Jaipur Day 2 and Back in Delhi

My riksha driver picked me at up 9:30am on Thursday and we made our way to multiple multiple forts through the day. I’d eaten something funny on Wednesday and I woke up with a stomachache that haunted me all day long.

Instead of starting on the itinerary we’d discussed in the morning, we stopped by an oil store to pick up some motor oil for the riksha. What good would a quart of motor oil be without having your engine serviced? So we stopped on the side of some street and had the riksha serviced and oil changed before we acutally got on our way. At first I was getting irritated but decided to let it side and just assume this is part of the experience.

We then really started at the Lake Palace, then went up this huge hill (mountain?) in his little green and yellow autoriksha to start at Nahargarh Fort. Then we crossed through the mountain top to Jaigarh Forth, which I wasn’t too impressed with. It was just large and there wasn’t much to see there. We then went on to Amber Palace, which was just amazing. As you approach, it’s even higher on the hill top, with steps and elephants and monkeys crossing up and down (not to mention people as well). I opted for the little more foreigner-with-upset-stomach approach, and took a jeep up to the top and decided to hire a guide at this fort as well. It’s stunning on the inside with marble rooms in places, huge gardens on the inside, mirrored walls adorning columnades, internal cooling systems, etc, etc. Simply fantastic.

By this time it was about 2:30pm and I’d done most of the major sites so I made my way back to the bus stop and managed to catch the last seat on the 4pm Volvo bus back to Delhi and was picked up near Iffco Chowk about an hour ourside of Delhi proper. Pretty grewling 36 hours, but well worth it.

Today was pretty low key. I went back in to Delhi, saw the National Museum (the first floor of which is awesome, the second and there were iffy at best mostly due to presentation rather than content). Then I went to Connaught Circus and hung out there in the afternoon browsing through the streets and the spokes off the wheel. In the evening, I had dinner with my other uncle who lives in this area and just got back. Tomorrow, I’m off to Mumbai on the 10am flight (via Kingfisher Airlines no less, the company known for its beer).

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Jaipur Day 1

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.

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