Holy cows, horses, and cobras… oh my!

This afternoon we were driven from Delhi to Agra. The drive itself isn’t that far, though traffic is an absolute nightmare. The first and last couple of miles probably took half of the five hour drive.

I’ve been to lots of countries with crazy roads, though India has to be the most interesting place in the world to drive. Cows are roaming freely and forms of transportation range from BMW 7 series to tuk-tuks to horses, all on the same road.

The highlight of the drive had to be when we crossed state borders enroute to Agra. Our driver had to stop to go pay some tax and left us in the car. Given that my friend and I both look like tourists, several people approached our car and stood in front of our windows trying to sell us stuff, from bottled water to mini chess sets.

Then a boy came up to our car with a wicker basket, opened the top, and out popped a cobra. I’ve gotta be honest, I’m terrified of snakes. TERRIFIED. They’re my worst fear, other than paper cuts. He kept telling us to take a picture of the cobra (obviously wanting us to pay him for the picture) and wouldn’t give up. The snake was in my face for nearly a minute before he gave up. I wish I could have paid him to never do that to me. Tonight I’m sure he’ll be haunting me in my dreams.

I never thought I’d enjoy a five hour drive, but the entire ride was fascinating. The other interesting thing was that as we drove, nearly everyone stared at us. It wasn’t just quick glances, but people gazed at us and then pointed us out to others in their cars/tuk-tuks. I guess they don’t see a whole lot of westerners.

More to come later and with the trip report. I will say though that India wasn’t necessarily at the top of my list of places to see before I took this trip, though it’s quickly turning into one of the most interesting places I’ve been.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. First, you had snakes in a pool in Thailand. Now it’s snakes in your face while sitting in a car. I suppose next you’ll write about snakes on a plane.

  2. Cobra. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.

    I would have died. I would have had cardiac arrest and died right there in the car. I might have pooped a little bit. Or maybe a lot. Shit some bricks.


  3. Maybe you should look into taking the train back to Delhi from Agra…only a couple hours and (hopefully) no snakes!

  4. Like Andrew said, you should definitely look into taking the train for a great cultural experience!

    I always laugh at your posts in foreign countries when you make your limited hops outside the “compound” walls of the first class hotels/flights you dwell in. It’s like your’re walking on the moon. Anyhow, enjoy the rest of your trip! Try to get out more!

    How many pictures of diet coke w/ nuts do you really need take?

  5. @Lucky, trust me they see a lot of westerners. Where are you putting up in Agra?

    @Andrew I guess Lucky must be taking the next hop straight to Ranthambore rather than going back to Del. But if he is, he could always take the short Agra Delhi kingfisher flight!

  6. hehehe the horse with the orange socks is hilarious…I printed that out and hung it in my cubicle at work …THANKS BEN!

  7. Yep, that’s india. Outside of Delhi, all the other cities and even in the countryside what always amazes me is the garbage, and lack on any interest in cleaning it up, putting it in a trash receptacle, etc.

    and then there are the animals, I personally like the camel drawn carts, cows and elephants are too sacred to do this type of work.

  8. Dude, you’re on the sterilised tourist path (yes, even the cobra is a tourist gimmick intended to provoke exactly the reaction it did from you). One day, come visit Mumbai and I’ll show you the ‘real’ India of Slumdog Millionaire fame! 🙂

  9. Those snakes usually have their fangs ripped out and/or are drugged. Never pay for any animal related gimmick in the developing world (and often in the developed world too) if you care about animal welfare (you wrote you used to be a vegetarian so I guess you do care).

    Also, to deal with salesmen in India, you simply have to accept they are there, that you cannot avoid them, that they will try to sell you everything, and that you’re not going to buy. Once you have some sort of ‘I don’t care how long you stand here, we can talk, we can laugh, but whatever you do, I’m never going to buy anything’ air around you, they’ll notice that and leave. Once you start getting annoyed, they know you might pay them just to get rid of them 🙂 and they’ll stick around.

    Finally, they’re annoying, but in the end they’re just trying to make some money to feed themselves and their family. You probably spend a lot of time in 5 star resorts and organized tours where most of the money you pay ends up in rich men’s pockets, it never hurts to buy something from a local man or woman.

    Enjoy your trip 🙂

  10. I once bought a cobra in a basket from a street vendor in India for about $2 US. Open up the top of the basket and a (toy) cobra pops out! I still have it & (most) everyone gets a laugh from it. They probably still sell them so look for it.

  11. What a coincidence, you were in Bali around the same time as me, and now, last weekend I also drove from Delhi but to Rishikesh and the Himalayan foothills. Did think of heading down to the Taj. Fascinating trip. Part of the journey took place at night. I honestly thought we were going to die!

  12. I took that exact same drive a few weeks ago; didn’t have a cobra though, did you get the dancing monkey? Make sure you don’t buy anything off children, school is now free in India but many kids skip it to try to make money, it’s better in the long run for them if they don’t make a cent. Your photos came out a lot better than mine, I only had a camera phone!

  13. I date myself — it was 10+ years ago but I’ve done the Delhi->Agra journey both by car and by plane – in the car it was a long, hot and scary journey – the flight was on the Indian lufthansa subsiduary
    (not sure if they even exist any more) … the flight was a lot easier/better … the road trip – well watch out for those cows on the road – also make sure the car has safety belts, a/c, lights .. you get the picture 🙂

  14. In India, we play the points game. Anything above 3 people on a motorcycle gets points. 4 = 1 point, 5 = 3 points, 6 = 5 points. then see what the maximum points per day is. Every once in a while see something so out of the ordinary you have to award points as well! Have fun!

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