On The QT

Rambling in Rajasthan – Part 2: Jaipur

Blogger: Katie Burke

We arrived in Jaipur Railway Station at 10am rather dazed after our sleep. We were met almost instantly by an eager tuk tuk driver named Shakir. He seemed pretty okay and we were feeling lazy so we accepted his offer and proceeded to two tuk tuks, the other driven by is friend Ali. Apparently having five people in a tuk tuk is illegal in Jaipur. This is the first lie he told. As they drove us to our hostel they told us all about the things to see in Jaipur. It seemed they were in the business of chauffeuring travelers around and each had notebooks filled with hand written recommendations from people all over the world. Initially they seemed genuine and convenient so we opted to let them drive us around that day. We were a little skeptical though that when we inquired about pricing they simply replied “You pay at the end, pay as you wish, you unhappy, no pay….don’t worry be happy!!”..hmmmm.

At one point on the first day they brought us to textiles factory shop where we all bought some bedspreads and other such paraphernalia. It was only afterwards when Shakir continually questioned how much we had spent that we realised he was making a cut from our purchases.
They wanted to have dinner with us that night to discuss further plans they could make for us but we managed to dissuade them. Later after discussing it we made a group pact to “break up” with them the following day after they’d taken us to the Amber Fort and another place called Elephant Village.

The Amber Fort was beautiful with lovely views of the city and we had a great time getting lost inside. Then we headed for Elephant Village. More like Elephant Prison, Elephant  Village was a series of sheds and small houses where a large number of Elephants and the families which own them live side by side. It looked a little bit sketchy but the elephants were beautiful. Three of us decided to go for an elephant ride and for the cost of 400rupees each it seemed reasonable. We were told we would see some jungle and a lake along the way….I still don’t know why we didn’t question this claim initially given that we were just outside Jaipur city centre.

The tour began with the mahut guiding us around the sheds on the elephant, every so often pointing at an elephant in a she’d and saying “yelephant”…..and it pretty much continued like that for 15mins at which point we manged to communicate that we wanted to stop the “tour”. When we returned to the start we tried to communicate through the ever helpful Shakir that we were unhappy with the tour and would like to leave. But of course he was to get a cut from this venture as well so he accused of us of shouting at him. Then he and the owner of Elephant Village said we were bad mannered because we refused to pay the full price. After what seemed like a never ending “awky mo mo” we paid half, got into the tuk tuks and asked to be driven back to the hostel. On arrival we gave the guys the “it’s not you, it’s me” speil and paid them what we felt was owed. Of course despite the never ending chorus of “pay what you feel” they were totally unimpressed with our contribution so feeling guilty we paid a little extra and walked off, finally free of the bullshit.

That evening refreshed and unaccompanied we sought out the famous Monkey Temple by ourselves just before sunset. It was actually easier to get around minus our hosts. When we reached the bottom of the hill leading to the temple we were surrounded by monkies of all shapes and sizes. Initially as we began our climb they appeared somewhat threatening but once we became used to them running around it was all okay. We reached the temple the sun was just beginning to set, allowing us to capture the most beautiful photographs of the evening amber light over the pink city.

Blogger: Katie Burke - Adventures in India
Katie is an aspiring writer who is originally from Galway. She has been travelling in India for the past two months. She has had an eclectic journey including everything from experiencing the culture shock of Delhi to teaching baby Buddhist monks in Dharamsala and so much in between. This blog covers the highs, the lows and the hilarious of each site and situation visited and reveals the madness that is India from the naked eye of a first time visitor.
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