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Jaipur, the Pink City :)

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After a lovely city tour of Udaipur by ricksha to visit all the traditional spice and vegetable markets, we caught a sleeper bus to Jaipur at 9pm.  Most difficult 7 hours so far! We had a wee cabin on the bus, but the road was really rough and the bus driver felt the need to beep his horn all night.  If you’ve been to India  before, you’ll know that Indians LOVE to beep their horns constantly, you know, just to let others know of their presence in case the oncoming traffic didn’t see them!! To add to the frustration, bus drivers don’t just beep their horn, but they play a wee tune! Needless to say, little sleeping was done on the ‘sleeper’ train 😦

Jaipur is… different.  It’s a very busy city, so with it, has a lot of very poor people.  It was really harrowing to drive past (and then walk past) starving and disabled beggars, including children.  It’s quite a dusty city since it’s in the desert area of Rajasthan, so ricksha rides are uncomfortable without your sunglasses and a scarf on.

We took a walk up the main bazaar then went into the City Palace to watch a snake charmer – Dunc was braver than me though, I stayed well away from the cobras! Went to the Observatory in Jaipur which was built by the Maharaja in 1782 – it’s a really amazing place if you’re into Astrology and mathematics, and even if you’re not! Our tour guide was an astrology student so certainly knew his stuff, pity we got caught in a monsoon and had to practically swim to the taxi! Ah well, that’s India for you!

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Udaipur, the Lake City

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And so begins the sight-seeing!

After consulting our Lonely Planet bible (everyone seems to be clutching a copy!), we took a stroll to nearby museum, Bagore-Ki-Haveli – a beautifully restored mansion house where the wealthy land owners used to live. Our helpful tour guide Yusuf told us all about the history of the haveli and the way of life of Indian royalty, then invited us back later that evening to enjoy some traditional dance and music. We of course accepted that offer, but not before taking a boat trip on Lake Pichola to admire the stunning Lake Palace, and exploring Jagmandir Island and its luxury spa resort!

Walking the streets of India is certainly an experience! Yes, the shop-keepers and rickshaw drivers spot you from a mile off and insist their offer is the best around, but generally, everyone is very friendly and helpful. Captured a classic scene of Indian rush-hour: rickshaws filled with backpackers, scooters with dad and 2 kids on-board and cows and pedestrians everywhere in between! And I thought the M80 roadworks were bad!! (Only joking, dad!)

The Lake Palace

We made it!

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After leaving Glasgow airport at 14:15 on Wednesday, we eventually arrived in Mumbai at 08:30 on Thursday morning and then onto Udaipur for 6pm that evening. You’ll not be surprised to learn that a lot of napping was done on all of the flights!

Udaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, is known as the Lake City, and seemed like the perfect retreat to settle into the busy Indian lifestyle. It’s full of lake palaces, waterfront hotels, and roof-top restaurants to enjoy the view – and not least of all, is where Octopussy was filmed!

Chai on the hotel rooftopAfter the cow-dodging taxi ride from Udaipur airport to the Hotel Lake Ghat Palace 25km away, Dunc and I had a well-deserved curry and chai on the roof, overlooking the window-lit scene of Udairpur – lovely!

One More Sleep!

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We fly out to Mumbai tomorrow afternoon from Glasgow airport, via Dubai.  In total, the flight is going to last almost 10 hours!  We’re well stocked up on games and sweets to keep us occupied, and will be making good use of the Airport Lounge in Glasgow before we leave – a present courtesy of my lovely sister Heather and brother-in-law Chris Jolly.

Off to do some last minute packing and re-packing now – wish me luck that I can carry all that I pack!