Our drive to Udaipur was long and full of heart stopping driving per the usual. We drove through a dust storm and past some pretty desolate looking places. We had heard that Udaipur was “clean and green” and hoped it didn’t actually look like the desert towns we were going through.
We arrived in town around 7 and just as we unloaded our bags, the sky unloaded on Udaipur. Again, perfect timing as the power had just gone out. We stood in the doorway of the guest house relishing in the cool breeze. It was like we had never seen rain before. Within minutes the street had flooded and water poured from the rooftops. One of the staff said something about everything being clean now. I thought to myself “not exactly how that works…” The power remained off, but they showed us to our room anyway.
It was too hot to stay in there, so we all headed to the rooftop restaurant. The area of the city we’re in is overlooked by the huge City Palace. As it grew darker the whole thing was illuminated we joked that they were using all the electricity for the city. The palace is a tourist attraction, two 5 star hotels and several restaurants. At one point, there was music playing and the lights all turned on and off in unison. T’was quite the spectacle. When the power finally came back on we ordered dinner and used the wifi for a while.
Emily ended up getting sick in the middle of the night. From what, we aren’t sure. We slept in pretty late to give her some time to recover. Once we were finally up and around we ate breakfast and headed out to the check out the City Palace. On the way we stopped into a couple of shops that were selling really intricate paintings. We got distracted and wandered into a shop owned by a woman who spoke decent English. We found out that she and her husband shared our anniversary, but they’ve been married for 23 years and didn’t know each other before they got married. She was super nice and even recommended that Emily see a pharmacist about the rash she has developed on her elbow.
At the pharmacy (just another shop on the street) they took one look and came right back with a steroid/antibiotic cream. It cost a whopping 70 rupees, which is about $1. It’s crazy how cheap you can get medicine like that in places like India and Thailand. And you just walk right up and get it. No prescriptions or waiting for your insurance to approve anything.
We finally headed to the entrance of the palace and then it took 10 minutes just to figure out how to pay to get in. There were 20 different options and none of them really looked like what we wanted. Finally we went up to counter and asked and they were able to tell us exactly what we needed to know. It’s funny how sometimes we really need to know something and we ask like 10 people and no one can answer us. Then sometimes they’re able to answer us right away. You just never know what you’re gonna get!
We headed into the palace and realized that there really wasn’t much to see unless you paid to get into the museum or take a boat ride on the lake behind it. We decided to take a boat ride and headed toward the dock area. As we were walking we thought we were hearing really loud birds in the trees, but after a while I looked up and realized they were giant bats. And there were hundreds of them. It was so gross. We realized that we had been walking around on bat poo and saw tons of dead bats. It was seriously creepy. It took us forever to figure out how you paid for the boat ride and by that time we were all starving.
We walked around for a solid 20 minutes before we ended up in a place we shouldn’t have been and got turned around. We went back the way we came and finally found the boat dock. We paid and while we waited Ethan went in search of some snacks. He found some crackers and seriously saved the day. I was not feeling well at all and really needed food. We waited another 30 minutes or so then got on a boat with a bunch of other people. The boat ride took us past the palace and by some real nice looking hotels. Then it took us out to a man-made island in the middle of the lake that I don’t remember the name of. I think the island is also a hotel and event grounds. It had several outdoor seating areas, a stage and a bunch of bar areas. It was cool, but kind of pointless. We wandered around for a bit then were too hot and hungry and got on the boat headed back to the palace.
We high tailed it back to our guesthouse and ate lunch at a restaurant nearby with the most white tourists we’ve seen on this trip. After lunch we all passed out for several hours after hand washing our clothes in a bucket in the bathroom. Finding laundry soap was an adventure and the guy kept trying to get us to buy playing cards with Karma Sutra poses on them. It was super awkward.
After we all woke up we went back to the palace since our tickets were good all day, but it was raining again and we got there as they were playing the light show and we didn’t pay for that so we weren’t allowed to watch. Back to the guesthouse we went in the rain. It’s still raining and Khan thinks it will rain all night. It’s certainly cooler, but it’s stickier than ever and I feel like I have rolled around in hot jello. It’s gross. Khan and another guy were telling us that sometimes when it rains this much, the streets flood and become impassible… Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!!
Thankfully, it did not rain all night and was actually a pleasant temperature when we finally woke up. Khan was take us to see some other sights, but they didn’t open until 9:30 so we slept in and had a late breakfast.
Our first stop was a view point of the city on top of a hill. Khan asked if we wanted to walk or take the cable car… We opted for the cable car. I was fully against walking, but Ethan considered it for a minute then decided he’d get too sweaty. We paid a little over a dollar to ride the cable car. It was about a 1 minute ride to the top where we hung out for a long time enjoying the cool(ish) breeze. We took tons of pictures of the lake and City Palace below and several Indian families asked to take pictures of us. It’s always a strange experience and we wonder what they do with the pictures…Do they put them on Facebook or print them and put them on the fridge? We’ll probably never know.
Our second stop was a graveyard of sorts that housed these huge temple like structures that were built to honor members of the royal family that have died. It was Completely deserted and no one was even there like watching over it. It was pretty nice not having people all over you trying to get you to buy things. It was also weird because we didn’t have anyone to explain what we were looking at.
Stop number 3 was a the Folk Art and Puppet Musuem. We weren’t sure we were interested in this particular attraction, but Khan had insisted. We paid the 60 rupees and went in. The Musuem displayed tribal art and explained the different costumes and masks. It also has an area dedicated to puppets and the art of puppeteering. I’m definitely glad we only paid $1 because it was not worth much more than that. Once we had seen everything we went to see the puppet show. We waited for a solid 15 minutes before it started and let me tell you…. It was weird! The short show depicted a king and his court watching some performers. There was a snake charmer and some dancers who wiggled around on the floor and shook their hips. I was trying not to laugh out loud, but it was hard not to!
Stop 4 was the Royal garden and Khan had told us it would be 5 rupees per person. We figured for that price we might as well even though we were all really hungry. But, when we got to the gate it said 50 rupees per person. It looked like a cool park, but we had already just spent money on something not that cool, so we decided to call it a day and head back for lunch. Khan tried to take us to a place he recommended after we tried to tell him to just take us back. The guy speaks English well, but sometimes doesn’t quite understand. He also will only listen to Ethan and always asks Ethan where to go. I’m sure it’s just a cultural thing, but it’s hard to get used to for Emily and I. And Ethan too because he obviously lets us decide what we want to do all the time. So we have to decide, then tell Ethan and he tells Khan. It’s definitely not what we are used to makes us happy to live in a place where women can give men directions.
We ate lunch at a “healthy Indian Fusion restaurant” that had good wifi and ended up hanging out there for quite while. On our way back to our guesthouse we ran into a guy names Yousef who invited us for some chai tea and a game of chess. I wasn’t interested, but Em and Eth decided Why not? They hung out with him and played a few games while I watched Udaipur go by on the front steps. India really is an interesting place with lots of diversity. There are so many different types of Indians – it was a great people watching session!
I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing while the other two shopped for souvenirs. We are headed to bed now and are excited to be headed to our next destination (update: June 22. We’ve made it to Jhodpur! Hopefully will be able to update the blog soon since the wifi seems to be working better here.)