Wednesday, May 23, 2018

India Part II - Jaipur to Jodhpur

I'd read a lot about Jaipur; it looked like a lovely city worth checking out. I'd also found a place called Elefantastic. A kind of sanctuary for rescued elephants, this wasn't a place to spend a few bucks to ride them around in the heat, it was more about interacting with them. I was pretty excited to visit.

Arriving in Jaipur, we were thrust into another really busy train station, then accosted by a ton of touts outside. After moving through the parking lot and turning down tons of offers for a tuk-tuk, we headed on foot to our hotel, which was very close by. 

It was later in the afternoon so we just hung out at our hotel, Madhav Guest House, and relaxed before our visit to Elefantastic the next day.

Our hotel had a nice area on the roof to grab drinks or food. We had breakfast up there.
Our driver came to pick us up from our hotel and head out to the sanctuary. The ride there was a maze of roads, with the typical scenery, until we got outside the city.

After the city transitioned to a less congested area, the traffic thinned out.

We also got a view of Amer Fort, a massive complex that rises above some neighborhood developments. We were just driving by, for now...

As soon as we got to Elefantastic we were greeted by Rahul and the elephant we'd be getting to know. We were given a few short lessons on elephant etiquette so we'd know how to feed her. Then a member of the staff sat down next to her and we were invited to help him give her breakfast.

It was a ton of fun. I really loved the experience. Being so close to such a powerful and majestic animal was an amazing experience. The fact that they are well-cared for at this sanctuary made me feel comfortable with the whole thing. We opted not to ride our elephant. If a guest does feel they must, they do offer rides without a harness so it's more comfortable for the animal. I prefer not to use it that way and did not feel it was necessary for me to have a great time.

We also got to give our elephant a little bath after breakfast was over. She seemed to be enjoying it. I did not know that elephants will wag their tails.

We all had a nice walk around the sanctuary as our visit was wrapping up. 

On the ride to lunch, we passed some elephants that do not have it as good as the ones in the sanctuary. It is pretty common to see them being ridden around this area.

We were taken to the home of Rahul's family for an excellent lunch. A friendly hostess greeted us.

Lunch was really tasty.

Our driver was happy to get a few extra bucks to take us to the fort. We took a walk around for about an hour. In the end, we did not enter the ticketed area of the fort. We saw a lot just by walking around the areas of the grounds that were free of charge. There are gorgeous views and lots of chances for nice photos. Like pretty much everywhere else we went, the Indians on the scene were really interested in us, and in taking selfies with us.

The fort is an amazing structure.
It was pretty dry out here, and while it was hot the air was getting better as we got further from major cities and all the pollution that comes with it.

We had a nice time looking around.  We enjoyed the blue skies for a bit. Then it was time to head back to the city.

Since we'd pass another attraction, the water palace - Jal Mahal, on our return trip, our driver again stopped so we could take a look and snap some photos. There was a kite festival going on, so it was very crowded, but we easily got a good look from the shore.

We did not spend a long time here, though the view is nice and being by the water is pleasant, but there wasn't much for us to do. 

The next day it was time to move on to our next destination. We went to the train station, and my husband had gotten tickets for the last train that day, which was at noon. Unfortunately, it was also delayed by five hours. I was immediately concerned. With that kind of delay already, I thought we had to find another way to Jaipur.

We checked plane schedules back at our hotel, which took us in warmly and offered assistance. And thank goodness for them, the proprietor helped me arrange bus tickets. He asked if we wanted a sleeper, and I had no idea what we were in for. But basically, we had a little compartment that was above the seats. We could sit up cross-legged or had room to lay down. It actually wasn't so bad.
And it was all worth it to get to where we were going, seen below. We arrived in Ratan Villas pretty late, around ten PM. It was still time to have a nice dinner and really enjoy some luxurious relaxation.

The next day we had a little breakfast and went for a walk. We began by strolling around the city, which was pretty crowded with stalls and pedestrians. Before long we came on the main square of Jodhpur and the clock tower.

The fort was rising above the city, and it made for a stunning view.

We were continuing toward the fort on foot, and again my husband was approached by a lot of people. He stopped to snap some photos. I sat down to catch my breath.

We were going by the stepwell before we headed up to the fort, and for many reasons, I was glad we did. This is a really cool looking place. It was also very unusual after all the other gates and forts and temples and tombs we'd seen.

I really wasn't feeling well. We were lucky to run into a friendly face. A hotel employee saw us on the street and was talking to my husband, who recognized him immediately. They went and got me something to drink, and then made sure I got into a tuk-tuk. Then we were whisked back to our amazing hotel.

The rooms here are so comfortable, and there are massive tubs in the bathroom. If I was going to feel sick on vacation, this was the place for it.

We strolled around Jodpur a bit that evening.. we were getting on a plane and heading to Mumbai the next day.

One last look at the lovely grounds of Ratan Villas, and we were on our way.

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