Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 8 - Jaipur and Jodhpur

First and foremost, I would like to report that I actually feel good this morning! Hellelujah!

And also, sorry for the crappy updates or lack of details the past couple of days.  I haven't been feeling well and when I don't feel good I can't write good! Have to get in a flow, you know?!


Last night was so weird. I felt pretty good all afternoon and evening, and all of a sudden, right when we got back to the hotel, it hit me. I was in the bathroom ASAP. And no joke, every  like 2 minutes after that. So no dinner for me. Or Angie - she was exhausted. I ate some beef jerkey, chugged a liter of water with a re-hydration packet in it (honestly think that was my problem - out in the hot sun all afternoon with not much water), took a cipro, and some other anti-diarrheal powder stuff. I wanted to head it off fast. Thankfully it only lasted like 30 minutes, but I felt pretty rotten and my stomach was just rumbling. 

Since I couldn't sleep - even though my body was exhausted - I decided to take a shower. I was still on my swimsuit! So I rinsed that off in the sink and hung it to dry. The white tank top I had on went in the trash can. It was now brown. And my awesome yellow pants that I had on - the crotch got way too ripped throughout the day. They were beyond repair and joined  the tank top in the can. :(  

Of course we couldn't figure out the shower. Again. And when we finally did, we couldn't get the hot water. Son of a... I'm so over the cold showers, haha. Especially when I was already run down. I don't know how long I stood there sticking one hand in and debating if I had it in me. I had to though. I hadn't washed my hair in a few days and it was an absolute rats nest. I think I ripped half my head of hair out trying to get a comb through it. I even pulled a couple of shriveled up flowers out of it from the dedication ceremony! Made me laugh. You know on those customs forms at the airport where they ask you if you are carrying back any plants, etc? I might have to check yes from now on because you never know what's in my crazy hair...

Anyways, I suffered through the shower ... and finally remembered to shave my nasty armpits, haha! No legs though. They're should about me long enough to braid by the time I get back...  Felt pretty good to be clean. I still didn't feel so hot and couldn't sleep, so I dried my hair, too. (Borrowed a hair dryer from the front desk. This place really is pretty nice!)

Surprisingly, my allergies have been acting up the past couple if days. I rarely have allergies! So since it was already so late, I popped a Benadryl and laid down. That stuff always knocks me out. And it didn't disappoint this time. Slept all night -- in my fancy sleep sack -- and actually slept in for the first time until 8am! No alarm! Yay!

When I finally woke up, Angie was in the bathroom on her phone. She had been up for awhile but disk want to wake me. Poor Angie. She really has been so ridiculously sweet to me. I am not a nice person when I don't feel good. I've been pretty grumpy the past couple of days and just not that fun. She is such a good person. Just love her and am so glad she's here with me. :)

First thing I did was try again to get yesterday's blog post to upload. I couldn't get it to work last night. Then I threw on some clothes, washed my face, and put some makeup on. On it felt so good to be clean and feel normal again. 

I was starving. No dinner last night? For a girl that seriously eats all day long - and pretty healthy these days - this trip has not been easy on my body! I was ready for breakfast! I was just telling Angie how I would give about anything for some non-Indian food when we walked in to the kitchen at our place ... and saw TOAST AND CEREAL!! Holy cow was I pumped. I think I even clapped. :)

I had two heaping bowls of cereal (like corn flakes kind of, and with warm milk, of course) two pieces of wheat toast with mixed berry jam, and three glasses of orange juice. As we were telling the owner how happy we were with the food, he asked if we wanted anything else, like scrambled eggs. Oh heeelllll yes we will eat some scrambled eggs!! He brought us out a bowl of them a few minutes later and we were both in heaven. It was all just what I needed. My belly was full and I felt good. :)

An Indian lady we were talking to at breakfast laughed when I showed her the cobra picture for yesterday. She said a lot of times they drug the cobras to keep them calm! Drugged or not - it was a trip for sure. Eeek. Two of those things slithering around my neck. Still gives me the willies to think about...

We asked the owner, Jaideo but we call him JD, if he could call our same driver from yesterday. He was really nice and we liked him. So we went back to the room to pack up, and by the time we were done, Rafiq (driver) was out front waiting for us!

JD came down to see us off!

The first thing he said to me was, "Oh! You look nice today! You feel...?" Ha - I must of looked pretty rough yesterday! I had been traveling all morning - and then swimming with elephants, so I guess that's to be expected?  (I actually felt fine most of the day.)

First stop, DHL. Yea, this is what happens when you over-pack and over-shop in India. You spend thirty-five-freaking-minutes shipping two giant bags of textiles and clothes home. 

Ugghh it was so frustrating. We really wanted to hurry up and get to shopping before our train, and I had to fill out like 17 forms and basically sign my life away to get them to ship them for me! Holy cow. It should not of been that hard. It took so long Angie actually came up to check on me to make sure I was okay. 

Read the Jaipur times about Mart Damon's visit while I waited. 

We finally got moving, and told Rafiq we wanted to go straight to MI Road, the main shopping area. He told us it was all fancy and expensive, but that's where we wanted to go -- since that's what we had read about. And sure enough, he was right. It was fancy jewelers and Nike and stuff like that. Absolutely not what we wanted to shop for in India! And on top of that, it's Friday. Their holy day! How did we forget about that?! Nothing was open :(

So Rafiq took us to his friends shop who opened it up for us. That definitely what we wanted either. It was a fancy jewelers store. We told him we wanted jewelry, but not that kind of jewelry. 

Rafiq's friend

Since we weren't finding what we wanted, he told us to just "go walk that way and turn right." So we did. Down an alley way filled with trash. To supposedly find some shops. 

And again, nothing was open. And it was a sketchy empty alley. We walked to the end, looked both ways, and turned around to walk back. The only interesting thing down there was an "international" dog store, where apparently they could get you pugs and labs and anything else! 

On the walk back, we heard a motorcycle coming up behind us blowing his horn. So we moved over to the side, clearly far enough away for him to get by. The whole alley was empty. And as the three men on the motorcycle came whizzing right by us, one of them tried to reach out and yank my bag off! He didn't succeed because it was on over my head and across my body - not just over my arm. It definitely would have been gone if it were like that. All he really did was smack my back because they were going so fast - and scare the crap out of me. I couldn't believe they did that!! Punks. 

For back in the car with Rafiq and told him we were done trying to shop. It just wasn't happening today. We weren't really that disappointed either because yesterday was SO awesome. And there is always Jodhpur later today and tomorrow!

Rafiq stopped at a little road side stall for me to buy water. I walked up and asked for two cold kingfishers - they're always sealed with plastic around the outside. The two guys working loved that I was a foreigner. "Where you from?! How old? Of you beauty!" They were so funny. The older guy - who clearly was not thirty, tried to tell me that was his age. The other guy laughed and laughed and said he was actually 45. Ha, they were just very entertaining. I took a picture of them and then they wanted to see it -- and all the other ones on my phone!

40 rupees for two liters of water. That's like .80 cents. 

From there Rafiq drove us by a couple of temples and spots like that. Most of them were in Angie's side so I'll have to get the pictures from her. Nothing that cool though. 

Jaipur is definitely a cool city. Cleaner and calmer than Mumbai. And maybe Delhi, too. I would definitely spend some more time here if (when?) I come back, and I get why it is part of "the golden triangle" now with Delhi and Agra. Although I'll skip Agra next time. :)

Anyways, it was getting close to time for us to head to the train station, and we didn't have any food. We told Rafiq what we wanted, and he took us to a Cafe Coffee Day. They had sandwiches in there, and some juice drinks called WTF! Stood for what the fun, but still hilarious to us none the less. :)

While we were in there trying to decide what to order, some very Southern California beachy looking guy asked Angie if she was Indian or not. She is so confusing to them, and I find it odd how many people actually ask her what she is. He was from Goa, and also informed me that my pants were on backwards. Awesome dude. Thanks for that. 

There just baggy cloth! How can you tell?! (Pockets I guess)

From there we went to the train station. We were plenty early, but we figured we would just get situated on the train and relax in the ac. It was super hot out. 

We told Rafiq bye and promises to right a food review for him on TripAdvisor.  He brought it up numerous times and even pulled it up on his old blackberry and handed it to me twice to write! I promised I would when I got home. Apparently that is good for his business!

We thought we had a little better handle on the train stations after Delhi...but we were wrong, haha. The screen just inside the station had our train number on it and said platform 5. So we walked up some stairs and over ... But couldn't get down to platform 5! Only 2 and 3. What the .. ?? 

So back up the stairs and waaaay down. Don't forget it's 200 degrees out and 200% humidity and we're carrying our heavy bags. And it smells horrendous. Like, can't describe it bad. There were guys  straddling the open sewers digging through them. No joke. And the tracks were covered in piles of human shit. The bathrooms on the trains are just holes that go straight down to the tracks. How sick is that?! Looked like I wasn't the only one in India with diarrhea, haha!

Piles like this were all over. GROSS.

We got to platform 5, and walked all the way to the right, then all the way to theory (long ways - these trains are long) asking at least six people off the way where the stupid A1 car was going to be.

And then we realized the number on the screen for platform 5 wasn't even our train!! The last guy we asked told us it was moved to platform 3. Oh come on man - you have to be kidding me. Every inch of my body was covered in sweat. It literally was running down my legs by that point. 

Back to the stairs and up and over. Platform 3. We heard the lady announcing something about it as we were walking but we couldn't understand her at all. The Indians chose the easier way to cross the tracks: screw the stairs - we'll walk through the human feces instead. (No, thank you!)

Time was ticking away. Our train wasn't there yet, but confident we at least had the right platform this time, we started looking for A1. Of course we were at the opposite end. More walking and more sweating. We only had a couple of minutes to wait before our train showed up at 12:05. Glad we got there early after all! Honestly, we probably need to get to the stupid train stations earlier than we do the airport just so we can figure them out!

As our train was going by and slowing down, we definitely were not in the right spot. The cars were the ones with open windows and doors and packed with people. Uh-uh. Not getting on that. People started rushing around and getting on and off, and we were kind of freaking out trying to find our train. We asked a couple of people and they kept pointing us for their down. The coaches weren't marked on the outside - not that we could tell anyways, but with asking, we eventually found it. It was just like the one from Delhi to Agra. Not nice. 

It was a little easier to find our seats this time. We had upper and lower side sleeper seats. The train was filthy and the sheets and blankets and pillows were l used. Sick. We thee them off and for out Lysol wipes. It was gross enough that I took a video of it, haha. 

5.5 hours on this?!

Every time I get on one of these I second guess my decision to do the over-night one to Varanasi by myself tomorrow. Ugh. Might be rough. A training this would absolutely not even be allowed to operate in the US!

 An older couple had the seats across from us and they knew what they were doing. They spread there blankets and sheets out and were snoring in no time. 

A guy came by and started grabbing all the dirty blankets and sheets and pillows... And just re-folding them and putting them on the seats! After they had been in a pile on the floor. Where the shoes that just crossed the feces covered tracks just were. Ugh. We thought we would at least get clean ones! So when he came by and offered us some, we politely declined. That's sick. 

You know what else is sick?! The bathrooms on the trains. 

Why I waited to use it until we were moving I'll never know. If you've never tried to pee over a hole on a jiggling train that opens straight up to the tracks flying by below, all while not touching anything in the disgusting bathroom... Well, I wouldn't recommend it. Oh the smell.. And the feeling of the air coming up that hole... One of the more interesting experiences in my life. I almost fell over...from the movement and the smell.  I would have cried if I did. At least taken a bath in hand sanitizer. ;) 

We got  situated on the lower seat together. Neither of us wanted to crawl up top. The train was super slow and stopped all the time. Nothing really exciting happened, but it was entertaining when another train came by blowing its horn and we could see all the people crammed on just hanging out the windows and doors for some fresh air I imagine. Those cars aren't air conditioned. 

Angie and I sat facing each other in our shared seat and talked the whole way..about everything from the trip to our future children and the diva cup and everything in between.This is my first big trip with a friend (I'm usually flying solo), and it's turned out awesome.  There aren't a lot of people I think I could travel with (I'm kind of a lot to put up with sometimes :) ) and honestly, probably not a lot of people would like to travel like I do, but Ang has been so fun!

I also caught up on writing this for this morning and ate my sandwich from the coffee place.  We set an alarm this time in case we fell asleep to make sure we didn't miss our stop again like on our way to Agra. 

Colorful pants!

Wait - I don't think Ive even written about that yet, have I? The train from Delhi to Agra? Ugh. So far behind... 

Anyways, alarm went off at 5 and we were still talking, and still had about an hour to go. I was hungry and thirsty - but had been avoiding that so I didn't have to go in that bathroom too many more times... I'll definitely only do it when we're stopped at a station!

I had arranged for someone from Hem Guesthouse to meet us at the station to get us. Free service they offer, which is nice. Oh, and Rafiq knew about Hem Guesthouse in Jodhpur and said it was nice!

Sure enough, when we got off, right on the dot at 5:50, a side came right up to me and shoved this in my face:

At times like this, it's nice sticking out and being American, haha! So this guy practically takes off running through the sea of people rushing to get on to and off of this train. No messing around. Ang and I couldn't even keep up! He had to stop and turn around numerous times! 

But I still stopped to snap a quick picture on the fly! Documentation is important! ;)

Ang and I had been talking about how we really needed to ride in a rickshaw - the only mode of transportation we hasn't taken  yet. So of course, it was only fitting when our guy stopped at this:

Of course he had a rickshaw to take us in!

Words can't even begin to describe the harrowing next 10 minute rickshaw ride through Jodhpur. For real. I'm not even sure I'm going to try. (Who am I kidding. Never short on words!) But I did video a couple of minutes so that will be awesome...when I can get YouTube to freaking work on my phone!

Anyways. The ride. First of all, this thing is like a big rickety old cart behind a motorcycle. The roads are bumpy. And narrow. And our driver was crazy. We were bouncing around back there - with no doors, mind you - and we couldn't even hold on to the railings because we were too scared to stick our hands out! He got inches (no exaggerating) away from other people, cars, motorcycles, and cows. Whatever was in the road. I could of very easily reached out and touched any and all of the mentioned things. Just pure pandemonium. It also didn't help that we had been on this quiet and calm train ride just chatting away for 5.5 hours ... And then got thrown in to that. 

Pictures absolutely in no way do it any justice, but here is a screen shot from the video.

The streets were wild and colorful, and most importantly, lines with the exact kind of places we wanted to shop at!   While the ride was entertaining, we were kind of relieved when we pulled up to Hem guesthouse, tucked away down a little alley in old town (ie the famous blue buildings)!

Now this place is amazing. For real. I am going to write seventy five star reviews on trip advisor for it, which I think is how I found it. The super nice owner walked us right up to our awesome room, decorated so cute, nice clean bathroom, towels, hair dryer, toilet paper, flat screen tv, hot water, wifi, a restaurant...and to top it off, a deck with a view of the massive mehrangarh fort. Come on!! I was shocked. I mean I was hoping it was going to be a decent place, but this blew our expectations. 

We were just giddy with excitement. Bouncing around and clapping. The poor guy probably thought we were nuts. But it's just so perfect for us. Oh, and super cheap! I think it's moved in to our top ranking for the whole trip - and it's about the cheapest! 

Anyways, we were so giddy with excitement to get down in to the crazy maze of narrow curvy roads lined with shops and stalls we had just driven through. So after a quick tour of the place and with directions to get there, we set off on foot, prepared to do damage. 

We didn't make it far - about 20 feet - before we were stopping for pictures. Old Jodhpur really is something...

Then we turned a corner...and I think we were in heaven. Now this is what shopping in India should be like. Crazy streets, bright colors, dodging motorbikes, smell of burning incense and spice shops, candies, fresh veggies, silver handicrafts, scarfs and sandals and shiny fabrics every where you turn. Ooohhhh yyeeeaaaaa. 

Again, the pictures don't do it justice and the pictures I did take the time to grab seemed to turn out blurry. Maybe because ever single thing in the frame was moving and the iPhone couldn't keep up?! ;)

I don't know how I missed getting any pictures of the bright fabrics and sequins all over. Probably because I couldn't stop drooling long enough to get my camera out...

I saw some interesting wood carved elephant lady things - those statues they are having the festival for now - in the window of this shop, so I risked my life to cross the street to get to it. The name ring a bell. It was in lonely planet. Turns out it was the most famous wholesale shop in all of Jodhpur. They had picture of Richard Gere and they kept talking about their friend, bill Murray and showing pictures of him, haha! They showed me an article where they had a story done on them in Fortune magazine last year. I got it - they were legit. They export all over the world. And when they convinced me to just "take quick look" at the next two floors of textiles they had, it could have been disastrous. I honestly don't know how I pulled myself out of there with only one beautiful scarf. For real. Could have spent an entire day in there, and probably thousands of dollars. So just one scarf is good, right? Oh, and one of the wood elephant ladies. I had to. They're everywhere!

Shopping continued. I got more pants. For $2. Don't judge me. Angie got the leather sandals she's been wanting this whole trip, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit I bought another scarf. (Ill admit I. I have a scarf problem.) And we both bought bangles. Finally. We've been looking for the perfect ones (more for Angie) this whole trip. She's going to wear them in her wedding next year. And I bought them -- for $3. Does that count as my wedding gift?? ;)

We were having so much fun just taking it all in, when Angie, who was walking behind me, for her butt grabbed. Creep. Jodhpur is a step above Mumbai in the creepiness of men category, but a step below Delhi. Lots more stares and gestures here. (But the city is still great, really clean for India, and pretty safe!) The guy continued to follow us until I asked him if be was following us. And Ang gave him the death stare. He quickly walked away and we thought we had shaken him. No such luck. A few minutes later, there he was again. He actually must of waited on us while we went in to shops. The streets are crazy and it's hard to keep an eye on one person, so we didn't know if he was still around and just kept shopping, trying to make our way back to the guesthouse. Sure enough, he turned up again. Okay. We were kind of creeped out now. Why wouldn't he leave us alone? What did he think be was going to do to us with hundreds of people everywhere you turn? I wasn't really scared - just super annoyed. So we decided to turn around and just walk straight towards him fast and hard with our tough girl stares. The guy actually took off running the other way, haha! What a weirdo!

That guy was one problem. The other problem was that we were hungry and thirsty and fading fast. And the biggest problem was that we had managed to get lost on the little streets and couldn't find the guesthouse. And no locals we asked knew of it either. And it was getting dark. Awesome. 

It was a tense few minutes. Mainly because we didn't know if that creep was still around and I was done being lost. And I'm a b when I'm hungry. :) We were literally just about to give up when Angie spotted the Hem sign just at the end of the next path. Thank goodness. (And no sign of the guy as we walked in, that we could see.)

We went straight up top to the rooftop restaurant and enjoyed the patio to ourselves...with quite a view of the massive fort.  Since I had Indian food the last couple of days ... and also haven't felt good the past couple of days, I ordered a cheese pizza, haha. And it was delicious!

Our view at dinner from our rooftop. 

What a night. Its been such a whirlwind since we stepped foot off that train. And to think, we weren't even really excited to come to Jodhpur earlier today!

Tomorrow we are sleeping in (thank you, sweet Jesus), having pancakes here at the guesthouse, hiking up to the fort, and maybe shopping a little more. Then its off to the airport for our 2:00 flight back to Delhi!

Can't believe our trip is coming to an end soon! :(

1 comment:

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