Trip Start Jun 21, 2009
Trip End Jun 25, 2009

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I didn't know Rajasthan was such a great province. To tell you the truth, when I saw the tour schedule, I thought I could skip Jaipur because it didn't look attractive. However, I was totally wrong and it was a must-visit. On our way to Rajasthan, our guide talked about the characteristics of Rajasthan, which fascinated me to the interesting province and just after we entered Jaipur, the old building along the uphill street more fascinated me. In addition, an elephant walking in the middle of a street truly excited me. So immediately after we arrived at an Indian restaurant for dinner, I broke a rule and left the tour to get back to the elephant. The elephant was huge and I was afraid that he might hit me with his trunk. The driver asked me for a small tip and allowed me to touch the elephant, so I hugged the elephant trunk. Strangely, I was so happy. If I had time, I would have ridden on him. I guess my guide was so anxious about me that he sent the driver to me so as not to be involved in a trouble.
Our guide and my mam was waiting for me in the restaurant. The Indian cuisine was spicy as usual. In the small space of the restaurant, musicians were playing a small drum and a tiny organ. It was not so interesting, but after a while, two female dancers showed up in beautiful local dress. They danced with a pot on their heads. It must be much more difficult than I imagined, but one of them continued to dance with a piles of pots on her head. After the dances, my mom and I were invited to the stage to dance with them. I am very bad at dancing, especially with someone else. Whem my mom rejected their invitation, however, I had to dance with them as scheduled, because I was supposed to pay a large tip for them. Anyway, it was dark outside when we left there for our hotel, Hotel Mansingh. Our hotel was so far from Pink City, the old part of Jaipur, that I couldn't go back there after we arrived at the hotel on the night, although it looked very enjoyable. To tell the truth, I got out of the hotel, but the area seemed dangerous to walk alone at night and went back in 5 minutes.

On the next day, which was the last day in India, I walked around the hotel early in the morning. There was nothing special but a camel eating breakfast by a street. Before going to Amber Fort, which was the main destination on the day, we stopped by Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds and took some pictures. It was a pity that we didn't enter the Palace, because it is famous even in Japan. It was just a picture spot for us. Then we drove to the best spot of Jaipur, Amber Fort. On our way to the fort, we passed by a baby elephant with its owner, which may be working in the fort.

Just after we arrived at the fort, the elephant taxis welcame us. That was the second time for me to get on an elephant, but my first time experience in Thailand was not so good, because I rode on the head of the elephant. This time, however, I was relieved to find a good seat on the back of the elephants. Except for picture venders bothering us, we had a comfortable ride. The musician playing  an Indian instrument was smiling at us. We had enough time to enjoy the ride to the top of the hill where the fort was located.  The views of Amber city and the Great Wall ranging from a mountain to another were splendid. Ganesha gate and huge curry pans were especially impressive in the fort. The fort was the last tourist spot we visited.

Totally satisfied with the travel, we headed back to Delhi. There were some interesting things on the highway which were usually nothing, but interesting when we had nothing to do in the car. Firstly, I saw a lot of Suzukis. I have heard that its market share of cars were more than 50 percent. Actually, I was looking for TATA NANO, the cheapest car of the world, on the way, but I couldn't find them. My guide told me that the release was delayed by a factory scandal in Kolcata. Secondly, almost all the trucks reads "Blow Horn" or "Please Horn" on their rears. I suppose blowing horn is very important to drive in crowded traffic of Indian cities and on the regional highways where you overtake the trucks so often. Besides, you have a lot of chances to see freed bulls as well as donkeys, camels, and sheep. I saw even a horse trot alone in the middle of the highway. Thirdly, I caught a glimpse of Delhi development, such as the lands bought by foreingn companies and metro lines under construction. Indian lands are surely more applicable for architecture than those of Africa.

The last stop was as always a souvenior shop. To be honest, I was not sure of the safty of Indian foods, but Indian teas like Assam and Darjeeling and Indian condiments are famous and adequate for gifts and souveniors. Saree and sticker-bindi were also candidates, but they were not practical in Japan. So we have our guide taken us to a tea shop which looked like a hide-out and the shop owner spoke fluent Japanese. Probably he makes a lot of money, dealing in tea products for Japanese customers. My mom also bought a box of henna there, recommended by our guide.  After that, we stopped by a Chinese and Japanese restaurant in the embassy area and we had Chinese cuisine as the last meal in India. 

In the airport, we had a big trouble. A tag for a carry-on bag was missing before getting aboard. That was the start of the trouble sequence. The departure gate officer told us to go back to the security checkpoint and to have the bag checked again. So we did just as we were told. Unfortunately, however, I was so upset that I left my wallet and camera at the checkpoint, went back to the departure gate and took a bus from the gate to the airplane. In the bus, I realized my wallet and camera were missing. I frantically explained to a ground staff member, because wallet was not so important, but my camera was precious with a lot of pictures of memory. Then he kindly took me to the checkpoint. Eventually, I barely caught the flight, but I was the last passenger to get on, so embarrassed.  

All in all, this travel was just an intro to my next long travel in India and it was good for the first-time visit. It is almost impossible to taste all the Indian culture as a short-time tourist or even a long-time tourist. I would like to visit South India, Darjeeling and Himarayas, Ganga River, Munbai and so on for the next time. However, the more interesting thing in visiting a foreign country is always living a long and common life there, not to travel from one tourist spot to another. The common life is called "Ke" in Japanese; the special occasion like traveling is called "Hare". Visiting Taj Mahal is "Hare" not only for us, but also for Indians. Then, how can we know real India by visiting Taj Mahal? Seeing bulls roam in the big cities is very common to Indians, but not to me and It is such interesting differences that encourages me to go back to India. This time was the first step to know real India at most. At the Guangzhou airport, we met a Japanese guy who had just finished his three week journey, which was his fifth time to visit India. Honestly, I envied him and hoped to travel freely and independently like him in that very different country one day.  
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