Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Q. How Do I Unintentionally Avoid Indians in Rajasthan

A. Pick your hotel from Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.

Demographic trends at tourist attractions in Jaipur:
Jantar Mantar: mostly Indians
City Palace: mostly Western Europeans
Hotel Pearl Palace: mostly Scandinavians
Hawa Mahal: mostly nobody

We started out by visiting Hawa Mahal, which was surprisingly empty. We hired a tour guide who said that the recession and H1N1 were responsible for driving tourist away. "How many cases of H1N1 does Rajasthan have?" I asked. "Oh, 60% of the cases in India are in Rajasthan," he replied. Awkward silence.

Later he mentioned that the Mumbai terrorist bombings were also a factor. Jantar Mantar and The City Palace seemed reasonably crowded, though, so I suppose all is not lost. We had lunch at Ganesh Restaurant, which sits on the old city wall. The kitchen is open so you can see how much oil (answer: a lot) goes into the food. They have a real clay oven and the garlic nan that came out of it was one of the best I've ever had.

Afterwards we struggled to find some form of motorized transportation to a nearby fort, and upon failing, decided to take a cycle rickshaw back to the hotel. Cycle rickshaws are quite popular here; it's odd because you'd think they'd be impossible to drive in the summer heat in Jaipur. Incidentally, they're single-geared.

Now we're just killing time until our 9pm train to Bikaner. I've never been on an overnight train journey before, so I hope I can fall asleep.


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