We arrived in the Pink City of Jaipur on May 16th by train, a much more comfortable experience than the one we endured from Delhi to Agra. Our small hotel was a few minutes walk from the station, upon arrival we found our accommodation to be a little bit dire, the air conditioning wasn't working so we switched rooms, even so the squat toilet and lack of water in the bathroom indicated to me that our stay would not be a pleasant one. The next day we ventured out to Jantar Mantar a place of science founded in 1728. Jantar Mantar means instrument of calculation, there were a variety of instruments dotted around which looked like sculptures but were in fact used to calculate the time and date.
Sat under the shade of a tree with tiny vibrant green leaves we heard the continuous beeping noise from traffic outside the complex walls, chipmunks tussled on the patchy grass and sweet little birds hopped around looking for morsels of food.
After, we went to an Indian coffee house for an authentic local lunch, the waiter was wearing a rather unique hat and while service was not overwhelmingly friendly the food was good and the experience felt off the beaten track.
The next day we went to see the Amber Fort which situated just outside the city was the main reason we wanted to visit Jaipur. We took a tuk tuk there, the fort was perched high on a hill and looked very imposing and impressive. The walls of the fort snaked across the landscape which reminded me somewhat of a miniature version of The Great Wall of China. We climbed the steep slope to the fort, many tourists take elephants to mimic the feeling of being an Indian maharaja though for ethical reasons we decided against it. To our surprise and delight we learned that entry was free just for today, with the entrance fee saved we decided to hire a guide to make the most of the visit. Our lovely guide, a friendly local chap took us inside the fort gates where I was given a beautifully perfumed rose and we were both given a bindi which is a small dot of red pigment placed on the forehead.
The fort was truly a place of beauty. The decoration was so delicate, paintings and jewels adorned the walls. There was an area covered in hundreds of mirror shards reflecting light and colourful reflections all around. Mysterious passages led here, there and everywhere, many of which we walked through to visit a different nook, balcony or room. Our guide showed us the ancient water system comprised of pulleys and wells, inside a huge well were hundreds of sleeping bats. The views from the fort were wonderful, and the mixture of art, landscape and friendly guide led me to state that this was my favourite place that we had seen in India so far. After our very informative tour we said farewell to our guide and after a break in the shade wandered back around the fort for some more photographs. We came across the German family that we had seen in a café in Agra and stopped for a chat before heading back to the tuk tuk stand where we had to haggle very hard for a good price, even resorting to the 'turn and walk away' tactic to get a fair deal.
Craig had found a restaurant called Natraj whilst doing research so we went there for lunch. We hadn't realised just how nice the restaurant was until we went inside, it was elegantly decorated and waiters were on stand by to attend to every whim. Of course, such service was reflected in the price but as we were already seated we decided to treat ourselves and stay. After a delicious lunch we were given sugar and aniseed with our bill, a simple treat which satisfied our sweet tooth cravings.
The next day we packed to leave and endured quite an ordeal, possibly our worst experience whilst travelling. When it came to settle the bill there was a dispute. Craig had already paid the manager for the first night as well as the breakfasts and dinners that we'd ordered as room service. With no manager around we received a leaving bill higher than expected and asked to speak to the manager just to clarify as it had not been itemised. The two guys at reception kept laughing at our request to speak to the manager and refused which left us in a predicament. Our train was scheduled to leave shortly and we weren't sure what to do. There was obviously a bit of a language barrier, as the minutes passed their unwillingness to get a manager left us frustrated and so we offered to pay what we thought was owed and email the manager afterwards to settle the dispute. Craig put down the money, a few rupees short of the bill and tried to leave, they grabbed at his arm and bag and I started to panic as they were getting aggressive. We managed to leave the hotel and walk down the street, they both chased after us, waving the bill in our faces, shouting at anyone who would listen. As somebody who hates confrontation I was surprised to find that I shouted back when one of the men forcibly grabbed my arm. A tuk tuk driver passed and we jumped on to drive the few minutes down the road to the station, my heart was pounding. As we boarded the train I felt anxious, would they come looking for us? I felt awful, it looked as though we had done a runner without paying. A mixture of confusion on both parts about the bill, our panic at missing the train and their unwillingness to get the manager to clarify had led to a horrible situation where I really thought they might hurt us. After thinking about the situation for hours as we travelled on to Pushkar I suddenly remembered that we had ordered some food on room service after Craig had paid the manager meaning that we did indeed owe a few rupees more. I burst in to tears upon realising that we were wrong. Their actions were still uncalled for, but with hindsight why hadn't we just paid the money and been done with it? We emailed the manager of the hotel and the booking site we'd gone through to explain what had happened and didn't receive a reply from either. It had been a hard lesson learned, always take note of money paid and have proof, don't try and settle a bill on check out while in a hurry and if required, just pay what's asked even if you think you don't owe it if it means avoiding an intimidating situation.
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Have you been to Jaipur? If so, what did you think? Maybe you're planning a trip? I've got tonnes of advice and tips I can share. Let me know in the comments below.
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