Wednesday, April 15, 2009

As Seen on TV

Day 400
When the train arrived in Udaipur I was pleasantly surprised that I had slept so well on the train. I had thought that it would be a real nightmare, and I'm sure that it would have been if I hadn't been so tired. After I got off I picked the hotel I wanted and went with a pre-paid tuk tuk instead of bargaining with someone. This probably cost more, however, I was assured of getting to the hotel I picked and not getting hassled about going to some other hotel. My driver did try and get me to book him for a few hours to see some of the further away sites. I told him that I was to tired, dirty and ready for
breakfast to think about it and got him to give me his number. After that he dropped it.

I was in luck because my hotel of choice had a room with its own bathroom for me. My desire to eat outweighed my desire to shower and I headed out for some food. I found a bakery with some cinnamon rolls that worked very nicely. I also had some chai tea which is becoming very addictive! I also worked on my plans for the day. When I went back to my hotel I took a much needed shower and washed my clothes. I didn't think that they could stand up to another round at a ghat.

To get to the City Palace I had to walk past a ton of stalls selling things. There are so many things to buy in India, it is really overwhelming. On top of that tourism is down, not just because it is the off season, but due to the economic crisis and the Mumbai terrorist attack. I don't even have to try and bargain half the time because people lower the price without me even asking. I put everyone off by telling them that I didn't want to carry things around all day and that I might come back later. I was really just trying to price things though.

The City Palace towers over Lake Picola. The lake is mostly try right now and has been for about the last 3 years, so I guess the palace towers over a mud flat. It was all whit e and sparkly though. Inside there was room after room of exquisite carpets and mirrors. One room was gilded on every surface. I think that it would be too bright to sleep in there if even one bit of light managed to get in. There were also some nice courtyards. Several rooms held very graphic war paintings. The price for taking pictures was too high so I will have to steal some off of the internet.

In the palace complex there was also a small Government Museum. It was pretty awful. There was a stuffed monkey holding a lamp. Most of the exhibits were falling apart. The best bit was a good view of the Lake Palace. This, along with two other palaces in the area, was used to shoot the 1980 James Bond movie Octopussy.

Just outside of the palace was some temple or another. Nothing was in English and the white stones burned my bare feet so I didn't stay long. Next up was the Jagdish Temple, built in 1651. The main bit was a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, lord of the universe. I got there just as they were doing the opening ceremonies. The bells were horribly loud, but it was beautiful.

For lunch I went to a place recommended in my book and chatted with the waiter before moving on. As I wandered down the street I did a bit of shopping. I wanted a small statue of Ganesh, but couldn't find the right one, I did pick up a couple of others things on the way though. At every store people kept lowering their prices until things were almost free. At the end of the tourist area there was a guy with about 12 statues on the ground and was working on carving another one. They were moderneque Ganesh statues and not what I wanted. He was so desperate to sell though that he just kept dropping the price without my even asking. In the end I just bought one. I felt a bit stupid for spending $2 on something that I didn't really want, but I also felt bad because he told me that it took him two day to carve the statue and he only got $2 for all of his work.

To stay away from the shops I wandered through some residential streets and got nicely lost. A man who was waiting for his kids to get off of the school tuk tuk (they arrived while I was there) pointed me back to the main drag. He then asked me if I would like to come in for some chai. I really would have loved to and it would have probably been fine, but I couldn't take the slight chance that it wasn't and had to turn him down.

After some more wandering I ended up back at my hotel. I put down my purchases and then rested for a bit before heading out again.

Bagore-Ki-Haveli was a small museum with a rather eclectic collection. Perhaps the most interesting bit was the worlds largest turban. Hmm, maybe it wasn't such an interesting place after all. Several of the rooms showed how people lived over the centuries. The last few rooms had a lot of contemporary paintings in them.

When I was done I spent a bit of time checking out the dried and cow filled lake Picola. I then headed to a salon to get some henna done. The woman who worked there was very friendly and told me that her dream was to move to the US and open a shop there. I loved my henna design, but didn't really have the patience to sit there and let the hard bits fall off on their own. After a couple of hours I just picked them off, making the top much darker than the bottom.

After showering I headed out to dinner at a roof top restaurant and to catch a showing of Octopussy. The special effects were a bit silly and they claimed to be in Delhi not in Udaipur. It was cool to see the palace in the background as I watched the movie. After dinner I spent some time blogging before calling it a night.

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