Let me open this blog series about my travel in India with one affirmation: I desperately love traveling in India! Despite all the bad luck confronting me during those 3.5 months I enjoyed traveling here to the limit! (you can read about my bad luck in the previous post)
In this blog post, I’m gonna show Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, also known as “the Pink City”. This was my first trip outside of Delhi, I went there with a group of 8 people from 6 countries. This was quite a funny fact since wherever we went to people kept asking us the same question “why are you from so many countries traveling together?”.. “Well, it all starts with AIESEC..” (loooooong explanation!)
The train left from Old Delhi Station at 4am, so we had to leave the house at 2.30. We got some troubles finding the correct train at that big station and thank God, we hopped on the train just in time written on tickets (!) But in fact, trains in India, just like Vietnam, are never on time. The difference is that trains in India are much more popular and also cheaper than trains in Vietnam. Everyone here is traveling by train and normally trains are always full and if you don’t book tickets some weeks in advance, you can risk having no space to even put your feet steadily on the floor (no joke)! Lucky that foreigners staying for less than 6 months can come to a special International Office, where they reserve places for foreign travelers and we always can buy tickets for Sleeper or Second Sitting Class, which is amazingly cheap! Of course the trains can be a bit lousy and noisy but who cares?!
Let’s come back to our trip to Jaipur. We arrived in Jaipur almost mid-day (train was 1 or 2 hours late, but no fuss about it). We got 2 rickshaws and went to a hotel suggested by some friends that used to stay there. It was clean and comfortable, but quite outside of the city center. After some bargain with the hotel manager (oh yeah, you would LOVE to bargain everywhere in India!) we had a good deal, each paid Rs. 200 for a night (equivalent to $4.5). Ah, one important thing when mentioning about check-in in India.. Don’t ever imagine that they would let you check in if you don’t remember your passport no., your visa no., date of issue, date of arrival, etc. Some hotels even want a copy of your passport and visa. Well, complicated security check everywhere! And 8 of us took no less than 2 hours to fill in paper, sign, fill in, sign then wait for them to copy our passports. Pheeww! Hard time!
Finally we could start to explore Jaipur from about 2pm. We still had the previous rickshaw drivers agree to carry us around for a tour to the tourist attractions in the city, each of us paid Rs. 100 per day ($2.2). We went to Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Monkey Temple in that afternoon. And one good thing was that, thanks to the business visa and the “excuse” that we were working and paying tax here, we only paid Indian price (tourist ticket price in Jaipur is 6 times as high as Indian price).
Then we were taken to a nice restaurant by the rickshaw drivers and had a good dinner there (my European companions insisted on a clean place to eat, yeah they really shouted “CLEAN” to the drivers). The price was higher than street food but I think the quality was good, except for the fact that it took them forever to prepare just a simple burger and the pizza here looked much smaller than the pizza I often saw..
The next day, we visited Amber Fort. According to my personal opinion, this is the most beautiful Fort in Rajasthan! I was totally awed by the view of this Amber Fort! To me it’s even more magnificent than the Fort in Jodhpur, which was claimed by many other friends to be the most beautiful Fort of India (but apparently not to me..).
Eight of us had only one and half day in Jaipur and we had to rush a lot! The sights are fantastic and one popular activity to do here is riding elephants. You can ride elephant up to Amber Fort which cost you Rs. 450 per person ($10) or go further a little bit in the city, you can ride the elephant for 15 mins on the street with only Rs. 300 ($6.7).We also did a quick walk to the Bazar (market) in the city center but it was a bit tiring, especially when we didn’t have much time for window shopping and also I have to say Jaipur city center was quite chaotic and very dusty. Thus, that Bazar tour was nothing impressive to me.
On the way back we had to rush (again) and jumped on the train just exactly in time (as written on the tickets, of course). The train came back to Delhi late Sunday night and we were happy that we could catch some sleep on our beds (not in train) for Monday going to work..
Jaipur was the closest city to Delhi, JUST 258 km and the train also took ONLY 6 hours. The definition of “just” and “only” in a large country is so much different compared with Europe, where you can go across Poland or Germany by train or bus in also 6 hours! Anyway, all the other cities I went to, I had to spend much more than 6 hours on the train.. So.. wait for my next parts of this Indian series!