Taking a rickshaw to a hostel we had read about in the L.P, I ran in to check it out while; Eliza stayed and watched the bags. At first glance, the rooms were really nice, but with his terrible attitude towards me and extortionate prices, I refused his offer and quickly hurried out to continue on with our search. After checking out a dorm room in a nearby hostel and hearing about another guest house with a private room for the same price, we decided to let the driver take us to the guest house he recommended. After checking out the room in Jag Niwas Guest House, I agreed and we went in, dropped our bags down and took a well-deserved nap. Waking up around 1pm, feeling somewhat refreshed but still with traces of minor concussion from the damn bus ride, we slowly pulled ourselves together , got ready and headed out to find ‘The Lotus Café’ for some food. The place was very near to our guest house, and had a very comfortable and traveller friendly atmosphere. We were escorted up the stairs to a private seated balcony complete with numerous cushions placed around a large table, where a group of others were sat. We joined them and ordered some food. We left after our meal of Jacket Potatoes and Veggie Burger, and headed off for a well-deserved cheap massage and pedicure. After our pampering, we took a rickshaw to the train station to book our tickets to Mumbai and Goa, which turned out to be a disaster when we were told the ‘system was down’. Our driver Sunny who patiently waited for us outside the station, then took us to a local folk dance and puppet show down by Pichola Lake, which he had recommended we do. We bought tickets and then headed into Café Eidelweiss for some lovely cake before the show started. The hour and a half show, was incredibly entertaining on a comical and educational level. Some parts of the show were hilarious and some parts were so interesting that you could tell by looking around the room how much people were enjoying it. There we were, a room full of travellers sitting on benches and cushions around the open courtyard of the palace watching cultural dances take place, an unusual puppet show and a brave middle aged woman who danced around with what ended up to be 9 bowls on her head. The show was very entertaining! After the show we headed back to the guest house where we planned to get an early night, before our friend Krista arrived the next morning. We were so excited to see her again, as we had such an amazing time In Agra and she was so excited to come and see Udaipur.
The next morning we woke up early and took a rickshaw to the train station once again where we met Krista and booked our tickets to Mumbai. This time however we would be placed on a waiting list which meant we would possibly be on a 16 hour journey the next evening with no guarantee of a seat. We took Krista back to the guest house, where we got ourselves ready for breakfast at ‘The Lotus Café, where we spent some time chilling out and catching up! Afterwards, we took a tour with our rickshaw driver Sunny to Shilpgram where we were taken around various traditional style houses, saw many craftsmen at work and bought some intricate one off hand woven blankets- perfect for travelling. Our next stop was Tiger Lake, which Sunny had told us was still quite unknown to the tourist and was not in the guidebooks, which we could see why. It was so beautiful and so peaceful here that we could see why the locals would not want to spoil this. We sat there for a while enjoying the mountain and lake views which complimented each other perfectly, before taking some scenic photos. The last stop was to The monsoon Palace situated on top of a mountain overlooking Udaipur and Lake Pichola. Unfortunately the monsoon kicked in and we were forced to go up the mountain with no guarantee of a good view. Sunny dropped us at the gate where we bought tickets for the Palace and tickets for the taxi up there. With the rain pelting down around us and with my precious Canon around my neck, we opted to take an old man up on his offer to take shelter in the nearby barn until our taxi came.
After some frog spotting and monsoon watching, our taxi pulled up- full of people- and on the opposite side of a large flooded area. We ran to the taxi, wading through the floods and squeezed into the boot where 3 other men were sitting. Driving up the mountain, we counted 14 people in the taxi which took us to the top within 10 minutes. We were all in hysterics as the men tried to converse with us, having no luck whatsoever. Squished into the back of the taxi we couldn’t help but laugh at yet another seriously dodgy, seriously random, seriously Indian situation. When we got to the top, we walked the rest of the way in the lashing rain, with me skidding all over the place in my new leather sandals. Gripping on to the girls arms I made It up to the top just barely, without breaking my neck. These shoes were like Ice skates and I was beginning to wonder why I had bought them in the first place. After catching some shelter in the the palace and taking some amazing panoramic photos from upstairs in the palace, with luckily not too much mist covering the scenery, we then decided to go back down to the exit where we presumed our taxi would be waiting for us. When we got there, we were told ‘5 minutes’ and our taxi would be back, so with my camera tucked safely under Krista’s skirt from the rain, we climbed a nearby stairs and took refuge in a shady alcove. Shady in more than one sense!
A couple who were also waiting for a taxi, followed us up and also took shelter while they waited. With the three of us squished into the tiny arch trying to avoid the rain, we were approached by a creepy looking man, who looked at us in the weirdest of weird ways and said ‘I like foreigners’. The man was quite tall, with a serial killer image and glasses that made his cross eyes look ten times bigger than they were. For about 10 minutes, he would disappear and then reappear saying more things such as ‘You come to my home?’, to further portray the ultimate creep factor he so aptly inhabited. At one point, probably the last straw for us, he said ‘Can I ask one more question?’ to which I replied without a second of hesitation, ‘No you cannot have a photo’, having made my prediction. He then replied ‘OK’, proving me right, and setting us all into convulsions of laughter, until he finally went away. The drama wasn’t over though, and when our taxi finally arrived, herds of people- the same guys from the ride up and the same ones who followed us around the palace- , ran to get a seat. Lagging behind, we were left with miniscule space for the three of us in the boot of the jeep yet again, with me hanging onto the edge of the seat next to a man who seemed quite content, while Eliza sat on my knee, head bent right down to avoid hitting the roof, and Krista, in a Gollum like crouched position, body up against the the back window. The whole car full, laughed as the jeep bumped its way down the mountain and back to flat ground. The rain had typically stopped at this stage, but we were too tired to care and just wanted Sunny to take us back. It took a good 7 minutes before Sunny’s rickshaw would start and we had a horrible feeling we would be stranded up here for the evening. Luckily enough, after following orders and getting out, he got the Rickshaw started and off we went slowly but surely through the lush green countryside, passing familiar villages again on the way back. It was lovely out here in the countryside and on the way back we were greeted by local kids and adults waving at us and shouting ‘Namaste’, as we had experienced on the way there.
Oh and did I mention the fight we had that morning with our hosts at Jag Niwas guest house? No? Thought not! Well here we go, It all started before we even left the guest house to go on our day trip with Sunny. We had decided to be good guests and declare that Krista was staying with us that night. It was a triple room after all and we had a spare bed for her. We asked one of the staff if maybe he needed Krista’s passport details, as per usual in India, but with little English, our communication went out the window and so he called the manager, who we had met when we checked in the day before. As a middle man between us and the manager, he was telling us that we would have to pay extra for Krista to stay, even though we argued that It was a 3 bed room, so why should it make a difference. The argument carried on, leading to Eliza to take the phone call and speak to the manager herself. Fuming, we stood there as we overheard the conversation and wondered what would come of the situation. It was the principal of not being ripped off, yet we did not want to have to pack up and find somewhere else to stay, but nevertheless we powered through, until eventually the manager came to the guest house himself. When he arrived , I made it known to him that if he charged the same for one person in the room as two people, then why would three people in a triple room be any more. He demanded more money and we kept declining, leading to escalation of the argument. The three of us took turns at making valid points, but being as stubborn as he was and telling us ‘This is my business not your business’, he was not having any of it. I then looked at my two friends and as if we had made a telepathic decision, I looked back at him angrily and with very forceful tone in my voice, I said ‘OKAY, So we have decided that we will pay extra for the room, but that we WILL NOT be doing our laundry here nor will we be eating in their restaurant for any of our meals , so he would be losing out on a lot of business from us. The girls laughed, but he nodded as if in victory. He made my blood boil! It had seemed like the day was dramatic from start to finish here In Udaipur.
When we got back from the palace later that day, we had told Sunny that we would change and he could drop us to The Sunset Café which was located in the City Palace complex. The complex demands 25Rupees from everybody entering the complex who is not staying in any of the hotels in there, so we had decided to go this evening as a trio, for drinks, live music, dinner and a good night out. All dressed up –to Indian standards anyway-, we said goodbye to Sunny at the gate and walked up the hill to The Sunset Café where we planned to spend a nice evening together. When we got there, we noticed that the outdoor restaurant was not only empty but no tables were laid out. We asked a passing waiter, who refused us entry as we were outsiders, and after Krista had spotted the incredibly extortionate prices on the menu, we took the walk of shame down the hill, passed all the guards who had seen us enter. Mortified, we took a rickshaw back to the Lal Ghat area where we were staying and had dinner at ‘The Lotus Café’ where our outsider status meant nothing. Here we had a nice meal and met a Spanish couple who we chatted to for a while. We decided to would go to The Hookah Lounge nearby to smoke some sweet sheesha- something different we thought-but when we enquired, we were told It was shut down. It seemed nothing was going right for us, that was until I had heard about a place called The Whistling Teal from a local who told us that they had Hookah pipes also. We took a stroll there, and when we entered the restaurant, we were in our element. We ordered some beers, fries and a green apple Hookah to share before, the waiter told us that an outside booth had become free in the garden. We mad ourselves comfortable in the sinkable sofas, and enjoyed a great evening together in what appeared to be a jungle like scene. There were a few other tables of people enjoying each other’s company – and sheesha, but by te end of the night we were the last ones standing. We headed back to the hotel where we chatted for an hour or so before nodding off for the night. It was a night to remember in Udaipur!
The next morning we got ready, collected fresh laundry (not from our hotel, mind you), and checked out. We left our bags in storage while we had breakfast on the rooftop, to my regret. I had hoped not to pour anymore Rupees into the Jag Newas account but we ended up ordering two meals each- they were tiny! Nevertheless, we took advantage of the WIFI there, and checked our waiting list status for the train ticket. Hoping we would not have to stand for 16 hours on the damn train, we eagerly awaited our status, which didn’t seem to have changed. We would check again later! We spent a while relaxing with the nice view of Pichola Lake, and the nice cool breeze that Udapiur was treating us to, before taking a long stroll around town wandering in and out of leather, handcraft and clothes shops. We took Krista back down to the lake and afterwards to Café Eidelweiss which we loved. We had cake after cake, while chatting and giggling before It was time to say goodbye to Krista who would take the train back to Delhi. We spent our last evening in Natural Lake View rooftop restaurant, drinking refreshments, recharging equipment and watching the rain our heavily down, once again in Rajasthan.
It was here that we realised we may have seats on the train, not only seats but beds, which was great. Nevertheless, It was India, so we decided we would order take away pizzas and get to the train station early just to make sure. Needless to say, our luck kicked in and we had two good beds on the train which didn’t seem half as full as other trains we had previously been on. We were sat next to a family consisting of a husband, wife and their shy ten year old son. Their broken English didn’t stop them, and It was great to see them trying so hard to converse with us. We chatted about our travels and families and learned about their very happy arranged marriage and their older son. We carried on chatting, and the woman offered us a piece of some Indian baked good which we obliged. Chewing it, with fake smiles, we looked at each other telepathically knowing that each other wanted to spit it out at once. Nevertheless, we kept up the façade by chewing the bland, cardboard tasting baked good (or baked bad), before thanking her and patting our stomachs to politely refuse any more she had offered us. It didn’t stop her giving us some ‘mouth freshener’ sweets which she had and which tasted like solid pieces of perfume. This time however we couldn’t lie, without gagging, so we had to throw them out the window and apologise. She laughed! We later found out in Mumbai from some locals that these were a dodgy type of chewing tobacco which could make you sick, and was a big surprise to the guys who told us that we were offered these from a mother travelling with her family. The 16 hour journey from Udaipur to Mumbai would be the last journey in Rajasthan for us, our second last journey together and our longest journey of the trip so far, but for once, I awoke a few hours before our arrival, feeling refreshed and well rested, something I never thought I would say three weeks ago.