So India seems to have decided to throw everything it can at us. Arriving in Agra was great (lovely rickshaw driver, nice hostel), and we were starting to relax after the craziness of Delhi…until we found out most of our money was about to become scrap paper. Ta for that Narendra Modi.
The rest of Tuesday was spent driving around Agra trying to find anyone who would accept our 500 rupee notes. Surprisingly enough, no one wants a note that’s going to be worthless in 72 hours. Worrying about whether we were suddenly gonna lose a few hundred pounds was bad enough, but we found that we had no way of getting into the Taj Mahal. It wouldn’t accept the notes, the online website went down, and you can’t pay by card…which made our trip to Agra seem pretty pointless! But after deciding to bite the bullet and just pay by card at an exchange office (all ATMs and banks were shut), we were able to visit the Taj Mahal at least. And as cheesy as it sounds, seeing the beauty of that building at sunrise, when there’s far fewer people around, made it all worth it! We touristed as hard as we could, getting all the standard shots, and making the most of our hours there.
The rest of the day was spent seeing the other (few) sights of Agra, and by the evening we were really looking forward to heading to Jaipur. So w got to the train station nice and early, walked in, looked at the board…and our train was delayed by 10 hours. Expected arrival time in Agra, 3am. Oh India. We needed to make a quick decision about what to do (we all know that’s not my strong point) and hanging around outside an Indian train station in the dark, being hounded by taxi drivers, is not the most enjoyable experience. We talked to some other travellers who were heading to Varanasi, and it was strongly advised that it’s not safe to travel at night, and we should not come back to the station at 3am. So back to our hostel we went to check-in again!
Tiredness, stress from the currency situation, and now our train delay all came together and produced two very stressed out backpackers, who could not decide what the best route to take from here would be. But after chatting to the parents, and to Anuradha, who again helped us out by getting us in touch with a travel agent friend of hers, we decided to set the money situation to one side, put safety and sanity first, and just booked a car to take us from Agra to Jaipur, early in the morning. Delhi and Agra might not have given us the best start, but we’ve just arrived in Jaipur, and already love it! Definitely looking forward to exploring Rajasthan over the next ten days.
A & K