Indian conclusion and a Thai introduction

Trip Start Apr 16, 2013
Trip End Dec 20, 2013

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Following our lovely Indian holiday in Palolem we flew up north to see Delhi and the Taj. We'd already pre-arranged our 5 days in North India including 2 AC trains and our accommodation. To make it fair we split the organising - Laura took the Delhi leg and Jim Agra. 

We arrived at Delhi airport to our pre-arranged airport pick up (the first time in India where we've organised them and they've actually been there!) to take us to our hotel - Bloomrooms - pitched on the internet as the lovechild of Ikea and Apple. We absolutely loved it - SPOTLESS rooms, a 'cloud' bed with real duvet, fast wifi, AC and lovely modern bathroom suite - we did not feel like we were in India at all and it was quite a shock when you looked out the windows to the general mayhem below. As we were getting a train the next morning to Agra we decided to make the most of the facilities and relax, we Skyped home and watched Frozen Planet (the voice of David Attenborough surprisingly comforting).

We headed to Agra the following morning to see the Taj! The train was fine as we were in A/C again although we were on top bunks which can be a little disorientating - can't see out the windows! Jim spilled a bottle of water all over his bunk and had to mop it up with his t shirt. We arrived to 46degree heat and got a taxi to our hotel in the Taj Ganj area of Agra. Our first impressions weren't great . . . Agra is a bit of a dump. It really smelt, there is raw sewage running down the sides of the street, the pollution is atrocious. Unfortunately our hotel didn't really provide much rest-bite. Despite asking for air-con we were only offered 'air-cooled' which basically means a huge industrial noisy fan over dirty water in a cage through your window meaning the window needs to be open which isn't great for keeping the beasties away! The bathrooms were really open too meaning mini-cockroaches and mosquitos in our first room. We were offered an air-conditioned room for our 2nd night which was much better except when we woke up in the morning the toilet cistern had leaked and there was loads of tiny red worms wriggling about on the bathroom floor. . . .

But it was all worth it because everything written about the majesty of the Taj Mahal is true - it is out of this world. We went for sunrise which meant it was relatively quiet and we managed to get some fantastic photos before the crowds arrived. We couldn't get over how symmetrical it was and spent a few hours just wandering around enjoying the peace taking it all in. Although much cleaner than the rest of Agra we were still disappointed to see that the litter bins weren't used a lot of the time. 

After breakfast we headed over to Agra Fort which was also really impressive and we enjoyed following the history in the Rough Guide and taking in the distant view of the Taj. After our hectic morning of site-seeing we were pretty exhausted, dirty and very sweaty. We were in need of some western influence so, a little shamefully, we asked to be taken to a McDonalds - culture on a whole different scale!! Whilst there a mysterious man gave us his card claiming to be the 'moon god' and enabling us to see our future. Shame he left his shopping bag in the restaurant - obviously didn't foresee that!

The next day saw our return to Delhi, another wonderful 2 nights at Bloomrooms and our last in India. Delhi was . . . ok. We think we were ready to move on and Laura had also managed to catch a pretty bad cold which wasn't fun in the heat so we perhaps didn't experience as much of the city as we otherwise would have done. We had a nice afternoon in Connaught Place browsing the shops and went to the National Museum of India which was great for showing some Indian history - we particularly liked the miniature paintings and musical instruments. We did laugh at how it may compare to some of the museums in London - a lot of the exhibition rooms were just padlocked up with no explanation and quite a lot of the artefacts were labelled up wrong with no information. After 3 hours there we were desperate for a drink but the cafe was closed so we had to go down to the staff canteen in the basement!! 

A pizza in the Bloomrooms cafe brought our time in India to a close. Our Indian adventure has been great and full of ups and downs. It was an education and many eggs have been laid in our minds ready to hatch in the future. We love the comedy and charm of how mental it is and how nothing is quite finishe. . . and are impressed that we managed to avoid 'Delhi belly' for the whole of our time in India. But we think for a future trip we'd rather go to Italy and have a curry :-)

So, on May 22nd we took the surprisingly modern, clean and efficient Delhi airport metro and boarded our plane to Bangkok! We are staying in a lovely guesthouse called Lamphu and so far have loved our time here. Laura travelled to Bangkok in 2009 staying on the same street and is surprised with how much has developed since then! We are a stones throw from Khao San road which we took a walk down the night we arrived and soaked in the buzzing atmosphere. Jim absolutely loves it here!

Over the past couple of days we have visited the Grand Palace and many other 'Wats' (temples). We have seen lots of Buddhas and yesterday was national Buddha day - a national Thai holiday. On the flip side we have visited the amazingly modern, almost futuristic, shopping malls on Siam Square, enjoyed some shopping without the bartering and had some great Thai food. 

Tomorrow we move on to Sukhothai starting our journey around the north of Thailand before we head into Laos.

We can't believe our first chapter is already over but excited for the rest of our time in SE Asia!

Lots of love to all back home.

Laura and Jim :-)
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