-Varanasi, India-
So this entry has been a little late in coming. I have covered quite a bit of distance since leaving Shimla. I took the train down to Delhi, spent the night there, and then went off to Agra the next day. I have been thinking about what to write about Agra since leaving there. Agra is a nominee for "Worst City in the World." First, the Taj Mahal is magnificent and gigantic. I went there at sunrise and saw it at the best time of day. The grounds were well kept, it wasn't too crowded while I was there, just a really good experience. I sat down and just marveled at it for a while. An older Australian women sat down next to me and we were just in awe of what was in front of us.

But then once you step outside of the confines of the walls, back to reality. Agra also has a really cool, old fort that I went to. In addition, I took a bus out to a nearby site of an ancient city, with ruins, and old restored palaces. The best part was climbing around the old ruins (which were free) and exploring all the twisting old buildings. Looking back, I stayed busy. But my whole time I was there I was dogged by people all in search of rupees or dollars. I had two rickshaws follow me for a mile as I walked to the post office, the whole time asking me to get aboard. "Guides" don't heed your pleas of "go away" and then ask for money at just the time you expect them to. The whole time I was there I was forced to think about money which is not what I am here to do.

Oh and the noise, can't forget this one. I was there during a muslim celebration of some sort. Up and down the street, on the electrical poles, were horns in clumps of 4-8. These are ordinary speakers, these are the kind that are used in the U.S. to sound for a tornado, or tsunami, or an impending nuclear attack. Imagine 50 of these, on an ordinary city street blasting music at full volume. There was also conveniently placed traditional speakers, 10 of them, pointed right at my window in my guesthouse. Islamic sounds of celebration rattled my room and my eardrums from 4:00 pm to 4:00 am, non-stop. Even a power outage did not stop the music. No sleep was to be had, and needless to say, I left Agra in a sour mood. I know that this celebration happened all over the world, but still. Agra: possibly the worst city in the world. They have one of the most amazing things in the world and they manage to F- up everything around it.

So I got the hell outta there as quick as I could. I stopped off in Allahabad to break up my trip. There were no internet cafes, which is quite amazing. So I had to wait til I got here, Varanasi to update my trip. Varanasi is, well, I haven't made up my mind yet. From what I have seen, it is a very chilled out place, laid back. I met an American girl from L.A. and Irish guy, and hung out with them yesterday. It was good to talk with people again, as it has been a few days since I had any kind of conversation.

I will spend a day or two more here and then go up towards Nepal. I am pretty excited to be getting close to Nepal again. There are some new pics if you haven't seen them already. I will write again when I can.