Thursday, September 11, 2008

Animal Farm

No, not the Orwell novel, it's a place called Udaipur.
We've seen all the animals in the streets here:

Dogs: Check
Squirrels: Check
Monkeys: Check
Goats, donkeys, cows, sheep: Check
Bats, geckos, hawks, horses, cranes, pigs: Check

It's like a goddamn zoo, but only with all the shit animals.
Although I have to admit, it was pretty insane when the street we were walking down was the site of a spider monkey assault. Out of nowhere they came swinging in from rooftops, running across cabling and terrorising the street. Seeing as we didn't get our magical rabies forcefield injections before embarking for the subcontinent, we slowly snuck by and left the locals to deal with the chaos.

Jeremy and Charlotte: 1
Monkeys: 0

Udaipur is really cool though. Waaaay more laid back than anywhere else we've been in India. Cleaner streets (even with all the animals around) and it's set on a big-ass lake which our hotel overlooks. Can't complain.

There's a palace built on an island in the middle of said lake, another palace built on the lake's shore and a myriad of temples, shrines and memorials scattered through the labrynthine streets.

We even trekked out of the old town area yesterday to visit the royal cenotaphs. This place is filled with memorials to all the various maharajas that have expired over the years and boy, do the royals here know how to make a posthumous monument.
I think there was something like 250 cenotaphs and I would be happy to live in the majority of them. There were domes and pillars and steps and multi-levels and marble elephants. All kinds of nifty shit that costs a whole bunch.
Oh and there was more monkeys. And disease ridden dogs, that like me, though the cenotaphs were a pretty sweet place to live.

After hiking back into town along a road crawling with all manner of Health and Safety deathtraps disguised as vehicles (Anyone for carrying a 5 metre bamboo ladder on your scooter handlebars UPRIGHT???), we made it back into the (relative) safety of our little part of town, Hanuman Ghat.
Five minutes later, the sky darkened to a menacing black and the thunder and lightning commenced. Sitting on the terrace of our hotel, this made for awesome viewing, until the torrential rain started. We decided then it was time to head for cover.

-Cue food, drinks, chatting, sleeping. Fade to black.-

Today we thought we'd take a nice little stroll to some garden thing that some important guy made for a bunch of chicks he was into. The local guide suggested it was some fancy acreage with fountains and kiosks and various types of exotic flora.

Sounds like it is worth walking to, right?

Two hours of walking, three litres of sweat and four hundred 'no thanks' to rickshaw drivers later, we finally succumbed, hailed a rickshaw and asked him where in the hell we were.

Lost, apparently. Thanks shitty local guide map.

He drove us about a kilometre in a direction we didn't even know was possible and dropped us off at the front of the gardens.

They were pretty shite.

We walked around them for fifteen minutes, then commenced the walk home which was decidedly nicer than the gardens.

Once again, we did the food, drinks etc thing and now I'm waiting while the photos transfer off my camera... Shitty computer is hells slow. (three hours to move some photos, wtf??!)

Tomorrow we've got an early start as we're off on a day trip to Chittorgah to check out its super awesome fort . Apparently it's the best in all of India. Some guy that's into forts says so.

Despite its solid looks, it was overrun by invading armies pretty much whenever an invading army knocked on it's door. And being honorable Rajputs, the inhabitants almost always opted to sacrifice themselves rather than be humiliated by their foes.

So yeah, we're off to a massive (but really weak) fort where thousands of people set themselves on fire.
Romantic, no?

After that, we're back in Udaipur for a day, then it's on to Jodhpur- the land of tight, unflattering equestrian attire.

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