Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Six Days In Udaipur

Another 6 hour bus ride which, although the seats weren't that horrible, left us curiously exhausted. Then an autorickshaw to the tourist district, a tramping through of several hotels, and the deciding upon of a room.

Udaipur is one of India's premier tourist cities and is on a lake, albeit a manmade one of about 100 acres, many of which are dries up right now. But with the green raggedy hills all around and the inclusion of many Moghul-Italianate 'palaces', it's actually a beautiful spot.

Which is quite amazing for India, since the country does absolutely everything possible to make itself exquisitely and all-encompassingly annoying. For instance, you can't walk down the narrow streets without every single shop owner--no matter what they're selling--pestering you to come in and take a look. Now you would think that after 40 years of dealing with western tourist someone would have had a clue that not being annoying would get you more customers in the end, but there seems to be this neurotic need for them all to bother you. It's as if 'Service' has been their cultural ideal, but instead they have become abjectly servile and passive/aggressive as a result.

Anyhow, Friday morning I had set aside to set up the tickets for the rest of our journey. Theoretically, we would take the night train to Bombay, spend the day there, take another sleeper to Goa, spend a few days there, take a sleeper to Bangalore, and then fly back to Delhi from there, leaving a couple of days so that we could go down to Agra for the Taj Mahal.

Ah, but that was theory. In practice, arranging anything going anywhere is like a root canal without novocaine. For instance, the night train from Udaipur gets to Ahmedabad at 4:30 am, from where you have to take a 6:30 train to Bombay which gets you there in the afternoon so there goes the sightseeing. Anyway, that train was booked up for the next week. You could also take the bus to Abu Rd (yes, that's where they made the album), and catch the 5 pm train directly to Bombay. Except you'd be sitting in the hot sun at Abu Rd for 5 hours, and maybe they wouldn't run the bus that day. Oh, and that train's booked, also. Okay, there are 5 trains leaving Ahmedabad at night, and if you took the afternoon 6 hr bus trip to Ahmedabad, then you could catch one of those. Except that they're all booked up, too, unless one that has emergency quota berths at double price.

And on and on and on for the other parts of the trip, too. Now we had to consider how much we really wanted to see Bombay, Goa, and Bangalore. After all, 15 hours in hot, humid Bombay with no room to retire to; a few days in Goa where the monsoon is just maybe starting to get over; a visit to Bangalore, which, though it is India's richest city is still supposedly a dump with horrible infrastructure and no tourist sights anyway...

The truth is, at this point India could offer almost nothing which would be worth the hassle of getting there and dealing with the people once you did. Which made us think of going back towards Delhi.

Except that we've 'done' Rajasthan. And it's a 10 hour bus trip (usually overnight) to get anywhere from Udaipur. And the Taj is closed on Friday. And, and, and.

So in the end we tentatively decided to go to Bundi on Monday by private taxi for 2500 rupees, see some more forts, and figure it out from there.

This took up most of Friday. At 3 we tore ourselves away and went over to the City Palace, a beautiful huge birthday cake building overlooking the lake. And when we were done touring that we went back to our hotel and sat looking out over the waters, seeing basically the same thing that the people at the Lake Palace Hotel in the middle of the lake were spending $400 a night to see. I was noting a weird cold like feeling in my right sinus, and hoping that it didn't get worse.

Saturday morning it felt better, and we took an all day cab ride through Indian back roads to see a couple of famous tourist sites: a big old medieval Rajput fort and a carved marble Jain temple. We climbed up the hill to the fort in 95 degree heat, but thankfully had paid extra for an AC cab. We got back around dark.

Sunday morning I awoke with the feeling of a cold hard steel chisel on my right sinus, and Sunday and Monday were spent with me in bed with somebody banging and banging away on said chisel. Oh yeah, and there was a giant boil on the inside of my nose. Maureen went to the pharmacist and he said 'sinusitus' and gave her some antibiotics and other pills. Monday she got a doctor and he pretty much confirmed the pharmacist's diagnosis.

Tuesday all the nose drops, etcl, started to kick in and I could at least write a blog. As I had been lying in bed the past few days I had kept going over and over in my head how we would get out of Bundi and where we would go. But I also had the time to look at train schedules, and found that there was a Hardwar Express that left Abu Rd and deposited you north of Delhi at the ashram area of the Ganges 24 hours later.

When I checked with our guy this morning there were exactly 2 seats left, in Class 1A, the most expensive. So we snagged them and also arranged for a cab in the morning to deposit us at the Abu Rd train station. (After all, construction on the road from here to there...)

I know I'm spending a lot of rupees, but, hey, my nose hurts. And anyway, just think of all we saved by not going to Goa.


Post a Comment

<< Home