India – August 2006

Snake Charmers in Jaipur City

Snake Charmers in Jaipur City

This was in fact our second trip to India… the first trip was a few weeks before which had been curtailed within 6 hours of arriving as we found ourselves right in the middle of the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. We (that is, myself [Geoff] and my work team mates sans Jenni for once!) had flown into Mumbai, gone to our hotel for a shower and then arranged to meet one of our US colleagues (who was from Mumbai and was visiting family at the time). We met up with him in the center of Mumbai and were looking for places to eat and buy silk, when one of the bombs went off just a few hundred hards from where we were shopping…  😦

Chaos ensued and our travel department (who had declared an emergency) told us to fly back out to the USA immediately 😦

So…. we (again, sans Jenni!) returned to India in August and had a fabulous time this time around 🙂   (Jenni will admit to regretting not coming to this day!) 😉

One of the things that strikes you about India is the color (it takes your breath away) and the smell …(which can also take your breath away 😉 )…..but it is fabulous if you like curry !) 😉

After the business trip, the team flew home and Euan and I stayed on for an extra weeks vacation traveling around Rajasthan. Flying to Delhi was interesting (the local airport was horrendous!) … we met our driver, who was taking us to Agra (home of the Taj Mahal)… 🙂   This was the first time I had not driven abroad and I thanked my lucky stars once I saw what our driver was up against… cows asleep in the middle of the motorway… lorries driving the wrong way down the motorway… donkeys crossing the motorway… the list goes on! 😉

We eventually made it to Agra exhausted, sweaty and hot and in need of a damn good curry and plenty of gin and tonic (we were not let down!) 🙂 The food in India was spectacular… 🙂

Euan and I spent some time in Agra exploring and seeing the sights… the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Marble Factory… the Taj Mahal and Red Fort were unbelievably fabulous… the wealth of the kings in those heady days is beyond belief… apparently there isn’t a person on the planet that could currently afford to build the Taj Mahal again with all the hand-cut glass and semi-precious gems used to decorate the building. We hired a guide for the tour of the Taj Mahal – it was money well-spent as he had paid one of his “team” to queue up on our behalf hours earlier so that when we arrived (faced with an enormous queue!) we just walked to the front and took our place in line 🙂

After a few days in Agra, we headed to Jaipur, stopping off at Fatehpur Sikri. When we arrived in Jaipur it was another assault on the senses (color, delicious cooking, rancid sewers)… 😉

We visited the Albert Hall, the Amber Fort (where we took an Elephant Taxi to the fort), the Pink Palace, the Wind Palace and the Tripolia Bazaar where the locals shop. Our guide was most reluctant for us to visit the Bazaar because it was not for tourists ;-)… we had to insist several times before he relented and the entire time we were exploring we kept seeing him out of the corner of our eyes hiding in the shadows as he followed us about making sure we were safe 😉 Needless to say he earned a good tip 😉

The wealth of the Jaipur Kings was just incredible and it was mind-blowing to see what had been built by them centuries earlier. It was fascinating to see all the european gemstones and glass that were imported and the imaginative methods they took to cool the palaces 500 years ago…

I even touched (with great  fear and trepidation!) the hood of a cobra in Jaipur…..not bad for someone absolutely terrified of snakes 😉

Euan and I had an absolutely amazing time in India and I have vowed to return with Jenni at some point in the future…once she’s convinced herself that the pros of great photo opportunities and the best curry in the world outweigh her fear of 2 weeks on vacation with dysentery 😉

A selection of photo’s are at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/oa2067vnc2ii9iz/GMvQsLO8oj

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