Agra and Delhi were more fun the we expected considering we heard only negative things about both places, we weren't expecting much. And maybe that is the secret, because we had a pretty good time, (though now that we are in Rishikesh the time there pales in comparison, but maybe that is the other secret...go to Delhi and Agra first, lol.) We spent lots of times sitting and dining on rooftops over looking the cities and just enjoying the madness from above. In Agra is was awesome to have the Taj Mahal as a back drop.
To think that we considered missing coming here because of the negativity!! The Taj Mahal was far more impressive that I could have imagined!! It is so photogenic. One of the best decisions we made on this trip was waking up at sunrise to head there. There was a fraction of the tourists that are there during the day. A lot of the tour groups show up around 9am so getting there ahead of time was so good and spacious. And the Taj looks so beautiful in the early morning light...almost pearly instead of milky.
After an afternoon of shopping and resting we visited the Agra Fort. This place was awesome. We got there near the end of the day and stayed until in closed...well until we got kicked out, lol. But thank god for that because I was able to capture a photo with NO people in it and that it hard to do anywhere in India, lol.
One of our days in Agra we spent visiting this Sloth bear rehabilitation center and that was really sad and wonderful. I have no photos understandably (as the bears could be triggered since stupid tourists used to pay to watch and photograph them dancing) but we spent the day interviewing Geeta Seshamani, a Co-Founder of Wildlife SOS. In my last post, John's comment had a link for a video from the Wildlife SOS which are responsible for saving these creatures from a life of torture. As of December 18 they got the last dancing bear off the streets! Please watch this short video that was recorded in November 2009.
And here's a 2 part documentary you should watch too on the rehabilitation center we visited.
Obviously these bears will never be able to go back to the wild, but the centre they live in provides them with healthy food, care and love. In fact, Geeta knows every one of the bears names and there are over 275 bears there!!! I was happy to see that this place wasn't set up like a zoo. It is under a lot of security and if you choose to visit you SHOULD make a generous donation. But if you can't visit and want to donate money to an organization that has animals best interests at heart, this is the organization to donate to! They don't ONLY have animals interests at heart, they educate the people who are responsible for abusing them too!
By the way...if you EVER see a wild animal on a leash that you can pay to watch perform acts or feed or take pictures of, don't fall for it. You are just supporting a cycle of abuse and you don't want to be responsible for that do you?
Surrounding the rehabilitation is a bird sanctuary that wasn't set up that well. If you want to photograph birds it's quite difficult with a constant stream of traffic scaring them off. But we managed to get quite close to a peacock that turned on us when we tried to walk the other way...the bloody thing attacked me!
Clearly he's used to people feeding him, but I didn't want to be one of those people...feeding wild animals is NOT okay, so stop doing it! Animals become aggressive when you hand feed them crappy food that isn't part of their diets and then they come to expect it...hence it attacking me...and that is exactly why all the monkeys in the cities will attack you for your food or water and sometimes camera!
Anyway. After Agra and Delhi we headed for a relaxing time in Rishikesh. We have been here for 5 days now and we'll be here for another 3 days which honestly isn't enough! This place is like paradise.
The food is delicious, the scenery is gorgeous, the weather is wonderful and the classes are endless. We are staying at the High Bank Peasant Cottage with a balcony overlooking the foothills of the Himalayas...which I would call mountains, lol.
Oh and there is a WONDERFUL Great Dane that lives here that I can't get enough of! Her name is Dolly!
The Ganges is just below us as well.
We are surrounded by monkeys too! I love monkeys, they are such shits! You have to be careful because they will mug you at any chance they get!!
We just eat so much good fresh foods all day on patios along the river. Our favourite salad is this veggie fruit salad which has like, bananas, papaya, apple, pineapple, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, pomegranate, carrot, green pepper, red pepper, fresh cilantro all covered in olive oil!!! It's so refreshing!
Our favourite hot drink right now is hot ginger lemon honey, it's so healthy and boosts that immune system!
And our favourite cold drink at the moment is freshly squeezed lemon juice with fresh ground mint! Mmmmmm mmmmmm!
Yesterday evening we went for a Swedish massage and it was awesome and weird, lol. There was no room for shyness there ha ha ha. It was a full body massage for like 75 minutes and she rubbed me down EVERYWHERE except directly between my legs, lol. She used her hands and her feet and twisted my body in so many ways and I was so oiled, lol. She dumped oil on my head and I was just one lubricated girl. But I have such soft skin and hair now. We woke up at 8am this morning and did a 90 minute yoga class. That was refreshing too.
Tomorrow is Holi Festival which is a celebration of the spring ahead. It's just a festival of colours. People dance in the street and people throw water balloons full of dyed water and boy are we prepared! We have 100 water balloons!
These kids think they are so good, but they don't realize the practice we have had throwing things like snowballs our whole life! These kids are going down! Mwa ha ha ha ha!! I can't wait! We are heading to the temple with a bunch of the balloons tonight. This will be fun!