Finally… The India I was hoping for and expecting. Agra shook off the New Delhi blues but Jaipur has made them a distant memory. Had a fantastic 5.5 hr train ride from Agra to Jaipur got to relax and enjoy some really beautiful countryside in a comfortable and hassle free ride. Got off the train and was dreading the usual assault by hawkers, taxi and tuk tuk drivers…and it never came. Got offered a lift to the hotel…asked how much… Got quoted an obvious 100% markup…rejected it and offered the right amount…he added 20…I said the right amount…he agreed.
Got in tuk tuk and he took me directly where I wanted with no round trips and no offers of friends shops or tourist bureaus. Settled in and went for our usual orientation walk. Ran into about 50 tuk tuks offering to take us somewhere. Unlike Delhi and Agra a smile and a wave of the hand was sufficient enough to indicate a lack of interest. We did not get followed down the road for 1-200 meters being asked the usual barrage of questions and statements like…where are you going, where you from, you want bazaar, shopping this way, nothing to see this way, 20 rupees one hour.
Came across a phone store and entered to try and fix the SIM card debacle that was New Delhi. The guy at the shop was awesome and spent 30 mins fixing the problems created by the guy in Delhi. I tried to offer him money for his great service and his response was ” I want one thing…I want a good blessing”. I wished him many blessings and departed fully cashed up and fully connected to the Indian telecommunications network.
Stopped at a rooftop bar for a couple of kingfishers (did watch the rats scurrying along the beams for a while) then back to the hotel for possibly the best meal that I have ever had in my life. Believe it or not, it was 100% vegetarian. For the foodies amongst you it was…mushroom palak (mushrooms in a spinach sauce), aloo mattar paneer (potato, peas and cottage cheese in a vegetable gravy, Dahl makhani (black lentils and kidney beans cooked with cream and butter) and my body weight in a range of Indian breads including naans, roti, chapati and paratha. The mushroom palak was the pick of the bunch but you could not find fault with a single element of this meal and we were in hog heaven.
After a couple of days of doing nothing due to the inevitable gastro hit (Jill) we got back into the swing of things. Hit the City Palace and the Hawa Mahal. The city palace is the home of the maharajah of Rajasthan and is actually in use most of the time (including while we were there). In addition it is regularly used as a set for Bollywood films (including while we were there) so it looked more like a construction site than a palace. There was a weapons museum included as part of the admission that was quite frankly incredible. The range of old weapons and firearms would go close to being unrivalled. Alas there was no photography allowed but Mike H would have been in hog heaven in the museum.