We arrived in Jaipur after a public bus ride lasting just shy of 4 hours. It held 25 people, and guess what...25 people were taking the bus. There was such little room on the bus that I had to ride with my day pack on my lap for hours. We arrived a little before 1:00 in the Capital City of Rajasthan and got our rooms. I am sharing with Sam and unlike all others we got a refrigerator. This will be very essential for keeping the drinks cold for later at night. Most of us went out for a quick lunch, since our hotel charged an arm and a leg. We ate a nice little western-style coffee/cafe. We returned to our hotel for a orientation walk around the city. Ajit took us into the city...we all needed to hire rickshaws to get get there though. It only cost us 20 Rps. each and there were 4 of us to one rickshaw. We walked around and took in what the capital city if Rajasthan had to offer. A lot of begging and high-pitched horns from the traffic. We all went our separate ways once we got to the heart of the city center. I split off and went to the City Palace (see photo on right). It sucked. Maybe I've just seen much nicer things, but it just had no original architecture, art, etc. Most of the others didn't even go inside. It cost me 50 Rps. ($1.00 USD) and it was NOT worth it. I walked in the direction of our hotel. I met some guy named Sonny who asked me a question. I was reading a lonely planet on the side of a street when he had asked me, "Why do tourists always read their lonely planets in stead of just talking with the local Indians"? I told him it was because most of the people tourists talk to try to rip them off, sell them somethings, or drive/ride them somewhere. He said he wanted to show me 'real' India, and since I had no where special to be, I went along with it. He asked me to join him for a cup of chai, and with much skepticism, I complied. We walked between some buildings into a very trashy and authentically poor Indian chai stand. A young boy, the chai walla, poured a glass for me and for Sonny. We were drinking and Sonny started telling me about some handicapped people making jewelry and that the profits went to a good cause and were cheaper than the street vendors who sold to the tourists. I was laughing very hard inside because I knew he was trying to pitch his business to me and sell me some shoddy jewelry, but I played along. I mean he was right...he did show me the 'true India'. This true India I talk about is the nation of lazy con men, but they don't see it that way. It's part of their culture to rip you off and to get the "rich person's money". I don't speak for every Indian, just the majority that I've come in contact with, which if you take a look at a map, I've covered a pretty good area to have a good unbiased data sample. You're the safest when you ask a professional banker or hotel manager. Don't bother asking ANYONE else because even when you approach them they have an alternative motive to get your money. I've said this before, but being poor has weight in the matter, since Cambodians and the natives of Lao both are more poor than these Indians, yet they are honest people. Again, I don't speak for all Indians, and you have to understand I'm in a tourist area. But it would be nice to be somewhere visiting where the locals in that city are willing to help you and not cheat/pester you. Enough said. I've met MANY nice Indians who have tried their hardest to help me. After Sonny took me into his jewelry shop I said. "later bro" and ditched him and through out his business cards...I did tell him I wasn't going to buy anything, but he was too dense to realize I had him figured out before he even knew my name.
Of course I got lost on my way back. I mean would you expect anything less...or I should say more? I tried to ask around for directions, but no one spoke English and where I was trying to find. My map in the Lonely Planet was 'very' limited also. I finally fired a rickshaw driver on bike to help me. He had to ask 4 or 5 men to find my hotel, but we finally got there. I got the price down to 30 Rps., but I gave him 35. I ate dinner at the hotel last night and it was horrible. Quite expensive as well...A couple of us wanted to order Pizza Hut, but that never happened. We drank on the rooftop of our hotel and I went to bed around 11:00.
Woke up the next day and left for the General Post Office (GPO). I took a tuk-tuk there for 50 Rps. and then paid a man 70 Rps (see photo on left). to package my stuff. I sent 4 saris, 2 patchwork wall hangings, and 2 books. One book is Lila, I bought it in Thailand, but it's just too big to lug around here. The other book, 'The White Tiger', is for you Mom...read it. It shouldn't take more than a couple days, very easy read. My package weighed in at 3.440 kg, which is roughly 7.5 lbs. Sea mail wasn't offered this time of year so I was able to choose from AIR or SURFACE mail. Air mail was 1565 Rps. ($31.30 USD) and surface mail was around 600 Rps. ($12 USD). Air took 15 days, while surface only took 30 days. I wanted to send it via surface mail, but I just couldn't understand how the hell you can send ANYTHING via surface from India to American when there was no land mass between them? I just went with air. I walked around, taking in the city life if Jaipur. I must have been harassed by 25 to 50 drivers demanding I tell them where I am going. I said, just walking around, but that wasn't enough. I was surprisingly patient and polite to EVERY one of these 'beggars'. I simply said, "No thank you, I know where I'm going and would like to walk. Have a nice day sir". If only that was enough, they would follow me and verbally demand I let them drive me around. I never once lost my cool. There are SO many beggars here, kids, cripples, mothers with their children...I refuse to give them any money so I bought some individually wrapped candies for them. I handed them out to the children that came up to beg, they looked very happy to have them, but proffered money. They couldn't speak English and I told them, "beggars shouldn't be choosers". I chuckled, and they didn't comprehend, so I felt there was no damage done. You can see a typical road in Jaipur, with all the load honking below in the video.
I actually got back to my hotel and didn't take ANY wrong turns. It was a 4+ km walk and took me well over half an hour of brisk walking, but I made it. Today at 2:30 we're meeting in the lobby to go to a Bollywood movie in a very nice cinema. It's supposedly one of the finest in Asia. The movie is from 3:00 to 6:00 and is in Hindi. A three hour movie with NO English subtitles. Tomorrow we are taking a bus to Bharatpur, India.