Friday, April 23, 2010

Jaipur -- the Pink City

We are in PARADISE! Jaipur, the Pink City, just 4-5 hours by train or bus from Delhi is a great place to escape the heat and pollution. After months of travel (staying in places ranging from hovels to very nice) we have lucked upon a beautiful hotel in Jaipur -- the Hotel Pearl Palace( 0091-141-2373700), a budget hotel that is by no means budget except for the prices (staring at $560rs/night/double with "air coolers", hot water, beautiful decor)... the rooftop restaurant is a lush jungle of plants, sculpture (even the tables and chairs are works of wrought iron wonder) and artifacts. The food is reasonably priced (can eat a nice breakfast for $2 and dinner for $4-5) and delicious (we are addicted to the spinach -- saag).

The shopping here -- especially for silver and gems, textiles and rugs -- is renowned (although bargainers are tough.... cut their prices in half AT LEAST!!) Anna and I wandered the markets for hours and thought the vendors were much less pushy, the beggars much less obnoxious, and the merchandise much more abundant than in Delhi and other places.

We escaped to Jaipur after our plane flights were set back TWO WEEKS! by the volcano in Iceland. Although the flights were back to normal after 5 days or so, those of us who had been cancelled during the crisis were sent to the back of the line and not given flights until the 29th. There is some question as to reimbursement of flight costs (not to mention the extra costs involved in being stranded for a couple of weeks (although India is probably one of the least expensive places one could be stranded in!)

Delhi is experiencing its hottest April since the 1950s (just our luck!) with temperatures in the high 40s -- well over 100 degrees. Plus, the concrete roads and buildings, pollution and dust from the incredible amount of construction that's underway in preparation for October's Commonwealth Games makes it feel like a city disguised as a filthy oven. Pahar Ganj is undergoing a road widening project which involves tearing up the (already crowded) streets and ripping off the fronts of many of the buildings. Of course they don't bother to close the streets or businesses and tourists and locals pick their ways through the rubble and clouds of dust and debris falling from above...crazy!

Anna and I are going to do some Pani Bachao! (Save Water!) work here in Jaipur.... going to hire a rickshaw to take us on our self-directed tour of the city to check out the water situation (they are having water shortages... depending on tankers to supply 80% or so of the drinking water.. should be verrrry interesting...

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