The beautiful Jama Masjid, a mosque in Delhi
Spice market in Delhi
View of crazy Delhi from the rooftops
Hanging out inside Agra Fort
Jahangir Palace in Agra
Learning how to be a marble mosaic table making expert!
Making friends at the Taj Mahal entrance
The Taj Mahal!
My tour guide in Agra
One of the many interesting sites to see while driving along the India roads
Cute monkeys from my safari ride in Ranthambore
View from inside the Amer Fort
My little model friend inside Amer Fort
Mirrored wall in Amer Fort
Lovveed those pretty mirrored walls!
More unique walls
One of many beautiful doorways in Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur City Palace in the midst of being decorated for a wedding ceremony
Learning how to stargaze at the Jantar Mantar observatory
Exploring the inside of the Udaipur City Palace
Pigeon cages in Udaipur City Palace
Hi friends! I hope that you’re all having a wonderful week so far. Today I’m going to share the most memorable chapter of my journey – India. Traveling alone in any country for the first time likely would have been a learning experience. But traveling alone for the first time in a country as foreign to me as India was a profound experience of many firsts.
I’ll never forget arriving to the airport in India. As I wandered to the exit of the airport by myself, I was stopped three times by men working at the airport, trying to direct me toward the “transfers”, as they thought that I was only stopped in Delhi for a layover. Each time, when I told them that I was staying in Delhi, they laughed. Upon reaching the main lobby, where all of the drivers waited, I looked fervently for a sign with my name, ready to start my Delhi sightseeing! When I didn’t see my driver, I asked one of the others whether there were more drivers waiting outside of the airport. He responded, “yes, but don’t go out there”. After he helped me locate my own driver, who I later learned to be named Mr. Devhi, I shuffled through the crowd of hundreds of people as we walked to the car. I thought that I had seen it all when I rode in the back of a car in Cairo, Egypt last year… until arriving to Delhi, India. Not only were there cars everywhere, there were people mixed amongst the cars. By this point, I was experiencing culture shock for the first time in all my years of traveling abroad.
I arrived to Delhi in the early afternoon and proceeded to order room service for lunch and dinner so that I wouldn’t have to leave the comfort of my room. When breakfast rolled around, I once again called for room service, only to be told that I would have to come to the little restaurant on the top floor to eat. So I put on my big girl panties and ventured up there. After breakfast, I embarked on a day tour of Delhi. I rushed through the crowds of various historic sites such as the Jama Mosque and many others. My favorite part of the day, however, was when we slowed down a bit and I had the opportunity to do a little shopping in the spice market and then see Delhi from the rooftop of a dilapidated building in the city center.
The next day, I was off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, which of course was the main draw for my visit to India. I again visited several historic sites, but I was without a doubt antsy all day, as I awaited the Taj Mahal! I still vividly remember when I first spotted the monument, as it was without question the most beautiful building that I’ve seen! This symbol of love was built by an emperor of India for his most favorite wife as her mausoleum. Can you imagine?! One of the most memorable parts of this day, aside from actually touring the building, was all of the people that I encountered there. At one point, when I was taking my own Taj Mahal selfies, someone stopped me to ask for a selfie. Before I knew it, there was a line of people, one by one approaching me for a photo! I’m used to being stopped for photos because of my height, but this was unreal. A hundred plus selfies later, I had to politely decline taking any more pictures!
I was then off to Ranthambore for a safari day. I couldn’t believe the hotel that I stayed at there. It reminded me of something out of a fairytale. The safari there was pretty uneventful though, in all honesty. People travel from all over India to try to see the infamous tigers, but in my eight hours of safariing, we had no such luck! My favorite part of this portion of my journey was chatting with the waiters at the hotel during my meals. It had become a common occurrence by this point that some of the waiters would talk to me while I ate, as they were interested in the fact that I was traveling there alone. But at this hotel restaurant in particular, it was as if they had designed some sort of rotation to stop by my table for a chat, as I consistently had someone to talk to throughout my lavish meals there!
Next, we were off to Jaipur, known for other historic sites as well as its pretty jewelry. My driver, Mr. Devhi, had by now figured out some of my favorite activities – shopping and eating. Some of the drives between cities were really long and each time we stopped for a bit of a break, I would return to the car with snacks in hand. By this point in our journey around India together, Mr. Devhi would return with snacks that he knew were unique to India for me to try. He also brought me to a factory to shop at less expensive prices. It was definitely difficult staying out of trouble when it came to shopping in Jaipur! As far as sites there, my favorite was the city palace. There were dozens of people scurrying about, preparing the decor for a wedding that was to take place later that afternoon. I would have loved an invite to that reception!
I concluded my India circuit in Udaipur, where I had a short day tour. Really my favorite memory from this part of the trip was arriving to the city and Mr. Devhi asking me (with his work in progress English), “you are my sister now?” When I responded, “yes, of course!”, he then said, “my sister is in Udaipur!”
Upon returning to the U.S., the top questions I received were always centered around my favorite place, least favorite place, and best experiences. Well, my least favorite place was India. But it was also the place that brought on the greatest learning experiences. I was the most out of my comfort zone there, and reflecting back now, that level of discomfort led to more growth than I have ever experienced. In India I learned the power of assertiveness. One of the biggest tips that I can give to other women interested in traveling there, is to trust your instincts about situations and don’t be afraid to be firm with people. I also learned that so many situations are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. This lesson registered more so with me after being back home for a couple months and recognizing just how different my lifestyle is from so many people around the world. It’s such a cliche saying but fitting – don’t sweat the small stuff. Our window is so small!
Thanks for stopping by Everyone!