Hi guys, I’m back on the blog ! Today I will tell you about Jaipur, the Rajasthan state capital. Don’t worry, this is no “top 10 oyster pizza in Jaipur” type of post. We will just wander together in the city with pictures and my first India travel tip. It’s at the end, clever isn’t it ? 🙂
Yes yes my friend, I will try to give you one travel tip in each India post. This way, I hope you will understand more clearly the way I conceive travelling. let’s go !
Boum Jaipur !
After a 5 hours train from New Delhi to Jaipur, here I am, at the exit of the Pink City (one of the three pink cities in the world with Erevan, the capital of Armenia, and Toulouse in France) railway station exit. After 5 meters, India and its rickshaws are there and I already had the opportunity to discover 10 “Best hotel in the city” for a “verrrrry verrrrry cheap” price.
As I’m not born yesterday and I already booked the cheapest hostel in the city, I directly opt for the famous “a chai and a cig” move.
This realy simple move, which can be adapted for non smokers and coffee drinkers, consists in getting out of all the excitement caused by the train arrival and order a chai in a café/restaurant/place to sit nearby. Once the pressure goes down, it becomes real easier to ask clients for help, directions and in this case decent tuktuk rate. \o/
Fort and palaces in Jaipur
I can see you coming my friend, what does pastis is doing an Indian travel story ? For those who don’t know pastis, it’s a famous anis french liquor from south of france. Be patient, first we have to talk about forts, palaces and monkeys. I didn’t only come to India to drink at every opportunity 😉
There is beautifull stuff in Jaipur. From the indian women veiled beauty dressed with colorfull saris to the raw pink walls of ancient buidings, history and tradition decided to stunt you as strong as possible.
Hawa Mahal – Wind palace
30 minutes by walk from the hostel stands the Hawal Mahal, mostly known by tourists as the wind palace. This building, one of my favorite in India architecturally speaking , was used by the royal harem women. Its 953 windows allowed them to see what was happening in the streets without being seen (now you why I only said architecturally). I searched for long time for popcorn machine, without success, the show shouldn’t have been very exciting 🙂
To ensure the story’s continuity, we will say that the following events happened on the same day 🙂
“And why should we do so miiisterrrr Sylvain ?”
For a very simple reason. Minibuses (called “citybus”) are leaving from the wind palace to the Amber Fort every ten minutes and it only cost 10 roupies. Compared to the 300/400 roupies for a rickshaw ride if you are a negiciation noob, that’s a big win.
Other big benefit, you will be in total immersion as the only tourists on board. Plenty of time to rub yourself against indian talcy armpits (yes yes talc). If buy some sorcery trick, you can’t find these buses, just ask to anyone “City bus …. Amberrrrrr Foorrrrrrt”. Easy peasy !
The Amber Fort is this huge stuff perched on this huge rock, 11 kilometers from Jaipur. For the history point (knowledge is power \o/), the construction started in 1952 by order of Raja Man Singh I, commander in cheif of the Moghul empire army, rulling the north part of India at the time. It’s still today one of the biggest monuments of Rajasthan.
Although, the inside is really nice, I am not realy sure that it is worth the 500 roupies entry fees (only 50 for locals, grrr). The outside however, is one of the best views in Rajasthan.
One last thing before talking about monkeys, the Water palace. It stands on the road between Jaipur and the Amber fort. Best to see at sunset or even at night as it’s lighted up. Wonderfull. Only thing that sucks, you can’t visit it … Bouuuuh…
Jaipur monkeys !
If you wander around in Jaipur during the day, you will cross a lot of tuktuk drivers will offer to drive you to the “Monkey temple“. Know that the monkey temple doesn’t exist 🙂 But our indian friends don’t care, it’s good for marketing.
I’m kidding a bit because they are not far from the truth. It’s actually a whole sacred moutain that is welcoming thousands of monkeys. Sacred moutain, 3 temples, monkeys, what else ?
When you arrive at the starting point of the mountain path, marketing comes again selling peanuts and other stuff to feed the beasts.
After few minutes of climbing, the first monkeys are showing up when suddently … a high-pitched scream tears the moutain’s silent appart. Far from the tutktuks horns and chaiwallas, a little boy was squatting, picking up peanuts while crying. The four monkeys who teared off his bag, fighting for the loot.
A mix between the planet of Apes, Jurrassic parc and an animal documentary.
After all these emotions, it was time to climb up. At the top, the sun temple. No picture here, they magically desappeared.. You will have very good view from the city and monkeys normally, but not me at the time. Does monkey strikes exists ? However, on my way to the bottom of the valley, I stumbled upon these two best mates.
After few minutes watching at this incredible friendship based on mutual inspection and bug cleaning, I fnished my way down to the Hanuman ( the Monkey god) temple.
A tiny temple that allows you a “prayer/donation” but not much more. The priest chose this time to tell to go further in the valley the see the Galta Ji temple. After my two first temples, I can say I was not that thrilled about this Galta something and still wondering where these f****** monkeys were 🙂 but then, BOUM !
The Galta Ji temple is one of the Hindouist pilgrimage place in India. Bathing in its natural water points is supposed to wash all your sins. Didn’t swin, no need … and more important no towel 🙂 If, unlike me, you visit the temple on an other day than monday you will be able to see colorfull saris and big moustache paddling.
USEFULL INFO : “Priests” might ask you for money at the entry for the temple “maintenance” but the temple is normally free.
After this good day of hike/walk and this wonderfull discovery, I was calmly going back to the hostel when Malik, a young indian dude, stops me and ask this question :
“Hello sirrrr, why do forrrreignerrrs neverrrr want to talk to me ?”
Guys, I think you found out that this conversation leaded me one hour later to …
Pastis !! and my first tip about travelling India
Before the end of this “extraordinary” story, here is my tip :
Even if India can be overwhelming and oppressing, don’t shut locals out. Stop when they try to talk to you. You will know in few seconds if they just want to sell you stuff, honestly want to talk wto you or both.
Of course, if you follow this rule to the letter, you might make your daily activities few hours longer. But my friend, that’s how I lived these three little stories :
– Drink pastis :
Yeah man ! Finally ! While I was talking in french with Malik, who was learning the Molière language at the “Alliance Française” of the city, his uncle invited me to his jewellery to have a chai (and to sell me stuff of course). As I came in I said very clearly and laughing “I won’t buy anything but I’m so in for a chai“, the little chit chat could begin.
For half an hour we discussed familly, wedding, work and religion. The 4 big conversation pillars in India. Then the owner of the shop arrived and screamed with no accent at all “Bonjour, Bonjour !”. Apparently made aware of the situation by his mates, he bursted out laughing at my surprised reaction and continued : “Tu veux du pastis ?” (do you want pastis ?)
Handing me the first glass of the anis-based spirit, Suresh explained me that he spent 5 years in Grenoble and that he still has familly there who is sending him Pastis and cheese regularly. I left the jewellery 2 hours and 6 glasses later thinking India is so great 🙂
– Learn cricket rules with an illegal bookmaker :
The next day, willing to thank my new friends again, I stumbled upon Rishi, a 36-year-old bookmaker. This dude hailed me from accross the street with the delicious words “Chai ! Come sir Chai”. He had just made a good point.
5 or 6 chais followed the first one while Rishi was explaining to me the basic rules of cricket and showing me a 500 user whatsapp group. 10 messages were arriving every minutes with a score and an amount each. Good to know, betting is prohibited in India.
He also explained me that he was risking 10 years prison time doing this but as he had about ten cops in the whatsapp group, the problem was solved.
– Stay in a tuktuk without moving and paying :
Last story guys, nearly time to go to bed 🙂 This one is cute. Walking back to the hostel one day turning down every tuktuk offers, one last driver came to me. As I was preparing myself to turn him down too, he asked me the same exact question “Hello sirrrr, why do forrrreignerrrs neverrrr want to talk to me ?. Matter to think.
Rohit, stonecutter by day and rickshaw driver by night invited me to share a cigarette inside his working station. He conffessed to me that with this new job, crisis speaking, he didn’t have time to see his friends or familly and just needed to talk to someone out of the tuktuk business. It was the first time I stay in a rickshaw more than 30 minutes without moving or paying.
This is the end guys ! I hope you enjoyed Jaipur with me and that from now on you’ll listen more what indians have to say 😉 I crossed to much people in Rajasthan constantly shutting people out and sometime shouting while wandering in Indian streets.
Cheers and good vibes