To get to Udaipur, we took an early morning bus from Jodhpur. This bus station was extremely calm compared to our bus station experience in Africa, and we even scored a short ATM queue! We arrived safely to the White City of Udaipur around 12:30 pm. Note: Indian rest stops are far worse than African rest stops. Score one for Tanzania, Just in case you were keeping track.
Upon arrival we hopped in some Tuk Tuks and were driven to through the city to our hotel. The hotel very near the lake and had a great view from the roof top restaurant. Our guide explained the best things to do in town and we took a short walking tour to get our bearings. The streets near the water in Udaipur are very windy and hilly, so the town can be a little confusing at first. It’s also one of the major tourist towns in India, so there are tons of shops and the owners/employees constantly try to get you off the street and into their shop. During the walking tour we stopped into a miniature painting shop/art school (the miniature paintings are any size you could want and done with very fine detail and a squirrels hair brush, they are not the tiny paintings I had imagined based on the title), a tailors shop, and a silver store. Two of those stores come into play later…
There happened to be an ATM working with almost no queue so all of us jumped on the opportunity to get some cash. The group spirit definitely was lifting as some of our cash worries were eliminated. We ended up visiting this same ATM with the good results several times over our stay, and in theory, we now have enough cash to get through the rest of the trip. Hopefully we estimated correctly and won’t have a ton left when we’re leaving India.
Later that day we ended up going back to the tailor and getting a coat made for Cara that she had fallen in love with during the tour, and I got two shirts made. Cara also got a shirt made, and while we spent more than we had planned. We’ve been under budget so far on the trip overall and in India, so we decided to splurge a little. It also worked out to ship some of the clothes we weren’t going to be wearing anymore back to the State’s with Cara’s coat, so our bags are slightly lighter now. ‘Slightly’ being the key word.
On the following day, we took a cooking class, where we learned to make several Indian dishes, as well as chapatti. We had hoped to learn to cook some Indian desserts and were a little disappointed that the key part of the meal was left out, but overall it was an awesome experience and the food was delicious. We also went back by the tailor to check the fit of our clothes and to have them finalized for pick up the day after. That evening we attended a cultural dance show with a large variety of dances from around Rajasthan, which is the region of India we are currently in. The show was about an hour long and we really enjoyed it.
The next day was a free day all day, so we slept in, worked out, and had a late breakfast at the hotel. They had really good omelets and we tried a vanilla lassi, which was delicious. After eating we took a walk about town to find some fruit for our morning train ride the next day to Pushkar and to pick up some postcards to send off to some friends. We ended up going back to the art shop and Cara bought hand painted cards instead of post cards. She has also been carrying a few US stamps for some reason, so we addressed and stamped the cards and tossed them in with the clothes we shipped back so her parents could toss them in the mail. Another win as we didn’t have to pay for international postage here. Just don’t ask Cara what she paid for the cards as the conversion rate got her (in her defense, this is the first time its happened anywhere we’ve traveled) and she bought more cards than she intended. Of course this was the time I figured she had it all under control and really wasn’t paying attention to the transaction or the cost until the deal was finalized (normally I’m the annoying guy asking her if she really wants to spend money that could be used for food later, even though we are very far from starving). We also took a boat ride around the lake in the evening, which was very beautiful. We had hoped to take a sunset cruise, but apparently it sold out before our guide reserved us spots, so we settled for the ride just before it. Udaipur is a very pretty city, although much like every part of India we have seen so far; there is a lot of haze and pollution in the air around the city.
A side note about Indian weddings: Apparently yesterday there was a wedding in the city palace and they had an ice rink, which is a bit excessive. Not Dubai excessive, but definitely over the top. Then today on the boat ride we were going around some of the hotels out on the lake (oh yah, the lake here is manmadeand they built palaces that are now hotels before they dammed up the water and made the lake, so now there are gorgeous buildings out in the middle of the water) and there were some pretty crazy wedding preparations going on, including what looked like a life size set up of the It’s a Small World ride from Disneyland, but classier. They aren’t messing around in this town. We also heard that it’s popular for Bollywood stars to get married in Udaipur…
Udaipur was a much slower paced city then our previous Indian stops, and Cara and I really enjoyed the down time. We also spent a lot more money here, so maybe it’s not a good thing!