|Above on the left is an interior view of the Taj Mahal, which is basically a empty building with a mausoleum (shown there) in the center with balconies and such all around. Inside that central area is a decorative casket. There was a line of people headed somewhere so we joined the line. After a long while we went downstairs and down a hall to get to the real casket which is under decroative casket. The designers didn't anticipate everyone wanting to visit (or being allowed to) visit, and so access was not very easy. Next to that picture is a side view of the Taj Mahal and this is a frontal view from closer so that you can only barely see the rear side minarets.||=0=|
|Above are two pictures of the side minarets, first the rear (on the left) and then the front (and including a view of either the side mosque or guest house). As far as I can tell they are the same size. Also, assuming the people are standing and walking straight up, the top of the Tah Mahal leans outward (or is larger at the top than the bottom) and the minarets lean in a little bit. Also, the level with the minaret (and outside the building proper) is just marble, but it has been worn shiny by so many people walking on it. As you approach the steps up the mausoleum level you are expected to take off you shoes, but there is no place to put your shoes which is common at many such temples), but they aren't as large and don't have as many visitors. Here there was no place to leave your shoes, so we just carried our shoes with us as everyone else did. This is another view of the Taj Mahal in the reflecting pool just before we left (and with Barbara in the picture).||=0=|
|From India we flew to Kuwait (a tiny but wealthy country) where we changed planes to one bound for Jordon. On these flights we were surprised by the fact that there wasn't any 'no smoking' section which really bothered Barbara, but it was either that or stay in Kuwait. This would be a view of desert as we approached Kuwait, perhaps. Kuwait was interesting as we flew in as the capital was laid out in rectangles with regular looking houses on a grid, but they were just laid out in the desert with no trees, grass, or bushes. Pretty strange looking. We only visited Jordon for a couple of days as we didn't feel very welcome and prices were pretty high. However, you need to get paperwork to go to Israel (or more formally, to visit the Eastern part of Jordon as there was no official recognition of Israel). It normally takes a day to get the paperwork, but as we were wanting to leave on a Thursday we were told it would be three days as Friday was the sabbath for the Moslems (so we couldn't get the approval then) and Saturday the border would be closed as that would be the Sabbath for the Jews so it would be Sunday. However, we got our approval in three hours by jest repeating that that was too long and asking if there was anyway to walk the paperwork through the process (and not leaving when told it was not possible). Perhaps a bribe might ahve been expected under these circumstances, but persistence seems to have worked just as well.||=0=|
|In Jordon they didn't use buses to get to the border, but instead Mercedes Benz's which had been assembled in Saudi Arabia (or somewhere more local) and then stretched in the center so that they would seat about eight. Each person would pay about 1JD or $2.50 which doesn't sound too much now, but having come from Korea where bus fares had just increased from 8 cents to 10 cents, it seemed pretty steep to us then (and just coming from India where a Rupee would buy a fair amount but was only 12 cents). At the border you would take a Jordanian military bus across the river Jordon which was another JD. Now that was a little surprise to us as it seemed little more than a creek (even by Texas standards were rivers can get pretty tiny). The bridge over the Jordon was a military tactical bridge, just one span. The security check was on the Israeli side of the border and was the tightest we ever encountered. They inspected everything, even the paperback books, flipping through the pages to make sure it really was a paperback book. You were also advised to not have any film in your camera as they needed to inspect the interior of the camera to make sure it was really a camera. Once we made it through the security check we took another stretched limousine to Jerusalem and this would be a picture as we were travelling (and could then have film in the camera).||=0=|
|Above on the left is another view as we were travelling to Jerusalem. We were impressed how dry the land was as we had just visited two countries (India and Thailand) which were quite lush and green, while here there is very little vegetation and what there was desert plants conserving the little water they got. Above ont the right would be a view of the suburbs around Jerusalem. Pretty stark. We also visited the older sections of Jersalem and this was a very beautiful desert flower that was along the streets.||=0=|
|This is one of the gate into the old part of Jerusalem which was surrounded by walls like this. THere was also a moat that you had to cross though the moat itself is not visible here, just the bridge to the gate.||=0=|
This page was last updated on November 26, 2005.