Thursday, March 22, 2012

incredibly, India: Day 2, part 2

Now to continue with the second half of day 2.
Fatehpur Sikri

Yummy Yummy
After a quick drink and snack at a coffee house right outside the bounds of the Taj (Cafe Coffee Day-- Anu Approved), we headed on to the next site. At the coffee shop, which is apparently owned by Anu's uncle or friend or someone she knows, there were very few non-coffee drinks. Which I found interesting, since tea is a very common beverage in India. I ended up getting a chocolate coffee smoothie type drink. Anu advised me to drink it fast and not eat the pieces of ice. I was confused. When I asked her why, she said that not all restaurants have filtered water. So though their coffee drinks might be safe, the water that they use to make ice may not be. Talk about a landmine of a drink. Have you ever tried avoiding ice in an ice blended drink? Let's just say it didn't last long and I survived to tell the tale.

As we were walking back to where our car was parked, we passed lots of roadside shops, selling souvenirs and handcrafted objects. Agra is known for its stone work (who knew?), and so I invested in this gorgeous little tealight holder. It was handcarved out of some kind of stone (marble? any geologists out there?). It had a base where the candle sits, and then on top, there is a sphere that sits over top and has elephants carved into it. I didn't take a picture, but if you ever come and visit, I'm sure you'll see it. It casts a wonderful little glow.

Fatehpur Sikri (I still can't pronounce the first word, but I'm pretty sure the second word goes something like seek-ree) was our next destination. This was apparently the palace where the emperor who built the Taj lived. This palace was clearly made to be lived in. Our time was limited here, but we saw courts and hallways and I could only imagine the splendor and beauty of this place when it was in use, in its prime.

We saw green parrots! I think they were just wild/free parrots. They stood out very starkly against the red stone. This picture was taken from a good distance, so it's not as clear as I would have liked, but you get the point.

I enjoyed this site more because people lived here. Laughed here. Cooked meals here. I could imagine daily life happening here. There were also fewer people so no one asked me to take a picture with them and we could wander and explore as we pleased.
This area had shorter columns than other areas, for some reason. It could be that it was the base of a higher tower with several layers so they were trying to keep it structurally sound? I have no idea, I am no architect.

We saw a stray puppy that I wanted to take home with me, but thought there might be some trouble with immigration, so sadly, I left him there. We walked through halls, peered out windows and tried to evade a very persistent man who tried to get us to hire him as a tour guide.

Puppy that probably only wanted to be our friend for food. Too bad we didn't have any.
The shorter columns I talked about in the picture with Nikka and Anu? Those columns were the base of this structure. I wish we had time to climb to the top to see the view.
I wanted to go exploring everywhere. If only we had more time!
View from the window above, to the right of the trees. I don't know the purpose of this structure, but it was beautiful and had a great view.

I could have explored for hours, but day light was waning and we still had to drive several hours to Jaipur.

This banyan tree was near the waiting area for the shuttle to take us back to the parking lot. So crazy and intricate and tangled!

We finally left Fatehpur Sikri, piled into our car and headed off in the dust. We arrived pretty late at the hotel in Jaipur. Before we left her house, I specifically asked Anu if I needed to bring identification with me while we were traveling she said no, even though I asked her twice. Guess what hiccup we had at the hotel when we got there. You guessed it. ID. Turns out you DO need identification to check into a hotel if you are a foreigner. Because it was late, or because we were three tired looking young women, they let us check in. Turns out Nikka was the only one who had any form of ID and I think she only had her Filipino driver's license.

Even though I am reasonably well traveled, I didn't bring any, so if you ever take an international trip, take your ID while you're gallivanting! I was concerned about it being stolen or somehow knicked from my purse which is why I ultimately left it, but definitely take this into consideration! ID would have been helpful later on as well-- some (meaning one) places have student discount! Even though I'm no longer a student, my student ID date doesn't expire until 2013! Lesson learned. I am so very thankful that they let us check in. Where else would we have stayed? Thank you Jesus and reception desk people.

We were famished at this point and went up to our room to drop off our many bags then head to the buffet, when we walked into our room and discovered that the bathroom's shower...had glass walls. Adjacent to the room itself. See-through glass walls. Not stained or colored or blacked out-- plain, see through, glass. Well, this could take our friendships to a whole new level. Nikka and I busted out laughing and started taking fully dressed pictures, until Anu stepped into the shower with me (how many times in my life do I get to say that sentence?), and in a rather panicked voice, said "guys, there're blinds, THERE ARE BLINDS!!" To which we laughed more, in a slightly relieved manner. I promise this is the last shower related story I have to share.

Help, Anusree! This had potatoes and paneer, I think. I just know it was good. And spicy.

Two different types of bread. Again, Anu?

Finally, we went down to dinner, and we ordered some Rajastani dishes off the menu ('we' meaning Anu, since we didn't know one dish from the other). There were very few people in the restaurant at this point, and the service was...a little unattentive (they didn't give us menus until we asked for them and then didn't come to take our order until we waved them over), but the food was delicious.

Then we headed back up to our room. I took a shower and passed out, oblivious to everything. I guess Anu and Nikka got in bed at some point, but I have no idea when.

And this, my friends concludes Day 2. We did so much in just one day! It was so wonderful, and I enjoyed every moment.

Two more days to go, my friends! Stay tuned? Any "oh crap" moments while traveling? Times that there was nothing you could do but laugh about the situation? Please share!

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