I woke up at 6:00 this morning to catch a taxi my aunt had ordered for me at 6:30. That early in the morning, it took only 40 some odd minutes to make it out the Delhi (Bikanar House). I booked a ticket on the 8:00 coach from Delhi to Jaipur. After about 6 hours in the bus (with a stop around noon), I made it to the bus depot in Jaipur. The ride was only some 250km long, but I guess that’s largly due to the traffic and general chaos that exists on the roads en route.
In Jaipur, I took a auto-riksha to my hotel (Umaid Mahal), which is quite lovely. It’s a bit over priced for what it is, but the decorations inside look picturesque. It’s just that the rooms don’t really match what I’m used to expect for that much money. In some ways, China has spoiled me in terms of these things.
I headed out via a riksha I’d hired for the afternoon to a bunch of places in Jaipur. We started by crossing in to the city walls (e.g. in to the Pink City), which reminded me a lot of the walls at Xi’an, except with a distinctly Indian flavor rather than Chinese. Unfortunatly, it was quite late already so I didn’t have a lot of time to spend at all the various places this afternoon. I started at Hawa Mahal which was awesome, then went over to City Palace, and then to Jantar Mantar. That took up the large part of the afternoon.
Of worth to note, I was chatting in a part of the afternoon with my riksha driver and after a while we exchanged names. I first gave him my name to which he responded “oh Indian name, Indian face” (since I’d prior told him I’m from the states). Then he gave me part of this name and then in the briefest moment of hesitation gave me his full name. His full name very certain Muslim name, and he told me that he was Muslim right away and immediatly asked me “is that a problem?” I, of course, answered that it’s not a problem at all and he replied saying “Muslims, Hindus, all the same people.” It was an interesting exchange.
On recomendation from my aunt and uncle, I went then to a veg resturant apparently of some fame in Jaipur called LMB and had some chaat there. The food was fantastic and the chai was so good. I was there too early to have dinner, but the snacks that I did have were great. Also of note City Palace and the Jantar Mantar area, there were tons of Asian tourists, mostly mainland Chinese (I heard some Cantonese as well as some Japanese). At one point I gave a hand to a few of them in Mandarin. It totally shocked them when I started speaking Putonghua to them.
On the flip side, everybody here expects that I speak and starts speaking to me in Hindi, which is almost a total loss to them. I can understand maybe about 10% of conversational Hindi (e.g. what time things open and close, directions, etc) but that’s about it. Thus, when people are speaking non-specific Hindi, I can make out the gist of what they’re saying but if it gets at all specific or starts using anything but the most basic vocab/non-shared-with-Marathi, I’m lost.
Tomorrow I go to see the rest of the major sights in Jaipur and I’m going to try to catch a bus back to Delhi at around 4pm.