In a first rate palace of a guest house in the lake city of Udaipur, Rajisthan, a city itself litterally littered with impressive palaces. We've run aground here and we're digging in our heels hard. Udaipur is stunning and marvelously chill. The monsoon has the temperature at a cool 25 degree average and we've been having some georgeous sun. I watched the most dazzling sun set this evening from the monsoon palace high up in the Aravalli Hills above the city. Suposedly they shot some scenes in Octopussy at the monsoon palace, at the gate entry which is actually the entry to a wild life sanctuary not a monsoon palace there is a sign post indicating the standard fee for shooting a feature film per day 40 thousand rupees just over 1000 new zealand dollars.
Today marks four days in Udaipur and tomorrow will be five and doubtfully the last. Gold has been ill since yesterday evening but is coming right now. I have a tailored suit to pickup tomorrow at 1pm in the city centre from a man named Raj who has also offered to let me have a cruise around for the day on his scooter. Very cool guy raj.
day one in udaipur we arrived south of the centre at 4 in the morning and rested awake with our packs till morning light at 6 sheltered from the rain in a plush and well lit alley with a hand chai wallah awake and cooking at 5 am. Surprising since things start very slowly in the mornings in India. 8-10am seams the usuall retail laze introduction. We haggled a 40 rupee rickshaw to our beautiful and enormous hotel room where we slept. The mosoon apparentlt flooded the town centre on this day but we really were dead to the world. We met four travellers 2 from New Zealand both DAN and two who had lived in New Zealand for over a year Carolina French girl I think and Ian a very tall English man from Essex, emblazened on his baseball cap in black letter type. and three more Palmer, Palmer and Rick, with Ian complete the intimidating gang of Four Essex boys only after mentioned on account of their non New Zealandhood.
Day two in Udaipur was wet but we manuvered throuought the city. Saw the breath taking lake from multi angles and perspectives and ate on rooftops that sort of deal. Met a very handsom Indian man name of NARU who sold me his CD excellent
trawled the tourist area foe cooking clases and ended up booking one two days in advance. a commitment to udaipur in itself.
brought a fair amount of drugs = that night we went a bit far. I had far to much of something and went to bed very early with a wide pitt of death swirlling in my head. Gold found the bed at around 5 am and we didn'tleave the hotel at all the following day.
Day three the weather was disappointingly fine and the skies taunted us from our rooftop but we just sat and ordered cold drinks and lassis all day instead and wrote things down about our selves.
The gang dindled from 9 to 6. Double Dan and Carolina moved into the centre of town when they discover the first night we all arrived we had miss a giant Ganesha drowning festival the final day of the ten day Ganesha bananza that had been following us around since Mumbai.
Rick is sick in hospital with the mysterious Indian Gastro Flu.
Day 4 we rickshawed to town for our cooking class. Spent four hour there and were horribly full of food we had to catch another rickshaw and sleep it off
Day 5 Gold is sick in bed and Mac is out buying suits and taking 3 hour bicycle rides up mountains.
Day 6 Gold is ripping it back to health and colour and michael is up another mountain taking in magnificent sunset
Day 7 suit day and potential dinner with Chris and Ian. Palmer (Adam) and Rick are headed homewards.
dinner was fly
Days 8&9 in Udi were spent running around buying loads of drugs for Gold's stomache
Day 10 rode another bicycle about town to see if i wanted to buy it but it was a junker and i needed to get to Delhi first anyway so we left on the night bus to lake city Pushkar. Crazy bus living hell bus i can not explain bus!
Working back ward we were in ....AHMEDABAD
1 night in expensive squallor underneath a dirty Indian restaurant GOODNIGHT HOTEL, we were staying in the basement of the GOODNIGHT HOTEL 'residential'. FABULOUS dinner at the HOTEL MG's 'casual dinning' restaurant the GREEN HOUSE we spent an out of character 1000rupees on a dinner that for the most part we had to take home wrapped in bananna leaves along with our 100rupee loyalty certificate.Three more nights we spent at the EXCELLENT value for money HOTEL CADELAC on Advance Cinema Rd. We scored a tripple room for 4oors with the extra bed as a pack shelf and needless to say we got messy.
We chilled out in Ahmedabad. Went to Ghandi's paper factory and purchased some authentic Ghandi paper!!! that i started painting on imediately and a Ghandi budget ledger which i transfered all our acounting into that night aswell. Brought so awesome ladus and temple junks got lost, visited a heritage fort the usuall.
before that we were in quaint and filthy JALGAON a one nighter in the magical hotel Plaza, magical as in clean and the manager had real manners that wavered somewhat over Gold's generally harsh and constant pigeon English. I refused to ride a general train ticket overnight after the already strenuous journey from Aurangabad that's the only reason we stayed and we left bright and early the next morning.
We stayed in Aurangabad and did nothing spesh but we had DAY TRIP FABBBBBNESS at ELLORA CAVES we started too late as usual due to Golds need to sleep till 1pm but we saw a good deal of the fantastic Elora heritage caves and the brilliant excavated temple at the center of the cave network. We should have spent more time, it was all over way too fast and it was naturally a beautiful day. On the way you can see the Aurangabad Fort which sits cool on a fat paired mountain surrounded by stone outposts down on the overgrown monsooney plain very awesome.
before these were two awful places MUMBAI and CHENNIA too big too polluted we left Chennia as soon as we got there but
in Mumbai we invested 4 days trying to get out to Elephanta Island which we never did because of monsoon rains. Thinking back on it we could have paid some one to take us there but no bother. We spent our time walking long distances to kill days. We visited an absolutely breathtaking Hindu Brahmin Tank. Absolutely Mumbai's saving grace. The 'centre of the earth' they say is at the very centre of the beautiful cool peaceful tiny, massive expanse of water and is marked by a wooded pole. Hindu celebrations were in session when we visited dazed after a 15K walk through the city from our hotel. We were in total awe. It was intensely beautiful. In Mumbai we stayed in separate and sickeningly expensive dorm rooms but it was here that we found the pamphlet about Mewar Inn at Udaipur so fair good. In my dorm I had one budding English/Chinese Bollywood actor who was shooting adds and television series episodes every day and another quite depraved Englishman who is probably quite famous amongst tourists who stay at the Red Shield in Mumbai by now, old Mick who was stuck in Mumbai for three years on drug charges and sort of threw his weight around the whole hostel and was mates with all the staff like it was his very own mansion and he was there under house arrest. We met Mick on supposedly his last week in Mumbai. Congratulations Mick!
before Mumbai and before a GIAGANTIC 26hour train expedition was PONDY Pondicherry.
One of the charming things about Pondy was how easy it was to get there, from Madurai and Dil Se we were droped on motorcycles (packs and all) basically directly onto the appropriate bus and were on the road all to quickly to say Bob's your uncle. We earned our selves a practicall personal bus guide. He told us all the long stops, which is worth more than you'd think. you never know about the big breaks unti it's too late and the ticket dude or the driver never bother to tell you. They just want to piss and eat some sugar. That is also exactly what i want to do. He told us we had to transfer buses and where and when we arrived in Pondy it was light still which is always helpful.
PONDY was gorgeous pastel blue skies every day and deep open ocean as far as the eye could see from the foot of our own personal balcony at the incredible Sri Aurobundo Ashram/ Park Guest House. We rented bicycles on the 3rd day or so and rode all the way to Auroville an awful little communist settlement of foreigners 15-20K add confused circles, from Pondy. They don't mingle or provide for 'outsiders' but no mind.
and that is what went on