Hate repeating myself, and in this case feel even worse because it affects me directly, but another early morning. Worse holiday, ever! Buuuut great adventure!
Today we headed out at 7am bound for the Taj Mahal. I mean, when in India do what ALL other tourist do and check out the most visited site in Asia. That's saying a lot for a continent that included the 2 most populated countries in the world. So with these high hopes we left Jaipur this morning hoping to reach the Taj early enough to catch it in the sunshine.
Spirits were high when we left Jaipur at 7am hoping to enjoy the morning cool to save Lily from a full gas hot afternoon of pain and but that was soon wiped out when our clutch broke down.
We pulled over convinced that we can fix this by ourselves, because we had an one hour mechanic training in Jaisalmer. The cable was fine but we had no gears. Within minutes we were surrounded by a dozen Indian mechanics. In India, everyone is a mechanic. One guy found the problem and after a hour we hit the road again.
After another amazing truck-stop lunch we ran into our friends on the Black and Wild team who were travelling with Olly, the camera man collecting videos for a possible US airing documentary we'll be part of. Shortly before we hailed a camel pulling a cart on the highway (yeah, they have camels and a shit load of other animals on the highways here) so Bram could ride it for awhile. Was a pretty unique experience. B&W wanted to shoot a short music video using camels but the wilder ones on the side of the highway wouldn't cooperate so we borrowed them ours in exchange for being background dancers. Probably an unfair trade on their side. Not only did they get a camel with an attitude but also 3 white guys of who only Bram has the moves to pull it off. Didn't really matter we had fun anyway.
Things were looking good for reaching the Taj mid-afternoon until coming to a highway crossing a motorcycle carrying a passenger crossed the highway right in front of us. I’d slowed down and honked as is customary here but well, that doesn’t always work. Though I managed to swerve out of the way, well, mostly anyway. With the tiny side mirror I clipped the passenger but looking back they continued on their way as nothing happened so we assumed all was ok. About 10 minutes later the cops found us and hauled us back to the station. The lady I hit has a small bruise on their arm from the contact but really wasn’t anything to get excited about, though she and her son did just that blaming me for the accident. She didn’t speak English but her son did somewhat so over the next 10 minutes accusations of going 85km/h (though top speed is more like 45km/h) or that I was drunk came flying my way. Not knowing how the police might see it I was a little worried this could take ages or worse yet end in a little visit to the cell. In the end no one believed his story about our speed or drunk driving claims and were kinda chuckling about it. I apologies and do feel bad about the incidence but it was 100% his fault for crossing a highway when he has no right of way. At the end of the day we wasted half an hour but guess it could have been worse.
Back on the road but with the breakdown/accident combo we’d basically lost our chance of getting to Agra in time to see the Taj today. We did manage to make up some time and after a pretty interesting route in Agra alleyways Google maps showed us to the hotel we got in around 6pm which could have been enough for a Taj sunset but was a little cloudy so we decided against it.
After some quick repairs to Lily and tired as usual we stayed at the hotel setting up camp on the roof to see the light fading over the Taj Mahal. With more than a few Kingfisher Strongs in our system war stories and a few jokes were shared with another team staying at the same hotel who’d arrived well after dusk. Driving in India can be scary. Driving in India at night IN A RICKSHAW is downright terrifying! Not only do you have to contend with your own tiny vehicle being completely unsafe by itself but also everyone using their high beams, driving towards you in your lane or in some cases no lights at all. So arriving late after their first night driving experience they were pretty stressed out and just happy to be alive. That’s part of the adventure we signed up for so after discussing road safety over a few beers all was good again.
So no Taj today but we’re hoping for some good light tomorrow morning to show this us her magical side. Internet is slow as usual so sorry, but no pics at the moment.