A lot of our stops through India, have ended in pur! And our latest one also included this Jaipur.
Our little tikka tours bus has certainly logged up a few hours on our holiday road trip. From singing ‘Do Rey Me’ for our tour guide Raj who has never heard of Sound of Music, to the game of spotto …. camels, goats, elephants, cows, water buffalo you name it we found it.
I’ve never seen so many happy goats and pigs, they aren’t really threatened here and their little tails wag away as they scab through the garbage for food or fossil in dirty water. Makes you want to be a vegetarian really!
We’ve stopped for numerous toilets stops, some more pleasant than others, and also made a young boys day, when we asked our driver and guide to help us buy tassels and streamers that the locals actually pimp their trucks with, but we want to decorate our homes and childcare centre with.
So pull over we did, and bought out almost his entire road side stall, had all the local village down behind the truck stop come to say hello….. ah the language barrier might be a bit tough but the smiles and hand shakes hit the mark.
First big stop in the big smoke of Jaipur was a massive shopping expedition, of the furniture kind. A few of us had a shopping lists and some of us just shopped as we went. Through approx. 5 large wearhouses in stinking heat 35 degree heat. Was not that pleasant and a few of us felt like we were being taken via other possible purchases. By the end of the afternoon, we were all a bit over it but have a some wonderful purchases. I got all the bits I wanted, including a new set of iron gates for the side of the house. Of course ‘they ship” so we will be expecting a delivery later in the year!
Our accomodation where I last blogged from, the Tree of Life resort and spa is out of the main town. We have really loved visiting the rural areas and villages. The people we have met have very little furniture, sleep on single beds called Chou boys ~ some head to toe and they hang them up out of the way for the day time. We travelled along skinny little lanes past sheep, cows, goats, shepherds herding their animals, past families going to the water well, factories making the sticky sweet condensed milk that they love for the their deserts and tiny little towns that I don’t know how you would find, if you didn’t have a local guide, as the majority of road signs are in the sand script.
Throughout the village tours, there is usually multiple family members from the elders and 3 or so families including all the children living in one compound and then they have their own huts or rooms. Often when we visited the villages, we mostly met the grandparents and babies as the parents and children were either out working in the fields or at school.
They were extremely welcoming to us all, proud to show their farms and animals including water buffalo and offering us all chai tea, farm fresh beans in a freshly made masala paste. Or even the odd opium ceremony, still practiced today, but now only with the pods of the opium flowers and Very diluted with a sugar syrup of course!
Our time in Jaipur included time to explore another Fort~ the Amber Fort! High up on the hill within another walled city, what a magnificent building with history that is hundreds of years old, and really fascinating with our local guide Raj.
Our evening ended with a visit to Dera Amer, a farm village that grows it’s own veggies, and hosts tours and dinners and has elephants that are retired. Theses animals have a fairly enjoyable life these days, but as they still eat so much, they also require a walk of at least 20 kilometres per day.
They are used to human contact and once a day at either sunrise or sunset, they take tour groups like us through their local habit in a gorgeous valley at the base of the mountains outside Jaipur.
Lindy and I and our group enjoyed a sunset ride with champagne in hand for approx 40 minutes, before another local village family entertained us with their cultural dances including the grandpa of their family, an 84 year old man who still shuffled along and blew his trumpet on q !
We all enjoyed dinner out in the open under the stars before a spot of iPhone light bangle shopping !
From Jaipur it was only 1 hour to our next stop which of course with toilet stops stretched to almost 2 hours.
It was worth it. One of our favourite places ~Samode Palace is at the end of a small village, and was once home to royalty. We had an almost free day !
I lay by the pool and read a book the internet was talked up but the manager but it was extremely dodgy. Later that evening we went into the village of Samode, via open air jeep. Ah the agricultural smells ! We had Raj barter for small pans to cook Indian chaparti breads in, bought bangles by the box load and had a lot of laughs.
We toured through the new and old village and as the sun was setting, we again went for chai and green beans to another village, met the families sowing their vegetable seedlings, tethering their animals for the night and again enjoyed the local hospitality.
As we arrived back at our hotel, someone turned the fairy lights on and their was our palace all lit up just for us ~ the 9 goddesses…… kidding They probably do that every night we just had a grand entrance.
We were asked to arrive at 6 pm for a special event…… a champagne cocktail in the queens rooms, not open to the general public, and oh what rooms, amazing. From there we went to the roof top pool for a fusion Indian meal, fine dining at its best. We got some more little pressies from Raj and Claudy and our bags are bulging!!!!
Of course our next day was a 6 hour drive to Agra. We got packed lunches and it was long, but we all knew what was a ahead the crowning jewel of our trip.
We went to the red Fort to view the Taj from across the river and also see the Fort. This Fort is again filled with amazing history and we hear stories from years gone by, that make you appreciate our lives.
This Fort was built in 1565 by the great Mughal emperor Akbar…. of course his successors further developed the Fort, like all the others we have seen. Big sprawling communities behind walls and gates to die for . Oh what a building it is ! High walls sprawling lawns, they just go on and on and it’s fair to say we have climbed steep stair wells, walked skinny secret passage ways and I really wish I had worn a pedometer.
we had our first official glimpse through the later afternoon haze of the majestic Taj Mahal.
We had a quiet night in before our 4.30am wake up call to queue for an hour before they opened the gates. No scanner here the old tear and stamp and a full pat down body search before entry and then we ran…..,… through the royal gates to the most magnificent sight and love story of all times the Taj Mahal.
We were all in awe and a little teary that we were finally there. Raj of course told us the wonderful love story of the tomb and the empress Taj Mahal that had us all crying and emotional.
As we were first in line, we actually had photos with no one else in them and then got to spend 20 minutes inside the tomb listening to the peace and echoing as Raj and a local guide sang a few lines whilst we all got goose bumps.
Back to the hotel for a quick breakie and on the road again back to Delhi another 6 long hours, but we made it to our beautiful last stop the Trident hotel. We had our farewell dinner of Tali again and enjoyed some amazing wine. The hotel is amazing and felt so the walk to our rooms was long , but after being on the bus it was nice to stretch Our legs. There is a 25 metre pool so some of us enjoyed doing laps.
Today was our last day and we got to choose what we all wanted to do. Some of us headed to the biggest shopping in the Asian region, for a few hours and then enjoyed the pool, as our jeweller arrived with the treasures we had ordered on day one. We farewelled our leaders tonight as they are both off on tour agains tomorrow. We have made some amazing memories, friendships and had a trip of a life time.
We fly home to Sydney tomorrow to see our families and loved ones including our puppies ???
Till next time Nameste ??