Monkey Business

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Madhuban Heritage Guesthouse

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Thursday, December 23, 2010

As evident from the photos, the23rd of December was another epic day of sightseeing. After the sucess of taxi sightseeing in Bombay, we booked to do the same here in Jaipur - this time however our driver (Serr Singh) was all for taking us where we wanted to go and didn't pretend not to hear when our plans deviated from his! Our first port of call was Sanganer, which was supposed to be a village famous for its traditionally made printed cloth. They had evidently been so successful that the village had morphed into a large town. When Singh dropped us at Salim's paper factory and told us to go in, our expectations of fun to be had were low, but it was actually amazing. Wandering around inside a working factory and climbing around working machines is obviously something health and safety conscious Europe would never allow. Typically, both Dan and Dad had to be dragged away from investigating the workings of machines both here and later in the cloth making factory. Some of the workers jobs were definitely very dodgy, one printing press involved a man having to put his hand right in between two plates which snapped shut just as he removed it each time. Another involved a man holding the edge of the paper millimeters from a razor sharp guillotine. We also watched teams of men making gift bags for expensive shops and intricately designed chocolate boxes by hand. The women putting the handles on gift bags were really intrigued by my plaited hair and loved it when I took their photo and showed them. In the gift shop we saw that the paper, cards, and gift bags they make here get sent all around the world, even to the dreaded Tescos - no wonder gift bags are expensive, a great deal of work goes into them!
The cloth factory we were taken to next was just as spectacular, although we couldn't believe in when we arrived at the site, and Singh  drove the jeep straight over all the cloths lying drying in the sun!!! Completely bizarre, but it seemed to be common practice as many people and a camel dragging a cart did the same thing. Presumably they go to some industrial washing center to remove tyre marks, camel poo and dust before sale. We saw every stage from washing, and dying to detailed printing and were then taken to a shop where hopefully Singh earned some good commission from Mum and Dad buying more presents.
The Lonely Planet had told us to go to the Amber Fort in the afternoon so that it would be quieter, but it neglected to mention that the elephants rides we wanted to take were only available until 12. We whizzed up in the jeep instead and spent an hour wandering around through the tiny passageways of the fort, trying to find our way to the top. Dan and I eventually found it, but we'd lost the other Gick's by that stage and Mikey's stomach had forced him to sprint off on a toilet mission. We eventually met outside and set off in search of elephant to ride.
    The enormous elephant we found was gorgeous, but none of us were happy about the trainer who had a big pointed stake to control him, and really the whole thing felt like something we shouldn't have been participating in.  There were about 15 elephants there and none looked particularly happy. We cut the ride short and got out of there quickly as the trainer wasn't best pleased with our tiny tip and he looked quite menacing astride a 10ft, 2 tonne elephant.
    Next stop was the Monkey temple where Dan had a great time feeding them by hand and one even jumped on his back. I didn't like them much, but they were at least free and definitely having a lovely time being fed by tourists all day. There were also specatcular views of the pink city from the top temple.
Back at the hotel we finally took our gin and tonics out into the garden and watched the father and son traditional puppet show which they had been inviting us to each night. It was hilarious and surprisingly raunchy in parts. They also played a nasty trick on me making a snake jump out. Lucky it wasn't Mikey as I think he might have cried.
We ate in the hotel so that Mikey could get to bed early in preparation for his 150 mile cycle to Agra the next day! I had spagetti bolognaise made from goat - surprisingly nice.
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