I woke up at 5 AM like it was no big deal. The moon was still up! We left for Jaipur at 6. We then took a tuk tuk to the bus station in Sikar. Jaipur is the first planned city of India. It is surrounded by walls, just like Sikar is. The bus was crazytown. It was seriously like a roller coaster; we would be going over the uneven gravel of the road at top speed. We even did a little off roading haha. All the cities and villages we passed were really impoverished. I was pretty shocked; Banjara Basti is definitely not the only place that needs volunteer aid. I totally understand the statistics now (ie. around half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day). Most buildings are falling apart. I have to say, one huge change I would want to create is a recycling program. Is that ethnocentric of me? There is just garbage and plastic everywhere - all of the cities and on the side of the roads. The cows and stray dogs eat it.
The bus doesn't stop to pick anyone up or drop anyone off; it slows slightly and people jump on and off. I like when we drive and see all these older men hanging out on the side of the road. I've seen multiple of what I think are "gentleman's clubs." It looks like they are gossiping like teenage girls :). I also like the camel carts. Everyone here is so nonchalant about it. But come on, you've got this massive camel pulling your cart! It's the coolest thing.
We went through the beautiful gates of Jaipur; they are huge and pink with white detail. (Hence the nickname the Pink City.) The driving is of course nuts; I will never ever be scared to drive in any country again. I rocked the money belt all day! The first place we visited was the City Palace. Part of it is a museum, but the royal family still lives there. It was built from 1729-1732. We first took a tour through the Mubarak Mahal which had linens and costumes of the old royal families. They were beautiful. The most interesting one was of Sawai Madhosing I; his inseam of his pants were four feet. Like the space between his legs was over a meter wide... it was unbelievable. This was also the first day we saw other travelers.
All the paints on the buildings are made from vegetables and is the original paint. They use oil every couple years to keep the rich colour.
The second place we went to in the City Palace was Chandra Mahal where most rulers lived. It has four gates representing the four seasons. It also has the tower where the current royal family lives.
We then went to Bhadra Chowk that houses the largest silver urns in the world.
We then went to Diwan-I-Aam which was a meeting place for the king and the public.There were really cool paintings of all the previous kings. We climbed the stairs to the Queen's chambers (Maharani Palace) which is now a museum for old firearms and other weaponry. We saw Bhaggi Khana which housed old carriages that the Indians adopted from the Europeans.
We then went to the observatory across the street, Jantar Mantar. It was absolutely incredible. It is the largest in the world. Maharaja Jai Singh II had it built for him when he ruled. It has fourteen structures that measure time, astrology, and astronomy.
Samrat Yantra is the largest sundial in the observatory. It measures the time with the accuracy of two seconds. It was so crazy. The shadow moves six centimeters a minute.
Madan dropped Victoria, Melissa, Alex, and I off at McDonald's for lunch while the rest went to another more traditional restaurant. I am embarrassed at how happy we were. And there goes my vegetarian diet. Everyone wanted to take our pictures. Like people would come up to us and just want to pose with us. So funny, but kind of weird haha. What are you gonna do with that photo?!
Most of us cautiously walked to the market by ourselves. One of the tuk tuks was blasting "Barbie Girl" and we all sung along. It earned us a lot of staring. At one point we had to cross the street. Legitimately it was the funniest thing of my life. All of us were huddled in a group, scared for our lives. It was like out of movie; all of us clutching each other like the biggest tourists. Obviously we made across safely. After that one time, we walk around like locals :)...almost.
Everything is so busy all the time. Some participants in the group were trying out haggling for the first time. People laugh at us everywhere we go haha. After we shopped for awhile we went back to our hotel. While on the tuk tuk, Madan pointed out the temples in the middle of the road. There were lots of them. Very cool. We all showered up and then went for dinner down the street. It was on top of a roof and we saw the fireworks of a wedding. It was yummy. I had paneer dosa. We were all so tired; we just went straight to bed! We all were homesick for Sikar.
DWC Student Team Leader
Sikar, India: May 2012