Our Last Night in Jaipur
We all went out to the movie theater, Raj Mandir, which critics claim is the best cinema in all of Asia. It was very nice inside. Pictures were not allowed inside, but you can see a photo of the outside on the left. We saw the movie Delhi 6 and it was all in Hindi, all 3 hours of it. After it was over I had to explain to everybody what it was about. Our guide had fallen asleep during the film so I needed to tell him as well. The group couldn't follow the plot, but it was very very simple. It was about the Hindu-Muslim conflict in Delhi and there was SO much symbolism in the film that it would make even a 10th grade English teacher want to puke. I got some McDonald's after, which was just down the road. I ordered a Mexican chicken wrap and it was good to eat some quality food for once. Yeah I know, McDonald's food being classified as 'quality', quite scary, huh? The next day we left early to leave for Bharatpur, India.
This was a sleepy town particularly known for the Keoladeo National Park, which is 29 sq km. I went there on my own because I wanted to be able to walk at my own pace. 4 or 5 of the girls didn't even bother to go, while many of the others went in groups of 2 or three. All the others hired a cycle-rickshaw for 50 to 100 rupees. This park is known for bird watching, and I'm not the type to watch birds, but I thought it would be a nice escape from the 'India' that I've been immersed in for the last 2 weeks. I knew it was a large park, but I had NO idea. I ended up walking, briskly mind you, for a little over 3 hours. I went over the map and scaled it to see how far I had actually walked...the total...between 14 and 17 km. That's between 9and 11 miles. I had worn a pedometer and it read 18000+ steps just during those 3 hours. I had seen turtles up close, as well as monkeys, antelope and deer. 10s of different species of birds within a few meters at one time. I even came across some local villagers when I was trekking off the main road and onto, unpaved, dirt paths. You can see some type of antelope or deer eating in the water in the picture to the left. The sounds were so amazing and coming from all over. At some points I was a little frightened, but I managed OK...I was even able to see a beautiful female peacock with all her wonderful feathers attracting a male, not too far behind. Afterwards I relaxed and then most of us ate at the hotel's buffet. It was quite expensive, but we ALL made sure to get our money's worth. See the photo on the right...that's my second serving, you can guess how much bigger my first serving was.
We took a short, 2 hour, bus ride to the city which has the 1st wonder of the world. Yep, you guessed it, the Taj Mahal. I went to the Taj Mahal after settling into my room at around 1:00. I have my own room again, but this time only for one night. I went alone because the others were going to go later to see the sun set. I wanted to go when the sun was over head for the best light for my photos. Also I've seen so many sun sets on this trip and found them ALL to be pretty pointless. I am 'clever' enough to know what something would look like without actually seeing it. So many people are convinced that watching something with a sun set or sun rise makes that thing inherently more beautiful, which is completely bogus. The aesthetics of something is the same without or with the clear skies and sun. True, it might make the 'moment' more meaningful, but that's only if you let it...but it's not me to make something out of nothing...My first impression was that, "wow that is big". I just starred in awe for a little bit. It was so perfectly symmetrical and the gardens so just it made me smile like a fool. My guide had said it would take at least 3 hours to walk through the entire Taj Mahal complex. I guess I set a record with my little shy of 1 hour walk-through. It cost 750 Rps. ($15 USD), which is VERY expensive, but it only cost 10 Rps. ($0.20 USD) for native Indians. I felt I spent ample time looking at all the finely carved and set marble and inlaid gem stones. I exited the Taj and walked out of the opposite gate I entered. I walked around just to see the street of Agra. I was grabbed and hassled by 10s and 10s of men and boys trying to sell me marble, t-shirts, Internet, post cards, ice cream, rickshaw rides, food, etc. I enjoy telling the Indians, "no", mostly becuase I mess with them. I only mess with them if they don't leave me alone after I politely say, "No thank you sir" at least once. You can see some more photos at the Taj Mahal if you check out my pictures.
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