The group should be free this afternoon and I realise they all need some chill time at the hotel but on the other hand the real India awaits so I have suggested a trip to the spice market at 4 pm when it is a bit cooler. Everyone had 3 hours free time for the pool, gardens and lunch before our next Indian experience. There isn’t as much poverty here so it is easy to visit the market without being hassled by hawkers. The colours and smells are lively and the whole area looks like something from a Bollywood set.
Everyone loved the feel of the place and the locals were friendly. Another highlight – not many westerners visit this market – only the ones in my group.
The market in Udaipur was a real success and everyone enjoyed it all.
Today we have our coach journey which takes us from Udaipur tp Jaipur. When I first did these tours we did this stretch by plane but now there are no flights to Jaipur so we just drive it. It’s an interesting drive and the highlight is stopping at the Maharaja’s former hunting lodge for lunch.
To make the journey more interesting I bought a bottle of rum and a bottle of gin and some coke and tonic water and after lunch we had a party on the bus. The group really appreciated it.
We started today with a jeep ride up to Amber Fort – the original town was here but because it was in a valley it was impossible to expand to a new city was built – Jaipur.
Amber fort is a hive of activity and I can just imagine the Maharajas and elephants here. When we arrived back to the coach my driver, mty driver’s helper and my guide all put garlands over my head and said happy birthday before throwing petals over me and giving me some Indian sweets. Lovely and so kind of them. Then I help the hawkers sell there stuff on the bus – they all shout chachi chachi help me chachi.
During our time we visited the room of the ladies of the Maharaja and some Indian girls joined us for a photo – they wanted some money for it. They only know one word of English and that is “money”. I gave them a few rupees. Don’t know where that Japanese girl came from though.
We enjoyed lunch at the Raj Palace which is one of my favourite spots – chicken Tikka sandwiches. Then we went out onto the lawn for a puppet show which had everyone in hysterics or should I say that Sue Newman started giggling and it was so contagious taht the whole group couldn’t stop laughing. Don’t know what the puppet walla made of us.
We were back at the hotel in time for a few hours chill out before my next drinks party in my room, followed by a birthday barbeque.
The girls put a lot of work into the decor and I needed help from one of the hotel receptionists to put my sari on for the occasion – 6 metres of silk held together with just one knot. What does a half Indian half Yorkshire girl wear under her sari? Her shorts!!!
Our first drive through agricultural India today. The local life is so colourful and diverse. The markets, traffic, cows, goats, villages were all an eye opener.. So many Indian people haven’t got much and struggle to make ends meet even though they have such a basic existence but they are so friendly and smile and wave at us at every opportunity. Can’t help but love the people. Here in India the people accept what they have and get on with things – it’s all about the karma. Hindus believe that we are reincarnated. If you are good in this life – the next life will be better. If you are bad – you may come back as a cockroach.
On arrival in Ranthambore we have time for a quick check in and lunch before our first safari. I hope they see a tiger.
Just 5 of the group saw the tiger but we still have 2 safaris to go and this group have a good karma.
Love the hotel here – the whole set up is perfect and the group always enjoy it.
We all hear about the booming economy in India, however over 300 million people live in poverty with no clean water. Village life is extremely basic and in the cities slum life is even worse.
Education is one key to solving India’s many problems but most state schools are badly equipped and lack resources.
We also visited the mother and child unit sponsored by UNICEF.
Most of the group have joined that special club of those to have seen a tiger in the wild. They must have a good karma as the tiger sightings are very rare at the moment.
After an early morning safari and a late breakfast we head off to visit the school in the Old Town. I have worked with this school for years now and have put one desktop computer here. The school is basic and lacks resources. The children are happy to see everyone and we come armed with gifts – pens, sweets, shampoo, soap.
Everyone is moved by the school children and how poor the school is. It is very difficult to get anything done here and it is very frustrating trying to improve things.
We then do to the Unicef mother and child unit.
Another day in incredible India and today is a real highlight – the Taj Mahal , one of the seven wonders of the World and built by the Emporer Shah Jahann for the love of his wife, who had died. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of emotion when you walk through the gate and see the Taj Mahal for the first time. It still brings a tear to my eye and I really could just look at it all day long.