The Pink City!

Trip Start Jan 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 30, 2010

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Monday, March 15, 2010

Arrived in Jaipur at 5am on a night train after sharing a carriage with the Indian version of Jim Royle and his wife who took her hearing aid out at the start of the journey which resulted in the couple shouting at each other for most of the night!

Our hotel gave us an uncleaned room to crash in until our room was ready so we were able to get a bit of sleep. Jaipur makes up the third bit of the 'golden triangle' along with Delhi and Agra so is inevitably quite touristy and therefore quite hassly! The old walled part of town is a pink terracotta colour and is full of really vibrant, hectic and colourful bazaars. Its quite a taxing place to explore as the traders here are quite pushy but we've really enjoyed wandering it and have found various pockets of quiet in the form of gardens, museums and cafes to escape the madness!

Yesterday we took a rickety little bus to visit Amber Fort which famously houses the biggest cannon in India! So far on this trip we have seen the world's largest turban (Udaipur) and the worlds largest incense stick (Amedebad). Who knew we would witness so many Guiness world record breakers!
The cannon was not actually as impressive as the breathtaking views over the mountains and countryside below. Half way through the 30 minute steep climb in 35 degree heat we were beginning to regret not taking a taxi or elephant like all the other tourists seemed to do but when we got to the top it was worth it!

Jaipur is a city full of contrasts. In some ways it is incredibly commercial and modern and has lots of pristeen shopping malls and hotels but we have also seen some of the worst poverty here - children doing acrobatics at the traffic lights for passing cars and women shoving hospital bills in our faces, desperately begging for money. Throughout our trip we have had experiences like this and often find ourselves struggling with how to deal with it, practically, morally and emotionally. We often find ourselves getting upset by it all. Its difficult to deal with the fact that more people in India have a mobile phone than have access to a working toilet.

Despite the poverty and hardship though it is a place so unbelievably vibrant, compelling and uplifting that its impossible to describe. You can't walk down the street, especially here in Jaipur, without having a conversation, shaking hands or having a picture taken with someone. Amongst the car horns and shouting there is usually the sound of music, singing or drumming somewhere. Between the car fumes and the cow shit are the smells of fresh flower garlands, incense and spices.
Where else can you step out of an air conditioned mobile phone shop into the path of a giant bull! (This happened to me yesterday but I was saved by a teenage boy who saw it coming!) India is billed by the tourism office as 'Incredible' and so far we haven't found a better word to sum it up.

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grimmer on

I'm glad you survived the camel expedition relatively unscathed.
The pink city looks amazing, there must be different sights and smells around every corner.
Glad you missed being trampled by the bull!
Has the stomach stayed calm of late, and how is Annie finding the food?
Where are you going to next or are you already there?
The weather here seems to be warming up at last.
Sophie and Richard are now in Prague for 4 days, no doubt sinking copious amounts of Czech lager.
I'm now decorating the kitchen after finishing the bathroom and the hall and stairs.
It seems never ending, but I suppose it keeps me out the pub!
Everyone here is ok.
Talk soon, missing you both.
Love Dad x.

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