Our bus from Agra to Jaipur was pretty horrendous. Because we were travelling as a three it meant that one of us should have been sharing a bed with a stranger – a middle aged Indian man. Opting against this, the three of us curled up into one bed. You would think we’d be warm with all that body heat, but the AC was broken and cold air was blasting on our heads and our feet. At one point, Claire tried to stick a plastic bottle into the AC to block it, but nothing seemed to work. When we reached a service station, I asked the driver if there was any way to make it less cold, to which he replied ‘no’. Luckily, there were some unreserved seats below us, so we left the bed and sat down in the slightly warmer part of the coach, which greatly improved our journey. The bus was delayed, so we arrived in Jaipur at 4am instead of 2am. The hotel manager picked us up from the station and tried to get us to fill out a load of forms when we arrived. After filling one out, we whinged so much that he let us go to bed and do the others in the morning. We had two showers each in the space of four hours and set our alarms for 8am. At 7am, I got a phone call from our guide saying he was at the hotel. I complained and said we were planning to meet him at 9am, but we had to settle on 8.30am and quickly got ready to meet him. He drove us to Amber Fort, which was absolutely beautiful and we had an elephant ride to the top. Unfortunately, we later discovered that the elephants were being hit and mistreated. A German traveller that we met on a train showed us a photo that she had taken of one of the elephants being hit with a metal stick.
Despite this, we had an incredible day in Jaipur. It’s also known as the Pink City, due to the walls of the old city being painted. There was an amazing view from the Fort and the palace was covered with jewels and mirrors. Our guide later took us to a gem cutting factory and jewellery store, as many precious stones come from Jaipur, as well as a textile factory where we saw prints being made. When we separated from our guide, we went in search of a post office to send some cards. While Yasmin and I joined the ridiculously long queues, Claire waited outside and got chatting to a man who said he had a wife in Cambridge and he was originally from Hampi. He showed us little passport photos of his wife and his daughter. He then told us that he would take us to his shop in the old city. We wanted to go there anyway, so we got into a rickshaw with him. When we reached the old city, it was raining heavily, and a police officer jumped into the front of our rickshaw. It turned out that our driver didn’t have a license. We considered hopping out at this point, but for some reason, we waited to see how it would all pan out. The officer let our driver get away with a bribe and our friend from the post office told us that we were just five minutes from his store. Almost half an hour later, we weren’t there and were starting to get annoyed. We tried to ask him to turn around and started thinking that we were idiots for going with him. However, by the time we reached the store, it actually turned out to be really nice. A little more expensive than we’d hoped, but I got to try on a sari, drink lots of complementarymasala chai and bought a really nice top for about £3.50 as well as five silk scarfs, for half the price that they cost in Bangalore.