Apprehension about whether I would survive the day slowly gave way to confidence that I wouldn’t have any problems. I felt good and was able to push on at a steady pace with only minor stomach pain. Bread, bananas and apples fuelled the ride. Being sick and tired still left me short-tempered and easily irritated (as I have been for a couple of weeks now) so I continued to get annoyed at locals who want to keep up with me alongside my bicycle – people on motorbikes and even in cars who want to hammer me with questions in Hindi. I had about twenty selfie requests and refused them all.
I began to relax as I neared my destination and when I saw it I think I smiled my first genuine smile in weeks. Even from a distance the mighty Taj Mahal is magnificent. It is a bit of a dream come true to be seeing it, as anytime I imagined myself cycling in India, my mind would conjure up an image of the Taj Mahal with me riding past. Today this imagining became a reality. I entered Agra heading west on the north side of the Yamuna River. The first thing I did was ride to Mehtab Bagh in search of a good video opportunity. I tried to sneak into the riverside park that provides the best views (but in which foreigners are barred from visiting), but I had hardly squeezed through a locked gate when I heard a shout and whistle and had to back the hell out. Nevertheless, I filmed myself riding with the Taj Mahal in the far distance – the best I could manage. I then rode around the south side of the river and again tried to get as close to the Taj Mahal as possible on the bike. Unfortunately, any decent access is by foot only and the best views require official entry into the site.
It was becoming dark by this stage, so I called it a day and made my way to the Traveller’s Rest House, which I had read about in the Lonely Planet pages I had photographed while in Lumbini. I was happy to find a room there at a reasonable price and I was even given a bucket of steaming hot water to wash in (my shower being cold water only). I had a slightly disappointing dinner (small portion sizes) at the guesthouse while catching up with things on the internet. It’s been more than a week since I have been free to peruse the internet and I had tonnes of messages to sort through. It was really nice to finally read the birthday wishes people had written for me a couple of days ago.
|Distance ridden today||140.86km|
|Average cycling speed||17.7kph|
|Total distance ridden||17,641km|