So we awoke after a remarkably good nights sleep in Jodphur
, which is halfway back towards Jaipur. Jodphur has a HUGE fort
in the center and alot of blue-washed houses around it. After minimal, in fact (remarkably for India) no, haggling, we got a guide
to show us around the fort, which is itself a stiff 15 minute uphill walk from the town. He was happy to tell us that he owned 7 racing camels in his village. My anti-drug war T-shirt confused most Indians, but this gent got it. He said that, though it was illegal, everyone used opium and that he would inist on offering us opium if we came to his house. It seems that, quite appropriately, good manners are more important than laws! Jodphur Fort was full of incredible wealth, mosty of it wrapped up in the Elephant saddles
(well the things you sit in on top of the elephants). There was also an amusing photo exhibit of the present Marahaja's coronation which happend in the 1950s when he was the tender age of 4. The ceremony lasted over 10 hours and the kid was "on" from 3 am till 8pm. Apparently he was perfectly behaved. How you ask? Well it happened that he had a stern British nanny, of course!
The next morning Mia abandoned me to go to Veranasi, 30 hours away by train. I wanted to drive to Udapuir and stop and see some famous Jain temples on the way, but there was a one day Hindu strike
(note the rickshaws NOT moving
) to protest the Muslim extremist's attack in Gujarat, and my drivers (who were also my hotel managers) wouldn't go. Instead I went shopping, paid far too much for a very beautiful wall hanging
, and then I took a hairy ride on the back of the hotel manager's motorbike to the station where I got on a train back to Jaipur (the Agra train was full).
Full set of Jodphur Photos are here
At 1am the train pulled into Jaipur, but rather than stay there I pulled a snap decision and went Tiger hunting. After arriving in a non-descript town called Alwar, and severely confusing a rickshaw driver, I ended up getting 4 hours sleep in a very expensive (by Indian standards) hotel which wasn't worth the $8 I paid. A very bumpy rickshaw and bus ride later I was at Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park--the only national park open in India in September. All the rest are closed until the monsoon dies down.. I was forced to rent a guide and a jeep
, as I was the only tourist in the park at that time (two others had done the 6 am round). They say Tiger-hunting takes patience. After being charged $20 (what the average Indian makes in a month!) to get in, I was demanding that the Tigers got into the jeep, sat on my lap and started purring. The rather nice 3 hour bump around showed us some deer
and a wild pig
, plus lots of monkeys
at a Hindu temple
. It was nice to be out of big cities, but a little dispiriting to find out that there are ony 25 Tigers in the park and no one ever sees one!
Full set of Tiger non-hunting photos are here
After a quick bus ride back to Alwar, during which I explained how IBM gave away the future of the PC to Microsoft to the confused Indian MBA student sitting next to me, I went to mail stuff home. This is a great adventure in India. Tailors make you a sack for your posessions and sew it up
. You then find a post office that'll take it (it took me three triess in Alwar), write your mailing address on it, and three times on another piece of paper which the clerk sews to it; you pay the quite high fee (about $25) and hope that your beloved tapaestry (or whatever) shows up at your home in three months or so!
Next stop, Agra--home of the Taj Mahal