Tuesday, August 11, 2009

9th to 11th August - Jodhpur to Udaipur

On Sunday we travelled from Jodhpur to Udaipur via a number of local businesses on the way including a rug maker and a ceramic maker. We were all looking forward to the trip because we were told the jeeps we were hiring were air conditioned.... alas.... not so.... the morning arrived and we got in the jeeps.... 8am and it was already about 30+ degrees...

Gasping, we requested the air conditioning.... a blank look on the driver's face told us everything we needed to know... 5 to 6 hours in a non air conditioned jeep on a baking hot day was not the most pleasant experience but we got on with it. We waved goodbye to the craziness of Jodhpur and set off for the relative calm tranquility of Udaipur. It was quite funny actually to travel at break neck speed with the windows down. At one of the rest stops I think James likened the experience of sitting by one of the open windows as similar to the dogs you see sticking their heads out of the windows of cars as they whizz passed you, tongue trailing behind them in the wind.

I sat next to one of the open windows on the next stretch and could physically feel the skin on my face flapping around as we headed into 80 to 90 km an hour territory..... A couple of pieces of advice if you find yourself in a similar situation.... don't try and talk and definitely don't try and drink... it's both an embarrassing and a messy exercise... :)

We got to our first stop at the ceramic makers house. His family welcomed us in and the normal welcoming committee of young kids awaited us requesting 10 or 20 rupees as we walked by them. It's so difficult not to give money to these kids but we've been told by our tour leader that we will only be encouraging begging if we give money, food or anything to them. A lot of these children don't go to school because they spend their day begging for money from tourists.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


Anyway, the ceramic maker was very talented. He used this rudimentary spinning wheel as his potters wheel, expertly spinning it around by pushing a stick into a hole on the wheel. It was amazing how long the wheel spun for. I tried to do the same thing and made a complete fool of myself... Damn you hand eye coordination.... He then demonstrated how to make a piggy bank, a cup and a number of other items with an awe inspiring expertise. He'd been doing this for 33 years we later found out.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


I took some pictures of his family and have sent them prints which is something we've been told we can do.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


Next stop was at the rug makers. Wow... he was very impressive. He proudly showed us his collection of press cuttings of him with famous people... Richard Gere, George Soros, Prince Charles... etc etc... actually... this happens a lot. A jeweller in Jodhpur had a picture with Joanna Lumley, a rug seller in Jodhpur had pictures of Mick Jagger, Richard Gere (again) and Bill Murray. It's quite funny...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


The rugs that this guy makes are very impressive. A little out of my budget but I took his card and might get one when I get back to Oz.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


It's quite funny because the people in the streets ask you to take a picture of them and then when you do they tell you that you need to pay them 10 rupees... a good scam if you can get some unsuspecting tourists to bite... Also though, some of the locals want to have pictures of us tourists as well.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


They find us fascinating. This happened to me at the Ranakpur temple that we visited next. The conversation kind of went like this:

Little kid: "Mr, can I take picture with you?"
Me: "Yes sure."
Click....
Little kid: "Thank you Mr."
Me: "No problem... that will be 10 rupees please."

He looked baffled. His family were laughing behind him as I held out my hand and said again. "10 rupees please for my picture."

I thought he was going to cry so I told him I was only joking but I don't think he'd ever heard that before... tee hee... As a guy travelling around, you also get young girls around 12 to 15 years old coming up and chatting to you as you visit these places. They giggle with their friends and blush when you say "Nameste" back to them. It's like some sort of game it seems.

The Ranakpur temple itself was very impressive. It's beautifully designed with over 250 carved beams supporting the roof. Amazing. I decided not to take my camera into this temple because it costs 200 rupees which was actually a good decision because the place was guarded by the fun police... you couldn't do anything in there. Even sitting down and taking in the view was met with a loud rasp of the whistle as if you'd done a bomb dive at the local swimming pool... Very odd.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


The route into the city of Udaipur was interesting to navigate. The main highway is having work done on it so both oncoming and going traffic are using the same stretch of road. It's really anyone's guess which side you should drive on. Add in to the equation suicidal cows and it makes for quite an adventure. I really do think that cows actually do this on purpose. They look for the most awkward place to lie down and then stay there for hours staring blankly into the distance. On one occasion the driver had to drive outside of one cow, inside the other and between two more. It was like a driving test... Incredible. If you kill a cow by the way... it can be a 5 stretch.. Yep, 5 years in jail... more often though people get fined...

Our hotel in Udaipur is a beautiful old converted home which is now owned and operated by a former Colonel in the Indian Army. Proud photos adorn every possible surface... The Colonel standing there in his military garb sporting a very manly moustache... it's kind of a perfect stereotype. The hotel itself is lovely.

Udaipur is an interesting place. It's known as the city of lakes and it really is picturesque. The film Octopussy was filmed here and palaces fill almost every vista. We went for dinner at a neighbouring restaurant and had some sumptuous Indian Cuisine overlooking one of the lakes. It was perfect.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


The next day we took an orientation tour of the city which was great. Fortunately, it's a little cooler here than in other places we've visited. We went to the main Palace and had a tour. Very impressive. The Maharaja and the men of the palace live on one side and the Queen and the ladies the other. The Maharaja obviously has freedom to go wherever he wants but the ladies have to stay in their side. Must be great when you want to watch the cricket... :) After this we checked out an amazing local artists studio and listened to a talk about miniature painting which are pictures that tell a story. They are beautiful so I bought a couple.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


Some of the girls got their nails painted...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


That night we booked into a cooking class. It was 3 hours long and taught us how to make 7 different things including curries, chai and bread. I really enjoyed it. We also got to eat what we made...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


After the class we were invited to the same restaurant we went to the first night for free rum and coke while we watched Octopussy. They are very proud of the fact that Octopussy was filmed here. You see references for it everywhere. I did my Sean Connery impression (even though Roger Moore is the Bond in Octopussy).... not many people found the impression funny... I moved on quickly.

Tuesday, I had a painting class in the morning and quickly realised that I am no artist. I sketched and painted an elephant. At least that's how I described the picture... whether it stacks up is anyone's guess...

Otherwise, I've caught up on my emails and blog... later tonight we go to a cultural show and Wednesday we head to Pushkar.

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