Jaiur - The Pink City

Trip Start Feb 15, 2006
Trip End Feb 16, 2007

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Having only spent 3 nights and days in Dehli I'm not sure Ben was ready to leave. He loved the hustle and bustle, while me I was ready for something new.

Our driver picked us up at 8am and we set off to Jaipur. A long 5 hour drive ahead of us. Our driver is a petite man with a broad warm friendly smile and a funny face. Ben is unsure of him but I instantly like him.

Leaving Dehli this early we are told we will miss much of the heavy traffic. The traffic is still heavy, but then I'm sure had we set off an hour later it would have been much worse.

We took in our last sights of Dehli as we left Parganj. Family's gather outside cooking breakfast and sweeping the path to the entrance of their humble homes, so proud of the tiny space which belongs to them. The children play in the street with no shoes, yet their clothes are as modern as ours. They are happy as are their parents and perhaps grandparents in most cases as most live to quite an age.

Ben and I fall asleep as the roads turned into highways and became less noisy but just as busy. We are woken to stop for lunch. The hotel looked posh though somewhat disused. It was in the middle of nowhere and no one was around. We see an empty swimming pool out back devoid of water. Had it been full Ben and I would have jumped in fully clothed. It's much hotter now and the sun is blazing.

We return to the car and continue our journey taking in the things around us. The hustle and bustle of Dehli is far behind us now. Occasionally we pass trough a town and a touch of Dehli is seen again. Masses of people crossing the highway, small shops and dwellings arranged on both sides. Cows wondering freely down the road.

The vehicles have changed too. There are still plenty cars, motor cycles, push bikes and rickshaw's. Now added to these we see camels pulling heavy loads, some kind of tractor carrying bails as large as your living room. We see dwellings made of part stone with straw roofs and still we still see tents made of sticks and cloth along the side of the road.

We come to a section of the highway which is closed for resurfacing and the car is diverted on to the other carriage. We see this all the time in England where the other lane has been coned of in to two lanes. Here we just drive. No cones; no signs. The traffic is heading straight towards us then swiftly moves to the right as we travel at speed on the same stretch of road. Our driver overtakes a small freight truck and the road is clear for maybe 200 hundred yards then we see a big truck heading towards us. As he pulls in to the space ahead we both sigh with relief. This happens many times on our journey as we dodge people, cows, goats and bikes. No one here has right away you just drive.

The mountains appear as if from no where and as we enter Jaipur we can see the fort with its walls and look out towers built hundreds of years ago.

The car turns right then swiftly left and stops abruptly. Our driver tells us in broken English, we take elephant ride up to fort. We pack our things away and go to wait on the high wall were the elephant collects its passengers. Then we are told no more elephant rides today, but we may walk up if we like. I look way up to the top with its huge red fort standing proud guarding the once royal city. Ben and I look at each other and we suggest the driver brings us back tomorrow. No problem. We get back in the car and head into the city. The roads are bedlam once again.

We arrive at our hotel around 3.30pm. It's not much to look at from the outside and it's even worse once inside! Our driver has dashed off to sort the car out - it's been over heating. We shower and change and wait for his return. We are ready to see the sights even though the day is nearly over.

When Paveen returns he can't find his keys. He looks everywhere then realises they are still in his pocket! We climb in the back of the car and are ready to set off. As Paveen slams his door shut the new wing mirror he has just purchased falls out of its casing onto the floor and shatters. He moves the car forwards and then realises he has just driven over it. He stops the car gets out picks it up and laughs saying "its good luck to break mirror in India" climbs back in the car, puts the broken mirror back in its casing and we head off.

It's almost rush hour and the traffic is mental. A young girl of about 15 is knocked of her bike - the first of many we will see. We pass through the Pink City - it's called this because the buildings are painted pink - well more terracotta but I'm not sure the Terracotta City has the same ring to it? We weave our way through the back streets till we reach a temple stood way up high. I look up at the long winding path we must follow there must be 2000 steps and so we begin our accent up the hill hoping the view as promised will be worth it. After 20 steps a man calls to us 'hello, this way is easier' so we follow him. We talk while we climb. He tells us he goes to pray and has just argued with his girlfriend. It is peaceful so he can think. I can no longer talk. I am out of breath and exhausted and we are not even half way up. Some of these steps are huge - easily more than a foot high - my little legs can't cope! At last the top and the view is awesome. The decent is much easier and we take the quick way passing little old ladies on there way up to pray - there legs are small like mine and I wonder how on earth they manage to climb this every day?

Back at the car Paveen is waiting and we head off to the first of the many Emporiums we will visit over the next 6 days. Its part of his job to take us there the company gets commission and so does he if we buy things. He tells us not to buy - too expensive. But we get to meet Australian John who has set up his own textile firm and fell in love with India and his Indian wife quite a few years ago. He feels he is giving something back to a country that has given him so much. He pays his workers above the going rate and the ones we spoke to seemed happy and content.

We head off for dinner at a beautiful restaurant with Indian dancing (can't remember the name). The food was good and yes they had me up dancing - what a sight in my walking shoes!!

The next morning we make it to the fort and take the elephant ride to the top and wonder round for a few hours. It's huge, full of small rooms, corridors leading all over and gardens. From there we head to the monkey temple and feed the monkeys. There are other animals too. One was a cow with a leg growing out of its neck!! Its owner was charging 20rs a photo; I declined at the thought and walked away.

We have dinner at the same place as the night before and get an early night, Paveen wants to set off early to miss the traffic - fat chance of that!!

To be continued.....
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