Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Last Train to Jaipur

August 2, 2008, Jaipur, India. (train picture and hotel picture)What a long and eventful day. The thing about traveling in India is there is always something new and exciting just around the corner. Today was no different. Loading on the over night train was very stressful. Our handler, Azhar, had to split us up into two different cars. Five in one and the rest in the other car. Azahra has been great at dealing with our idiosyncrasies but he couldn’t understand why we can not trust the porters to get our luggage into the correct cars. For myself, I have to many nonreplacable items worth a considerable amount in my suit case so I want to keep it very close. As we separate into our two groups, it becomes a mad rush. The Americans are packing big American Tourist luggage and the natives travel with purses and reading material. One person in our group has this huge suit case that will not fit anywhere. We are in second class, which means there are six people in each birth with three bunks on each wall. Across the aisle are two bunks. Are group of five are spread out and one of the porters has all are tickets. He puts are luggage in the wrong bay, in the mean time there is pushing and shoving going on as we have so much luggage with no place to put it. We eventually figured it out with the help of friendly natives. We made up our beds around 9:00 and jumped in our bunks. I didn’t get much sleep but it was very interesting. My bunk mate made friends with a little 18 month old and that was fun for awhile. I spent a long time writing in my journal about one of my favorite topics, men peeing and crapping in public. I have some goods stories about this subject. Got in to the hotel around 6:00 am, showered, ate and joined a group for a walk around the neighbor hood. Stumbled upon some reseraunt workers playing crickette with a real cricket bat and they let us join in. It was really fun. On our walk we stopped to check out the Rajmahal Palace. This was the current king’s palace before he built the city palace. We got a tour of the place and visited the suite were Princess Diana and Prince Charles stayed. It was very large and cool. The cost to rent the suite is $100 US dollars. I would highly recommend this out of the way, quite place. Now a confession. The whole trip we have been staying in five star hotels and most are of the Taj chain. Many hotels in this area were palaces at one time that families couldn’t keep up and they get turned into hotels. We are staying at the fabulous Jai Mahal Palace. It is on over 20 acres, huge swimming pool, quarter mile out door track, and everything is in marble. It is fascinating and cool. They do take really good care of us and the food is fabulous. They cater to Indian cuisine with lots of fresh fruit and juices. They also have everything American. The bath tubs are these special deep bath tubs I have never seen before. This hotel is full of European tourists and people from all over with families. In all the hotels we have stayed, this has had the most tourists. We went on the tour of the city visiting the largest sun dial in the world built over 200 years ago. We saw all kinds of clothing dye processes and went to a sweat shop that makes printed sari’s using block stamp printing method. It was in an industrial part of town and the people and things we saw would take to long time to describe such as the crippled kids, the chemical dyes in the sewer, pigs rooting through garbage piles and animals everywhere. In all this chaos is a bright cheery school with kids in uniform. That is the typical contrast of India. The dying industry employs over 30,000 people locally and is subsidized by the government. We saw some real sweat shops. If only people around the world could see where their clothes are made, they might purchase differently. As usually, an incredible day with so much going on every where you look.

1 comment:

Mary said...

That issue weighs on me. I won't shop at WalMart because of the sweat shop issue, but I'm sure whatever I buy is probably questionable. Besides voting for Flaming Liberals, what is the best course? Maybe I should raise sheep and learn to weave.
I love reading about your adventures.