So this is such an epic trip, I feel like any report I send back of it won't do it justice. Some power words to peak your interest: Rickshaw Rides, Taj Mahal, Massive Fort, Elephant Rides, Cuddling Monkeys.
I apologize in advance for the report like format of this blog... hopefully I'll get to work in a semi original thought here and there.
We began our two hour ride to the Chennai airport on Friday at 3 a.m. Our flight left at 7 I believe and I was able to add another stamp to my passport. The flight was 2.5 hours long and we touched down around 9:30 or 10 in Delhi, the capital of India. Delhi was much more western than Chennai. In Chennai, everything is extremely run down and crowded with beggars and homeless people on every street corner. Delhi, on the other hand, actually had a strip of road that reminded me of the road leading up to Legoland in Carlsbad. I believe it was in front of the presidential palace which was surrounded by the embassies from other countries. The U.S embassy looked like it was the second busiest... next to Pakistan's. As they say, gotta keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Speaking of friends, here is an oreo photo of the cousins with the brothers. I'm not sure if I mentioned there story or not, but Dani (on far left) and David (far right) were born in Chennai. Dani actually was damaged a bit by the leprosy bacteria but it was so small that he managed to escape the culture taboo. There mom was and is a housemother here at Rising Star. They were in the first wave of students here at Rising Star. Around ten or twelve they, through Rising Star, were adopted by a family in Gilbert, Arizona and lived and were educated in the U.S. until a month ago when they came home. Nelson was good friends with them and I was able to meet them a couple times and knew they were great guys. They are sooo funny! Great guys. Our friendships really have blossomed over here. I'll be sad to say good bye to them when we leave. A week after I head back to the states they will begin their two year Mormon mission. Dani in Delhi area, and David in Bangalore.
Delhi's own Arc De Triumph. The name slips my mind but it was massive.
The Indian White House. The Pink House.
We all boarded a big bright orange bus and began our eight hour bus ride to Agra, where our hotel and the Taj Mahal was located. Our driver was the man! Great beard, great muslim, great smile, and best of all, great driver.
An hour or so into our journey, in Old Delhi, we decided to culture ourselves a bit and go on a Rickshaw Ride. I feel almost embarassed saying this... but despite seeing the Taj Mahal and riding an elephant, this ride was my favorite part. I can try to describe it to you... but I'll just try to show you instead. I'll just say it was the most near death experiences I've had in an hour. We rode around through the Old Delhi markets and then on the way back passed by the Red Brick Fort (ITS HUGE). Some picture and video footage... hopefully I upload video correct way:
Our fleet of rickshaws
Me and Nelson preparing for take off
The brothers were loving it. They were cracking up the entire time.
Someone needs to fire whoever is in charge of the wiring in Old Delhi
Cruising through the very narrow street markets
Stopped in the world famous Spice Market and a little bit of this and that. Word of advice- don't ever chew on a cinnamon stick from India. If you value your tongue, just don't.
We became instant friends with our rickshaw driver. I'm convinced he is a world class driver and would do well in Nascar.
A video of the safer portion of the Rickshaw Ride. Sorry for the bumpy quality and the sappy commentary!
At the end when the camera dies we got a little bump from our friends behind us. Our driver got a bit ambitious with that pass.
After the Rickshaw ride we made one more stop in Old Delhi to eat. Outside of the restaurant, we happened upon a snake charmer with a yellow python and a deadly viper.
Nels getting choked out
Check out the cobra flaring its neck. The snake charmer has a nice beard.
After our meal, we drove for another seven hours or so up to our very nice 5 star hotel in Agra (note, this was an Indian five star hotel, not an American five star).
It was the first time in a week that I had slept in a comfy bed and had a nice, western shower. And most importantly, a nice western toilet.
This wraps up part one! Part two will focus on the Taj Mahal. I only get a little free time each day so I'll try to catch up fast. Ignore all the errors that come with speed and no proofreading!