Premise: Our friends – Sarah and Lisa are visiting us for 10 days and we are planning a tour of North India with them.
Disclaimer: I am donning a ‘Nostalgic hat’
Date: 28th Dec, 2007
8:00AM, Hotel Narain Niwas: We all got up and got ready. We were supposed to checkout at 10 and the guy just offered us complimentary breakfast for only 2 people. So, we sent out our white troops to go fetch some free breakfast for us. Both Sarah and Lisa were good sport. They went for the complimentary breakfast (where they had a great breakfast and also saw some slutty dressed woman) and stole us some toasts and butter! Me and Sagita had those stolen toasts in our room. Yes, we did steal those toasts because we wanted to save 500Rs for some simple breakfast.
10:00AM, Checkout: As we checked out, our driver ‘Hansraj’ came to me and told me that he went around looking for place to stay in the morning. He found couple of them for us. He is such a nice guy. So, we tagged along with him and yes, once again Sarah’s big ass suitcase went on top of the car.
By now we discussed and sort of decided that we cannot make it to Dharamshala. I should commend both Sarah & Lisa for being so flexible in their thinking. Even though I sort of feel bad for not being able to take them to Dharamshala, the way they took everything was amazing. I was expecting them to be grumpy about it. But both of them were so nice, they just wanted to have some good time. This helped me a lot as I was already feeling so bad about missing out Dharamshala.
10:30AM, Hotel Rajasthan Palace, Jaipur: We went to check a hotel which was kinda pricey (2400Rs/night) and also didn’t allow 4 people to be in 1 room. Yes, after 4 days of traveling we got so cozy and felt like we are in college and can stay in 1 room decently. So, it didn’t work out. But the hotel next to it was not a problem. This guy offered us a room @ 1000Rs/night, but we wanted the price to go down. Finally we got a 2 rooms right next to each other for 800Rs/night. It was a good deal as we planned to stay there for couple of days.
11:30AM, In our car, Jaipur: We were planning to do a walking tour of the city from the Lonely Planet book. But our driver advised us that we should cover all the long distance tourist points as we have access to car for 2 days only. We agreed, and also our driver was smart enough to think of that.
12:00PM, Jaigad Fort, jaipur: We drove to the top of the mountain arriving at Jaigad Fort. This was a backup fort for King in those old days to keep all his artillery. As usual, our American friends had to shell out more money in entrance fee than us.
One thing to note is that – all the time, there is some topic going on under discussion. It could be life, marriage, love, US, India, travel, Oakland, Weddings, Cleveland, Indian tops, ‘Golden Star’ (I promise I will explain all about this in my next post). So, just imagine a car filled with laughter, talk and making fun of each other.
So once we got inside the fort, we went around to some 2 temples inside. Saw some artillery, old guns etc. Then a guy volunteered himself to take us around. We warned him that we are not looking for a guide, but he insisted that he works there and he is not a guide. So we followed him. He showed us the water tank and how Elephants were used to get the water from down below the valley to the fort. The fort had a fountain back then. A frigging huge one! Those guys some 300 years back cared to have a fountain and make it work without any water pumping systems in place. So cool.
We saw the royal kitchen, dining hall and puppet show. As we were looking down the mountain, we learned that Amber palace is down the hill and we can walk up there. We can walk to AMber palace from Jaigad fort just like the queen used to go on her Elephant. Awesome. So, we took the cobblestone path down there. We informed our driver to come and pick us up at Amber palace.
Once we got to Amber palace – it was packed. There were so many people(where are they NOT?) So we decided that it’s not worth to go inside the palace.
3:00PM, Rajasthan Tourism Dept store, Jaipur: We stopped by in a Govt. recognized store. The girls bought some stuff. But as usual it takes couple of hours. This is where both Sarah and Lisa started their hunt for perfect wall hangings. I took a break by having some tea and after 2 hours and some purchases we were ready to roll.
6:30PM, Choki Dhani, Jaipur: Choki Dhani is an amazing place. It’s a huge place which is like a planned village. It has all the stuff from Rajasthan culture, cuisine, dance, traditions etc. I loved the idea and I think every state should have something like that. For the first time we paid equal amount for tickets – 450Rs.(which includes a traditional Rajasthani dinner)
We wandered around – watching people having fun. Lisa shook a leg with a guy disguised as a woman. Sarah was always doing her dance as we walked. It was like something/someone got into her! Sangita got louder and louder. It was all fun. We were starving. So, we went to a place to eat, and I think it was not yet time to serve food – so a bunch of guys just came to us and stood in circle around us. I knew that they were NOT checking out my goatee.
As it got too freakish there we moved to a different dinner place. It was a traditional Rajasthani food. Little did we knew about the food then. We sat down to eat our food. It was kinda dark and we got served in leaf plates. There is one thing I learned about Rajsthani food that night. They eat hell a lot of sweet. Damn. So, we got served a lot of sweets and then some maize rotis. The bread tasted like cardboard. The curries varied in taste. Added to this all we couldn’t see our food.
Sangita didn’t knew what she was chewing on to and accidentally chewed a cup made of mud which was holding butter. Sarah just amused herself by how she can’t eat anything. I think she ate a granola bar she had in stock(Good work Josh) Lisa made weird face and said that did not go well with her. One thing about Indian serving is: when you say enough, I don’t want any – they do the exact opposite. Poor Sarah, she didn’t knew this – by the end of our dinner, she had so much food in her plate, oh my.
As we got out of that place, we knew we hate Rajasthani food now. No more traditional, local food. After food, we wandered around in Choki Dhani – I got a head massage, all the girls got Henna on their hands. They looked really good when they were dancing with Henna. 🙂
10:30PM, Rajasthan Palace Hotel, Jaipur: Tired as hell and feeling weird about the food we ate we crouched back in our beds. The rooms were cold. Rajasthan would be hot during day and get very cold during nights. We decided that we will go for our Elephant & Camel rides next day.
Read Day # 5