Has there ever been a time when you REALLY wanted something? When you wanted something so bad, and what it took to get it was so painfully awful that you curse yourself for ever wanting it in the first place?
This very much summarizes my experience of wanting to visiting the Taj Mahal in India, and the worst day tour of my life.
The Taj Mahal had for the longest time been a big time bucket list item for me since I first started travelling. So my expectations when I landed in India were HUGE about this place, and I COULD NOT WAIT to see it with my own eyes.
Because my time in Delhi was short, I opted to book a one-day tour from New Delhi instead of staying the night in Agra. This would prove to be a big mistake.
The hotel where we stayed was complete crap, with holes on the wall and freezing cold room temperature. So there was no way I was booking a tour with them. Instead, I ventured near the hotel and looked for a travel agency. The one I found was run by a German expat who made me feel such at ease that instead of continuing shopping around I just decided to book with him.
Riding a Tuk-Tuk in Freezing Weather
I was picked up at 6AM from my hotel in route to the departure point. The night was foggy and awfully cold. Even with my long sleeve I could not help but shiver.
As I was looked for a car to get into, the “guide” turns around and points at a tuk-tuk.
Da phak?, I thought to myself, my face half-frozen. Hopefully we won’t ride for too long…..
30 minutes of freezing-to-death later, we finally made it to a bus station. To my surprise, the bus was filled with locals and only one other foreign girl.
The “bus” itself looked like a 3rd generation porta-potty on wheels, and smelled like one. It was quite uncomfortable and extremely cold. At this point I no longer had any doubts about how shitty the day was going to be, but all I could do was to survive it.
Taken Hostage at a Souvenir Shop
The bus made its first stop in the middle of nowhere. The guide asked everyone outside and walked us to a curiously badly situated souvenir shop. It wasn’t hard to understand that the guides were getting commission for bringing people to this place.
Last in line, I heard a “click” as soon as I got inside the shop.
Why are you looking the door?
“This is an entrance only. Exit at the other side of shop”
Dude, what the fuck?
Obliged, everyone had to go through the entire shop, looking at some apparently “precious” stones along the way. Before we could get out, we had to look at a cheap replica of the Taj Mahal that flashed in the dark. Not sure if I was supposed to be impressed, most people were not.
“Get Out of the Bus!”
Right before the bus arrived to Agra, the driver stopped at an intersection and two guys came inside pointing at me and the other tourist. Rather aggressively, they “requested” in Hindi that we get out of the bus and go with him.
Imagine being in a totally different country where you don’t speak the language and someone is barking orders at you! We were confused and did not know what to do!!!
He kept insisting for us to go with him. Resigned, we almost got up and went, until someone in the bus told us to sit down and told something to the guy in Hindi.
A verbal war ensued between them which we had no idea what the heck to make of it!!! All we knew by the sound of it all was that the guy who came into the bus was pissed the hell off!!! Finally he left the bus, yelling at the driver this time.
The guy in the bus then explained that this is a scam where they will charge to drive us to the Taj Mahal (something we had already paid for), and that we would probably have to pay them to take us back to Delhi after very likely arranging to stay someplace in Agra.
Because we arrived so late to the Agra Fort and subsequently to the Taj Mahal, both places were extremely crowded. It was literally impossible to get a good picture of anything, and less to walk without bumping onto somebody.
At this point, the day had already proved to be a mess, and I was happy when the guide finally called everyone to get back inside the bus to go back to Delhi.
Time to go Home
We started heading back around 8PM. Considering that New Delhi is located about 4 hours by car, and that we were running in a piece-of-shit bus, there was no way we were going to make it before midnight.
As the bus kept going, the night fell upon us and wit it, freezing temperatures. Frost in the windows, toes freezing, and not any blankets in sight….this was going to be a long ride.
I finally managed to fall asleep, but I was awaken by noises outside of the bus.
I force myself to open both eyes, and nothing.
I could not see anything outside.
It was pitch black.
Where the fuck are we now???
Finally the guide comes in and tells us that we had “arrived” to the birthplace of Hindu God Krishna. We were being offered “the opportunity” to see the birthplace of Krishna for the small sum of $40USD!!!
Exhausted and cold, I crossed my fingers and looked at the ceiling repeating “no one get up, no one get up, no one get up”…
Half the people from the bus got up.
I was too cold to even peek outside and too tired to care… the only thought I had was that I was going to die freezing in a crappy bus in the middle of nowhere in India.
Little did we know that we would freeze our asses for an hour…..AN HOUR!!! inside that horrible bus while waiting for half of the passengers.
This is NOT My Hotel!
After another 2 hours I finally saw a sign that read “New Delhi”,
I could already picture myself rolling in the warm covers of the crappy bed in my crappy hotel room.
As the bus starts dropping people one by one I realized that it was 2-IN-THE-FREAKING-MORNING. I wasn’t sure anymore if we would even get back before sunrise. It was already foggy again outside, just as it was 20 hours ago, when we first started this day-tour.
We arrive at Connaught Place where the only other foreign tourist’s hotel was. The driver tells her to get out, but the girl does not recognize the place and the driver (nor anyone else) has the remotest idea of where her hotel is situated.
He keeps insisting for her to get out and obviously the poor girl is scared shitless!!!
Looking outside the window it was easy to see why she wouldn’t get out. Shops everywhere, not a soul in sight other than some questionable characters roaming the streets at 3AM….
Finally the guide seemingly gives up and walks with the girl until they find her hotel 10 minutes later.
So, here we were, bus almost empty at 3:30AM, FINALLY on the road leading to my crappy hotel, when suddenly the bus stops under a bridge, 5 blocks from where my hotel was.
“Your hotel”, the driver tells me.
“5 blocks walk”
I have no clue where I am….leave me closer.
“No worries, area safe, he goes with you”.
“He”, the driver says, pointing at some guy who I had not seem the entire day, who suddenly gets up from the passenger seat. He had enough covers on him to keep at least half of the bus warm.
Fuck it, I just want my bed…
Ever had a horrible experience with a travel agency who provided the worst day tour ever? Spill your experience below!