05.10.2011 - 07.10.2011 32 °C
Day 7: Jaipur, Rajasthan 06/10/11
We had a nice lie in and the combination of clean sheets, nice room and a good breakfast see the weary, drained traveller well refreshed and feeling much better.
We take a walk to the train station to book tickets to Jodphur. Again a bit of a mission to find the right booking office and after directions from staff we end up in the rickshaw garage in the main car park!
A trip back to the main enquiry office results in a member of staff telling us to hang on ten minutes when she will escort us to the right building after her shift is finished. Jasminder then proceeds to walk us to the main office (which is exactly where she said), introduces herself and tells us about her job, her life and casually invites us to her wedding. As with any young woman she glowingly shows off her engagement ring. Again it seems the train network has an unlimited pool of overtly friendly people.
Jump in a tuk tuk to the Pink City and what a great place to explore. We spend a few hours navigating the narrow streets and busy markets full of locals and spend a fortune! A sari, silk MC Hammer trousers and a pair of sunglasses set us back about 500 rupees (about 6/7 quid). This place is home to some incredible sights, sounds and smells and is very welcoming to us, seemingly the only non-locals around.
We take a walk through the Pink City proper and encounter some very busy roads. Amidst cars, buses, military vehicles, motorbikes and the obligatory traffic stopping cows, a solitary elephant takes a stroll down one of the four lanes of traffic. A painted trunk and some regal clothes make this elephant stand out even more. Only in India one would think.
The sighting of this jumbo leads to a plethora of other exotic creatures making themselves seen and heard in the middle of a busy city and the camels, goats, horses, cows and further elephants are again painted and dressed in their finery for the Diwali celebrations. It is at this point that Gemma ventures a bit too close to an elephant for a photo and finds herself whipped in the face by its decorated ear.
Day 8: Jaipur, Rajasthan 07/10/11
An early sweat on for Thomas as he finds a cashpoint within walking distance of the hotel only to find the wrong card in the wallet and a temperamental second card. Two trips in the friendly Rajasthani sun was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Catch a tuk tuk to the station after a good breakfast and another delayed train, though only an hour, highlights to us just how bad the morning at Agra Fort station really was.
Great train journey through some impressive landscapes and make another train friend (cue thumbs up and high voices). Yogesh is a very friendly young man, Borat impersonator, I mean lecturer, and avid fan of Seamus the Celtic Warrior’s skin tone.
Again we are stared at, waved at and greeted at every stop and station and the necessary camera shot is undertaken by Yogesh on his smartphone.
After Yogesh rings the guest house for us to confirm the lift and the route to Mandore through Jodphur is another eye opener with lots of traffic, activity and hustle and bustle and there are a lot of ‘English Wine and Beer’ shops that certainly a) do not look very English and b) do not look like they do a good Pinot.
Arrive at Mandore Guest House and have some great food upon arrival in the leafy courtyard garden - very serene and peaceful compared to the cities we have been in.