We left Jaipur at 12am on an overnight private bus from Jaipur. We booked "sleeper seats," which are horizontal platforms above seats for passenger to sleep on. Fifteen minutes out of Jaipur, I was feeling dinner come up; I was so motion sick.
At the first rest stop 30 minutes in, I climbed down with a little too helpful a hand from a passenger below. I held up the bus with my nausea and pleas to go back to Jaipur. The driver, who was a good man, cajoled me back on the bus, promising to rearrange the seating so that we could sit in the front, in the cabin, with the driver. He was not under any circumstance going to leave two women alone on the highway in the middle of the night. I thank him for that.
I sat in the front by the door and next to a sliding window. The driver advised I open the window to my left and boot out the moving bus if I had to. The rest of the trip was dizzying, nauseating, and freezing cold. I kept eating candy and chewing gum to drown out the taste in my mouth. We were covered in blankets because we had not prepared for the COLD desert nights in Rajasthan. It was so cold that we could see our own breath. My cousin and I had the eyes of every man glued to us in the cabin. They must never have seen a woman before in their country of 1 billion. The three of us hardly got a wink of sleep.
Six hours after leaving Jaipur and many butt-raising bumps later, we arrived in Agra at 6:30am only to be greeted by fog so thick we couldn’t see 5 feet ahead of us and were attacked by a swarm of auto drivers who all claimed to know the hotels with the best deals.
Well, I think the next part of the story is pretty predictable. Being tired, cold, and not being able to fathom killing a couple hours outside until the Taj Mahal opened, we got in an auto and told him to take us to the hotel-ridden Taj Ganj. Instead, we were taken to every hotel along the way he would get commission at. When we finally settled on a hotel of our choice, he spent 2 hours hovering outside our hotel, arguing with the hotel owner for a commission and with us for more fare money than we had prearranged with him.
My biggest regret in Agra will always be that we could have gone straight to see the Taj Mahal at 6:30am when we arrived, seen the sunrise, and had all that magic to ourselves. The guidebooks gush about seeing it then. But silly me, I had assumed the Taj opened at 9am like most things do.
(See the Taj Mahal entry to find out about the rest of the day).