Trip Start Jun 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Where I stayed
Savage Garden Hotel

Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

After a hot 6 hour journey on the local train and local bus (during which I had a sleeping baby on my knee and her mother almost on it too!) we arrived in Udaipur.

It's quite a big city but feels like a small town as the tourist area is based around Lake Picholo, which is beautiful, and has a gorgeous palace set in the middle of it (where they filmed the James Bond film Octopussy). The streets are narrow and are brimming with local artists and crafts, as well as a plethora of con-artists and salesmen! The hotels are a mixture of 5 star luxury, complete with mirrored mosaic fronts, and small (less luxurious) guest houses (we're staying in the latter, of course! - Hotel Lakeshore, right on the water front... it's no palace but the owner's very friendly and the view's second to none).

We spent our first afternoon chatting with the owner of the guest house and wandering around the streets, trying not to be sucked into any shops, and looking at the gorgeous, almost European architecture around us. After a yummy (if a little expensive) curry at Savage Garden Hotel, and a phone call to the family (followed by a few homesick tears) we hit the sack ready for a full day of sightseeing the following day.

Well, the sightseeing seemed to get delayed and in it's place came almost a whole day of shopping!! I bought a gorgeous green skirt, and a few prezzies, and Pete indulged in some camel leather shoes! (which look like Poppa's slippers).

We spent a couple of hours in the home of Shashi; a lovely lady who opens up her house to give cookery lessons. We made some DELICIOUS things and spent some time chatting and drinking chai with her and her 2 teenage sons. Her husband was murdered 5 years ago by his best friend, all for the sake of a 50,000 rupee business (about 600 pounds) and she is still really suffering his loss. With the help and advice of an Irish tourist she has opened a small restaurant, and her cookery school. She's an amazing woman, and I went back to her for a massage and more chatting and chai later on. She was crying for her husband and telling me how fantastic he was, and how much she misses him. It made me cry to think that his life was taken from her for such a small amount of money. We have promised that we will buy her a lovely present before we go, and will write to the Lonely Planet to try and get her cookery school some exposure.

The next couple of days were spent visiting the palace and museum, more shopping, and a spot of sunbathing. We also took a 3 hour drive through the (amazing) countryside through small villages, to the Ranakpur temple. It's made from white marble, and contains 1400 elaborate pillars... no two decorated the same. It's beautiful, and is similar in style to the temples of Angkor Wat. The drive out here was by far the highlight of the day for me though (I'm a bit templed-out to be honest). we really got to see Rajistani village life. All the women wearing their luminous saris, as is typical in Rajistan, carrying water and crops on their heads, and children shouting 'One pen?' at us as we drove by. Even out here the children all wear their pristine Salwar Kamees school uniforms, and walk in line to school with their huge satchels on their backs and two plats looped up in ribbons. It was a really lovley journey, and a little bit off the tourist track which always feels nice. (Although nowhere is very far off the tourist track in Rajastan).

We were wowed by the traditional dancing at Bagor Ki Havelli. One lady performed a traditional Western Rajistani dance with 9 huge waterpots balanced on her head! There was also a fantastic traditional puppet show which was so skilled and fun to watch. It was lovely, and really built up our apetites for a CHICKEN meal at the lovley Jagat Niwas Hotel. It's only the 4th time we've had chicken since we've been here so we really enjoyed every mouthful. Even if it was a very expensive resturant, it was worth it for me to be able to wear my pretty green skirt that I bought here, and look like a lady for once!

Over the next few days we went back to visit Shashi a couple of times for chai (made by me!), and she showed us all her family photos. We've have made many more acquaintances here... it's such a small place that when we're walking down the street we now know all the names and faces of the shopkeepers and locals! It's really lovely, but all good things must come to an end, and tonight we are heading south west to a relaxing island called Diu, just south of the region of Gujurat.

Until next time... xx
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