Udaipur Day 1

Continued from Jodhpur Day 2 Part 2.

Woke up this morning, packed and head up to the roof top for breakfast.

It was a little chilly, windy, and a heavy haze/fog blanketed everything.

A staff member having breakfast in a corner that’s not as private as he thinks.

While I was in the public lounge area using the internet that was slower than a three toed sloth with a broken toe, I saw the matrimonials page in the paper. This will be an interesting look at the personal ads for a country that is still deeply entrenched in arranged marriages.

The sections are broken down by brides wanted and grooms wanted. Then its further broken down by the different ethnicity, religions, languages, tribes, castes, professions, and whatever else we can use to discriminate against others.

To begin, all potential grooms are “H’some”, and all potential brides are “B’ful”. Then they list age, height, job, profession, etc. Many of them say “caste no bar”. The men are usually in their 20s or early 30s and seem to be decent catches in general. On the other hand, the majority of the women looking for marriage are older. They are either late 20s or in their 30s(which is probably really old to not be married in India) and many are divorced. It’s quite depressing to look at the Grooms Wanted section. It’s generally filled with desperation and broken hearts.

One last photo of my cool room with the old building arches.

Rickshaw to the airport. Hey, remember this guy? He took me to Umaid Bhawan Palace yesterday. He even remembered my name!

The Palace had tighter security than the airport.

Some simple lunch at the Starbucks equivalent of India. My flight leaves in 2 hours and the check in counter still has not opened up yet.

Men’s room and Women with Miniskirt’s room.

Some sort of chicken curry sandwich and mixed fruit cake. The cake tasted just like my All American Muff(har har) that I had the other day at Amber Fort.

I finished my humble lunch, and saw some commotion around the check-in desk. I guess check-in has begun. Walked up to the desk and asked if I can check in for my flight. The guy asked where I was headed, I said Udaipur. “The flight has been cancelled.”, “You are joking, right?”, as I looked at the faces of the other two airport staff standing in the same area hoping to see a laugh. “No sir. This is not a joke. Your flight has been cancelled due to the dust storm.” FUCK ME!! That haze/fog wasn’t fog at all, but overnight the entire region has been engulfed by a massive dust storm. Thanks a lot Air India for not making an announcement about any of this. The dust had been here all day, and when I left my hotel, I checked the flight schedule and it still hadn’t been cancelled it. What the hell is up with Indian airlines cancelling flights the last possible minute and stranding their customers.

I inquired whether there was a later flight that I could take. Nope. Was there a bus that would head to Udaipur? Yup. It’ll be around 300 rupees and it would take 8 to 9 hours. Fuck! Actually, Fuck is the wrong term. I was actually pretty calm throughout this whole ordeal because I’ve had to deal with so many unplanned changes in India already. The airline staff suggested that I can hire my own car that will take me to Udaipur and it’ll be faster than the bus.

I asked him if he can point out to me the other passengers who were supposed to fly to Udaipur as well. My plan is to make some friends and see if we can all split a car down to Udaipur. The guy pointed me to a couple sitting in the waiting area and said that they were heading down to Udaipur.

I approached the couple, and asked if they wanted to split a car to Udaipur with me. They had beat me to it, and had already called for a car to take them there. I asked if I could tag along and we can all split the price. They agreed! Awesome! They were originally going to pay 5000INR, and the guy who called the transport(an airport staff that I am sure is getting a fat commission), said that it’ll be 6000 for the 3 of us. I was in no mood to negotiate that it should still be 5000 for all 3 of us, so I just agreed to it. I am sure if given more time, we could have found a transport company for even cheaper. Oh well, at least I’ve solved my transportation problem with minimum effort and stress.

The car arrives, and there’s plenty of space for the three of us and our bags. It’ll be around a 5-6 hour drive. I am not looking forward to all that time in a car. Stupid plane. It would have been an easy hour and 20 minutes long flight.

Just on our way out of Jodhpur. This change of plans I do not blame on Jodhpur, I am placing the blame for the inconvenience on Udaipur!

Very dusty, and it would remain this way for the duration of the drive.

I don’t understand how it can be so bright and sunny when it’s so dusty out. Where the front passenger visor is supposed to be, I only have indentions. One would imagine that eyes as small as mine, I would never have to squint in bright light. I am sorry that isn’t the case.

Many of the trucks on the roads are heavily decorated like this one.

Our driver was the most aggressive driver on the road. We passed everyone, and got passed by no one. We were constantly staring down at oncoming traffic to make a pass. We had several close calls, but our driver was unfazed. Cool as a cucumber.

Tell you the truth, I was pretty tense during this stretch of the ride. Sometimes, we’d barely miss oncoming trucks by only a feet or two while making a pass. I knew it meant instant death for all of us if our driver or the truck driver made an error. Our Toyota came with no airbags, but head on with a truck going 60mph, no airbags will help you.

Dusty nothingness.

Remember, I am in the left hand seat, and I am just barely over the center lane. This means the other half of our car is headed straight at this oncoming truck. There’s also a car immediately to the left back corner that we’ve just barely passed and we about to cut off. Flying would have been the safer option to travel.

Lots of trucks have blow horn or honk please painted on them. The horn is used as an everyday driving tool, and not a warning tool like in the US.

OK, so at this rate, we should reach Udaipur in 2 more hours! Score! We are making great time. Is it really going to take 5 hours total?

Eventually, we turned down a different road that didn’t have as many trucks. I’ve survived one leg of the trip.

Waiting for the train.

Four square in India.

Hand operated lift gates. If this guy falls asleep, people will probably die at the crossing.

Then we turned down this one lane road, with two way traffic going into the mountains. It was around this time our driver said that we’ve still got at least 3 more hours. Oh no! Since we have to go through the mountain, our speed drops significantly. It’ll take us 5 to 6 hours of driving after all.

One lane barely big enough for one car but with two way traffic.

Please don’t kill us.

Dear God…

It was a windy and twisty mountain road with many blind corners, one lane, two way traffic, cliff on one side, and mountain at the other side. Our driver would fly into these corners blind without slowing down and honk his horn. Even if oncoming traffic heard our horns, they’d have no where to go and same goes for us. We never did meet another car mid corner, so I never saw what happens when two cars meet at a blind corner, horns blaring, two ways, one lane, cliff, and mountain.

Saw a lot of these trees with the brightly colored flowers.

At around the 3 hour mark, our driver suggested that we stop and take a rest.

This is the restaurant that will pay our driver a commission. I saw other tourists stopping here as well. We are up in the mountains, kind of in the middle of nowhere.

They had pots of food, but I was afraid of eating any since who knows how long they’ve been sitting there. It’s around 4 so it’s got to have been sitting with the flies swarming for hours.

This seems safe.

Economic and Painless! I didn’t know a tattoo could be economic and painless. I should get one!

The landscape up in the plateau up in the mountain. There were also many small villages up here.

Our driver stopped the car and pointed at this tree. Bats! They were huge, like the size of pigeons. Look at the one towards the top left with the wings stretched out.

Toll station.

This is what I am talking about! A nice big 4 lane road. It’s pretty sad that the road connecting two relatively big cities here in Rajasthan, takes you on route through an unsafe one lane mountain road with two way traffic. Terrible infrastructure.

I’ve seen photos of this, and now I’ve seen it with my own eyes. This is right when we entered into Udaipur.

I wonder what kind of modified supports they had to put in to support the extra roof weight. Did it come from the factory with the roof seats built in?

Here’s another one. Udaipur is also very clean and orderly. It doesn’t really quite feel like India.

The lakes are what makes Udaipur famous and popular.

The streets here are crazy narrow in city center. I don’t know how we were able to drive around and even pass oncoming traffic. It was crazy cramped.

That’ll be a tight squeeze.

Inches away from both sides.

Reached the hotel of my travel companions. Looks to be quite nice!

So very glad we were all headed in the same direction. It would have sucked if I had to pony up 5000INR all by myself to get to Udaipur. Saved myself 3000INR by sharing a ride.

Yup, just about 5 hours. Sure beats the bus though.

Driver made a wrong turn, and he’s trying to back up, causing a traffic jam.

Down another narrow street we go. If I had to drive on these streets, I’d be crazy stressed out because every 5 feet, you are in danger of running into a wall, running over a moped, or running over a pedestrian.

After asking about 5 different people for directions, my driver finally found my hotel, the 5 story building. This is the thing about India, no body knows how to read a map. I always try to show the drivers a map, but none of them can read it so its useless. This is not just one or two guys who can’t read a map, but everyone. I have yet to meet an Indian person here in the tourist industry who can read a map.

Hotel lobby.

This is what $60 a night gets you in Udaipur. Since Varanasi, the prices that I’ve been paying for my rooms have been inching up. Partially because I am going to the more touristy and developed areas and partially due to my own personal hotel selections. It’ll skyrocket when I reach Mumbai.

The window of my room looks out to…

Lake Palace on Lake Pichola!

At the rooftop restaurant having a beer and then dinner. The other cluster of lights to the left of Lake Palace on the lake is Jag Mandir Palace, which is also on the lake. They shot the majority of James Bond Octopussy in Udaipur. Everyone who has been to Udaipur says that I need to watch Octopussy here. I’ll need to try to find a place that’s showing it.

I had a weak lunch, so very hungry tonight. Chicken Mughlai and mixed vegetable curry. Damn good after a long day spent in a car trying to get here. The view was very nice too.

Chai Time!

After dinner, I came back to the room to do some blogging. A mosquito kept on flying around in the room. It was quite irritating. If I don’t kill it, it’ll just buzz around me all night, and there are few things more irritating in life than sleeping with a mosquito in your room. Well, that’s a hyperbole, but you get the idea.

For three hours while I blogged, I would catch a glimpse of the mosquito, I’d clap my hands, and it would always narrowly escape. This must have occurred at least 5 times. It was getting late, I was getting tired, but I didn’t really want to sleep with a mosquito buzzing around in the room.

VICTORY SHALL BE MINE!!! The mosquito flew into the mirror in the room thinking that she could keep flying. I unleashed my vengeance! I was so happy! The simple victories in life should be celebrated! I left the mosquito on the mirror as a trophy.

As I was literally crawling into bed and reached to turn off the light, I saw another mosquito. Oh, Fuck, No!! I didn’t just see that. With no hesitation, and more importantly, without my glasses, I made a half blind clap at it, and in one shot, I had killed the other mosquito. So, that’s the trick, be half blind. I hope there were only two mosquitos, because I headed to bed after my second successful assassination attempt.

To be continue at Udaipur Day 2.

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