First thing in the morning, we went to Amber Fort.
(This is the harem quarters - The Palace of the Winds - on the way to the fort... we saw a man with a cobra in a basket outside here - the cobra was striking at a young girl. It was terrifying.)
We got to ride elephants up to the fort. Our elephant’s name was Lakshmi – the money elephant. I got in a bit of trouble for patting her on the head after our ride. Not really trouble, but I guess we’re not supposed to touch the elephants.
I imagined the elephants, with their great memories, remembering that same journey up to the fort they had made thousands of times before…
The Amber Fort was nice. We didn’t get the audio guide – just walked around and read the signs ourselves.
Mike made up facts in a British accent, so it was like we had the guide anyway…
There were so many hawkers around the fort – I just pretended not to see anything they shoved in my face and laughed about it later. They switched from English to Spanish to Russian, to other languages, trying to sell us things to no avail.
After the fort, we went to see some cenotaphs. It was an eerie, beautiful place.
We went to lunch afterwards, and then to a textile and carpet shop. We had all the usual pitch, and had some chai as they rolled out carpets, etc. for us.
We did get to see the block printing process, as well as carpets being made, which was kind of cool.
I almost got talked into a sari, but my card didn’t work, so I ended up not buying anything. It felt really good, even though they sent over every worker in the shop to ask if they could run my card again…
We drove by the Jal (?) Mahal and Albert Hall. Took photos from across the road… We went to the City Palace, but Hukam said it really wasn’t worth seeing, but to go to a different thing right in the same area. We followed his directions, but couldn’t find what he was talking about, and none of us really cared about visiting another place today, so Mary and Sandy did some shopping at the street vendors, and then we went back to the cars and told them “it was great” for whatever it was we were supposed to go see.
We then went to the Laxmi Narayan Temple. It was beautiful and awe inspiring – but no photos were allowed up close or inside the temple. I did take one picture of the Jesus Christ statue on the outside, before a woman told me that photos were prohibited. I said sorry, and thanked her, even though I’d heard the guard blowing his whistle and yelling at everyone not to take photos. It seemed that everyone wanted a photo there – probably because it was prohibited.
(Facebook asked me to tag my friend in this photo, so...) — with Shiva.
We walked around for a while more, then I went back to gather my shoes from the stall. The attendant – seeing thousands of shoes every day – and with a pile of shoes in the booth, handed me my shoes before I could even ask for them. “Great memory” I told him and tipped him.
After the temple, we came back to the hotel to get ready for our Ayurvedic massage. Hukam told us to wait to get one here in Jaipur – the best, he said. I got one, with a facial, and so did Mike – I bought it for him for his birthday. Two 70 minute massages for under $60 for both – incredible! It was really nice – I felt slightly awkward, since it is completely nude – she gave me a tiny piece of cloth and tied it around my crotch with a string – a loin cloth, but it really didn’t cover much, and she took it off when I had to lay on my stomach, anyway. Afterwards, our drivers had told them to give us a ride back to the hotel – except the guy didn’t quite know where it was, and we didn’t either. Luckily, I recognized a few buildings we had passed on the way going, so we ended up back at the hotel eventually.
Next to the hotel was a party going on. So we had blasting Hindi music mixed with techno – it was like they spliced Hukam’s CD (the one we have been listening to pretty much non-stop for the whole trip), with a Hindi top 20 Hits CD, and put a techno beat on top of it. REALLY, REALLY LOUD! The perfect way to relax after a massage :) We got some room service, and luckily they stopped playing the music around 10:30 – it is just after 11 now, and they haven’t started back up (yet – knock on wood!) Tomorrow – Mike’s Birthday! And off to Agra for the final leg of our car tour adventure…