So this morning I flew to Jaipur to begin my 5 day trip to the Golden Triangle (Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi). This is one of the prime tourist destinations in India, at least for the beginners like me :)
My first stop is Jaipur. The old part of the city is called the pink city because it is, well, pink. In 1876 the entire city was painted pink, a color associated with hospitality, to welcome the Prince of Wales. The first thing I notice is how different this city is from Mumbai. The city has a much older feel to it, and you can tell how rich and stately it must have been at one time. There are animals everywhere. Cows sitting in the street. Camels, elephants, ox, monkeys. It is awesome! Everything happening in a blur of people, color, and my wonder.
I just so happened to be in Jaipur for Holi. Which I just found out yesterday is one of the biggest holidays of India. It is the festival of color. All throughout the city there were vendors selling colored powders that they throw on each other or mix with water and splash on each other. Tomorrow is the holiday, but people are already starting today. There are a couple people covered head to foot in color. I see a couple of tourists joining in on the fun too. I am not so anxious.
I checked into my hotel and then went to check out the city palace. Here there are some art collections, weapon collections, and some cool buildings. Wandering around was the best though. Walking around the winding paths of the palace I passed people pushing carts, a bull just walking on his own going wherever it wants, people riding an elephant down the street, cars driving through archways barely big enough, and more monkeys just climbing around on buildings. My eyes were wide as saucers. Just taking it all in. I wanted to record it all. I took tons of photos but it just isn't the same.
Afterwards since everything was closed for the day, I had the driver just cruise me around a bit. We were driving along a road north out of the city when we stumbled on a bunch of elephants. They were spaced far apart. One or 2 or 3 in a group. I pulled over and started taking some pictures so they stopped and I got to touch them and take photos with them. It was great!
On the way back to the hotel, the sun was starting to get low, so the festivities for Holi eve were getting under way. We passed several bonfires getting ready to be lit. Then right when we were in the center of the city chaos started breaking out. I guy with a torch on fire ran by our car right across the street weaving through cars. People from all over started chasing him. People started coming out the alley ways all chasing him with their own torches. All trying to light there's on his. It was a strange sight with sticks flying in a chaotic almost fight to get torches lit. There was people standing on the backs of motorcycles holding torches riding around amongst the chaos too. All this happening right in the middle of the street packed with cars.
I tried to stop and watch near a bonfire at one point but I immediately started to get swarmed by young curious kids. Me being by myself made me very approachable I guess. Before I knew it I had a crowd of 20 or so kids around me and more approaching. All looked friendly enough, but who knows. I looked over at the driver and he gave me a look like "lets go", so I took that advice and got out of there as the kids tried to follow.
As we were almost back to the hotel, we saw another bonfire, so I stopped and went over to it. Here I was approached shortly by a couple of young 20ish guys. One of which spoke great English, so I ended up talking quite a bit with him. They had me try some milk like drink that had some alcohol in it. It tasted good, but I was afraid to drink more than a sip since I did not know if it would make me sick. I was mainly afraid of it being unpasteurized milk, which is very common in India.
Afterwards the driver dropped me off at the hotel, where I went up to the roof and watched a small puppet show. Pretty random, but it was entertaining. There was only me and a couple of ladies and a little girl watching. So they put a turban like hat on my head and handed me a puppet. So I tried my hand at it with many laughs from the women.
It was a awesome day. I can do this traveling alone bit!