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No trip to India would be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. Today we visited the uber-famous monument to love and well, we really loved it. We got up at the crack of dawn to walk to the Taj in order to beat the crowds that accumulate throughout the day and were met at the gates by a huge crowd waiting to get in. The Taj opens at sunrise so I suppose everyone else had the same idea as ours. We waited for about half an hour to enter but once we did man was I ever blown away. I mean, the whole world knows that the Taj Mahal is an amazingly beautiful building, but my goodness when you see it for yourself it’s a totally different thing. I had goose bumps for a solid ten minutes. At sunrise it almost looks as though it’s a mirage and is about to fade away at any moment. It is really so stunning that it hardly looks real.
Besides a visit to the Taj Mahal, there was only one other thing I was excited about doing in India. This was an overnight camel safari through the Thar Desert in western Rajasthan near the border with Pakistan. We just got back from our trip yesterday and it was every bit as magical as I hoped it would be.
We arrived in Jaipur at midday and were soon met by our couchsurfing host Kuldeep who helped us secure a properly-priced rickshaw to take us to his home outside of the city where we would be staying for the next three days. It was a crazy ride as per usual dodging cars, bikes, rickshaws, cows and now this being Rajasthan, camels as well. The driver couldn’t find Kuldeep’s house in the maze of properties so we drove around in circles a few dozen times, asking passerby’s if they knew where it was and eventually we arrived.
After spending our first day in Delhi resting up, we decided to head out and explore this chaotic city. Our first stop was the Akshardham Swaminarayan Hindu site. This complex was rated the top thing to do in Delhi on tripadvisor so we decided to give it a go. The entry was free, but you could not bring any cameras or any electronic equipment inside so unfortunately we have no photos. It was quite an adventure getting to Akshardam as we had our first taste of the fun and insanely hectic Delhi metro system.
Our flight from Johannesburg to India was quite a good one as far as long distance flights go. It’s funny to think that before we started traveling 11 hours of flying would have felt like an eternity and now it just seems to fly by in a minute. I have realized that I can now take a bus/train/plane for over 6 hours without even having to take a book, computer, iPod, etc out of my bag. I can literally just sit doing nothing for hours upon hours. That seems to be the one tangible thing I can say that I have gained from traveling, a broader sense of time and patience.