India Trip – Day Thirteen – Jaipur
January 29, 2008
The Amber Fort is a very impressive structure from the exterior, set high on a hill with a big wall around it that looks like a smaller version of the Great Wall of China.
To reach the fort you walk up a steep incline that zigzags the hillside. A number of tourists hire elephants to take them up but they look mistreated and I totally disagree with this practice.
As usual the hawkers are everywhere trying to sell cameras, batteries, postcards and crappy puppets.
Once inside, the fort is very impressive with large open courtyards and even an area with convex glass on the ceiling to reflect heat in winter.
But, to be honest it is much the same as the other forts we have been too, this is not a bad thing as to me they are some of the highlights of the trip.
When we leave we take the auto rickshaw back into town and along the way we stop to take photographs of the Water Palace, and again we are surrounded by hawkers, one even has something like a violin but with a potato at the end of it.
We then go to a silk factory and see how it is made, from washing, drying, dyeing and decorating.
We then go to the shop have a coke and they show us the finished articles which they try to sell.
After this place we go to a jewellery shop, no one looks interested in being here and then Helena says that the driver told her that I wanted to come, which of course I didn’t, so we leave.
We then go for a meal at the LMB restaurant in Jaipur and I have a pizza (I know but I wanted something other that rice and curry) and it strangely had crisps as one of the toppings.
We get back to the hotel after being caught in traffic for a while and then go to Ladli.
Ladli is a vocational training centre for abused, orphaned and destitute girls.
I found this quite an emotional place, all the girls seemed really happy when we first got there they were all dancing in the yard to music and we were told the history of the place by the co-founder.
It started off with just his wife cycling around Jaipur teaching street children how to read. They then received a grant from the Finish Embassy which paid for a bus, teacher and care worker and it has expanded since then.
We then went and watched some of the girls making jewellery. A girl who I think was called Meena called me over and we talked for a while, she has been there for three years and has what looks like a knife scar on the right side of her face. She shows me how they make jewellery and she works very quick and makes some nice designs.
She then shows me all the jewellery that is for sale hanging on the wall that have been made by the girls, I ask her which ones she has made and I decide to buy them, three necklaces and three bracelets. They are far more expensive than you would pay for the same from a shop or hawker in town but I don’t care about that as 100% of all money from the girls necklaces go into their bank accounts until they are 18 years old. The total cost came to about 1,700 rupees so I give them 2,000 and told them to keep the change.
After I bought the jewellery I went back to watching what they were doing, making jewellery, dancing and just generally having fun.
Jess broke out the balloons again and all the kids love them.
A bus pulled up at the gates and picked up a number of girls to take back to their accommodation. Then another group left and we asked where they were going and we were told back to the streets as they only had a total of 50 beds. This really made me a bit upset and could not stop thinking about these poor kids for the rest of the day, even when I spoke to Sarah later that night on the phone I shed a tear telling her about it.
From here we went to the Raj Mandir cinema to watch a Bollywood movie called “Sunday”.
When we were waiting for tickets to go in I decided to go to MacDonald’s and have a “Maharaja Mac” which was a double chicken burger that looked like a Big Mac, it also had a mild curry sauce and to be honest I was not very keen on it.
We then went in to watch the film, it was a bit difficult to watch as obviously it was in Hindi. It was also very random as it begins with a murder and someone being given a date rape drug but also has a lot of slap stick comedy in it reminiscent of Benny Hill. The lead actor also showed no type of emotion at all with the same facial expression the whole way through whether he was slapping a bad guy around the face or holding hands with his girlfriend.
When this finished we took an auto rickshaw back to the hotel, but the driver got lost and had to ask directions and even went up a one way street into oncoming traffic.
At the hotel I had a shower and went to bed.