cars and tuk tuks pull them in, but yeah… must be difficult! The horn is the law here! Haha. Another thing I’ve noticed is that nobody has GPS, not the taxis, the drivers or the tuktuks. It’s like in South America, they often stop to ask people along the way, or they call ahead to the place they are going to get directions. I wouldn’t survive without GPS anymore I think, I’m so used to always have it with me in the phone.

We drove past Jaipur, saw plenty of monkeys running around the pink walls!!

I also saw my first roadkill here in India :( I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more, you always pass by some pore dead animal in Sweden but our animals are often smaller and it’s usually on roads close to the forest. Here I’ve seen thousands of cows cross the road slowly without getting harmed, even in rough traffic. Also donkeys, sheep, elephants, camels, dogs, horses… They are just in the middle of town crossing the streets!

We got up in the hills above Jaipur, to visit Amber (Amer, apparently it’s called both). It’s about 11 km north of central Jaipur. It’s beautiful around there!

My below Amber Fort and Palace

My below Amber Fort and Palace

My guide told me though that the vendors up there work for the Jaipur mafia, if I understood it correctly, and since he didn’t want to get any problems with them because he is there everyday, he said that he will be quiet in front of them. I understood what he meant later, they are on to you sooo much, like trying to sell things up your face all the time, you had to be quite rude to them for them to understand!

If you get to the bottom of the hill early in the morning you can take an elephant-ride up to the fort. It was quite expensive, 1100 INR ( 15€/USD) but I think it was worth it, it was my first elephant ride and I enjoyed it. It was super tranquil and nice smooth ride, you just kept moving from one side to the other slowly, having a beautiful view over the sunrise over the Maota lake.

Such a nice view! Just dangling from side to side watching the sunrise!

Such a nice view! Just dangling from side to side watching the sunrise!

It’s a quite touristic thing to do though, so you have to be there early if you don’t want to stay in cue for hours. I’ve read many bad things about the elephant rides, that they treat them bad and all, but my guide told me that these elephants belongs to the “driver”, and they treat them as a part of their family. They actually have a whole elephant-village where the families with elephants live. They work, eat and sleep together. I’d love to visit that village! Along the way up there are many photographers too that takes your picture and then sell it to you (yes, I bought it, but bargained it down from 1500 rupees to 500)

Me on my elephant ride!

Me on my elephant ride!

Oh, another thing about elephants. They are only female elephants! There is only one male elephant in whole Jaipur, and it’s only for breeding for new elephants (haha, he must have a good life :). Earlier they had male elephants doing the rides, but they often got into fights with the other elephants, and many tourists died! So now it’s forbidden to use the male elephant for it!

Anyhow, when we came up to the entry gate of the fort, the Sun Gate, I had to little money with me, the entrance was 500 INR, I had misunderstood the guide that said that the car was going up too, but apparently it was after the visit. So the guide borrowed some money from some of his friends up there that also comes everyday, and they arranged to borrow me money. So sweet! They always help each other out here. The same earlier when I was going to tip the elephant-driver, he exchanged a 500 rupees bill to hundreds with the help from 5 other elephant drivers along the way up, haha.

The Sun gate and courtyard

The Sun gate and courtyard

Amber Fort is a massive fort-palace complex built with a mix of Muslim and Hindu architecture. It’s constructed of red sandstone and marble. It’s on 4 levels with different courtyards, palaces and gardens. It and has a lot of history, definitively worth to have a good guide there!

The fort is originally believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh, The king of Amber, during 967 CE. The structure was expanded by his descendants and successive rulers over the next 150 years, but when the population grew the Kachwahas decided to shift capital and make a new city lower on the ground were it’s easier to expand and have water and food for everyone , so that’s why Jaipur is the first planned city (1727).

My Guide in front of a building with a mix of Hindu and Muslim architechture

My Guide in front of a building with a mix of Hindu and Muslim architechture

Love the valves!

Love the valves!

View over the bay and the Maoka Lake!

View over the bay and the Maota Lake!

The main sight within includes the Shees Mahal (“Mirror palace”), a saloon adorned with thousands of mirrors on the walls and ceiling. During winter they put up a curtain around the saloon and light up many candles, so it reflects everywhere, and they had a dance there under the sparkling lights :)

The Mirror Palace

The Mirror Palace! (You can’t really see the mirrors in this pic, but everything is of small small mirrors!

Hello form one of the mirrors in the mirror palace :)

Hello from one of the bigger mirrors in the mirror palace :)

 

I was surprise of how complex the construction was in the fort,  everything was so well planned! They had a winter house and summer house, created in different ways, for it to either get hot or cooled down.

Like the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure) – it has marble inlay work with perforations looking down, because they know that the heat goes up, so the heat will leave the inside to go out, but it will not come back. It also has a piped water supply that flows through a open channel that runs through the room, going out to the garden just cross the hall. It’s aircondition, old style!

Antique AC with leaning perforations so the hot can go out

Antique AC with leaning perforations so the hot can go out

The water came through there on the other side and through the channel in the floor into the garden

The water came through there on the other side and through the channel in the floor into the garden

The Garden in front of the Pleasure Hall

The Garden in front of the Pleasure Hall

Along this they also have a hall of public audience, private audience, a jacuzzi, a part where all the Maharajans 12 wives lived in – they had different apartments, all with own entrances from the corridor so that the Maharajan could visit them without the other wife knowing of it. They have their own system for taking up water from the lake, and also they have this nice kind of closed balcony with honey comb windows, and just beside that there was so many beehives!!

Me in front of the honeycomb windows :)

Me in front of the honeycomb windows :)

Water coming up!

Water coming up!

Photo exhibition

Photo exhibition

 

After the Amber tour we went back to Jaipur to drop Gaurau of  (my guide). I forgot to tell you in the last entry, but he does yoga every morning at 4am in front of the water palace! Then he walks around the lake for about 1 hour before starting working around 7am. So cool! Yoga is so incorporated in everybodies life here in India!!

His wife called yesterday just when the tour was about to end and asked where he was, because she was waiting for him for the afternoon tea. Haha. So sweet. Maybe that’s a custom that still remains from the British rulers? Wouldn’t surprice me :)

We said goodbye to our great guide and me and Mahender started the journey back to Delhi. I’m surprised that there are so many hotels, motels, restaurants and kiosks – everywhere! In the middle of nowhere. But there are so many Indians on the go, so I guess some people stop there to sleep and eat.

Like this place we ate at just along the high way- Sagar Ratna. It was really great food and cheap and superb service! It’s like a great road-restaurant! How many customers go there? I don’t know. I hope they get a lot!

Pesarattu Mla Dosa - made with whole green gram and stuffet with nutruios upma.

Pesarattu Mla Dosa – made with whole green gram and stuffet with nutruios upma.

I had a Pesarattu MLA Dosa, made with whole green gram and stuffed with nutritious upma. To that I had a lassi – delicious!! Total price about 4 €/USD. Across me I had a businessman that seemed very wealthy, he was eating with sunglasses, had like 5 different golden rings on EACH hand, expensive clothes and was talking in his Iphone 6 plus all the time.

That’s one thing that feels good here compared to South America – that I can bring my iphone here without it being weird. Almost everyone has smart phones here.

Mahender asked me what I did last night, I said I watched some TV. He asked me if I watch Discovery Channel. Yeah I do, he said “My kids watch Discovery Channel” I said “That’s good if they watch that instead of crappy tv!” he says “Yes! I say: No movies, no cartoon, only discovery channel! They can watch for it for 1 hour only, and my sons loves it” . Oh! I’m gonna miss Mahender :)

We arrived around 17 to Delhi and I checked in at my hostel, Stops Hostel. Great hostel! Quite much security, had metal detectors, tv cameras everywhere, security gards. They have their own bar, a biljard hall, a outside terrace with ping pong, a quiet room area, they arrange tours on different days of the week, they had 3 dogs :) And the staff was so friendly and helpful!!

Cute hostel doggies! :)

Cute hostel doggies! :)

After fixing my stuff I was hungry and asked for recommendations for a restaurant. They had one a few hundred of meters from our hostel, a nice vegetarian indian restaurant. On my way there I had to step out in the traffic because the whole pavement (that has roof) was filled with people sleeping under. Hurts my heart.

Punjabi Khana, the restaurant, was great! I had some Dal (Lentils) and Garlic Naan bread. Next to me there was a big big indian family, about 15 people, from babies to grandmothers. It was lovely to watch them. The restaurant was packed with indian families this Friday night. :)

Sneakpic of the indian family, but can't see the lively children though :(

Sneakpic of the indian family, but can’t see the lively children though :(

Then I got back to the hostel and tried to sleep, but one of my roomies (I was in a 4-dormitory) was snoring soooo loud! The rest of us 3 woke up plenty of times and knocked on the guy and threw pillows on him, but he wouldn’t stop. Luckily he left 4 am in the morning. Haha.

 

Golden Triangle Tour – From Agra to Jaipur – The Pink City of India

I slept fantastic well in the confy bed in Agra. I had the breakfast in the restaurant, it was a complimentary breakfast buffet. But I must say I was a little disappointed, the only thing I didn’t like about this hotel. They had some indian food, but the continental breakfast was just plain white bread, butter and jam. Then there was some juice and hot water for instant coffee. Ah, they had papaya to. But nothing else, and such a luxury hotel. I would have liked some cheese and tomatoes or something for the toast.. and maybe other bread than white :/ But but. I’m in India! Haha. Also there were eggs, but I opened one, and the yellow was a kind of white with a turn to the grey side, nothing yellow at all, so I didn’t feel to eat it.

Not so nice egg. No thank you.

Not so nice egg. No thank you.

We left at 8 in the morning again. Agra is also more beautiful in the morning, as Delhi was. I think it’s because it’s less people and the city is sort of awaking, and there is always a special morning light. It’s nice to see all the people going to their jobs or schools, and they are really dressed up. I’m surprise to see people in nice dressing pants and shirt or with school uniform, it’s like a big contrast from the dirty streets, like they don’t belong or are totally unaware of the chaos around them. Everyone is very proper dressed (only the really really really poor people have old and dirty clothes). Indians do care a lot about their looks. Even the poor people always have short newly cut hair. You see outside “hair dressers”, you often se a man in a stool in the street with a small hand mirror, and someone behind cutting his hair.

So once again there were about 250 kms from Agra to Jaipur. But this journey went a lot faster then yesterdays, which was shorter kilometer-wise. The surrounding scenery on this road was much more beautiful, I expected to see the same as yesterday, but this was filled with green areas, forest, lot’s of yellow raps mark.  Also the road was great, seemed new and with no bumps. My driver Mahender is happy. “The Rajastan road is very very nice”. 

We passed by quite many factories where they do altars in marble and pink stone. There were like 100 of them along the way! They export to the whole india from there.

Also a lot of brick factories, in one burning they do about 10.000 bricks, so that’s what almost all the houses are made of. You see people building their houses along the road everywhere. They have long tree sticks/poles for scaffolding. Doesn’t seem all that safe, haha.

Raps mark

Raps mark

Many pink altars and temples and other statues along the road!

Many pink altars and temples and other statues along the road!

Brick factory with a camel (dromedar probably though)

Brick factory with a camel (dromedar probably though)

 

We drove by less villages and cities then yesterday, but it’s still surprising to me that people build their houses a stone’s throw from the big thoroughfare. Why not build the house at least 20 meters from the road, just to avoid a little bit of the traffic noise and dust? Don’t know. Almost every house also had a few cows outside. They use them for milk, since the cow is holy here.

The trucks are quite loaded!

The trucks are quite loaded!

My Driver Mahender is very keen on his car, always washing it and taking of the dust.

My Driver Mahender is very keen on his car, always washing it and taking of the dust.

Mahender asked me if I like to cook. I answered and asked him the same question. He answered “Yes I like, but I can only 3 dishes. Omelette, rice and chicken”. I said “oh really, so you eat that every day?” “No, only Sundays, it’s my cooking days. Me, my daughter and my son eats, my wife doesn’t like my cooking” hahaha. He is very sweet, has a very big heart. He told me that he doesn’t take any vacation either, because he works whenever he can. This trip is a short trip for him, usually he is out for longer than a week, then when he has some days off he comes home to look after his family and house, that everything is ok.

Mahender told me that his wife called him when we were in Jaipur and asked where he is.  “I say I’m in agra, on my way to Jaipur – My wife got very happy” “Why happy?” “Because, she says now I can buy her bangles, and she sad many, for at least 1000 rupees!” Hahah. Jaipur is famous for their bangles (bracelets).

We arrived in Jaipur around noon. Finally a city I like!! Jaipur is the largest city in the state of Rajasthan and was built in the 18th century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city. Every building within the walled historic centre is painted a terracotta “pink” colour and there are few exceptions to this uniformly colour scheme. It is so much cleaner here, the traffic isn’t that dense, and the city itself is much more beautiful since it’s all more uniform.

In the center of Jaipur

In the center of Jaipur

We met up with the guide Gaurau Bhatt and he was great, he started directly telling me the history of the city. He spoke very understandable English

Jaipur has about 6 million habitants.  It is known as ”The pink city of India”.  The city has enforced this color under local law, it’s illegal for buildings to be painted any other colour than Jaipur Pink.  It is said that the city is pink because the king of Tejpur, The Maharaja, was going to have a visit from the Prince of Wales in 1876 and wanted to impress him. The colour chosen was a terracotta pink as this colour historically represents welcoming and hospitality. But my guide actually told me that the Maharaja chose this color because of his religion, because he worshipped 2 gods – and this ”pink” is a mix of both of the colors these gods represents – the yellow from the hindu god Shiva and the red (I think) from hindu god Brahman.

We started with the Palace of Winds, Hawa mahal, which is Jaipurs most distinctive landmark. It has 5 floors and 953 small  honey comb windows. It was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh so that royal ladies could watch the life and processions of the city, because during that time women always had a face cover were not allowed to show their faces in public. The intricated lattice works lets cool air through the Palace, even during hot summer, and that’s why it’s called Palace of Winds.

Palace of the wind

Palace of the winds

 

Then we went into the City Palace, what a place!  It’s from the 20th century and has a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. It has a welcome palace, hall of public audience, a lot of gates and the private palace. The private palace is the only building that is not Pink in Jaipur (“Everything should be painted but my palace!” he said because the king was above the prince, so to show that, the whole city except for his own home was painted in pink).
The palace has a lot of small galleries inside where you can see clothes, armoury, wagons, portraits of old kings, carpets, paintings etc.
I loved my guide, he told me the whole history of each and everyone and thing and I learnt a lot. Very interesting! You are not allowed to take pictures in the proper galleries, to bad.

There were many cool photographs there from where India had about 50 kings, a mix of indian, brittish and pakistanian kings. The ceiling was also painted in natural colors, meaning that it is painted with the dust that comes from forming gems out of stones for example red is ruby, green is emerald etc (some almost as expensive as diamonds), then that colored stone-dust is mixed with glue and painted. So it’s quite an expensive paint!!

The presidential palace

The privat presidential palace

In one of the peacock doors in the palaces courtyard

In one of the peacock doors in the palaces courtyard

The maharajan only drank holy water - so when he visited Brittain for 6 months he brought his holy water with him in 2 of these jars - the biggest silver jars on eart

The maharajan only drank holy water – so when he visited Brittain for 6 months he brought his holy water with him in 2 of these jars – the biggest silver jars on eart

Just across the Palace we have the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical and astrological observatory. It is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments that allow the observations of astronomical positions with the naked eye. The monument expresses architectural innovations, as well as the coming together of ideas from different religious and social beliefs in 18th century India.

It was built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh, and completed in 1738 CE. It’s in the Guiness record book because of the world’s largest stone sundial, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The monument features instruments operating the horizon-zenith local system, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. SUPERCOOL!

me in front of the world's largest stone sundial

me in front of the world’s largest stone sundial

How to see in what zodiac we are in

How to see in what zodiac we are in

Many cool big astronomical tools, and in the back you see the Palace of Winds

Many cool big astronomical tools, and in the back you see the Palace of Winds

Me in front of my zodiac monument - the Sagittarius :)

Me in front of my zodiac monument – the Sagittarius :)

After that we visited a fabric place where they color fabrics, they have wooden stamps for it. For a fabric it can be minimum 4 colors and maximum 8 colors for this technique. They have different stamps, like the outer contures of an elephant, then they have for example 3 another stamp with some parts of the elephants. They wet the wooden stamps in colour and press it on fabric, let dry for 48 hours and then wash it. After that it never fades. Everything is handcraft!!!

by hand they stamp the fabric with in between 4-8 colors

by hand they stamp the fabric with in between 4-8 colors

Colouring an elephant!

Colouring an elephant!

After 4 different stamps, one black that does the contures, then the red, yellow and blue. You see the stamps in the back!

After 4 different stamps, one black that does the contures, then the red, yellow and blue. You see the stamps in the back!

I was a little hungry after so we went for a snack. I said that I wanted to go to a local place and not a touristic place, at first I thought the guide took me to a touristic place anyways because it was only 2 tourist there, but then about 10 indian men entered, so I was happy haha. I was suggested the “Rajhastan plate” that is from this area, but it looked like a lot, I said to the guide that I don’t eat that much “It’s a small plate!” he said… Haha. He went out and I ate alone. My waiter was the cuuutest man with a big big smile. He also asked about my hair. Haha. I ate up about 90% of the food and then asked for a doggybag to bring home. “Yes yes, no problem!” the waiter said. I paid and then I waited. And waited. Then I asked another waiter about the doggybag “Yes yes, wait there, yes yes”. So I waited. Then I asked again. Hm, they had thrown my food, they hadn’t understood. Whaaaaaat a disappointment.. Well well. I told the guide about this and then he disappeared for a while and came back and say that they will make new food for me to bring home, haha. Oh so sweet, now I feel bad about that I was a little bit angry about that. He said that people in Tejpur and Rajahstan are famous for their hospitality, that it is no problem. I felt bad anyway. But happy.

Rajasthan thali!

Rajasthan thali!


We went down by the water, a nice kind of ramblas along the lake.
Before it was a big forest, except for a little part of the valley where there was a small lake. The king of Jaipur used to go here for hunting, and he said it was a beautiful place, I should build a summer palace here, so he did. But then after a while then they cut down the trees for the wood and the lake extended and covered the palace, so now it’s called the Water Palace.
It’s a very nice place where the people from Jaipur enjoy a walk and can buy some food or jewelry and watch the river and the palace. And the wild rats along the coast! Haha.

Me in front of the Water Palace

Me in front of the Water Palace

People walking along the lake

People walking along the lake

So here you are either muslim or hindu (or christian), depending on what family you come from. I had written in my notes that I’m surprised there aren’t any beggers here, when I was in mexico I couldn’t walk one meter before someone asked me for money. Here it hasn’t happened to me in Agra or in Delhi, but now in Jaipur, while walking by the water, there were about 3-4 kids in different occasions that came and asked for money. I commented that for the guide, and he said it’s usually muslim-children, they have more custom to have many many children which they later can’t support or don’t even take care of, so they have to find food for themselves. Horrible.

He also told me that in India, you are allowed to have 2 children, if you have a third, then you can’t work within the government. So if you have a government job, they fire you if you have a third child. If you don’t, well you can never have a government job then. It is legal to make abortion, but not that common. Before, a lot of women did abortion when they knew that the gender of the baby was a girl. Man have more power, education and work here, women cause more problems to have. But that kind of abortion is forbidden now, and a doctor who does that abortion can have very serious consequences, so doctors generally only make abortion if the couple already have 2 kids. Hm! Interesting!

We rounded up quite early, since we have a half day tomorrow to but in Amber (will write a separate post about it). Me and Mahender went to look for bangles for his wife on the market, but it was bad for him that I was with him because it was much more expensive when they saw me. So we went to the hotel, quite far away! It wasn’t that good hotel, I got spoiled in Agra. No internet, no normal sheets (!), hard bed, no desk.. but enough. I had my doggybag-dinner, watched tv-series and relaxed.

There has been quite much to take in these days, but I think that once you get to know the city you are in it must be kind of great. There’s always something going on and lot’s of people around. I wish I spoke Hindi haha. The English is limited for conversation if it’s not someone who is very educated and have studied English. But everybody understands a little bit at least, and everyone is very kind. 

Anyhow. Jaipur is definitively my favorite city of this golden triangle-tour.

 

Golden Triange Tour – From Delhi to Agra and Taj Mahal

I woke up 7am and called for breakfast, which was included and they delivered to the room :) I had ordered toast, coffee and orange juice. I got warm toasts (I think it was melted butter on it), good orange juice and not sure if I got coffee or tea, because I asked for coffee, but it was very very sweet and with lots of sugar, so it was difficult to say, I think it was indian tea, but it was good.

At 8am a new driver, Mahender, picked me up at the hotel and we begun our journey to Agra. I’m a little bit disappointed that I’m doing the tour alone, because we were supposed to be a group of 3-4 people, and it ended up with only me… :/ Well well. Btw, no, sorry mum, they don’t have belts in the car here. Or they have the strap on ”the wall of the car”, but not the belt knuckle in the seat. I have one arm in the strap all the time. Haha.

Mahender told me he was married since 10 years back and had a daughter and a son (7 and 8 years old). The daughter goes to a government school and the boy in a private school. Apparently the private schools are only for boys! And there are no mixed schools here.

Delhi in the morning is a little bit calmer, the traffic is still chaotic but there are not so much people on the streets. It is very foggy, apparently this is only during wintertime, but I wonder if it’s not because of pollution as well.

Agra is about 200 kms away from Delhi, but the journey took 6 hours. We had a quick stop at a place to go to the toilet, and the driver had some breakfast, and then we kept driving.

It was very entertaining to just look out of the window to all the cities, villages and people we drove by. Sometimes Mahender said “This is city blabla” “this is bla bla”.. But I really can’t see where a city ends and starts, everything look the same. Brown dirty road along constructions, people and lots of vehicles. But sometimes there is a bigger town entry.

 

The high way just goes through everything, sometimes you can drive a km without any hustle, but most of the times there are jams because someone has to make a left turn to get into the city we are driving past. It’s crazy that it’s all in the same way and that they don’t have any slip road or anything. I must say I admire all the drivers here in India, they need to be so focused all the time.

I’m impressed by what I saw people carry in their vehicle along this road. Like one bicycle, he had about 20 pcs of 4m long burton tubes mounted on his cycle. Another one had about 15 big 20 kgs flour packs on his bike. And the big trucks carry a lot of wood or cementary or colliflower – and they don’t have any “door” on the end of the truck, it’s just open! So if they have a bad bump and you are just behind you can probably get some of that on you. You better wish for it to be the colliflower then.. ;)

When we got into another state you have to pay a tax, and just after the toll, it was a little little hovel where it said something “tax”. How the heck are you supposed to know you have to stop there to pay tax? Haha.

Paying taxes when entering a new state. Only taxis have to do this.

Paying taxes when entering a new state. Only taxis have to do this.

 

We passed by university areas (luxurious and modern!), green fields of wheat and rice, industrial areas with lots of fabrics etc… but mostly brown soil and fallen down houses. Sometimes there was a big hotel resort or touristic resort (who would like to live in a resort in the middle of nowhere with just brown dirty fields around you filled with chaotic traffic? I don’t know…) or a luxury banquet/palace for like weddings. Or some big monument (like a mini taj-mahal) or something. Very weird. All though all the gasoline stations are like the European ones, and the mc donalds, the wolksvagen and Honda shops etc… they all look the same everywhere! And just beside; another hovel.

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Along the motorway. Nice boardwalk to their house.

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Wedding banket places

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Driving along cities and people

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Fixing tuk-tuks :)

And yes, guys to stare at you. Women too. While I was sitting in the back seat of the car, all the tuk tuks and buses with people inside do really stare at me. I just ignore. Don’t know how long time they stare but I can see them in my periphery.

But maybe it’s not because I’m a woman, and white, because apparently my hair is quite remarkable here. I get a lot of stares and questions about my dreads, didn’t think it was going to be so special about it. It’s not known for being hippy here. They treat me as if I were a queen and had a million dollars here.

Another remarkable thing is that all the woman sit with both their legs on one side of the motorcycle. I think it’s because of the dresses and skirts, but still, it looks so easy to fall of, especially in these roads!

Woman with both her legs on the other side, and a kid there inbetween her and the driver

Woman with both her legs on the other side, and a kid there inbetween her and the driver

So.. Agra then. It’s in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and has a population of about 2 million. As my hometown Stockholm! We picked up our guide from here. Danish is his name. I could not completely understand what he said, hes English was very broken compared to yesterdays guide, Soni.

English is the second language here. Almost all the signs are in English, and everybody speaks some English. They mix Hindi and English. For example they always count in English, and some words are easier in English so they use them instead. But there isnt’ that many that can actually speak fluently haha. “Yes mam” is something I here all the time. Everybody says “Yes mam”, even if they haven’t understood what I had said or asked. It’s funny.

Anyhow. Once again we started the tour before checking into the hotel. We went to see one of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal, and there was no cue or anything. We bought tickets and then we had to take a special car up to the taj mahal, because they don’t allow any vehicles that runs on gasoline up there, only electronic cars, because the pollution colors the white marble to yellow and makes it ugly.

Taj Mahal is a mig mauselium of white marble from Northern India, beautifully built. It is one of the Indian Muslim masterpieces of architecture.

There are very nice details in the stone that you can se up close, like florals made with inlaid stonework, completely made of natural colored stones, not painted. So there are stones from Afghanistan, Africa, Belgium etc that they hat cut out and very nice ornaments.

The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife because she died to early. They are both buried there inside. The wifes name was Mumtaz Mahal, and Taj Mahal means Crown Palace.

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Me in front of Taj Mahal in Agra

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Up close to Taj Mahal. Is huge!

 

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Enjoying the gardens and the view

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From Taj Mahal  to the other side

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About 60.000 indians visit Taj Mahal every day

That’s about what I learnt from my guide. He seemed quite tired and not so interested. He did not have so much empathy for what he was telling about, didn’t really seem to enjoy his work, he just rushed through things.

After the Taj Mahal we saw the Red Fort, it’s really huge and can’t fit into any photo (Did not even see it completely from anywhere, just red walls). We didn’t go in, my guide said about 70% of it is closed to the public due to military is occupying it, so it didn’t seem worth to go in.

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Red Fort in Agra

Then we visited a marble factory, where they make marble like the one in Taj Mahal. It is very typical from Agra, and it’s such a niiiiice handcraft. Omg. So they get the stones, and then they hand grind them into the shape of for example petals. Every every single piece, on a wheel with water sort of.

They paint the white marble with red color, so it’s easier to see the engraving they do, and they do a pattern. Then they hack out the rest and glue in the stone.

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Carving out the marble where the stone petals are going to be inserted

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Grinding petals of natural stones with this tool

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What the man in the picture earlier is doing. Each piece have to fit and is handgrided into different flowers and shapes!!

They have some really precious hand craft work there. For a big table, it costs about 700 euros. Not so much after all the work behind it. It takes about 6 months to make on of these tables!! I asked if they have a factory there, but it’s made in the neighboring hand crafters houses, since the tools are so easy, they have it themselves at home. A total of 120 families in the area works with it. I couldn’t buy a table, but I bought some smaller easier items, as a memory, and also to contribute to the families. Once again they invited me for tea, asked about my hair, and presented aaall their stuff… I was there for almost one hour, and of course I felt guilty if I didn’t buy anything. The manager was also very sweet.

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One of these tables takes approximately 6 months  to do and costs 700 euros.

Then we visited another place like the ones I visited yesterday in Delhi. This time I did actually find a nice ganeisha silver pendant for my collection around my neck. Then they wanted me to see the fabrics, the paintings, the elephants, the glasses etcs… But I was quite tired of it, but I ended up buying indian tea and spices from there..

After that the guide asked me if I wanted a snack or something, and I said sure (we hadn’t had lunch), I said something typical indian, not touristic. I thought he would bring me to a street corner or something.. but he brought me to a big restaurant, where I saw a big tourist bus leaving from. Hmm… Inside was totally empty. Such a typical tourist place. They showed me the menu, but I said that I didn’t want to eat eat, so I had something called “Pakoda”, that’s like some bread thing and inside it’s cheese, or onion, or cheese. It was quite good, but I also had a doggybag with me home with it. I had some coffee too.

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Pakoda – a snack – inside them there was either cheese, onion or colliflower

Then once again, another shop.. this time a jewelry shop. I said I don’t wear jewelry. “You don’t need to buy anything, you can just see the work from here”… well… I ended up buying a ring tailor made for me. They also wanted after that “come and see our fabrics, come and see our paintings”… but no thank you.

I’m sure the guides have some kind of arrangement to bring the tourists to these places. They are all super luxurious and “very good quality”. It’s weird that I can actually afford to go to this kind of place, it would be like to go to a Gucci store or something in Sweden and be able to actually afford something there. But still, I don’t like these shop-stops. The first time was fun, because it was the first, but the rest is all the same. For me, a tour should be visiting something local, but not enter a store. I’m getting fairly tired of being treated as a big spending tourist (even though I really am this two days in India, but I would have rather done that on my personal time). Also since I’m the only one in the tour, it feels very personal, like that I need to buy something. But now I really don’t want something. If they bring me tomorrow to another place, I’m just going to say no, I don’t want to enter. I have to send home a fucking package with all I have bought here now.

After the last shop we had some drive through around Agra, Danish showed me apartments they are building, nursery schools, villages etc. Just passed by with the car. We actually passed by a street that looks like a regular street to me, quite empty, no trash, nice houses. It was a little bit of a surprise. But yeah. I think my guide did want to go home. Haha.

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Around in Agra, a guy sitting in the sunset with his cheep

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A ”normal” street for me, clean with uniform houses!

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They are building new apartments in Agra

Anyhow. Agra is a quite ugly city, as everyone had said to me earlier. It doesn’t really have anything more then Taj Mahal, and if it weren’t one of the 7 wonders of the world, it would not be worth the trip. The Red fort I could only see one little piece of from the motorway.  I enjoyed to see how they do the marble work, but not the feeling of obligation to buy something from there afterwards.

I did the check in at the hotel which was in the center and it was really great! Polite English speaking staff, really good shower, big tv with many channels, nice temperature, clean room, a desk, big nice beds… Top top! It’s called Amar Yatri Niwas. Very happy!

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Very happy and spoilet with my good big room at Amar Yatri Nawas in Agra!