India – Pushkar, Jaipur, Ranthambore

IMG_6356 IMG_6474 IMG_6577 IMG_6704 IMG_6721 IMG_6738 Well we arrived at Pushkar before dark and booked into the Pushkar Palace … it made the Very Exotic Mandawa Castle look like the Ritz! Ashok in a round about sort of way suggested that we not venture down the street at night. So we didn’t. Most days I would share a beer with MA but wasn’t that worried if I didn’t. This day I really felt like a beer, so we headed to the restaurant “One cold Kingfisher please”. No alcohol in this town and no meat or eggs! Ok then a lemon soda … which is freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bottle of soda. Quite refreshing really. Then a dodgy meal and to bed.

The next morning we headed into the town to go to the only Brahma Temple in India. It took us about half an hour to get through, walking through a very touristy dodgy town. When we got to the the temple we had to take our shoes off, as is the custom, but they wanted to store our bags. No way, bugger off, we turned around and went back to the hotel and headed off to Jaipur. It was a pretty boring drive.

We arrived at the Jal Mahal Palace hotel which wasn’t that spectacular but the staff were fantastic and we really enjoyed our three nights there. They had fantastic women at guest services, great waiters, etc etc. The manager was a lovely bloke and used to work at the Rambagh Palace … which is their sister hotel … but I think one of the best in India. He was there when the crew that made The Very Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He met Judy Dench, Maggie Smith etc. They stayed there for a month while they were shooting the movie in Jaipur.

We would come back to our room and find elephants and monkeys made out of towels, but on the last night we came back to our room and the head of housekeeping was finishing off making a peacock, which was the entire length of the bed and covered in multcoloured flower petals. They obviously treat their staff very well … they have volley ball, cricket etc matches with all staff and management.

The first day we had lunch at the hotel and a couple of hours off. Then we headed down to the bazaar. Ashok dropped us off and left us on our own for the first time. Hassle, hassle, hassle … one hour later we had had enough, so he picked us up again. That night suggested that we go to the Rambagh Palace for dinner. So we got dressed up and he dropped us off, only to find that there is a $50 per head surcharge if you are not staying at the hotel, so we got him to pick us up again and we had a lovely dinner at our own hotel.

Next day was shopping day and I had chosen where I wanted us to go. We had a fun day and found a fabulous coffee shop .. our only decent coffee in India. Once again I haven’t been bothering, but MA loves her coffee so she has been drinking the dodgy Indian coffee. I suggest if you intend to come to India, detox and get off it before you arrive.

Day three in Jaipur was sightseeing day. MA wasn’t feeling too good … had a bit of a tummy bug, but we managed to go and see the Amber Fort, which was quite spectacular. We had a guide there … Mr Sharma, was 73 and could do with a bit of dental work! I spent the whole time backing away from him and keeping the ever present scarf across my nose and mouth.

We were supposed to go on an elephant ride there, but the queue was too long, so we ditched that idea.

Then we went up into the hills to the Tiger Fort which was built by Maharaja Man Singh for his nine favourite wives. There were identical rooms for all of the queens and a special corridor that only the king could sneak down and pop into which ever queen he had chosen for the night. The first married queen has all of the power and then he has a most favourite queen, then seven other favourite queens. God knows how many he had in other forts and palaces. Anyway, he was a dud because he didn’t produce any children. Never the less, we enjoyed that fort as it wasn’t really touristy.

We dropped MA off at the hotel as she wasn’t feeling well and Ashok took me to Janter Manter… which is an astrology observatory. I passed on the guide … over them .. and wandered around on my own. I read the plaques, but it was all too scientific for me. The Hindus are seriously into astrology and when babies are born into a Hindu family a member of the family goes to the priest and works out the babies name (unofficial name) and the babies horoscope is read.

Then I visited the City Palace and Museum … nothing to write home about. I opted for an audio guide, which was also dodgy. The best thing about this palace was two huge silver containers that were made of 14000 silver coins, weighed 345 kg each and were 5’3″ tall.

I got back to the hotel in time to have a yoga lesson with a local girl. I had mentioned this to Ashok before I left Australia and he remembered and got his son to organise it. The girl was completely useless … a complete waste of time. Never mind, he tried.

That night MA was feeling a bitter better and we had a light meal.

We headed off early the next morning with the hope of being able to have an elephant ride but once again the queue was too long, so we headed to Ranthambore. Reasonable drive.

In the afternoon we went on safari into the national park. There were six of us and a 2 year old in a jeep. It was really, really dry and rugged country. We had a nice group of people, two Indian dentists with their daughter and two Israelis. We saw some deers, antelopes, peacocks and a gazelle. We also saw a slot bear and her two cubs … apparently!!! All we could really see was a black object moving in the bushes up a hill. Unfortunately, no tigers!

It was my turn to get sick … not a tummy bug but I have a rash and am very tired. Last night it was a buffet dinner which was very nice but I couldn’t really eat much. I was in bed by 8.30 pm and managed six hours straight sleep. Just before I went to sleep MA came back to the room and told me we had another safari included the next morning and so we decided to get up at 6 am for a 6.30 am safari… which we did … but there wasn’t another safari booked. Good old Indian communication system!

So we are on the road again, this time to Karauli, but both feeling quite tired. Hopefully I will be better tomorrow. Today is a public holiday in Indian … it is their Holy Festival and tomorrow is colour day when they throw bright coloured powers and squirt you with water pistols. That should be interesting! We will see.

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