Sunday, April 6, 2008


The plane made two stops on the way to Jaipur, turning what should have been an hour flight into four. I arrived in Jaipur at 11 and had not booked a hotel ahead of time. This was a mistake. I went to the pre-paid rickshaw booth and told my driver I needed a place for about 4-500 rupees (10-12.50 a night). He told me, "Not possible," and drove me to a hotel that was 2700 for the night. I argued with him, he told me there were NO other hotel rooms in the city due to it being the Elephant Festival and also "Holi" -- which I was worried about. Oh sure and it has nothing to do with the fact that you get a commission for bringing me here and that commission is passed on to me, right? I demanded another hotel so off we went about 500 yards (no other hotels, huh?) and this hotel wanted 2000 (fifty bucks). No, I stood firm. I tried to reason with them as well. It was now 1 a.m. If they had a room at 1 a.m. for 2000, surely they could let it go for 800 or not make any money at all on it, right? No. I demanded another hotel. Off we went. Maybe a half mile. This hotel was 1500. Still much more than I was willing to pay but at this point I was exhausted and at least this hotel manager showed me a card with the room rate. I guess after 2 weeks of rooms costing anywhere from 4 dollars to 10 dollars, I could splurge and pay 37 dollars for one night. It even had cable tv. With Jimmy Neutron!


I slept in and decided the first thing to do was find a train ticket to Udaipur for that evening. I was going to meet Andy in Jaipur on Thursday, so it didn't make much sense to stick around only to come back again. At the train station, there was a girl ahead of me who I asked where I could get the form she was holding. I was surprised to hear an american accent when she answered. She too was heading to Udaipur. A few minutes later, she came back to me and told me that the train was full and that she and her friend were heading to find bus tickets. I decided to tag along. She was from North Carolina and her friend Andrew (can't get away from them!) was from Massachussetts and they are working in Udaipur on different projects. He'd been there for 9 months and she for three and they and a bunch of other Americans and a couple of Brits had come up to Jaipur for the Elephant Festival and Holi. We got sleeper bus tickets and they invited me to continue tagging along up to the fort to meet their friends.

It was quite a hike to the top. At one point, I stopped to put sunscreen on and a young boy appeared beside me with his hand out, "Please madam?" I squeezed some into his hands and he swiped his cheeks, not rubbing the lotion in. Andrew explained that he probably thought it was whitening lotion.
The view was spectacular and afterwards we loaded 11 people into two rickshaws and made our way back down to the city. We were all starving and since there were so many of us, we ordered a huge spread and shared the dishes. Next was a little gem shopping (I just looked) followed by the Monkey Temple. I didn't see much of the temple because I was too entranced by the monkeys. Also called my family to wish them a happy Easter (although was sad to miss the mommy because I forgot about the time change and her singing at church).
Then it was dinner time and we headed to the restaurant everyone had been talking about nonstop all day. We were so excited!! Jaipur has...a Subway!

Okay, when you've pretty much been eating curry for 3 weeks straight morning noon and night, Subway sounds freaking AMAZING. And it was... despite the fact that my Italian BMT was made with lamb pepperoni and lamb salami. Interesting. Otherwise it tasted right.

I went back to the hotel and grabbed my stuff and we headed for the bus. Didn't get much sleep that night though -- that was one crazy, swervy bus ride.

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