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Published: September 10th 2018
Toast for breakfast. Can’t have bhaji every day you know.
At 10am we met Imran outside, as cheerful as ever. He had a brief talk about where we would go, and then began on our journey.
So we were well aware that the following things would happen during the trip. Firstly, we knew we would get to see some sights. Secondly, we knew Imran would take us to a couple of his mates shops who would give us tours and try and flog us some things, however meg needed some longer trousers so we were happy to go along with that. Finally, we were probably going to end up tipping the bloke. I’m not counting it as a scam because we were well aware this would happen well beforehand. We just had no intention of buying any jewellery or trinkets from his mates. Just some trousers (one pair, after a debate.) I’ll detail each stop chronologically:
Stop one: Gaitore
Gaitore is just outside the pink city (the central area of old Jaipur containing the City Palace.) and was a cremation ground for the old kings and members of royalty. For 50 rupees to enter (for EVERYONE) we roamed around the three parts. It isn’t particularly big even though it is split into three parts, but the incredible architecture, all by hand, and the views straight out of the Jungle Book are more than worth it. We were also lucky enough to see a trio of Langurs (monkeys that look a little bit like lemurs, just with fuck off big fangs) terrorising the security guard. After 20 minutes to half an hour we were back in the Tuk Tuk.
Stop two: Amber Fort
The third on our list of coloured forts so far during our Indian journey, and by far the best. Approaching the fort from the road it truly looks majestic, standing halfway up the side of a large hill, guarded by a crocodile infested lake (allegedly, I looked my damned hardest from the safety of the bridge above but to no avail. One brave bloke was even washing his water bottle in there without even an inkling of fear. Crazy man.). There were elephant rides up the hill which we did not take (more on the morality of elephants later) so we walked up the hill via the carved stone pathway which winds on eternally until you reach the gate. Inside you could get lost for hours (we managed to get lost for one and we walk fast). There are millions of unique routes to navigate this place. Viewpoints to look out over the Rajasthani hills, Halls and museums to inspect, and connecting tunnels to marvel at as bats hang from the ceiling in the safety of the shadows. It definitely made the other 2 forts, from Delhi and Agra respectively, look wanting. Plus it got our step goal up, everyone is a winner.
Stop Three: Elephant Village
Now we discussed this for a long time. A lot is mentioned about the treatment of elephants on the Asian subcontinent, we ourselves are spending a week at the elephant village north of Chaing Mai to volunteer for this very reason. Initially when asked we had said no but we had been told to hold an open mind and just speak to the staff there, if we were not comfortable then there was no pressure.
The elephant village itself engulfs a forest and hosts about 100 elephants. There are multiple places to see the elephants themselves and multiple companies that host the elephants. The site we entered was just at the front of the village, and as we entered we saw 2 elephants having their faces stuffed full of bananas. Good start. We spoke to a Nepali volunteer who informed us that the elephants are purchased from the government who cannot afford to continually fund their care and support, as the majority in the sanctuary were not native and have been taken from circuses or por environments, and would struggle without the human relationships. The elephants were not chained up and were free to leave at any time, although to be fair if you stuck me in nandos and said I was free to leave at any time then shovelled me with chicken, you’d be able to visit me whenever you wanted on table 4. After half an hour chatting and going through what you could do we decided to introduce ourselves and feed the elephants. This entailed stroking Lakshmi (the elephant) firmly on her belly, neck and trunk, before feeding her several kilos of bananas. Not the worst life, and nothing about Lakshmi’s mannerisms or persona seemed to give off the impression that she was upset or in pain. We could debate til the end of time these issues. That’s what happened. Lets leave it at that shall we.
Stop four: the shops.
After a biriyani lunch (8/10), we were taken to Imran’s mates shop. We were given a tour of his textile factory and Meg got the trousers she wanted. We were then shepherded to a jewellers but didn’t buy, and then the same happened at the handicrafts shop we went to afterwards. We are pretty sure Imran got some sort of commission on this as when it was apparent we were not buying anything he seemed a lot less talkative and glum.
Stop five: Monkey Temple
The monkey temple, which is ironically a temple in honour of Ganesh as oppose to the monkey god Hanuman, is located in the hills just outside of Jaipur. We were parked at the bottom of the hill. As we began walking up we were startled by a woman who approached silently and poked me in the forehead with some red paint before demanding money. The sneak even demanded more money when we threw a 20 her way. Monkeys (obviously) laced the pathways, lying around, occasionally following people if they caught the scent of something edible. At the top of the hill is the sun temple where we sat and a handful of rice and sugar and had a small wristband tied around our hands. All to entice a donation, so we thought we best had. We ventured down the otherside of the hill and purchased some peanuts. Truth be told we didn’t actually go into the temple grounds, we just sat outside feeding the monkeys. That was all we had really come to do. The monkeys are very calm in taking or refusing the food given to them. We stashed the majority for the peanuts for the journey back to feed as many of the monkeys as we can. A whole family collared us on the way back for an annoyingly large amount of photos with foreigners. It was a lot hotter on the walk back and by the time we got back we were just about ready to return home. Imran dropped us off at 6pm and was off into the evening (to the train station for the next one I presume.)
We had dinner on the roof of the hostel again and after another couple of beers we decided to call it a night. A long, but decent day all in all.
Steps amassed: 13,424
Bites amassed: 9
Photos with foreigners: 19
Top Tip: If you see a crocodile warning sign, don’t even think about washing your water bottle out in it. Doesn’t matter how big the body of water is, why take the chance. Nutter.
Tot: 2.676s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 10; qc: 49; dbt: 0.048s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb