Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Six days in India in the back of a Morris Ambassador

So, where were we... Oh yeah, hustled.

10th February 2009

The journey to Jaipur from Delhi was somewhat marred by the fact that we had been screwed over by the Tour Agent in Delhi. With four hours to think through the events of the previous evening, both of us were seething.

But there was nothing we could do about it, and, as it was too soon to laugh about it, I was determined to make the most of having a local driver to tell us all about the fascinating world that is India.

The journey to Rajastan was interesting; this was our first view of India that wasn't a noisy city.

Either side of the motor way the land stretched far and beyond with fields as far as the eye could see. Mustard seed and grass was the main product. It was green and lush and beautiful. But as we neared Jaipur all this began to change.

The land became more barren and the green was replaced with scrub land. Small rocky hills started to appear on the horizon. We were moving into a new area of Delhi.

We arrived mid-evening at a lo-budget guesthouse. We had refused the tour operator's offer of arranging accomodation when he quoted a ridiculous price so we were quite happy to pay considerably less by cutting out the middle man.

Once we sorted our lives out, our driver Kishor took us for dinner. Having been stung in Delhi with the tour we were determined to make our food and accomodation as cheap as possible. So we went and ate with locals.

It was a real ramshackle of a restaurant, and we couldn't read the menu - it was all in Hindi - but we had fantastic curry and chapatti dinner.

After dinner there was a fantastic storm. The lightening was amazing.

11th February 2009 - An unexpected meeting with Bollywood

The mroning started with a phonecall to the Tour Operator. That was fun.

There had been some mix up about wheter our entrance costs to the sights in Rajasthan were included in the money we had paid. In the office the guy (who called himself 007 - don't know why) had said they were, but the contract he gave us did not include this and the driver was unaware also.

I rang 007 and asked if the entrance fees were included. My calm inquiry was recipricated by a massive rant! He started shouting, ranting and raving. I kept calm (although very pissed off). He accused me of thinking him a liar - i replied saying he had lied about Holi Day, so why should I trust him. He ranted some more called me stuipid for thinking the entrance fees were inluced and hung up on me.

I rang straight back.

This time I was personally blamed for the British colonising India - oh yeah, it was all my fault! This did actually make me really mad. I couldn't believe it. While I was fighting back tears he asked to speak to the driver. I duly handed the phone over. Two minutes later the phone was back in my hand and he said that to rectify the situation he would pay for our entry into the Taj Mahal (10 pounds each). I agreed, after all it was only a couple of pounds to pay to get into the other sights that we wanted to see, and ten pounds was better than no pounds.

So after that little kerfuffle to kick start the day we set off to Amber Fort a few kilometres outside Jaipur.

We entered the fort and there were literaally thousands of locals pushing and shoving to get forward. We were so confused, what was going on. Then we looked down into the main entrance to discover elephants, soldiers, royalty and a few camera men. We walked right into a Bollywood film set.

The colours were incredible and the sheer scale that they had taken over the site was vast.

We made it through the crowds and into the Fort. The first few things we saw were incredible - a builging decorated purely with mirrors and the most fantastic artwork painted on to the oputside of the walls. Thne, we fell off the beaten track and got a bit lost. The pump house and latrines were not as splendid thats for sure. The views however over th town of Amber were amazing still though.

We headed to two more hillside forts before headfing back into the city of Jaipur. From Nahargargh the view of Jaipur was amazing. The lake look so peaceful and placid and the city so busy.

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. And is pretty massive! Much bigger than I anticipated.

We spent the afternoon exploring the city. We walked for hours through the bazaars admiring all the saris that glittered in the sun light.

Jaipur was a lot less hassle than Delhi. There was no one tring to grab you attention and offer to be you guide. There was a bit of begging but like in Old Delhi most people were just getting on with their day.

The follwoing morning 12th February we headed to the City Palace. This was beautiful. It was similar inside to the other buildings that we had seen but was much better kept and maintained/ With our audio tours we learnt all about the different types of royal dress, the armouries and the collections. The Hall of Private Audiences inside the palace was simply amazing; it was very rich and regal but despite the gold was not in the slightest bit gaudy or vile.

We then stumbled into the Jantar Mantar Observartory next to the Palace. This was a mystery. Surely it was just a park with some funky sculptures. As we approached the first sculpture we realised it was a sun dial! Of course. And as we wondered round we discovered that akll these funky sculptures were sun dial type things that plotted the stars, moon, sun everything. We couldn't make a lot of sense of it all as there were so many lines and guides and markings on each dial. As we left we thought we might have been better with a guide, but given the complicated nature of celestial mapping, I don't think a guide would have made us any wiser.

That afternnon we set off to Poshkar.

12th, 13th, 14th February

Arriving in early evening was a good time to arrive in Pushkar we wondered through the streets as they were getting busy.

Immediately Pushakar was a much smaller place that anywhere we had been and definitely the most touristy. All of the sari shops were gone and in their place were travellers clothes. The strappy vest tops were certainly not for the locals.

I wasn't sure if i liked the place that evening. It was very different and didn';t seem very Indian. Just lots of white facs with dreadlocks living an easy life.

The next day I formed a very different opinion!

We walked along the south side of the lake in Pushkar. This lake is one of the holy pilgrim sights in India. TThe remains of Ghandi were scattered in the lake and lots of other notabl Indian figures also.

From the south of the lake you could see all the ghats. It was beautfiul and there were very few people around to spoli the peaceful and relaxing ambience.

We decided to take th 250ft climbe to a hilll top templ to look down on the lake, the city and the other temples. Starting off on this walk in the midday heat was not the best plan ever! But once startd we were determined to finish.

Then error strcuk, i broke my flip flop! Half way up and with only one flip flop in tact i paniceked. And clobbered together a quick fix with elastic bands and a safety pin... This only meant one thing./... Shoe shopping was a priority when back down the hill! Wooo! However this moment of prospective purchasing delight was cut short when a group of mioonkeys came to us. Emma rahhhed them and I did a runner with my dodgy flip flop! They must have smelt our bread in our bag. Tehy looked so vicious!!!!

We eventually made it to the top in one piece - exceptmy flip flop. The view was exceptional. after a fair break we headed back down.

(Right, i'm going to have to stop hgere aas the power in kathmandu is about to go off... but when i get chance next i will get back on to finish this tale!)

Lots of love xx





2 comments:

  1. Hi Amy its me bricksey hope youre ok me en er up north are followin you xx

    ReplyDelete