Varanasi - Agra - Jaipur - Udaipur
Another day - and I am still not safe to leave the hostel. I couldn’t resist getting in touch with home any longer - so we managed to use WiFi for a little while - got our emails sent to all that we are missing so much!!! (Esp my mummy when I am not a very well little girl!! Boo hoo!). Just resting as much as possible to hope to be well enough to move on tomorrow.
Up this morning - and everything seems to be OK - still feeling very drained from being unwell - but definitely ready to leave!!! As much as I enjoyed Varanasi - I have reached the point that I have begun to dislike the place! Upon arrival I thought that this may be a contender for my favourite place here - but since being ill - I have realised tiredness and sickness do not mix well with travelling India (heat, smell & dirt seem to be mutliplied by 25,000 when you feel like I have - a feeling which India will not let you escape). India is a very difficult place at the best of times - let alone when you are feeling so rough - it is not fair of me to do so - but I have let my feelings of being ill sway my experience of Varanasi to a less positive one than it should have been. But I am sure in time - the memories of the past couple of days will fade - and the beautiful sunrise / sunsets and sacred ceremonies will resurface in the front of my mind.
Our train to Agra was not until 6pm tonight so we hung around the rooftop restaurant for the day playing cards and filling up ready for our long journey ahead - another 12 hour train in general seating at a price of 100Rps. We eventually arrived at the train station and queued for our tickets - beggings children clinging to our ankles - LITERALLY - not letting go so Ollie would have to shuffle along with them attached! Ha! Varanasi has a very western friendly station so we located our platform pretty easily this time and hopped on our train as soon as it arrived - luckily managing to get ourselves an individual seat each meaning much more comfort than the last luggage rail journey! After a pretty uneventful journey - which is a welcome relief to be able to have sometimes - we arrived at Agra at 6am the next morning - ready and rearing to see the infamous Taj!
We arrived in Agra early hours this morning - ever concious of avoiding touts - we agreed an autorickshaw to Taj Ganj (an area for budget travellers) and relaxed in a cafe for some breakfast - waiting for the rickshaw driver to give up waiting for us in the hope of earning commission at our expence. After checking a few hostels - we realised Agra is much more expensive than we have been used to in Varanasi - so we had to do a bit of shopping around - before we finally settled on the grottiest hostel we have stayed in to date - BY FAR!!! Ha! We didn’t feel happy with our things touching any surface - however as it was only for 2 nights - and we hadn’t slept much on the train - we decided we were more than happy to make do!!! We had our usual power nap after the train and then headed out to Agra about midday to check out Agra fort. We hoped to save a bit of money back after the hostel bill, by walking to the fort - which we did - but only after getting lost and going the longest way possible!!! Ha! But as ever - still glad that we did really as we got to see local life again in Agra - which seems to be very nice - same daily routine as the rest of India - however in a much cleaner environment set up for tourists. We eventually reached the fort - and even though it was expensive to go in - it seemed so impressive that it was worth the cost of 600Rps each to have a look around. This fort became the prison of the creator of the Taj Mahal - as inforced by his son - knowing this it was exciting to walk around the impressive grounds. After spending a few hours walking around the fort and taking in yet another beautiful sunset, we made our way back to the area we were staying in for some food. Once decided on which rooftop restaurant to eat at, I had Chowmein (not yet ready for curry!) and Ollie had Tali (this is bit of an Indian delicacy, which our guide book had recomended at this restaurant). After washing it down with a beer , we headed back to our beautiful hostel room for an early night ready for our big day at Taj Mahal!
Another 5am start!! But todays early morning get up was not a problem at all for Kay & myself as we were both really looking forward to seeing the Taj! - Along with the fact that we both couldnt wait to get out of our hostel room! It seems that early starts must be the norm in Agra as there was no need for the alarm I had set last night, instead we were awoken with the sound of religious singing (I think thats what I will call it) being sounded out across the area via a tannoy system to let local Muslims know now is the time for morning prayer. Not only was this a que for Muslims to go pray, but also a que for the many, many stray dogs to stand up and howl along with the singing! Once at the gates of the Taj we decided that a tour guide may be a good option to take, if we could haggle them down to meet our budget! After we had got our tickets and tour guide (haggled from 695 rupees to 200) we entered the Taj Mahal west gate. The initial surrounding grounds and principle gate were on their own worth our entrance fee, as were the 200 rupees for our guide just for his photography skills (it seems like now with me off camera duty, we might actually get some decent pictures!Ha) As we walked through the principle gate and got closer to the archway we could slowly see the Taj being revealed, and at the expense of my mates saying come on Ollie man up - it really was a special sight! Beyond all my expectations! Apart from the obvious sight of the Taj - which really is amazing, just to think they were able to build that 400 years ago! Our guide informed us of how much detail went into it, from the amount of steps & domes to show how many years it took to build the Taj to the fact that everything with and around the Taj is symmetrical. They even had the four towers that are on either side of the Taj leaning away, just incase an earthquake caused them to fall! Our guide spent a good hour with us, taking us all around the grounds and inside the Taj, explaining to us all the many different and fascinating things about it. He even demonstrated to us with the aid of a torch how the moonlight causes the inlaid semi precious stones to light up inside the Taj. After our tour guide had left Kay & myself decided to stay and walk around the grounds once again, taking everything in one last time. Three hours later we begrudgingly decided now was the time to leave, though luckily leaving the grounds wasnt all bad, as once back at our hostel’s rooftop restaurant we found that it had a great view of the Taj Mahal. After another power nap we made our way to the river bank behind the Taj to watch the sunset, though the one cloudy day we have had in India chose to arrive on that day! After watching the sunset we made are way to a local sports bar for some food and to watch England play the West Indies at cricket.
Today was another day of travelling, this time by bus, a very slow bus! We set off at 9am expecting a 5 hour journey from Agra to Jaipur, instead our 150 mile journey in our Deluxe bus took us 8 hours - But after passing other buses along the motorway that had about 30 people sat on top of the roof, we soon realised that we had got off lightly! Once at Jaipur we dodged the many rickshaw drivers to check out the local hostels to see what we could get, we soon realised that Jaipur was a little more expensive then what we have been used to paying in recent days. Luckily we managed to haggle a hotel manager down to within our budget, all be it sacraficing a window in our room! Turns out though that this is probably the best hostel room me & Kay have stayed in, the best indication of this is that Kay will wonder freely now for the fist time with no flip-flops in the bathroom!! Room sorted, we set off in search of some grub! After making a few wrong turns we found ourselves in some pretty dark street alleys, probably not what our Lonely Planet guide book would recommend! However a local man came up to us and offered to help, we caustiously followed (still not able to trust anyone). He took us through some more dark alleys which finally opened up to a burst of colour - there was a local community throwing a party. We continued through - trying not to disturb and finally arrived to a restaurant where we had Tali, followed by some Indian sweets for dessert which were good! We made our way back to our hostel the way we came - passing through the local community party, but this time they stopped us and asked us to stay to observe (or at least thats all I was expecting!). The party was a celebartion for Holi which was a couple of days away, there was live music, singing, dancing, paints & flowers everywhere! The whole community of all generations were together - and they looked like they were having a really good time! This is why getting lost in India is so brilliant - you always stumble across the best things you would never get to see. One man who was really friendly spoke to us for a while and explained what was happening, he made us all feel welcome so we didnt mind sitting a bit longer to take it all in. Just as I was discussing with Kay about leaving (didnt want to stay too long, to intrude) a couple of blokes grabbed me and asked/demanded I get up and dance with them in the middle of this on watching local community! Not wanting to offend, I obliged and got up and attempted to dance! Trying to make sure I stayed out of the way for everyone elses good (I really am that bad at dancing) and my own good (as you’ve read in Kays earlier blog about Indian guys & their grinding!Ha) I kept my distance at the back. As soon as the musicians finished their song I quickly retreated back to Kay and Shaun to what I believed was the end of my excertions! However soon after another local man came up to us and was trying to get Kay to dance, Kay not wanting to offend the local man or the on watching women (as the women were sitting seperate to the men and were not joining in with the dancing) found herself in a difficult situation. So me being the dancing hero that I am, got up once again and joined in with the Hindi dancing! This time though, I had no choice but to get right involved in the middle of it all! - Just to let you know Gramps & Kev I have now introduced your famous tamperine hand dance move to India!Ha. After a few photographs with the locals and some paint smeared all other us we headed back to our hotel for an earned, good nights Kip!
We headed out nice and early today for a wander around the old pink city. We found our way with the help of our trusty maps - and entered the walled city after about an hours walk. We were welcomed by the usual mad rush of the chaotic bazaars - I have been thinking of getting one thing from India to take back with me - not quite decided what yet - we tried to do a little ‘window’ shopping - however the stall owners are SO desperate for your custom - it was just too hard work to look at anything - so I gave up on the idea of getting my souvenier of India here - and decided it would be a day of enjoying the sights and sounds instead. Jaipur has many temples / palaces / forts - however they are quite expensive to go into - so we wandered round admiring the view from a far - but decided that we would afford the 10Rps to climb to the top of a huge tower allowing us a brilliant birdseye view of the city. We enjoyed the view and snapped a few shots - and then carefully made our way back down the steep bumpy slope (no stairs - madness in flipflops!?!?Ha!). We wandered along the main streets of the old city - I think we were all in agreement that the lonely planets description of Jaipur is a little misleading - we seemed to find worn salmon / orange buildings along a main road - rather than a pink city - but hey - we’re not complaining!!! Ollie has been a little upset in recent days as the daps he bought for our trip have broken already - that will teach him for making us shop in Sports &
Soccer! Ha! We passed a man sat on the side of the road fixing shoes - so he decided to give it a go - the man glued and then stitched the soles back to his shoes - all for the bargain price of 20Rps - HEY PRESTO - they are as good as new!!! We had to tip the man - it feels so wrong here sometimes that such hard work receives such little financial reward - and then rickshaw drivers give you a near death experience and demand a fortune for the pleasure! Ha! With shoes fixed - we were ready and rearing to go to the elephant festival that started at 4pm that day. We took a cycle rickshaw (and felt so bad as soon as we got in - very obvious the man was not used to cycling fat westerners around! Ha!) and reached the polo ground just in time for the show to start. There were about 15 elephants all dressed in elaborate headwear and painted with powder in celebration of Holi. They strutted their stuff parading around the stadium allowing us to admire how beautiful they all looked. Camels, dancing horses and traditional folk dancers entertained us alongside the elephants. After circling the stadium several times, the elephants lined up centrally - awaiting the announcement to confirm which elephant had one the beauty contest (best decorated). In usual Indian style chaos broke out at this point and everyone headed on to the field to see the elephants up close. The announcer tried for quite a time to regain order before the show could continue - but in the end they gave up and just contined the following events amoungst the crowd. A few sports day-ish events took place - forreigners vs Indians - which was good fun - we all tried to sign up but unfortunutly all the spaces were gone by the time we got there. They then “played Holi” by elephant back - throwing the flourecent coloured powered over each other and the elephants. The elephants didn’t seem to mind the close crowds and attention - and I’m sure they were fine - but me being me - I felt mean and decided to stay away from the crowds - enjoying everything that was going on from a distance, with the exception of popping over to say a quick hello to the least crowded and least dressed up elehphant I could find (to be honest it was only a quick hello as I was too scared to be there any longer - scary when you are up close - good luck with my riding one in Thailand! Ha!). We decided to go and watch the traditional folk dancers, which had attracted a pretty big crowd - and it seems like we joined at just the right time - the party was just getting going - and the practiced performance turned into a celebration by all. Flower petals towered onto silver trays were brought to the centre of the crowd - in celebration of Holi (festival of colour) the petals were thrown into the air to rain down over the crowd. So many trays of petals were used in celebration it was impossible to see the floor anymore - everyone joined in a fun petal fight throwing handfuls at each other - we played with a local India family next to us - the children must LOVE this festival - it is SO much fun for them. The petals soon turned into coloured powder - and again we enjoyed being covered in brigtly coloured powders by everyone around us - we looked a mess - but it was SO much fun!!! The celebration did not end here - the traditional folk music that was being played to all in the stadium quickly changed to western dance music - with everyone so caught up in the moment - a huge cheer roared - and EVERYONE - including Indians of all generations just started shocking out - dancing as hard as they possible could to the music!!!! It was so crazy and unexpected - this elephant festival and turned into a mini rave in a field - me and Ollie just couldn’t stop laughing! After dancing with an Indian family for a while we headed into the middle of the crowd to really let ourselves go (as fun as it was - it was still daylight and there was no alcohol - so we needed to hide our bad dancing amoungst others! Ha!) - we danced for a little longer and then the music came to and end - way to early in our opinion - we could have stayed there all night - and I think everyone else would have loved to by their faces!! The music had ended in preparation for the “fireworks”. The reason I say “fireworks” is because - again I think Jaipur could be held under the trade descriptions act for misrepresentation. These were not fireworks - a kind of large fixed sparkler was set off - with a grand finale of coloured smoke - not quite what I had hoped for - being the firework connessieur that I am (Ha!) but we really didn’t care - it was such a fun day - it was FANTASTIC. In all the commotion me and Ollie left Shaun a little that day to go and party on our own - as the day had ended we found him again - and headed off by richshaw (the most dangerous / scary one we have been in yet!!! I swear it had a sports car engine in it - I’m sure they arn’t meant to go that fast! Ha!) in search of the Golden Gates - a glorious sight we had witnessed earlier in the day. The Golden Gates were everything we had dreamed of... and by golden gates of course I mean MCDONALDS!!!! After 3 weeks of curry - as nice as it is - McDonalds is all we have been craving as a break from it - and we had our first bit of chicken since we have been here!! DELICIOUS!!! Everyone tried their best to savour the moment - but despite going large - we polished it off in a matter of seconds. We headed home to get cleaned up ready for bed - excstatic at the thought of what Holi day would hold for us tomorrow - if it was this much fun today!! (Holi is celebrated to the same importance as our Christmas here).
Holi Day - OUR WORST DAY IN INDIA!!!!!!!!
Hi all, well after much anticipation of this day - it was not as expected!!! As far as we are concerned - the large majority of Indian males of all ages, children, teenagers and men we came across - see this day as an excuse to take advantage of western women - NOT GOOD!!!!
I will start from the beginning. Perhaps we should have seen it coming, looking back upon the end of the Elephant Festival, many local teenage boys seemed to be starting Holi celebrations early, going out of their way (pulling over from driving / crossing roads etc) to rub powder on us, Ollie and Shaun as well as myself, all in good fun, or so we thought. After passing off a few incidents as accidents, we all noticed that the boys hands would always seem to (accidentally / on purpose) wander down from rubbing powder on my face to my chest - and the hug goodbye that they boys received didn’t seem to involve the extra squeeze / grope that I received. To be honest - it was a bit of a pain - but didn’t really think too much into it - I just started to block their hands a bit and it was fine - just assumed we had bumped into a less nice group of lads.
Off of the back of last night - we talked on the way home about how Indian men will be drinking tomorrow - therefore if that was a taster tonight - then perhaps I should be careful tomorrow. With this in mind - we got up and put on our clothes that we were prepared to be ruined by the powder today and headed out to a Holi event that had been arranged by the Jaipur tourism board (who had also arranged the Elephant Festival which had gone so well). We got there and it didn’t seem to have the same energy as last night - it was really small and seemed pretty staged and unnatural - we had heard that the old city celebrated Holi in a big way so we headed there instead. We walked up the main road in Jaipur to reach the old city, being stopped every couple of steps by groups of boys/men wanting to wish us happy Holi, rub powder into us, and say goodbye with a hug. After receiving the same sort of powder rubbing & hugging as last night - I felt it was getting too much to have big groups of boys / men surround me doing this - so Ollie kindly told everyone to just get him and leave me. Some people we met were respectful of this - covered Ollie and just spoke to me wishing happy Holi, to which I wished them the same back - however others (and by others I mean a majority) would try and ignore Ollie and do all they could to get around him to me. Ollie did a good job of blocking them and we would continue on our way. This walk to the old city took an hour - so by the time we had reached it - I was tired of being harrassed - and Ollie was exhausted from constantly being on guard to look out for me. The day was beginning to turn into a negitive from here - we didn’t arrive to a street party in the old city as we had expected - everything was shut and it was eerily quiet around - with the exception again of large groups of boys / teenagers / men - no women anywhere. After the hard work of just getting there to realise perhaps we wouldn’t be enjoying the same celebrations as we had the past couple of days was disappointing. After coming all this way I made Ollie keep with it and walk through to see if we could find anything going on (I should have known this was not the right decision after taking a few steps and landing straight in a huge pile of cow sh*t - whilst wearing sandles!! Agh! Gross!). We walked right through the centre of the old city and came to nothing - apart from dirty old drunken men who would come up and touch me before Ollie had chance to shout and then chase them away. After pinballing our way along the road - bouncing from side to side to avoid any unnecessary situtions - we exited the old city walls on the other side and decided to just get a rickshaw back as it wasn’t worth the hassle staying out / walking anywhere. Just we we were waiting for one to come along (which is ridiculous as this is the only time one has not been in sight since being in India!) an Indian man was walking alongside us trying to talk to Ollie - 3 motorbikes rushed over to us and pulled over all at the same time kind of blocking us in - which felt intimidation in itself as there were 3 young men on each of these bikes. One of them then drove right past me and they all grabbed me literally everywhere - where you DEFINATELY shouldn’t - and you cannot excuse as a mistake. Again me and Ollie went MAD at them - but they all just sped off. That was it - no more for us - we jumped in the next rickshaw - got completely overcharged but had no other choice as needed to just get back to the hostel.
So - all in all - Holi day is a load of rubbish!!! Lovely when the community celebrates as we had seen a few nights ago - but the large majority of anyone we seen seemed to use it as an excuse to get drunk - and chase around western women - getting the best feel that they can. The reason I can say majority also is because we have spoken to other people here who have all had the same experience - some unfortunutely far worse than ours.
Need to report this on a lonely planet next time we have web access as we did a lot of research before going away - and was not aware of how bad this can be - really need to warn other female travellers esp if travelling alone!!!
Sorry India - but you have let yourself down BIG time today!!!
(As everything was shut today - we could only find one restaurant open without us having to venture out too much - but it was double the price of what we usually pay. We decided we didn’t care about the budget today and went and enjoyed a nice meal on the rooftop in the evening to cheer ourselves up!)
(When we got back from the meal - Shaun knocked on our door to say goodbye, as after spending nearly every day with us for 2 weeks - he was heading off his own way. He is such a nice guy and we have enjoyed meeting him - but at the same time as me and Ollie head off for the most romantic place in India next - we will enjoy it being just us two again).
We had already decided before Holi that today would be our last day in Jaipur. We headed straight to the train station first thing to book our ticket - as it was an 8 hour overnight journey we wanted to get booked in early to ensure we had a soft sleeper. Booking the ticket was not as quick a task as we expected - but we got chatting to some really nice (and some crazy) people whilst stood in the 2 hour queue. (This wait was only so long as the man behind the counter decided to take an early lunch and closed the desk while he went off to enjoy his break - leaving no cover to look after our tourist line!! Ha! Again, you gotta love India! Ha!)Wally, a young guy from Beijing offered to be our guide when we arrive in China & invited us for some Chinese food at his home - so we swapped details and may take him up on the offer - another crazy eastern european lady who we also had to exchange details with just to get rid of her, but we won't be meeting up (I fake emailed her - mean I know - but she was strange!!) - also got chatting to a really nice English lady who seemed pretty cool, telling us stories about how she rushed an Indian man into her bedroom wearing nothing but a towel - pointing him to the bed - the Indian man wearing the biggest smile on his face she had ever seen, was soon disapponted as he realised his services were no longer required after he removed a HUGE coconut spider from her bed - as soon as the spider was gone she pushed him out as quick as she got him in - but ever the optimist, he took to sleeping outside her room for the rest of her stay in the hope of her changing her mind! Ha! After sorting our tickets we headed for a local bakery for a cheap breakfast (cream filled pastries 6p - yum yum!), washed down in another local lassi shop (still hungry I also treated myself to a samosa - getting greedy out here but it is so cheap it is hard not to!). We decided we were going to go to the cinema that day to watch a bollywood movie - so headed there next to get our tickets for the afternoon show, as we read that they sell out really quick! We rushed back to the hostel to check out of our room and get back for the start of the film. The cinema we went to is called Raj Mandir, India’s number one Hindi cinema. Lonely Planet describes it as a big fluffy meringue - and the second you step through the doors there is no question as to why! The cinema was amazing - curvecious white ceilings decorated with elaborate mirrored chandaliers - it was so extravagent - it certainly reflects the fact that a family trip to the cinema is a big occassion for Indian families. We got ourselves a popcorn and found our way to the cheap seats - the screen was huge and just as elaborate as the foyer. The cinema only has one screen and shows one film for a set period - we were watching Patiala House. The film began with an Indian family living in England being subjected to racial abuse from white skinheads - me and Ollie sank in our seats - slightly embarrassed - wondering what we had got ourselves into. But the storyline soon moved on (thank god!) to be about a man who almost missed his chance to play for Englands cricket team as a result of his fathers determination to remain Indian - not English - further to all of the prejudice he had to endure from the country. Luckily a beautiful girl comes into the mans life and saves the day by getting him his last chance to play for England - which he does - being rejected from the family by the father when he discovers this - but the father finally accepts his decision just in time for the man to save the day in the final cricket match and win the world cup for England - and they all live happily ever after!! Well I think that is what happened anyway - it was mostly in Hindi! Ha! But the English based storyline helped us to follow a bit better. Sounds like a very cheesy storyline - it really was - but the locals didn’t seem to think so - everyone was engrossed in the film - laughing - cheering - clapping!! We almost didn’t go to the cinema earlier that day - but we are both SO glad we did - really really enjoyed the experience!! Headed back to the hostel to pick up our backpacks - and pass a little time having a drink in a rooftop restaurant across the road - where we bumped into Dom - the guy we met on our first train trip from Mumbai!! Very random - seems to be a small world afterall! We enjoyed catching up with what he had been up to - really is a good guy - he also went to Varanasi and stayed in the same hostel as we did - and also came down really really ill - same as I did - so I am sure now that I got food poisening from eating there - I dread to think what the kitchen looked like! Ha! Thats what you get for opting for the cheapest place perhaps!? It was a shame as we didn’t get long to speak to Dom - as we had to leave to catch our train - so we said our goodbyes and headed off. (Dom actually works in Thailand as a teacher - so never know - he may pop up in the blog again at some point!). Turns out we could have stayed chatting to Dom for longer as our train was delayed by 2 hours!! We didn’t complain though as I think we have been lucky so far in all our trains being on time up to this point - and we have heard there have been strikes recently which have meant that lots of trains are being cancelled all together - fingers crossed we manage to avoid this! Once the train finally arrived - we find our beds - which a girl was sleeping on so Ollie woke her and kicked her off (we have learned to be much braver here now and know how to act in such situations). After a much quieter day in Jaipur today - Ollie allowed me to have my own bed - on the conditions that I slept on the top bunk and he was below me - and that I slept facing the wall - with my hood up to hide my face - ha - I was happy with this and got to sleep within seconds and enjoyed a full nights sleep through til morning. Unfortunutely I don’t think Ollie could completely rest, still feeling the need to listen out for me and check on me during the night - but satisfied I was safely out for the count - he managed to get a couple of hours sleep in - our best train ride yet!!!
The curse of Holi was magically lifted from Jaipur today - and everyone has resumed to their normal selves - thank god! So strange that people transformed like that yesterday - it was like they were posessed or somthing!
Just as a little recap after yesterdays blog - don’t want any of you worrying at home - only put it in as we wanna keep a true representation of our time here - and yes, Holi day was not our best day - but we have enjoyed a really brilliant day today - and even though all is not forgiven - it certainly is going to be forgotten very soon - with so many brilliant days we are having here - it is impossible not to!! So again, dont worry - all is fine our end - and we are loving every minute we are here - spending hours upon hours chatting about all the different things we come across.
Hope you are all well - missing you and thinking of you all the time!
Love Kay & Ollie x x x
We arrived in Udaipur at around 8am, coming into the station we could see yet more great scenery and even at the train station flower beds - which is an extremely rare sight, so we were starting to believe that Udaipur was going to turn out good! Once in our rickshaw we headed to the old city by the City Palace (the set for the Bond film Octupussy). We found a really nice hostel with a great room that was at the top end of our budget, as me & Kay are planning on staying here for a longer stay we wanted to ensure we got the hostel right. So Kay stayed in the reception area of the good hostel to try and hold the room, while I shot round the old city comparing prices and rooms. I think both Kay & myself were relieved to find that there was nothing better and we checked in to the first place. After a spot of breakfast on the rooftop restaraunt and a power nap, we took to the streets of Udaipur to suss it out! We went for a good walk, crossing the brigdge to have a look across the river, taking in all the shops as I think Kay is itching for a bit of retail theraphy! Ha! After taking in everything that side of the city had to offer we sat in a local restaraunt along the river to cool down with a drink and relax taking in the impressive scenery. Udaipur really is an impressive place, by far the best looking place we have stayed in, you wouldnt believe it was in India. We both decided that our initial plan to stay here for a good amount of time, was now supported with what we had taken in on our first day. This would now be a place where we could just chill and relax for a good 5 days, taking everything in at our own pace (just BE as Kay keeps telling me!) To be honest on a personal note, I was more then happy with that. As a whole I have thouroughly enjoyed India and wouldnt change any of the experiences I have had (except one), at times it can be hard and challenging but once you overcome those obstacles you do get a real sence of achivement. And the good, quirky, sometimes completely crazy India makes it all the worth while! However the one experience that I would change is obviously Holi, now I know Kay is an intelligent, mature, very independant woman, who is more then capable of looking after herself and getting through India on her own, but as a guy you do feel responsible and want to look after your girlfriend. And throughout the three & half weeks we have been here there hasnt really been any let up from that, most of it has been innocent stares at her and mainly her chest! Ha & comments as you walk past. - but there has always still been that under lying issue which was ever more apparent on Holi. So the chance to stay for a good 5 days somewhere that is a bit more chilled and not so hustle & bustle, is great for me!
Today we decided to head south of the Lake, take in everything that part of the city had to offer, which was plenty of picturesque scenery according to Lonely Planet! And finish the day at Sunset point! First of all though we needed a good, cheap breakfast to set us up for our day of exploring! After comparing four different cafe’s we found a nice, cheap & cheerfull place across from where we were staying. The breakfast was good and would have been cheap, but the time spent this morning looking for the cheapest place was ruined in one clumsy swoop by myself as I decided to drop the Ketchup bottle, causing it to smash on the table, go all over the floor and deplete me & Kay of an extra 50rupees! Typical me! Ha - moving on from the whole Ketchup disaster we made our way through the city, first of all coming across some really nice gardens that we decided to walk through. We did sit a few times, once in a shaded park and once on top of what we thought was a secluded hill, but both times we were forced to move on as groups of Indian guys would come and join us! Ha! We then made our way near to Lake Pichola, stopping off to have an ice cream and sit by a smaller closed off lake, taking in yet more stunning scenery. We then went for a walk along the lake and then further along through some woods, stopping off everynow and again to sit, take a rest and take in the amazing views. Whilst taking in such views Kayleigh had spotted what looked like steps leading up a hill to a very high point, which she was eager for us both to climb to catch a glimpse of the whole city. After trekking through the forest and up a steep hill we soon realised that the steps we were looking at had crumbled away the further you went up. I think we should have realised this was a bit of a dead end, once the locals had asked us why & were scratching their heads when we told them where we were heading. Suppose that will teach us for trying to become too much of a traveller and getting carried away Bear Grylls style, if it ain’t in our Lonely Planet Guide book, then we shouldnt attempt it! Ha After accepting defeat we retreated and noticed a perfectly good road leading us up to a high point to watch the sunset. After all our trekking and agro of going the wrong way a few times, the view of the sunset and the whole city was more then worth it! - Today was a very good day and exactly what Kay & myself was looking for from Udaipur, in fact the views and laid back approach it has to offer has exceeded our expectations! I believe once we have finished our time here, we will be ready to go back to the hustle & bustle of India for our remaing week & half!! - Cant believe how quick India has gone!!