Thursday, 3 March 2011

Jaipur, India

We arrived in Jaipur on February 17th.

It's called the Pink City.  For some reason, the colors and the architecture reminded me of South America...though I've never actually set foot in South America, so who am I to judge?

We visited the impressive Amber Fort/Palace (a complex began by Raja Man Singh, a noted Indian general, in 1600 and subsequent residence of 28 kings).

I keep on using words like "beautiful" and "stunning" in my blog.  I need to learn more adjectives.  But honestly, everything here boggles my mind.

There's a hill that needs to be climbed in order to reach the Amber Fort/Palace, and elephants were taking people to the top.  I grew up with a stuffed animal elephant, and have been fascinated with these creatures since.  However, up close they're not so cute and cuddly.  Case in point, I saw several elephants put their trunks into their mouth, extract water/saliva, and spray it out of their trunks and all over themselves, standing on the side of the road.  Covered in Asian elephant spit, I could not understand what they were trying to do.  Cool off?

There was an outlook on the other side of the road across from the Amber Fort/Palace which we climbed for the view.  It felt like the morning bike ride/hike in Pushkar all over again. 

I was grateful to have two solid workouts in the span of a few days (since other than these two athletic endeavors I've just been strolling, sleeping, and savoring Indian cuisine).  I felt something that I've felt before, that I was created to be strong and to have endurance for a reason, so that I could see and do these types of things...that these were important things for me to do.

We also visited Jantar Mantar.  It's a fascinating astrological observatory constructed in the mid-1700's.

There are 17 astrological instruments that measure things like the time of day, and position of the earth (e.g. since it's late February/early March, the earth is now in Aquarius).

There is also Hawa Mahal ("Palace of the Winds"). 

The intricate latice work on this palace enabled women to watch the going-ons in the street without being seen.  Some of the pictures I took are through latice.

We also caught a movie at the Raj Mandir Cinema (said to be the most beautiful cinema in Asia).  We saw a Bollywood movie in Hindi without English subtitles.  Despite not being able to understand the language, I could still infer a great deal from body language and gestures.  I realize that being creative with body language and gestures is indispensable for the traveler.  Case in point, today I went to a pharmacy to get some anti-itch creme for the 200 (and counting) mosquito bites all over my body.  I don't think the pharmacist understood what I was asking for in English.  I finally held up the bottom of my forearm (covered in the red, raised welts), pointed to it, took the hand of my other arm and made a scratching motion with my fingers, contorting my face in an "itching expression," haha.  He promptly went to a shelf and fetched me exactly the right ointment that I was looking for.

After leaving the Raj Mandir, our taxi passed two elephants walking along the side of the road.  We passed so close to the elephants that I could have reached out and touched them.  In India the camel represents love, the horse represents power, and the elephant represents luck.

Coming to India is one of the luckiest thing that has ever happened to this girl...  

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