Varanasi and Kolkata

We woke up VERY early and took our things to a new hotel, one that was closer to the train station. We only had one car so we took shifts switching hotels. We were all down by reception by 5:00 am. When we arrived in the new hotel we went directly up to our two day rooms and passed out. We crammed on the beds like sardines in a tin. I couldn't sleep and went just tossed and turned until finally going up on the roof for some tea around 7:30. The others slowly trickled to breakfast and by 11:00 everyone was awake. The food at this hotel was VERY expensive, but at least they served meat. Everyone played 'colors'. I did not see the fun in it and listened to my ipod instead. Maybe it was because I was the only one sober, or maybe it was because I already did this stuff at camp during our Maccabiah games? Everybody was completely covered and after 2 hours we all had to take turns showering and changing and re-packing for our sleeper-train to Koltata. Nobody was able to get all the paint off their body and they still have it on them as of today...haha. Our dinner took ages to get, mostly because there was only one cook. Our waiter was drunk and stoned, which didn't help the matter. After an hour of waiting for our meal the waiter finally came out only to tell several of us that our meals couldn't be made and we had to choose something else. We finally got our food, which was average at best and paid the outrageously inflated prices. We took shifts getting to the train station. We got on the train and were on our way to Kolkata by 6:15 pm. I had taken the top bunk (of 3) and laid my sheets down first, before doing anything else. On all my other sleeper trains (6 or 7 so far) I have just slept on the bed w/o even using any sheeting. It's always so hard to make a bed when you don't even have enough room to sit up. And doing this when you're already tired, you can forget about it, as many people did. We chatted for a bit and I tried to get to sleep by 8:30 or so. That didn't work out too well. It was a crappy night's sleep.

When we arrived in Kolkata I noticed how much more 'industrialized' this city was. The train station was much more developed than the other places. There were no rickshaws outside the translation (any anywhere really). There were swarms of old fashion yellow taxis. We took 3 taxis and got to our hotel, where I shared a room with Dave. We went on an orientation walk through the city and we left Ajit 30 minutes later. We all went to the Victoria Memorial and we largely impressed with the architecture, but not so much the art exhibit inside. I walked around the gardens and then most of the group went back to the hotel afterwards. Debbie, Emily, Lisa, and I walked around to find a place to stay for the next night (and for the next two nights for me). We went to 4 or so places and I decided to let the 3 girls share a room and I would get my own (and maybe share one night with David). Sorry if this entry makes no sense, as I'm having a conversation with Emily right now (the twin). The 4 of us walked around and ate some street food. We walked to the New Market, and I bought some stuff. On our walk home we stopped in a bottle shop I spotted and got some wine and vodka. It was VERY cheap. We made some more shops at a few book stores and DVD shops and before we knew it it was getting late and we had to meet the group at 7:30. I found and bought a Lonely Planet for Ireland...what luck. We took a cab back to our hotel, but the driver couldn't find it and got lost for over 45 minutes. He would stop and ask for directions at EVERY damn corner. One time he had left his car to ask someone and we just all left, but we paid him and left the money on the seat. We walked the rest (asking everyone we saw for directions). At the hotel we started drinking and had a grand feast at dinner. Afterwards we drank in Ajit's room. He had to get up early so he had gone to bed and we all went out to a club. It was SOOO expensive. It was expensive for western standards. I only got one drink, but some guy was buying us drinks. I got 2 drinks from him and many others got one or two. He just saw us having such a good time he wanted to be kind i guess? I danced and danced for HOURS. Sam danced a little, but Dave didn't. Most of the girls danced on and off, but I SWEAR I danced the ENTIRE TIME. I danced with this GORGEOUS girl that I met in the bar. She lives in India. We talked a little and were flirting and I swear I could have married that girl. WOW. She was Nepali...I think that's where I'll go to next.

I'll keep this short because this girl next to me wants to go online. Basically we drank and danced all night. Back at the hotel, well after 2 am the party moved to Dave and My room. I wasn't up for drinking more and Debbie, Dave, and Astri (the girl from Norway) wanted to. I gave them my bottle of wine and went to bed in Debbie's bed. Emily, her roommate had woken up and saw be next to her and was a little curious, but all is good. They had spilled wine all over the bed and floor in our room. They didn't get much sleep and are trying to sleep it off now (it's 11:30). We're meeting at 12:00 in the lobby and then maybe going to the Marble Palace, but I still need to work out where I'm staying for the next two nights. I'll have pictures up sometime in the next day or so. Cheers.


Agra to Varanasi Via Sleeper Train

Last Day in Agra
We had a free day in Agra. Although there were things to see and do, NONE of us did any of them. The Agra Fort was allegedly nice, but we've been worn out by all the forts we've seen so much. I killed a couple hours on the Internet and walked around a bit. Sat around the hotel having masala chai much of the day though. I went out with 4 other girls to a rooftop restaurant about 20 minutes walk away. Check out the view from the photo on the left. We all met up at 8:00 to walk to a taxi and head for the train station where we could catch a train to Varanasi.

We ended
up not leaving the station until after 9:30 though...Indian trains are NEVER on time. As always we were getting stares from all directions, especially the girls. We were in our PJs since we had all planned to just head straight on the train and pass out. I was sweating in the heat, though I've gotten quite used to it by now. The picture on the right is what we had to deal with just a few meters in the doors leading to the tracks. They were doing construction RIGHT there while people were trying to get in and out. They didn't stop for anybody and a dump truck had poured stones/gravel on my feet and I had to go through the rubble to search for my sandal. We got on the train and were on our way to Varanasi.

Varanasi, India
We arrived in Varanasi several hour later than scheduled, but we were still there by 10:00. We took auto rickshaws to our hotel. I had felt very different atmosphere here in Varanasi. First off, there are very little non-Indian tourists here. Secondly, the feel of the city is just more...Indian. More cows on the road, more poverty, more manual labor jobs, less English, etc. Take a look at the video below of some of my trip from the train station to my hotel.

We all took cycle rickshaws into the city center later in the day to see the market. Ajit had taken us to some cotton shop where they were showing us how they made their fabrics using block printing. It was a 'routine' stop that all Intrepid tours went on and I was sick of the bullshit so I got 3 other people and just left. I walked around the town with Lisa (the German), Debbie, and Emily (both Aussies). We ended up making our way to a small street side restaurant and we stopped for some lunch. I ordered an Onion Dosa (see photo on left), which was just ok...but for less than $0.40 USD it's hard to complain. We could see them washing the dishes and silverware and glasses with tap water and dirty rags. None of us seemed to care...and I have yet to have even the slightest of upset stomachs. We walked around some more, looked as some Saris, and took in the atmosphere. I took a picture from some typical street, which you can see the picture on the right. We came across a painted elephant in the street. You see, tomorrow is the color festival Holi. Everybody paints everybody...but I'll get to that in a little bit. We caught a cycle rickshaw back to our hotel and met everybody at 6:00 for a boat ride up the river Ganges. We went, 12 in a boat, to watch the puja ceremony. They performed puja, or a blessing, for the river Ganges because of it's alleged holy origins. Please click on the link to read some history. I was not too impressed with the actual ceremony. It was interesting to have witnessed the event, but the actual ritual seemed quite barbaric and uncivilized to me. They perform this blessing in multiple places along the river and each place does it twice a day (see photo on right). Each time lasts for 45 minutes, I was bored after the first 5 minutes. They were ringing bells and beating drums...BUT GET THIS, not to any rhythm. They were waving candles and incense around...BUT GET THIS, not with no particular choreography. Maybe if I was into voodoo or believed that they were actually doing something I would have found it more interesting. The boat ride was 2 hours long and VERY VERY buggy. You have no idea how dirty this river really is. People bathe go to the bathroom in it, they burn dead bodies and dump them into this river and they still wash their clothes, bathe, and drink from this river. They find it holy, yet they still shit in it? Afterwards we met at a restaurant called Haifa, which served Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cuisines. The funny thing is I'm fairly certain I've been to the actual Haifi (in Israel). I ordered American Chop Suey, which was amazing. It was probably on the top 5 dishes I've had while in India. You can see a photo of it on the left. After dinner I turned the wrong way out of the restaurant and stumbled upon some interesting things. First I met some local guys who tried to get me to follow them to some liquor shop and then when I was there they wanted me to buy two bottles, one for me and one for them. They said it was the festival 'holi' and I should do it in the name of the holiday. I said that it was quite coincidental because today is my holiday (I made up some bullshit name) and claimed they needed to buy me two bottles and them one bottle. They didn't like this, but took the hint and left me alone. Of course they tried to sell me pot as well, everybody tries. From what I have discovered it's legal here in Varanasi and you can buy it from government-run shops for 60 Rps for 10 grams. In American units that translates to under $3.50 USD per ounce...yeah you heard me correctly. I'll have to pass on the offer though. On the way back to my hotel I came across a Muslim protest with hundreds of men and boys wearing all white. They were marching and chanting along with a huge speaker they lugged around on a wooden cart. Back to my room and after some effort I finally got some sleep.

Woke up early the next day...a little too early. I've been waking up before 8 most days. I met everybody for lunch at 9 and ordered a banana pancake with chocolate. They brought my pancake, but forgot the chocolate. They came up with my chocolate 10 minutes later when I was already done with my meal. WELCOME TO INDIA. I say that on average I get what I've actually ordered 60 to 70 percent of the time. Sam, Dave, and Myself went out walking along the Ghats along the river Ganges. We were targeted several times by water balloons filled with thick colored paint...since it was the color festival. Luckily they all missed. We were accosted by Indians trying to sell us things and take us on boat trips. We had one boy try to sell us pot, then a boat ride, then he followed us into the local market. We walked no less than 15 minutes, briskly mind you, into the main bazaar area and we still was following us and asking us if we wanted to buy things. We finally decided to ditch him by going into a restaurant and get some drinks. That little ****** can't afford to follow us in there...and I mean that both literally and figuratively. We left that place and walked aimlessly for close to an hour. We met some man who was going into a small town within Varanasi to buy some cheap saris, we decided to go along with him. We took 2 cycle rickshaws, since there were now 4 of us. We road for 20 or so minutes and made a pit stop for some whiskey. Sam and Dave wanted some drinks for the festival tomorrow. We got back on our rickshaws and rode another 15 minutes. Man where these drivers working for their money. We rode through some VERY INDIAN feeling areas. Very off the beaten path. One area was clearly a Muslim area and it was nice to see the clear divide of Hindus and Muslims. All the children and younger adults were smiling and waving at us. Many of them ran along the cycle to shake our hands and touch us. Many of them have likely never seen a white person before. We got off and paid our drivers...only 30 Rps. per driver (that's only 60 us cents for more than 30 minutes of non-stop cycling). We went into some fabric store and Sam bought a silk, or pashmina, scarf for his girlfriend. We then left and walked for 30 or so minutes to hail an auto-rickshaw. We had to walk some distance since we were nowhere around that type of technology. We found a couple and bargained. We were going to Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism. It was here the Buddha gave his first sermon in 528BC. You can see a picture of me on the left. There wasn't much to see but o well. We also went a museum that had ancient and Buddhist stone carvings. We took the auto-rickshaw back to our hotel, but ran into some mess. The ride was about 25 minutes to get there, but all-in-all it took over an hour to get back to our hotel. We ran into bumper-to-bumper traffic. I can not even start to explain the mess. People were on motorcycles, bikes, small cars, and trucks, all of them beeping their horns. There must not have been a stretch of silence lasting longer than 5 seconds. My head was aching by the time I got back. I was shocked, and I MEAN SHOCKED, that our driver not only didn't hit somebody but didn't completely kill someone. There are no close calls in American, not like this. The drivers here are amazingly aware of their entire surroundings. They have to be. Much of it is due to the Caste system. If they are in a caste of tuk-tuk drivers they learn the skill, and they learn it well. But we finally made it back, safely, to our hotel around 4:00.

OK, so back to the color festival, called Holi, which is tomorrow March 11. Many of the Indians drink on this day, and Indians don't really drink. People that don't often drink and get plastered typically don't know how to handle their alcohol. It's for this reason that everyone in our group has decided to do the following; At 6:00 in the morning tomorrow we are checking out of this hotel and booking 2 rooms, just for the day, in a hotel near the train station. We are going to play the 'color festival' on our own on the roof at the hotel until it's time for us to leave for our overnight train to Kolkata. Then we'll wash up in our 2 rooms and check out of the hotel and take our last overnight train. Being on the streets is not safe, especially for the girls. There are drugs and sexual violence all over. Police forces are ramped up for days just for this holiday. I was already painted with blue 'color' while I was walking today. It's just not safe to be on the streets so we are all back in the hotel tonight early as well. We might venture out for a quick bite, but not too far. Ok, I think I've said enough and am not even sure if what I wrote makes much sense. Hopefully it does make sense. Cheers everybody. O and one more thing. Uncle Marc, I sent 4 saris home, but they're not what you wanted. I am going to try to buy you what you want, but my guide, Ajit, told me that the FedEx here in India won't accept payment through an account number. I'll check this out for myself, but I'm not sure if it will work out. Cheers!


Jaipur to Agra via Bharatpur

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.

2 Days in the Capital City

Jaipur, India
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 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.

2 Days in Pushkar, India

Udaipur, India
The cooking class in Udaipur was very fun and lasted over 3.5 hours. We learned how to cook many dishes (see photo on left of me cooking). At night we went to the Monsoon Palace to watch the sun set. This was the palace that was in the movie with James Bond called Octopussy. It was very unimpressive, the palace that is, not the sunset. We left the following day at 6:15 to catch our 7:00 train to Adjer. The 5.5 hour train ride sucked since it was hot and we had no a/c (obviously). After arriving in Adjer we took taxis for 20 to 30 minutes to get to our final destination.
Pushkar, India
After arriving in our hotel we were given our room assignments. Since there was an odd number of boys we have been rotating who gets the single room and this time it was my turn. Not only did I have the room to myself, but I had the nicest of all the rooms available in the entire hotel. My bed was of the king-size' and I even had an air conditioner--thought I blew the fuse on it within the first 3 hours. I had a color TV with over 25 stations, although everyone single one was in Hindi. My bathroom was enormous, although fairly simple. At lest this time the since was inside the bathroom and we even got a mirror. Every surface was marble except for, or course, the ceiling. My bed had a very nice cover thing on it, which I am not sure of the name (see photo on right). We met for lunch and then went out for a walk into the city (see photo on left). After reaching well into the city I turned back and went back alone just because the others were all going off to go shopping. From the time I left the hotel until the time I returned was a little over and hour and a quarter. That's quite a lot of non-stop walking in 95+ degree heat. Please see photo of the city. At night we met for dinner on our hotel's rooftop restaurant. Just a reminder...this entire city does not serve any alcohol, egg, or meat since it's a holy city. At dinner we watched bootlegged copy of Slumdog Millionaire on a big screen TV. The audio and video tracks were off by a few milliseconds which we all got used to but was still pretty annoying. Everybody enjoyed the movie, but I thought it was 10 times more emotionally powerful when I saw it at home on the big screen. Some of it was because of the 'non-cinema' atmosphere, but I think the biggest thing is the following--I've been in India for a couple weeks and have been to Lao and Cambodia, both of which are VERY poor, and have gotten used to what was shown in the movie so it wasn't really a 'shocking experience' the second time I watched it. I got a pizza with vegetables, fruits, olives, mushrooms, etc. which took 90 minutes to get. This place was very slow. I got a banana split, which was OK, but nothing like back at home. I think when I'm in Jaipur tomorrow I'll go to an ice cream place or a McDonald's for some real dessert.

Today I ate a light breakfast, chai masala and a fruit salad. We all went to the lake where all but 5 of us got puja done. The people actually paid some buy 100 rupees to get a string tied on their wrists and then the 'priest' said a prayer for them and their family. Man what gullible people. And get this, our tour guide got the guy beforehand to do it. All the lonely planets say not to do this because it's a scam. For god's sake, who needs to be told that paying someone to say a prayer for you is a rip-off? Afterwards we went to a place called Pink Floyd's cafe where they played Pink Floyd and other psychedelic music. They apparently served hash drinks as well as opium teas and shakes. Afterwards the others got falafel, but I went my own way...staying with that group just slows me down. They take so damn long for everything. I went to look at some shops that had paintings, but I wasn't 100% that they weren't just prints so I left. I went to 4 or 5 other places looking for some type of patchwork. I wanted to buy some hing else since the journals were cheap enough that paying to send them home wasn't economical. At the last place I went to I found 'something close' to what I was looking for. Ideally I wanted a dark blue wall hanging with yellow, gold, or orange patches. I decided on just getting two patch works. One is dark blue which can be a wall hanging our rug and the other is orange and can be a wall hanging our a table runner. It's quite long for a table runner though. See the photos on the right, these are the ones I bought and plan to send home with my journals.

On my way back to the hotel, about 10 minutes way, the 'hotel guy' gave me a lift on his motorcycle. I was back in my room writing in my journal (as I do EVERY DAY), the power went out. It stayed out for a little under an hour. I'm down the road now on the Internet because my hotel charges too much and charge per picture I upload. This Internet is dial-up speed and the computer is SO DAMN SLOW. I had half of this posting written and it just crashed on me, so I had to re-write it ALL over again. I hope you can share in my pain. Tomorrow we leave our hotel for a 4 or such hour bus ride to Jaipur, the capital or Rajasthan. Cheers!