Look familiar?
Not too long ago, I would have told you the most crowded place I had ever been to was probably Shanghai, Hong Kong, or even Cairo.
Not anymore.
New Delhi, (or just Delhi) to the average tourist, is a massive shock to the senses. People and rickshaws flood the streets and the constant honking and crowds are overwhelming to almost everyone I've spoken to.
Luckily for me, I had just experienced more than a month in Africa so to most people's utter disbelief, arriving in New Delhi was pretty refreshing for me.
Street food in Delhi is heaven for foodies: whether it's chow mein, a breakfast chopati, or something sweet, there are vendors on just about every corner - any time of day.
My first day alone, I had no less than 10 different street food snacks. I really could not stop eating all the delicious concoctions!

According to LonelyPlanet, the general rule of thumb is if it's fried or boiling, it's safe to eat. And NEVER eat meat!
The one time I didn't obey this rule (had rice and chicken), I paid a big price for. Let's just say one of my days in Delhi was spent entirely in the hotel... getting to know my toilet.

I also spent a good chunk of another day getting my train tickets together. I waited almost 4 hours to buy them, but I met some good company along the way: Anastasia and Stanistlav from Russia and Geraldine from Germany - all in India escaping the bitter European winter.
The next day, I also ran into Christian - a guy I had met back in Egypt in my Cairo hostel! One continent and 4 time zones away we managed to bump into each other in India of all places! Unbelievable!

His girlfriend joined him in India, so the three of us went out to have some "Korean" food... which was basically Indian food with a different name.
In terms of sights, Delhi has so many incredible things to see from forts to palaces to temples.
I easily got lost in all the beautiful buildings built by emperors and kings along the way.
This was used to tell time back then!
I realized very early on that it's impossible to take a picture without SOMEONE being in it.
Everywhere I turned though, there were just hundreds of more people. The lunchtime rush here is no joke!

Being a city person myself, I adjusted to it all fairly quickly.
And Indian English, as they say, is very different than American English. There were some quirky things along the way.
After a few days in the capital, I hopped on a train to Agra that was not only clean and comfortable, but even included breakfast! Very different than those pictures of Indian trains with people on the roof. I couldn't find one of those trains!
Arriving in my Agra hostel, I immediately met David from France and Alice from Taiwan - the only other Taiwanese person I had met after almost 4 months of traveling!

We spent a relaxing day lounging around a rooftop cafe, swapping stories of our adventures so far. David cut his hand open from broken dishes. Didn't stop him from traveling!
The next day, we woke up at 5am to see none other than one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

I realized going on a Saturday during peak season was not one of my best ideas...
There are some things out there that are overrated. The Taj Mahal, to me, was not one of them. In fact, it was much bigger than I had imagined!
I ended up spending over 5 HOURS at the complex, admiring everything from its colossus size to just the sheer amount of people.
That afternoon, I wandered over to Agra Fort - just a hop and a skip away from the Taj.
There were monkeys everywhere.
I'm happy to say my body's officially adapted to Indian food. Since I've sworn off the street food, every restaurant meal has been incredible thus far.
After a wonderful final night of conversations in the hostel, I embarked for the city of Jaipur on a bitter cold Friday morning. Yes, northern India gets COLD!
My train was delayed 2 hours (no surprise there) but when it finally arrived, sitting next to me was Consuelo, a Guatemalan transplant living in Barcelona for 7 years and counting.
We got to talking and eventually decided on the same hotel. This being my last few weeks of traveling, I decided to splurge on a nice hotel for once.
We went out for lunch at none other than Pizza Hut! While the portions were tiny, the Hawaiian pizza tasted just like home...
And just a few blocks away was a gigantic Indian cinema. We decided that no Indian trip is complete without seeing a Bollywood movie!
The next two days, we tackled Jaipur to see the fantastic sights of Rajasthan.
Just outside of the city was a sight more impressive to me than the Taj Mahal: The GIGANTIC Amber Fort - built to protect and house the royalty of medieval Jaipur.
We literally spent the entire day exploring this maze-like palace, built to confuse any would-be invaders.
That night, we had dinner plans with Zoey, a British lady we met with ambitious plans of traveling the world for 5 years! She's on her second year at this point, 5 months in India alone...
At this point, I must admit I'm getting a little homesick. While the past four months have been incredible, I also never realized how long four months can feel being away from friends and family.

As I've met so many people in India at the start of their trips, I've noticed just how tired I've become, especially since my African leg of the journey.
With only two weeks left, from here on out, southbound I go along the western Indian coast! Thanks for reading!
Ron
12/7/2012 03:38:35 pm

I'm so delighted that you visited the golden triangle! Brings back so many memories. You really are seeing India at it's best - winter. I went during peak summer and it was really, really hot. And I was living in Abu Dhabi at the time so for me to find it unbearable then says a lot.

Even though you have the traveller's Bible, the Lonely Planet (which you disobeyed, you blasphemer - and paid the price!), I feel mildly guilty for not throwing in a "Stay away from street food!". But I think getting horribly sick in India is part of the regional charm. I was awfully ill in Agra (Fatehpur Sikri - did you visit that? Don't see it but I might have missed it in your wealth of pictures) but that was from dehydration. But illness in India is sure a tourist activity, ha.

The next time you're in India, you've got to check Udaipur, another city in Rajasthan. Just as Jaipur is pink, Udaipur is blue - and home to another immense fort. A sight for sure.

Glad you're having fun and your pictures are lovely as always.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!!

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Logab
12/7/2012 07:51:18 pm

people! people! people!

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Rachel
12/8/2012 12:01:25 pm

Wow, can you believe you're almost done?! Pretty strange... Sorry you got sick!! I guess being adventurous can backfire sometimes! "Inconvenience Regretted" is like the funniest phrase ever, I laughed forever at that. Miss you lots! Hope the rest of your trip is fun!!

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David
12/15/2012 03:27:21 pm

Amazing article, and amazing picture!
My thumb is getting better now, this is becoming pretty much easier :)
Enjoy your last days !

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Sister
12/22/2012 10:22:51 am

Same page as Rachel, I totally rofl when I saw that.... and the other engrish....hahaha!

You WOULD take that pic of the squirrel. lol cute.

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