Before I fill you in on my goings on in Udaipur I have decided to revise my '3 things I hate about India', I am also going to downgrade it to dislike as hate is a strong word.
At number 2 I stated that the personal hygiene was bad. Well thinking about it I know a lot of people in England that stink and have experienced bad hygiene the world over, so I am removing it out of fairness and that it is a worldwide issue. Instead:
2) Litter - there are no bins anywhere. People just throw their rubbish down wherever they are stood. The streets are full and the rivers are full. I passed a river today and it was full of floating dead fish - and of course I took a photo too.
Someone I was talking with remarked that if you hit a pause button now and tried to clean up India of its litter how long would it take? I reckon we are talking years! So that is my new number 2.
Anyway, with that done, Udiapur.
WOW! What a place. After the Jaipur, which I am renaming Sh*tsville, this is a breath of fresh air.
India has a great ability to make me love it at one minute and really dislike it at the next. Jaipur was busy, dirty, poor and the rickshaw drivers were rude, didn't take no for an answer and drove me to distraction - to be honest I was waiting for Nepal to come along.
And then I arrived in Udaipur; just pipping Shimla to my favourite spot in India (so far). Everyone is polite, the rickshaw drivers understand that saying no once is enough and although there are still a few beggars, it just seems much more civilised.
Udiapur is set around Lake Pichola, on which sit 2 floating hotels, the Lake Palace and Jag Mandir. If anyone is getting married soon and needs a honeymoon destination then go to Jag Mandir. I went on a boat trip around the lake and they drop you off at the hotel for a look around - it is fantastic. You have to see it to believe it especially when it is lit up at night Udiapur is also where they shot 'Octopussy' and her lair was based at this hotel.
I am staying at the Khumba Palace hotel. Really nice place with a cool garden in which I can read my book along with the pet tortoise who just meanders around. He seems to have a lot of character for a tortoise and is quite a fast mover which surprised me. The garden also backs on to the City Palace and you can just see the turrets above the wall, so I am right in the thick of it.
My first day was taken up by visiting the Jagdish Temple (huge and as usual fantastic masonary and workmanship), the City Palace (the biggest in India and built with corridors like a maze to confuse any attackers) along with the lake boat trip.
I have to say that I am getting a little sick of visiting Forts, Palaces and Temples. Although they are all great in their own right, I need to look at something different ie. Tigers (in about 1 week), the beaches of Goa and Kerala (in about 2/3 wks) and the mountains (end of Nov).
In the evening I decided to treat myself. Within the grounds of the City Palace is the Sunset Terrace restuarant. It looks out over the lake and the surrounding hills/mountains. The sunset was pretty spectacular and the setting just added to it. The only bad thing was that my 2 drinks cost me approximately 2 nights accomodation! London drink prices vs Indian hotel prices.
After that I went along to one of the many restaurants showing a nightly re-run of 'Octopussy'. It was fun to watch the film with the setting all around you. What was more amusing was that when the location changed to Berlin, Bond was told to go to the road in East Berlin which I stayed on only in September.
Today has been a long walking day. I went to Bharatiya Lok Kala, a puppet and mask museum. I only went there on a recommendation of Sue who I met on the Camel safari, who said it was so bad it was worth seeing. To be fair, she was right, it was poo. The masks were of a standard that a child in nursery puts together with papier-mache and the puppet show was, I dont know how to put it, really cr*p.
There were a couple of schools there so the whole audience seemed more interested in the 'white-skin' (as we sometimes known) than the puppets. A lot of photos and handshakes later, I escaped. One big man even hugged me and kissed me on the cheek to the amusement of everyone, myself included. They say that I have hair like the cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who is a living god here, and that must be why they like me. India is a funny place.
Next was Sahelion-ki-Bari, a garden constructed for the ladies of the royal household. I spent about an hour or so just chilling in the sun and getting some really good nature photos. I will put them up on a facebook when I get a chance and you can all be the judge as to whether I could make a career out of them! Afterall, this is the time to consider all possible career opportunities.
I then spent the afternoon relaxing by the water, reading my book and had the best Orange milkshake.
Not sure about my plans for this evening. I think I may try and impose myself on some unsuspecting travellers and have a beer or two. I got to practice my (shabby) conversational French earlier with a family who were on my train from Jaipuir and they seemed to get the gist of what I was on about, so bring on any nationality tonight!
I leave the lovely Udaipur tomorrow afternoon (boo-hoo) and head to Agra and the Taj Mahal. By all accounts Agra is horrible and touristy but the sight of the Taj is well worth it. I will let you know.