Jaipur was such a cool destination. We stayed at an amazing hotel after learning our lesson in Agra about hostels in India. The room cost us only $13 each a night and it was worth every penny! Anuraag Villa is a cozy little hotel away from the crazy, noisy streets of Jaipur. They were very organized, clean, and helpful. The beautiful garden made this place a great escape from the crazy, sometimes overwhelming, Jaipur.
If we thought traffic was bad in New Delhi we were proven that it could be worse. We have decided that ear plugs while riding around town is a must. The horns here seem to be 150% louder than any other horn I've ever experienced, and they love to lay down on the horns here. It's constant, this honking of the horn. In other countries, honking of the horn seems to be used as a helpful driving technique to let the other driver know you are there. In India, it's that with an added aggressiveness of needing to push through the traffic with no one else in mind but yourself. There have been so many close calls in just the one week we've been
The Old City
supposed to be pink
here! These drivers are so careless of others as long as they get to where they are going first. I've never been so tense during a commute in my life.
While in Jaipur we spent a lot of time on foot exploring the historic city. Our first day we explored the City Palace and Old City area of town. Along the way to the City Palace are many different bazaars, each specializing in certain things such as textiles, silver, marble, metal, bangles, gold, and food. Lauren and I finally took advantage of the beautiful scarfs in India. We found a shop that offered scarves in the Indian Bandhani (tie dye) and Loharia (waves tie dye) styles and managed to control ourselves and only bought two each at $5 a pop. It's a good thing I have Lauren to ground my shopping needs, otherwise I'd have walked out of there with 10 scarves claiming they were all gifts. I love all the bright colors the scarves come in and can't wait to sport them in Germany!
The Old City is famous for being pink, but we thought it looked more orange, either way the architecture
Fort/Palace Amber and Jaigarh Fort
we climbed all the way to the very top!
was marvelous. Walking through the bazaars along the walls of the palace grounds was really fun. We even crossed paths with a few cows who were enjoying the shade of the sidewalk. They took us by surprise, one minute we are looking at grains for sale and the next we are head on with a massive cow! We got out of their way fast and watched them continue on. Such a funny experience. There were so many shoppers (all local) at the bazaars. I loved watching the transactions take place as we wandered through.
The City Palace it's self was a piece of art. The murals on the walls of the palace are so intricate and detailed. In the main courtyard, there were four doors each representing a season. They were marvelous pieces of art. The peacock door, representing Fall, was my favorite. I really loved the deco style here in India… I'm definitely saving some ideas for a future home! My home is going to be a mix of everything, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, German, Chinese, and American!
Our second full day, we took a rickshaw ride to the Amber Fort and Palace just
11 km north of Jaipur. This fort and palace once was the capital of Jaipur state, before Rajasthan became a state. The fort and palace are settled on top of the hills overlooking and protecting the town below. From up top you have a vast view of the surrounding land. There was even a surrounding wall protecting the area from enemies, it reminded me a lot of the Great Wall of China. Amber Fort was built in the 16th century and is still a spectacular piece of architecture, it took my breath away. Above the fort/palace lays Jaigarh, a fort that had never been captured in all it's history. It houses the world's largest canon on wheels. The canon has never been used and the fort is one of India's best preserved military structures. We walked from the main street up to the Amber Fort and palace and then continued on to Jaigarh fort. It was a tall/steep hill that seemed longer with the incline and heat of the day! We sure worked up a sweat but the views from the very top of the Jaigarh fort made our efforts well worth it.
On our way down
look how scared the little white faced monkeys were! :(
from Jaigarh fort, we encountered a mean little monkey fight. We stood and watched for a while not knowing how the battle would end. It seemed two little white faced monkeys found themselves in a tree with a bunch of black faced monkeys who didn't like their presence. The biggest of the black faced monkeys showed his teeth and went into attack mode on these tiny white faced monkeys. They seemed stuck in their branch. It was too high for them to jump down from and they were cornered with no where else to go. A few stressful moments passed when finally one of the white faced monkeys took an opportunity and jumped clear to another far branch and made his way down the tree. The distance of the tree branch was outstanding and we were shocked to see the bravery of this little monkey. The other monkey hadn't brought up the courage yet and was stuck. Out numbered and scared the white monkey cowered in his branch. Finally, a bigger white faced monkey jumps from a neighboring tree and knocks big black faced monkey straight out of the tree! He saved the day! We kept a distance as we
watched with astonishment before we decided we should leave the monkey's to their world and headed back down to our rickshaw.
As I mentioned before, Lauren and Ben know how to eat and eat well! We found some great restaurants here in Jaipur which I will list in case anyone is going to be in Jaipur at any point. We really enjoyed Handi Restaurant, Natraj Restaurant, Bake Hut, Anokhi, and Moti Mahal Delux. So far in India, I've had two chicken dishes and everything else has been vegetarian. I love every bite! Nothing has been bad yet! My favorite dish, any sort of Dahl.
So after a week in India, I'm becoming more comfortable in India but still ever cautious. Walking around the streets we are always on edge. Watching our bags and our bodies as we pass crowds of people. The men try to get a quick feel and the little kids are shameless as they grab hold of your clothing begging for money. Rickshaw drivers attack with offers even though they see that you just got out of a rickshaw just moments before. Countless times, I've been complimented only to try to
soften me up. I have eyes of Angelina Jolie apparently and because of my skin tone I am beautiful. Everywhere, people want handshakes and are always curious to find out where we are from. It's never ending. This really is a different world from what we are used to. Sometimes I wish that it would be less so that we don't have to be so rude when we are walking the streets. There is no way that we can possibly listen to each person that addresses us and it's hard to see when it's sincere or for want of our money. One time I was called a racist for not stopping to have a conversation with someone who was trying to sell me something. So frustrating!
At any rate, this isn't just in Jaipur but all over India. It's something we are coming to terms with because we are loving every moment here. As I write this, we are now in Udaipur. I'm staring out my window at the palace on the lake whilst sitting in my bed enjoying the A/C. It is such a wonderful view and a great way to relax. Getting to Udaipur was
no easy task and I'll be leaving that to another entry. The fun experience of taking a private bus in India.
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