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Published: January 25th 2012
Palace of the Winds
Didn't go inside. Wish we had.
Okay, I have run out of clever adjectives to use to describe India while mocking their 'Incredible India' campaign, so I'm just going to use regular titles now. You can tell by the title of this one what's going to happen today.
Hardev called this morning to say that the car had a big problem, which doesn't surprise me given how many speed bumps he'd hit at full speed or how many times we'd gone off-roading to pass a traffic jam, which I was fine with. But that car had taken a beating and I was surprised it got us this far. So the company was sending a replacement from Delhi that would pick us up in the morning. In the meantime, we would use an Ambassador (older model British car) taxi and driver today, and Hardev would accompany us, but since he wasn't driving, he opened my door for me. For the first 10 days he opened Annette's door because she sat behind him. So today we both got our doors opened for us, which was nice. That sure as hell never happened when I lived in Turkey. But that's another story...
The only disadvantage was that now
we had to tip this driver, which wasn't planned. And while it is not a huge deal, I did feel like the company should not only pay him, but tip him as well, because now we ended having to tip Hardev, this taxi driver for one day, and our new driver for our last two days, rather than just one driver - Hardev. This seemed a bit wrong to me since the car problem was not our fault.
So we got a bit of a late start today, 10AM, but our first stop was short. We went to Palace of the Winds, crossed the street to take a picture, and got in the car and drove on. I wanted to go inside as I had already read about this place, but Hardev said there was nothing inside. I was a bit miffed, to be honest. According to what I had read, it was a palace worth seeing. It was certainly unusual on the outside. Jaipur is known as the Pink City because of all the pink stone used for building. But we were whisked away to our next stop.
Another fort. Oh boy. The Amber Fort (200Rs) is
Building in Jaipur
Too many of them look like this
just outside Jaipur. I was so sick of forts, but this one was interesting. Inside there were about 10 pitiful elephants giving rides to tourists, although most of them had no passengers with the exception of their owner/driver/trainer, whatever they are. We saw one guy hit his elephant for no reason and another guy yell at him for it. I felt so bad for the elephants. They suffer in the dry heat and cold nights of the desert and are not native to this part of India. Clearly some of them are treated poorly by the owners and they must be bored out of their minds walking around in a circle all day. If you visit the Amber Fort, I beg you, don't encourage this behavior, although I don't know what would become of these poor elephants if they didn't work at the fort.
Inside the fort was, well, much like all the others, but in better condition it seemed. We wandered around enjoying the great views and architecture, but after one and a half hours, we were done. So we left and found Hardev waiting for us where we drove on to our next photo opp - Water
Palace. This used to be a hotel, but in recent years became flooded and is now half under water. We were told that all of the furniture, etc, is still inside, but only the top floor is not under water. I'm not sure how it came to be under water, but I know that 10 years ago people were still staying at this palatial hotel. We took a photo of it in the middle of the filthy lake and off we went.
We needed to go to the Air India office, there is only one in all of Jaipur, to change Annette's ticket to Varanasi, so we did that, which between the drive and actually changing the ticket took almost two hours, and then we had some lunch at a hotel, which also miffed me a bit. I asked if we could eat at a place called Moti Mahal, but Hardev said it was too far. So they took us to this nice hotel where they clearly received a commission for bringing tourists there. I don't have a problem with them making commission, but posh hotels like this one will always be way more expensive than a restaurant, so
we got double whammied again! The food was good, not great, but cost more than twice what we would have paid at a restaurant.
At this point we didn't have time to visit City Palace and didn't really care, but had I known what awaited us, I would have insisted on seeing it anyway. It was all the way across town from where we were supposedly going to meet our new driver with our replacement car. But our new car supposedly wasn't here yet, so we drove a long way to another textile factory, where, of course, our driver would make a commission if we bought anything. I had clearly told him we didn't want to go, that we had bought enough textiles. I thought I was very clear. But we ended up there anyway after a very long drive in traffic. Once again, I was pretty ticked off. I didn't buy anything, but Annette did after a very hard sell by a jewelry salesman. But we both agreed the ring was stunning a good price.
We made the long drive back to our replacement car which just happened to arrive from Delhi while we were at the
textile factory. It was shiny and new and bigger than our Tata Indica, and the driver was really nice, but spoke very little English. But he turned out to be an excellent driver. The car was his personal car, so Hardev would not be going any further with us. He had to wait in Jaipur with the old car. Much as I liked Hardev, I felt like he had taken advantage of us today and NOT really given us our money's worth in Jaipur. But changing that plane ticket was a major pain and cost us some major time as well.
Hardev came back to our hotel because there was no way this new driver could find it on his own. We said goodbye and gave Hardev a hefty tip. Annette gave him more than me, but he made out pretty well off of us after our time with him was cut short by two days.
At the hotel we asked if they served beer or wine, and they didn't, which is surprisingly common in India, so we just said okay. Then we went downstairs to use the internet and one of the hotel guys told us he
would get us a beer and wine from across the street if we wanted. So he did. And he didn't ask for any money. We thought it would be on our bill the next morning, so we didn't offer, not thinking that if they can't serve it, they can't write it on a bill. But that was so nice of him to go and get it for us.
Back in the room I finally ate my Chocolate Ball that I bought from Cafe Edelweiss in Udaipur. If you go to India and see something called a Chocolate Ball on a menu, don't think. Just get it. Eat it. And then you'll drool in your sleep dreaming about it. Why didn't I get two?
I was so tired after all that time in the car today. In the traffic. And the pollution. Green Jaipur my a**. But I was looking forward to going to Agra tomorrow and finally seeing the Taj Mahal!
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