My Jaipur Vacation
The train ride to Jaipur was kinda long -- seven or eight hours long, which was bearable. Our hotel was really cool, with lots of plants in the outdoor terrace that connected all the rooms. It had A/C, television, and private bathrooms -- not much else you can ask for. The staff was really friendly (it was family run, so it was mostly staffed by these two brothers, nice guys). The first night, we had dinner at one of the ten restaurants the Lonely Planet recommended. Now, when we go into these restaurants, there are mostly other tourists there, each with their own Lonely Planet (in their native language, too, lots of French and Germans). So, the Lonely Planet cult sort of did the same things, ate at the same restaurants, etc. I suppose this is unavoidable, seeing as we're all tourists, and we want to eat at the nicer places and visit the tourist sites.
After dinner (chicken korma) we head over to this really amazingly beautiful theatre, where we go to see Dhoom. It was just as good the second time as the first. It was cool explaining this group of kids that, even though we didn't know Hindi, we can still enjoy the Hindi films, especially action movies like Dhoom.
The next day, Anna and I go to a bunch of museums. The Museum of Indology is like this old time museum -- just a bunch of old crap in a building. Lots of old pottery and tools, manuscripts, astrology instruments, etc. There were these really weird currencies -- misprint Rupees, really old Rupees (like an old ten Rupee note that was about 7" x 5"), and some crazy stuff, like money printed by "The Japanese Government", in denominations such as the Yen, the US Dollar, and the Deutchmark. Very... different.
Then we headed to an art museum, and then to Central Museum, which was pretty cool.
Lots of paintings, textiles, and other stuff. We also went to City Palace, which was really pretty, and had lots of cool stuff. A Hall of Arms, where guns and knives were arranged to spell out things, and some of the guns were longer than I am tall. More paintings and old textiles, and some really neat manuscripts which were written really really tiny so that the Moguls couldn't find them when they were sometimes anti-Hindu. We also saw monkeys! A whole big troop, maybe 60 or 70 of them, including lots of baby monkeys! Anna and I went wild.
When we headed back, we heard about Andrea's day, where she bought a bunch of stuff and met some crazy store-owner who she hung out with for part of the day. She was figuring out some stuff over this break, about how we're supposed to interact with people and stuff, so there was lots to talk about during meals and tea and stuff.
In the evening, we drank cheap Indian beer and watched American cartoons (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, number one in the hood, G).
The next day, we went to Amber Fort, which was really amazing. In the mountains outside the city, there are tons of forts and walls and stuff. We went to this main one, where there was a big beautiful room of mirrors and glass and stuff. In this room, there was a 70 year old lady toking up, and a bunch of European tourists. We didn't want a guide, which was good, because we got to roam around the fort, taking pictures and looking at old decrepit walls and stuff. It was really neat, just to wander (and get a little lost) in the tunnels and maze of this old fort.
After the fort part, we went shopping in this semi-government store, where I got some cool souvenirs and stuff. I did some shopping later that day and Friday at this other semi-government store, both of which seemed a lot more easy-going and enjoyable than the bazaars. We called it an early night Thursday.
Friday was spent mostly shopping. Now, I'm not a big shopper, so I shopped a little with Anna and Andrea, and then we split ways. I saw an electronics shop, and knew my calling. I got a power multiplug/adapter, some headphones (my old ones broke), and a video game system. It is so sketch -- the system comes with a pirated Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt / Track and Field / Soccer / Fake Columns Tetris game cartridge. It's the sketchiest NES ripoff I've ever seen, but it did come with two controllers and a light gun, all for Rs. 300 (6 bucks). It's no Gamecube with Mario Kart Double Dash, but it'll do for the time being. I also purchased a VCD with the songs to Dhoom, and some other stuff.
After dinner (pasta! how much I miss pasta, and how great it is to get it!), Andrea and I went to see a horror Hindi movie, Vaastu Shastra. It was really great, and by really great I mean incredibly bad. I mean, it was a frightening movie -- I jumped in my seat many times, and screamed like a little schoolgirl more than once. On the other hand, it used every trick in the book -- scary looking kid who sees dead people, girl being killed while having sex with her boyfriend, scary sharp sounds between takes and whenever anything happens.
Oh, and the other highlight of our day: Drag Queens!
A 24-hour train ride to Mumbai, followed by a 2 1/2 hour car ride to our hotel in Pune. 'Nuf said.