Thursday, September 20, 2007


Jaipur is supposed to be horrible. I’ve not met a single person with anything good to say about it. But compared with Jaisalmer, the station is a breeze.

We walk the couple of kilometres to Jaipur Inn, an LP recommendation which has bumped its prices up significantly from the book (despite being 3 years old, most prices are accurate). It’s now 9am, and too hot to fight, so we take an air-conditioned room for 950r per night.

The hotel is quite a big place. It has a café on the ground floor, lots of mosquitos about, and ping-pong outside. We later also discover that they have a lovely roof terrace on the fifth floor. They have air-conditioning, this is the most important thing.

We’re hungry, as we haven’t really eaten since breakfast yesterday (being too hot for food most of the time here), so head out. It’s a fair way into town, and we fail to find the Italian restaurant in my book, but do stumble upon… McDonalds!! Thuzar doesn’t have McDs in Burma, so enjoys the experience.

Then we carry on to the Old City.

Jaipur is a nightmare to navigate as a tourist, as there are no landmarks. It’s all samey – two story buildings with uninteresting shops. No cafes or restaurants except in a small strip south of the old town. There is a fort of some description in the distance, but it’s way too hot to climb up there now.

Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar

We eventually find our way to Hawa Mahal. The outside is covered in scaffolding, but it’s still possible to visit.

Even Thuzar is sweating heavily, which is unheard of. I am just a soggy mess by now, I’ve given up trying to look respectable.

Up to the top, where one can see the streets below, and in the other direction, Jantar Mantar, the Royal Observatory, which we head towards next.

We take a slight shortcut to get there, and some kids help us out. I give one two rupee coins, but a fight breaks out as the bigger kids try to take the money off the one I took as my guide, then three more follow us begging. Not very helpful.

The observatory itself is a wonderful place, built by Jai Singh in 1728, full of all sorts of bizarre sculptures which were used to measure and record the position of the sun and zodiac.

There’s a sundial with a 27m high gnomon (for that is the word!), the shadow apparently moves at 4m per hour.

There are large objects, one for each star sign, each used at the respect sign’s time of year.

We don’t stay long, as it’s too damn hot!

We give up trying to do anything more and cycle-rickshaw back to our hotel. We agreed a price of 25r, but I give the poor chap 35 – it’s so hot I wouldn’t even like to walk it, and he strains cycling us along the poor roads and small slopes.

AC on! We hide in the room for the rest of the afternoon. In the cool, you forget about the heat, and with the sun down I assumed it would be okay. Opening the door to our terrace balcony, the humidity and heat whack me in the face!

We head up to the rooftop terrace.

The chap offers us buffet for 150r each, or al la carte, which we have to bring up from the ground floor ourselves. We go for buffet, but later realise this doesn’t really mean buffet – they just serve you some food of their choice! Not good value. And they don’t have beer (but do have some dodgy looking wine).

A thunderstorm rolls past close to us, but no rain here.

A Day of Nothing in Jaipur

It’s just too hot to do anything. So we don’t. Hiding in the hotel is not so bad, given that our room has air-conditioning and we have a reasonable café downstairs. Plus there’s internet access! Except it’s in a small cubby hole which is exposed to the sun. I sit there sweating away for a few hours. For your benefit, my dear readers. The sacrifices!

Mid afternoon, we muster up the energy to head out. Well not really, but we saw a Dominos Pizza near the Raj Mandir cinema. It beckons. We saigar (cycle rickshaw) it down to the Main Post Office first, I’ve got some postcards to send. Usually what you do here is to get the stamps franked in front of you, to avoid them being steamed off later. We do this today, and the chap says that there’s not enough on each postcard. They’ve all got 8 rupees, the fixed required amount for postcards anywhere. Today it’s 10 rupees. Why? Public holiday. You’re joking? Nope. Yes in India on public holidays, they hike postal prices by a token amount! I won’t even bother to expand on the consequences of this!

Dominos is in a run-down “mall”, but is sparkling clean and bright. Large pepperoni pizza and two drinks comes to 541r! I double take when I’m told the price, this is going to be the most expensive meal I’ve had in India! I’m about to cancel the order when I do a quick conversion into English money. A fiver for a large Dominos pizza plus drinks. It’s not so bad!

More storms at night, and we’ve survived Rajasthan at the end of August!

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