The train to Jaipur was overnight again, significantly shorter – 8 hours instead of 12, and we were in 2AC class this time. The sheets and pillows were useful, although the blanket got used as more pillow instead! Unfortunately it was actually not that comfortable a night even though the digs were better – it was kind of hot and stuffy (despite the “AC”) and even though it was nice and dark it was really difficult to get a good sleep. Also, since this time we weren’t getting off at the end of the line, we had to just set and alarm (5:45 am) and hope we got off at the right station!
This time our assigned berths were stupid, I think they were one upper berth and one lower side berth? Didn’t make much sense. We ended up just looking at the passenger list and camping out in some that weren’t assigned – when the ticket checker came along we seem to have convinced him that it would be okay, so we ended up upper berths again. It’s lower and much easier to get into in 2AC because it’s only 2 tier.
We actually arrived in Jaipur more on less on time at 6am, and were picked up by a nice auto driver hired again by the hotel, Madhuban – they let us check in early too, which was awesome. Another nap and shower – and this place actually had a shower space, with a lip a couple inches high at the bottom and a shower curtain! In case you’re wondering, “what does that mean about the other places?”, there were shower heads in the other hotels we stayed in, but they were just in the side of the bathroom wall – no actually shower space, the water just got all over the place and it was a pain. Anyway, Madhuban was really nice! Great bed.
After a rest we had a great breakfast in the garden, then got an auto (who turned out to be the previous guy’s dad!) to the City Palace. I’m pretty sure every town has one!
This one wasn’t as big or impressive as the one in Udaipur, but it was worth a look – they had some really great textile exhibits, although photography wasn’t allowed (sadly).
We walked down to the wall that surrounds the old city to go to a restaurant recommended in the guidebook called Ganesh – it’s actually on the top of the wall, and super tiny, but good food! And you can watch the cooks do their thing, too. Mmm, naan.
Then it was back up to the City Palace again to see Jantar Mantar, the more famous and touristy one.
This observatory was super similar to the one we visited in Delhi (obviously!) but with lots more instruments, and more upkeep.
Last stop of the day was Hawa Mahal, which is actually an extension of the City Palace (but you have to pay separately to go in). Fun to climb up inside, because it’s all ramps and not stairs! We got there pretty close to closing time, but the security guard was nice enough to let the people inside stay until about 5 (it closes at 4:30).
With no photographic evidence of the following, we got an auto driver to take us to a hotel with a recommended restaurant to check it out (the rooftop restaurant at Hotel Pearl Palace), and decided to take a walk to Anokhi, which was fairly close by, but it was kind of a crazy walk and in the dark! They had super cute clothing, and in the limited amount of time I had there (they were closing in like 20 minutes) I managed to pick up a nice skirt and top. They do a lot of handprinting, so I picked up a few of their books on printing as well! We walked back to the restaurant, which was really busy by then, and ended up eating our meals in rocking chairs – service was a little slow, but the food was good and really inexpensive! On the auto ride home I wasn’t paying enough attention and managed to conk my head pretty massively on a rod in the top of the auto when we went over a bump. Ow.
The next day we hired the dad-auto-driver to take us around a bit – to Amber Fort, which is a few clicks outside Jaipur, as well as a tomb that he told us wasn’t in the guidebooks. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it was lovely! And very peaceful – we were the only ones there.
All white marble, tons of really intricate carvings.
Then it was on to Amber Fort.
It’s a bit of a climb to get up – you can take an elephant ride but I wouldn’t want to. It’s slower than walking, and I feel really bad that the elephants aren’t treated very well despite efforts to improve their living conditions. Somehow we ended up going into the fort from some back entrance (we still had to buy a ticket though) and walked through opposite to the usual route! It was really fun, because there were few people at the end (where we came in) and there were all sorts of hallways and little rooms and things to explore.
The sections near the normal entrance are much grander and more fully restored!
Since we took the route backwards we ended up going out the front entrance, which was kind of a mistake – probably should’ve just gone back the way we came in! Instead we exited on the total other side of the fort and had to walk all the way around through the town (which was interesting, but I was tired) to get back to the car park where the auto was. Since we spent so much time at the fort we didn’t have time to go to the last place he wanted to take us, the Monkey Temple – monkeys scare me a bit so I’m actually rather glad! Instead we went for some lunch at a really good and super cheap ($4 for two curries, rice, naan), then we went to a really nice textiles store.
It was pretty overwhelming (they also sold readymade home textiles and things) but I picked out some fabric that they handprint in the warehouse, before we headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, and to the train station, again. This time we were much closer to Delhi, so we were just taking a chair car for about five hours. They don’t rotate the seats or anything though…and we were travelling backwards :( Luckily it was dark outside so it was okay after a little while of getting used to it!
The next day in Delhi (Wednesday the 25th) was really the last day I had for sightseeing, since I was leaving on Friday morning and would need to pack on Thursday. We hopped on the metro and went walking on Chandni Chowk, a big market area. There’s all sorts of shops selling everything – spices, paneer, souvenir stuff, whatever you need.
And then there’s Jalabiwala!
Jalebis (juh-lay-bees) are one of India’s many sweet snacks – a sweet batter is extruded from a piping-type bag into hot oil in curlicues, is fried up and then given a dunking in a sugar syrup bath. They’re oily, sugary, and actually surprisingly light in texture! I wouldn’t fill up on it though. We just bought a few pieces.
Popped into the Red Fort briefly mainly just to say we went and looked at it – nothing really special and we were pretty palace-d/fort-ed out. On Thursday we hung around the house, me trying desperately to fit everything in my suitcase, and went to see Slumdog Millionaire at a big cinema in a mall nearby. It was a pretty cool experience to see it while in India, although the security to get into the cinema is crazy! It’s in a mall, so first you go through a metal detector with possible bag search and frisking to get into the mall, then again to get into the movie theatre! It’s a little overzealous really.
I did manage to get everything in and the bag closed, and under the weight limit at that – I wasn’t terribly excited to fly again, although I did like the idea of going somewhere else! I was also sad that I was going to be travelling on my own – Vig is still currently in India, and won’t be home until May (with a few other stops along the way). It’s no fun travelling by yourself! At least, not for me.
Luckily I had a good friend to stay with (mooch off of) on my next stop!