Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Asian Adventure: Day 35 and 36 Attack of the Lassi

Day 35 Jaipur

Sure enough by the next morning Dave was sick. Not wanting to waste the day, he took some drugs and we headed off to the Amber Fort.

The Amber Fort is a massive yellow stone fort located high on the hills over Jaipur. From the road you can either walk up several hundred stairs to the fort entrance or take a leisurely elephant ride - unfortunately the guidebooks warn the treatment of the elephants is suspect and Dave did not want to have to make an emergency evacuation from the elephant - so we opted to walk. I still enjoyed seeing all of the brightly painted elephants mosey their way up the road.

The Amber Fort was built in 1592. The complex was a maze of sunny courtyards, stately halls, winding hallways, tight stairs and narrow ramps. We spent hours getting lost and exploring every last corner. Of all of the forts I would have to say this was our favourite - maybe because it was the only one we saw on a sunny day - mostly because the amount of detail that has been preserved/restored in the murals and mosaics.

Ancient washroom

Water lifting system

Water lifting system

Dave was such a trouper and managed to hold out till mid-afternoon. But by 3:00 PM he was exhausted so we hailed an auto-rickshaw back to our hotel, ordered room service - ginger ale for Dave and biryani for me - and spent the rest of the evening watching movies in bed.

Day 36 Jaipur and Sanganer

The next morning, Dave was better but still not well. Despite having taken Durcoral before the trip, I woke up stricken with the bug as well - although thankfully I was not as sick as Dave. It would take almost four weeks for us both to recover fully - all over an innocent lassi!

Considering I had lost my shopping day in Nepal due to our travel delays, we decided to use our last day in Jaipur to the search of souvenirs. I knew I wanted block printed fabrics so we enquired at the hotel where the best stores were - the manager did not know so he phoned his mom who recommended that we head to the village of Sanager on the outskirts of the city. The manager arranged for an auto-rikshaw to drive us around for the day and off we went.

The first place the driver took us was to a company called Sakshi that specializes in the traditional Jaipur handicrafts of block printing and pottery. We got to tour the studio where they were doing the block printing. It is such an amazing process - all of the dyes are natural, made from ancient family recipes and the artisans spend lifetimes perfecting their placements.

Master block print artist
Block print fabrics




We even got to try our hand at our own elephant block print.

Red outline and green fill

Purple fill

Red fill

Green border

Next we got to tour their pottery studio where they make the famous Jaipur blue pottery. Again the entire process is done by hand with all the colours being made naturally from stones and minerals.

Forming bowls


Hand painting

Of course after touring the workshop they take you to the gift shop where I bought myself a set of four salad bowls, a large serving bowl and a whole bunch of Christmas presents.

After Sakshi, the driver took us to several other block print fabric stores, a paper studio where all the paper is handmade out of fabric scraps and a jewelry store. I think it may have worked out quite well that Dave was sick because he was quite happy to sit outside and chat with the driver leaving me free to shop to my hearts content. Despite a full day of shopping, I only ended up buying a quilt and a set of place mats from Anokhi. The taxi driver bought Dave one of the alum shaving stone like the local barbers use - Dave was quite ecstatic with his souvenir. It was quite the challenge to get it all re-packed once we returned to the hotel at the end of the day to catch our train.

At 5:00 PM, we made our way to the train station and surprisingly our train to Delhi was ON TIME! I guess one out of three is not a bad record. We caught the Amjer Shatabdi Express which got us into Delhi shortly before 11:00 PM. We made our way to the hotel - this time knowing to walk right past the taxi drivers trying to scam us - making one stop at the cookie vendor along the way. 

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