|We got an early morning start to beat the rush at the Amber (pronounced Ameer) Fort. Her we took an elephant ride for about 15 minutes to the Fort. That was fun. We had speedy Gonzales for an elephant ( not his real name). Dorothy's and I were the 8th group out and by the time we got to the top we were second as our elephant sped by all the rest as if they were standing still. If we would have had another 2 minutes we would have been the first up there. Immediately upon disembarking the elephant (and the bus on arrival for that matter) we were inundated with peddlers trying to seek their wares. Fortunately we escaped with all of our money and no junk, that was to come later. The Fort is 13 square km and was the ancient city of Jaipur and the capital of Rajasthan. Agin it was very elaborate. As I said before these Maharaja dudes never spared any expense. They built the castles and this Fort to accommodate the Maharaja, his three wives, 12 concubines and all his children, ministers and soldiers. All in all about 2,000 people. While Hindus believe in monogamy, the Hindu Maharaja's liked the Muslim practise of having many wives and concubines. Since they were rich and powerful, the Hindu clerics forgave their discretionary and ensured they had a place in paradise.
After the Amber Fort we made our way to a Hindu temple to receive the blessing of a Hindu priest. We were also told by our guide that if we sat cross legged and chanted some Hindu prayer for 6 months we would be well on our way to paradise. If that is all you have to do I cannot understand how terrorists can convince young people to blow themselves up to get to paradise when there is a more peaceful way to get there.
After the temple we went to a bazaar. Here is where the fun began, negotiating with merchants for stuff. I went into one stall and negotiated for 2 t-shirts down to 900 rupees ($18) from the original ask of 1,500 rupees. I thought that was a pretty good deal until I left the shop, went 2 doors down and was offered the exact same shirts for 200 rupees. I guess I have a lot to learn when it comes to playing that game. I think the key is to keep saying no and walk out of the shop. It seems only then will the merchants really give you a good deal. It's all about the game. When I told the merchant I bought the shirts from that he ripped me off he said his were better quality, yet it was the exact same shirt. Oh well!
Later in the evening our guide took some of us to his parent's house in Jaipur where we met his mother and father. They kept saying how blessed they were that we came. I think they are fairly well off as they lived in a nice house in a quiet neighbourhood of Jaipur.
Tomorrow another early start as we leave Jaipur to get to Veranasi and the Ganges River. All in all I expect it will be at least 10 hours of travel time.
By the way, Jaipur is known as the pink city as in 1902 when the Prince of Wales visited the Maharaja at the time had the whole city painted in terra cotta colours.