Thursday, 7 October 2010


As I mentioned briefly in my last post, we’re in Udaipur now and it’s probably my favourite place in India so far! But I’ve got to get us here from Bundi first, so hang on a second…

We checked out of the Lake View hotel in Bundi at about 9:30am on the 5th, with over twelve hours to kill until we caught our sleeper bus to Udaipur. We went down to the lake to read and sip some of Tony the Cook’s chai (spiced tea), which is still maybe the best we’ve had! There we met Londoners Toby and Max, who had just moved into the room we’d vacated. Guys, thanks for your help in killing those twelve hours, they whizzed by!

So anyway we caught our ‘luxury’ sleeper bus just after 10:30pm. These private sleeper buses rule! You get a berth (double in our case) with a sliding glass door and curtain for privacy, then you crawl in with your luggage and go to sleep! I woke up once or twice during the bumpy, eight-hour journey, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it went and how comfortable it was.

As I write this, it’s the afternoon of our second day in Udaipur. We’re staying at the Panorama and we love it! Our room is a very reasonable R300 a night; and the hotel has a rooftop restaurant with great views of Udaipur’s lake. They also have two pet tortoises here who hang out near our room (one adult, one baby). The grown-up one is called Dollar and she’s over 45 years old, while her baby, Euro, is about a year old. Dollar likes me a lot because I keep feeding her leaves.

Udaipur features heavily in the Bond-film Octopussy and consequently dozens of hotels and cafes in the town show the movie EVERY NIGHT. Brilliant. We watched it last night whilst I enjoyed my first meat curry in India (Butter Chicken, it was delicious AND I wasn’t ill: yay!). We also put away a massive bottle of Kingfisher beer each. And why not?!

Before that we spent the afternoon in Udaipur, visiting the Bagore Ki Haveli, home to an amazing collection of Rajasthani puppets and a museum. We also saw the Jagdish temple, which is beautiful. Ania bought a small picture of an elephant, painted by hand on silk, from an artists’ school. In Rajasthan the elephant signifies luck and the city of Jaipur; the horse represents power and Udaipur; while the camel stands for love and Jaisalmer. So we have luck, but no love or power. Which sums up our experiences in India’s hotels! Ha!

Today we visited Udaipur’s palace, which you can see from our hotel. We are right on the waterfront here, but as recently as July the lake was completely dry. One guide told us people were playing cricket on the bed of the lake! The water is now sixteen feet deep in places!

Tonight we’re going back to the Bagore Ki Haveli to watch those Rajasthani puppets in action. There’s a live show which also features traditional dancing. Tomorrow is our last full day here as we’ve booked our bus on to Mount Abu for the 9th.

I’m enjoying India much more in the quieter places than I was in the crazy city of Delhi and I’m getting into the swing of it: booking our hotels by phone (difficult with the language barrier), haggling with shop owners and rickshaw drivers and returning friendly greetings in the street in my broken and very limited Hindi.

All in all, we’re having masses of fun. Udaipur is making that especially easy! Tomorrow, maybe a boat trip and a film starring Sir Roger Moore. I just can’t decide which one, though…

And now for the photos!

The view over the lake from the Haveli. Our hotel is out of shot, but on the side of the land you can see. The floating island on the left (in front of the hills) features in Octopussy. It's where Bond embarrasses baddie Kamal Khan in a game of Backgammon!:

One of the many impressive rooms in Udaipur Palace:

The outside of the Jagdish Temple:

The puppet room inside the Bagore Ki Haveli. Somehow less scary because there's lots of them!:

Me with my new pal, Dollar!:

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