So today is Holi. Nothing in the entire city is open. I didn't even know what Holi was until a few days ago, so I never even considered it causing problems with my travel plans. I am pretty bummed because I will have to miss out on seeing a couple of things that I had planned too. I can't delay my trip here more than today because I have much more to go!
Yesterday I was really amazed by the forts just north of Jaipur, so drive up to go check them out, and sure enough they are all closed. I can wander around the outside walls a bit at Nahargarh, but not much. I'm totally bummed out now! At Amber fort I run into a German couple and chat a bit about everything being closed down. They are just doing some hiking around Amber so I decide that is not too bad of an idea. As I begin my climb up the curvy road to the fort I am a little nervous about what I might find. It is very desolate, especially since it is closed down for Holi. There are a couple of groups of young guys around all covered in paint, so I have to keep my distance so not to get more "colors" on me!
After walking up the paths further than anyone else around me, I begin to get a little nervous, but I am excited to continue too. I feel like a kid again, exploring the hills around home. I come across what looks like the last part of the road at the top of Amber. Here there are some buildings that look like fairly new construction. There is a guy standing under a porch like awning by himself. As I approach he asks me if I am alone, I tell him yes. And he asks if I would like some company... This is a strange request and it makes me more than a bit worried, but I am here for adventure so I tell him sure. We take the path further along, which winds its way up to Jaigarh fort. I am very cautious as we walk along, but he is very curious so the unease soon settles into good conversation. His name is Ajay and he works for a stock broker and he has come home for Holi. He likes the peace of these old forts. It is very quiet and a big change from the crowded Indian cities. We hike around for a couple of hours, going all the way to the top. Afterwards we go our separate ways and I return to my anxiously waiting driver, as I took much longer than he was expecting! Even though I missed out on going into the forts, this was a great day!
So now exhausted I go back to Jaipur and try to get some food, but all that is open is McDonald's! So I end up eating 2 value meals, since they are smaller and only cost about $2-3 US. There are several other tourists here, many covered in colors.
Ruchi suggested a place called Chowki Dhani to go to that evening. It is a mock village sorta place with camel and elephant rides and street performers. Dinner is also included. There is lots to wander around and see here, so I have a goof time. As I am waiting to ride a camel I meet a couple other young people who want me to take the photo of them. I do and ask them to take one for me too. We chat a bit, and later on when it is dinner time, we happen to meet up and eat together. I also end up chatting with the couple on the other side of me. He is an aromatherapy salesman or something. Indian people are so friendly! I love it!