It took over an hour to get out of Delhi and its sprawling suburbs to the highway to Jaipur. The traffic in Delhi was worse than Mumbai in as much as Mumbai has banned tuk-tuks from the city centre and Delhi hasn't. Add to that a lot more carts and scooters and the odd cow/water buffalo to get the picture.
The highway was interesting. It was common for vehicles to be driving on the wrong side of the "dual carriage" way towards us, but as Paul said we only saw a couple of them also being overtaken! The road itself was very good, and unlike here, there were an abundance of large petrol stations all the way along it.
I was fascinated by the pampas grass that grew like weeds all along the roadside. I did notice that around the villages bundles of it had been cut and were drying, possibly to be used as fodder. Another common sight was the cow-patties drying on the tops of walls and then piled high - presumably they are used as fuel.
We went through a lot of towns of varying sizes, and this always meant a traffic snarl up - the degree depending upon the size of the town - probably because the main road actually went through the centre of the towns. None of this namby-pamby slip road nonsense...
The small towns/villages all looked very similar to me. The outskirts generally had a lot of plastic litter. Kiosk type shops lining the roadside - concrete open-fronted cubes. The occasional 'cafe' - a lot of coloured plastic chairs out front, invariably with a few men sitting around. Livestock either tethered to trees or wandering freely. At the start of the journey this was mainly cattle and goats, but as we got closer to Jaipur we started seeing camels. And more and more camels.
As we approached Amber these were joined by the occasional elephant - presumably on its way back from the Amber Fort.
We stopped for lunch at Amber and then continued on into Jaipur.
Driving through Jaipur was an experience - combining all the vehicles, livestock and animal-drawn carts with narrow streets and alley ways as we made our way to our hotel, the Mansingh.
Our driver had arranged to come back in the erly evening to take us shopping - but we were not to tell our guide the next day. This entailed going to a jewellers - it is one of the things Jaipur is known for. Paul escaped this time...
We were not hungry in the evening and ended up in the hotel bar. We got chatting to an Australian and his girlfriend. There were a couple of other girls with them that they had met up with on their travels, one of whom came from Dunbar. It's a small world...
The next day we were up early, leaving the hotel at 6 a.m. for our trip to the Amber Fort. This was to ensure we got our tourist elephant ride up to the fort. We had to queue for an hour or so, fending off the hawkers. At least it was not too hot at that time in the morning.
We got back to the hotel in time for a late breakfast, before we were picked up again for our city tour.
Hawa Mahal - built to allow the ladies of the harem to watch the goings on of the outside world without being observed themselves.
One of Paul's favourite places on this trip was the observatory - Jantar Mantar. This is one of five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II, and is the largest and best preserved.
We also were taken around the City Palace Museum. I particularly liked the textiles and costumes gallery.
Then on to the obligatory carpet-making and block-printing demonstration. And on to another jewellers. At least now I had something to compare prices with. We went back to the first shop in the evening...
We ate in the hotel in the evening. Although I had brought a dress with me I had left my sandals back in Delhi. Oh well - the trainers had to do.
We had a leisurely breakfast the next morning before checking out. We had arranged with our driver a 10 a.m. pickup for the onward journey to Ranthambore.
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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