March 31, 2018 – Left Agra to Jaipur
We left Arga around 11am and it took us over five hours to get to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. It is also known as the Pink City due to the colour that the buildings are painted; we noticed it immediately when we entered Jaipur. On the way to the hotel, we passed by a very busy local market which was not far from our hotel. We wanted to check it out and have dinner there. We checked into the hotel and had a short break, then headed to the market (called “Chandpole Bazar”).
Once we got there, we were immediately overwhelmed by everything that was happening, but it was super exciting! I love markets; wherever I go, I scout out the local markets for food or small souvenirs. The traffic was bad, rickshaws and motorbikes zoomed out of no where, food and vegetable stalls were everywhere, tons of people were walking around doing their normal chores; kids were playing and fighting, cows were leisurely roaming around everywhere as they wish and we just were slowly taking it all in.
People were extremely friendly. They would say hi and smile. They love to get their pictures taken (without asking money after), especially the kids, and a lot of them wanted selfies with us.
It was the birthday of the Hindu God Hanuman (the god with a monkey face, I wonder if the Chinese monkey king’s creation has any relationship with Hanuman). There was a huge celebration in the bazar; people were performing (some kind of play) on a stage set up on the street. Music and singing were super loud and tons of people were standing around and watching the show and blocking the traffic. We decided to enjoy the show on the second floor balcony of a local restaurant across street, but I think we enjoyed the dinner much more.
The restaurant owner was very kind. Since we were the only foreigners in the restaurant (maybe the whole market as I didn’t see any other foreigners the whole night), he always came to see how we were doing and whether we liked the food or not (meanwhile we were devouring every drop of the dal, paneer, and masala on the table). He offered us to have a look at the kitchen and take some pictures. So we did. I loved watching the chiefs making curries and Indian breads.
After dinner, we had no more energy left and decided to call it a night; but then we saw a crazy (drunk or high?) guy dancing fiercely in the crowd with the music from the stage on the street. We had to stop and enjoy his performance before heading home.
April 1, 2018 – A day tour in Jaipur, step well, Amer Fort, and Hawa Mahal
The next morning, I woke up early to explore the neighbourhood on a Sunday morning. The moment I stepped out the gate of the hotel, I saw a camel. The camel was resting while the worker unload the cart. He didn’t mind me taking picture of him; instead, he raised his neck and head higher and higher and seemed that he was posing for me. The owner came by and asked for a picture with me and his camel. He was disappointed that we couldn’t figure out a way to give him that picture. When I was taking a picture with the camel along, the camel got really friendly. He turned his head towards me and got closer and closer to my face. I could feel his breathing – “omg he is going to lick my face!!”, I thought. I got scared and ran away from the camel. Everyone laughed.
We said bye to the camel and continued walking around the neighbourhood. There wasn’t a lot happening but a few kids playing outside and food stalls and stores preparing to open. We headed back to the hotel for breakfast and getting ready for the day of exploring.
The first stop for the day is Panna Meena Ka Kund Step Well. A lot of travel blogs suggest that this place is a must visit when traveling in Jaipur. The stepwell was built in the sixteen century. It was designed to capture and store rain water for domestic use during drought. I’m not sure if it is still used for that purpose these days. This stepwell (and a lot of other stepwell in India) is known for its unique style of architecture design – the zigzag geometric and symmetric steps.
We were so excited with this photography opportunity and wanted to take the steps down to the middle of the stepwell. But the security said we need to pay 100 rupees (for four of us). Even we think it was probably a money scam, but given it was less than 50 cent per person, we didn’t argue with him.
After each of us took the exact same shot (like above or anyone you can find on the internet), we moved on to the Amer Fort.
Amer Fort is the main tourist attraction in Jaipur. We got to the main entrance by car, but another popular vehicle is the elephant (I’d rather walk up than riding the elephants). There were so many elephants were carrying tourists up to the gate, I felt awful (but I did think their painted face were very cute).
Inside of the fort feels a bit empty and doesn’t have whole lot to see, but it is architecturally beautiful. There were about four levels in the fort, each level has a beautiful court yard. It is a very big places. The stairs going up and down to each level were confusing, like a maze.
There were a lot of grey langurs (the dark faced monkeys) hanging out in the fort. A couple of young ones came to keep me company when I was taking a rest from the heat (it was over 40 degrees!). They were extremely curious and playful, but I was warned not to get too close with them.
We spent about two hours roaming around inside the fort and
After two hours in the Amer Fort, we surrendered to the heat and left for somewhere nice and cool for lunch. As much as we wanted to hide under the shades and enjoy more icy cold salted lime soda, we decided to head back to the city and visit another landmark of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal.
The Hawa Mahal was built with red/pink-ish sandstones. It is basically a screen wall built for the women of the royal families to observe the outside world while unseen from the outside. It was hard to photograph it when you stand right in front of it. We discovered a few roof top Cafés across street from which we could have a better view, so we went into one of them (The Tattoo Café).
We weren’t very interested in going inside the wall (you can if you want to) but wanted to walk around the area and through the markets and back to the hotel.
We ran into a herd of goats. There were so many of them; many cute baby goats too. My friends were so in love with the baby goats and spent nearly 45mins taking pictures of them.
A lot of the shops in the markets were closed (probably because it was a Sunday), but still very active. We weren’t very excited as the night before; we were too exhausted from the heat and all day walking. We managed to walk all the way back to the hotel. And immediately, I changed into my swimming shorts and jumped into the pool in the courtyard. It was the best feeling ever!
April 2, 2018 – A relax morning in Jaipur, then to Udaipur
The next day, we were flying from Jaipur to Udaipur. I found myself waking up early again. I wanted to explore more before we leave, so I went out with my camera. It was Monday, the morning was much busier – rickshaws and buses carrying people to work, kids going to school with cute uniforms, women sweeping the streets and clearing out the garbage, and us desperately looking for masala chai. And finally we found a chai wala right across street from our hotel. It was a cute little place painted with blue inside. The owner invited us in to sit and drink chai. The chai was so delicious and I had two cups. I could have two more, but it was time for me to go back to the hotel and pack up for the next stop.