Today was a very long day. It started by me waking up at 7:00 sharp to go for a run and do some 250 sits up followed by 125 push ups...and man am I out of shape. I got back, showered, and the dropped of my laundry at some place that looks like it has been vacant for years. It was a good 20 minute walk from my hotel and I'm almost 80% sure that I'll be able to find it again when I have to pick up my stuff. I made it back to my hotel by 9:30 to meet the group. Ajit, our guide, was going to take us around the City Palace (see a picture of me inside on left). I had to pay 50 Rp. to get in and another 200 Rp to take my camera in...DAMN!. It was just OK. After seeing so much, it couldn't compare, but it was nice still the same. Afterwards we went to a silver jewelry shop so that some people could buy stuff for themselves and as for gifts. The stuff was pretty crappy, but I guess the others had NO idea on what constituted as quality and what as cow manure...but that just confirms my initial assessment on how these people are the 'typical' western tourists...that is, they have no individual thought, they just pay whatever they are told to pay, and are just ignorant people. Just last night all the girls were talking about how they couldn't wait until they had their fortune read from a palm reader. They were discussing the 'science' behind it and then they finally asked what I thought. I told them how you can 'cold read' someone based on what they wear, how they speak, their posture, etc. I told them there was no science behind it and it's entire market is perpetuated by voodoo worshiping undereducated people. Well, obviously I didn't say that, but God knows I wanted to. I went to look for some saris with the Norwegian girls, and then after that went with Lisa, the German girl. I went to AT LEAST 6 or 7 different places and shopped around for price and quality. I bought 3 saris from one place and then 1 from another place. In total the initial asking price was around 4500 to 5000 Rps for all 4. I bargained and bargained for the better part of 2 hours. I ended up walking out on 2 shop keepers hoping they would call my bluff, they didn't. Luckily the other 2 did call it and immediately ran after me in the streets demanding I come back to hear their 'new Final Offer'. That's funny, I always thought a final offer meant they would not give another one? I was able to get the saris for a total of 2400 Rps., which was about half of what they had originally asked for them. Now for comparison, the others in my group ALL PAID what the shop keepers ORIGINALLY ASKED FOR. It's sad because I KNOW that all of these people (likely) will suffer severely from this down turning economy. Maybe if they were not completely thoughtless they would not get ripped off. I am sorry, I digress, I don't mean to turn this blog into a negative group-session, but you have to understand. It's very hard for me to be surrounded by people that had the level of comprehension about their surroundings I likely had more than 7 or 8 years ago. UGH. Anyways, I went to an incense 'place' with Lisa, which was behind some type of kiosk and in a very very grungy little closet-filled shack. The guy claimed that all his incense was 'home made'. OK that was lie number one. Next he was saying that he exported to all the major distributors in the world. OK that was lie number two. Next he claimed that he couldn't go any lower as I told Lisa to haggle since he was already selling it at cost. That was lie number three...and boy was that the worst of the lies. But get this LISA actually believed him, felt bad, and then offered 100 Rps. more so he could make a profit. I wanted to kick her for that...but instead I bit my tongue and went to the post office to mail my post cards, all 7 of them. That reminds me, have any of you received mine yet? I only had to pay $0.24 per post card, which is much less than the $1.15+ I paid while in Lao. The post office looked like a repossessed car garage no larger than 750 sq. ft. There was no feeling of semblance and I had ask 4 people there how to go about sending a post card to America. I received my stamps and had to ask manually glue each of the stamps to the post cards, since they were not self-adhesive. They were just paper. I even had to use my own finger to get the glue out of the container and onto the post card...how precious. Afterwards I got two big bananas that only cost me 5 Rps (10 cents) and then went to shop for some leather bound journals. I LOVE THE FEEL OF LEATHER BOUND JOURNALS. I went into 4 or 5 shops that carried these journals to test the waters. I got a pretty good idea of what the selection was and their prices. I spent no less than 45 minutes shopping in the place I decided I would actually do my purchasing (see picture on right). I love opening them up and then closing them and wrapping the leather strap around to fasten them closed. They just felt like something right out of "Raiders of the Last Ark". I don't know what it is about them, but whenever I hold a leather bound book I can't help but feel that the book has some inherent value and meaning...which is stupid, but oh well. I ended up buying 7 (yeah you heard me, ) journals. Some as gifts, some for myself, and some in hopes to sell for a profit. But I got a pretty good deal since I bought in bulk. The shop keeper even offered me a nice hot chai, which I gladly accepted. I am going to go to the 7:30 showing of Octopussy w/ James Bond at some rooftop restaurant close by. I'll have my dinner while I watch the flick. Apparently part of the movie was filmed here, in Udaipur, so many local places have DAILY showing of it.
I am not sure why this group is not as good as my last group? Maybe because they are younger they are less experienced, and therefore less mature. Maybe it's because many of them are from England and that's how the British are (I don't really think this is correct). Maybe it's the type of people that come to India, but that also doesn't sound right. I really don't know why these people are so immature. Well I shouldn't say immature...more so childish and less intelligent. And I'm not using my typical 'high standards' for intelligence. I think I miss Kim and Lyn from my last group. If you're reading this KIM and LYN I MISS YOU GUYS SO MUCH. :(. O well, cheers everybody. Remember even though I am ranting on and on about my group don't think I'm not still getting along with them. I do a very good job adjusting to my atmosphere and 'having fun', but it's just not the ideal group. I'm enjoying every bit of my trip here in India. It's just very hard coming from such a great group in South East Asia.