Published on April 16th, 2013 | by Emma Hackwood0
The Taj Express with On the Go Tours
Our International Travel Consultant, Leanna Paakspuu, recently travelled to India where she discovered some of India’s best sights and friendly people. Leanna shares her experience with On the Go Tours and offers a taste of what she experienced:
I can’t even begin to tell you what an amazing time I had in India. There is so much there to see, I already can’t wait to go back! From start to finish, on “The Taj Express” with On the Go Tours, everything went smoothly and I felt so at ease. I was a little bit nervous before I left Canada, as I wasn’t going to arrive into Delhi until after 11pm. However I was happily greeted by a young Indian man holding an “On the Go” sign as soon as I cleared customs and he took me to my hotel.
Upon arrival at my hotel, I was given a welcome bundle and told to meet in the breakfast room the next morning where I would meet the other group members and our leader and our journey would begin! There was 21 people in our group total (a mix of all ages) as well as a mix of countries. I was one of 3 people from Canada, 6 from South Africa, 2 from Ireland, 6 from England, and 4 from Australia. It was a fabulous mix of interesting people from all different backgrounds.
Our group leader Yusef, was absolutely amazing and truly made this trip exceptional. He was so knowledgeable and intelligent, and his passion for what he was doing was very obvious. Any question that was thrown at him, he responded with lengthy descriptions and always had the answer for us. You could tell he truly cared so much about making the trip really great for everyone, and was always concerned about other’s well being. Unfortunately, a couple from Australia got some terrible news as we were about to arrive in Jaipur, just three days into the tour, and decided to fly home. Yusef took care of all the arrangements on their behalf so they could make the journey back to Australia to be with their family. This all took place, without impacting the flow of the tour in any way whatsoever.
Since I’ve been back, I have been on a constant high. I love travelling, and am always excited when I’m able to experience a new culture and see a new destination, but the feeling I got from India, I can’t even explain. There’s so much beauty there, and it’s just so different than anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s chaotic yet exciting, and so colorful and beautiful. The amount of people there, just everywhere, is absolutely astounding.
I was so amazed every time we were driving in the bus and we would come to a sudden slam on the brakes and we’d all crowd to the window to look out and see that we were within 1 inch of a vehicle next to us! We would slowly maneuver around them and this happened all the time! It was just an experience all in itself, to be sitting in the bus watching all that was happening around us from inside the bus. Weaving in and out of vehicles, as we’re passing bicycles, and motorbikes carrying upwards of 4-6 people, horse carriages, donkeys, cows, camels…you name it really, it was just mind boggling!
This type of driving all followed a type of order in India, and although there’s lots of honking, I never saw any one upset at the wheel. Everybody seemed calm and collected in such busy and chaotic driving. In both Delhi and Jaipur, I was able to be a part of the excitement as we rode rickshaws through the busy streets with cars and motorcycles honking and weaving around us… it was such a rush!
Visiting the Taj Mahal took my breath away. It was so grand and beautiful, I was speechless and have never seen anything like it. Running my hands along the white silky marble and just standing amongst it barefoot, looking down at all the white all around me, I felt as though I was on a cloud. It was an experience I will never forget.
Walking through all the Palaces and Fort’s, listening to Yusef narrate the stories and history that reside there was so neat. As I walked through, I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in those previous times and imagined the bright and beautiful saris that would be worn by the queens and the princess’s that lived there. It would have been just amazing to see.
In Jaipur we visited a textile factory where we were able to see the process of carpets being made. We watched how they were weaved each one thread by thread and then the process afterwards to make sure each one was perfectly made. We also could have had our own personal sari made and delivered to our hotel that very same day. The bright colors of the different fabrics and textiles used was a sight to see!
After leaving Jaipur, we then spent one night in a little village where we stayed in an old colorful mansion, called a Haveli, where we were each greeted with a lei of fresh flowers. We were escorted to our rooms, where mine was decorated in marble, with large pillars separating the bed from the sitting area. At sunset we were met at the front gate, by our mode of transportation to tour the little village. A group of camels and carts – how else would you want to sightsee? We strolled through the narrow roads while men, women and children stood on their doorstep or entrance to their stores and waved at us. We passed by fruit and vegetable stands, barbers, sewing shops, men sitting playing cards and children chasing one another, everyone seemed so happy and content.
I hope this gives you a taste of my experience in India, but it’s just that – only a taste. I had the most amazing time and plan to go back one day soon as there is so much more to see. On the Go Tours far exceeded my expectations. I had a wonderful time and think this was truly enhanced by our wonderful guide Yusef who was so passionate and knowledgeable of India, and wanted to share everything he knew with each of us so we could fall in love with this amazing country as well. I loved everything about India, the food, the culture, but most of all the amazing and welcoming people. Namaste!