A Travellerspoint blog

October 2009

Udaipur - Happy Birthday Sue! In India!!

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We were in Udaipur for Sue's birthday, and to celebrate I took her to a couple restaurants, we went to see a show, and got a decent hotel room. So not too different from a regular day (Actually she started to get mad at some point after everywhere we went I said I was taking her there for her birthday -- "I know, for your birthday let's go to a fun (puppet) show!").

Udaipur is said to be extremely beautiful, and is a fairly big city built alongside 2 lakes. We didn't see much natural beauty, though there is a lovely park.

We went to a puppet museum, and there was a really good short Rajastani puppet show.

The park in the middle of the city is probably the nicest municipal park we've seen in India.

A construction site - the second floor held up by bamboo stalks.

3 pigs and a cow grazing at the side of the road

View of the city from the other side of the lake.

For lack of local places to eat (we had samosas 4 meals straight), we had dinner at a rooftop restaurant for about $3 per person. The food wasn't great of course, but it was a fancy place.

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Pushkar - Camel Fair - but where are the camels?

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Oct 26 Pushkar - Camel Fair - but where are the camels?

Being in North India during the annual Pushkar camel fair, we arranged to spend a day there (but not the night, since it's extremely busy at that time of year). The transit was a bit tricky - we missed the day's main event, which was a camel race which unimpressed people we met said lasted 30 seconds. What we saw was a trained monkey, some dancing, and some contortionism. What we didn't see were camels, in spite of this being supposed to be a major camel-selling event.

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Jaipur - The Pink City

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Oct 25 - Jaipur - The Pink City

Jaipur is India's pink city, with most buildings made of sandstone.

While Sue shopped I went to the Ladies' Palace, so named because the windows provided the women cover to look at the shops and courtyards without being seen. This is a very fancy building, but
only about 2 meters wide - basically a big 5-story hallway and lookout made to look like a palace. I got a lot of practise taking pics of myself.

Someone there likes me

Hanging with wildlife

At night there's a sound and light show at Amber Fort - we watched from across the moat, saving the price of admission though but losing half the narration.

We wanted to see the illuminated Albert Hall museum by night, so we took the bus to that area (someone on the bus told us where to get off). From there I had some navigation problems, and we eventually saw a gathering of people behind walls. We asked what it is and got invited inside, where a student group was having a gethering. We talked to people and got free food, though no pics - here's the museum.

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Agra - Incredible Taj Mahal and a fort

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We arrived in Agra on a Friday, and the Taj is closed Fridays so we followed a tour group as they went around the outer wall, and found decent views of the Taj and garbage everywhere.

Taj Mahal itself is incredible - the reflecting pools in front of the building make it spectacularly unique, and the large complex lives up to the hype. The inside is a bit small, but very ornate with sculpted marble, some of it inlaid with colored marble (formerly gemstones, but those were taken by the British when they took over).

Don't be mistaken though - Agra isn't a one-trick pony, it also hosts a large fort, with good views of the city and the Taj.

A large stone bath, which the king purportedly took with him when he left the city so he wouldn't have to bathe in strangers' filth.

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Varanasi - River pilgrimage site / tourist trap hell

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Varanasi is a very nice town, except for the fact that everyone there is either selling, scamming, or both. It is famous as the town where bodies are burned and the ashes end up in the river Ganges, in which pilgrims bathe at the 5 bathing ghats.

After we got off the rickshaw near our hotel, a bunch of people followed us, trying to help us find our hotel (presumably to get commissions, which would be added to our price). We managed to get rid of them all except one, who was near us for almost the whole 20-minute walk through us yelling at him, and even asking a policeman to make him stop following us (he reemerged a block further along our route). It turned out he was working for a restaurant across the hotel, so we felt really bad for being so mean to him, but it also made it clear that people here can't tell when people hate them.

Every night there is a ceremony at the main ghat, which involves 5 young religous people praying, dancing and playing with fire.

The next morning we took a boat ride along the ghats, seeing pilgrims bathe at sunrise against the backdrop of 200 year old buildings.

Cows bathing in the Ganges

Laundry being sun-treated by the river Ganges before being cleaned by dhobi-wallahs who smack the clothes against rocks until they're clean as can be.

Sue in our guest house lobby, with cows in the laneway outside the door

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