Hello all from Udaipur (ew-dai-poor), somewhere in Rajasthan, India. Udaipur is known as the Lake City, due to the 7 man made lakes in the city’s interior.

What’s been happening since my last post? My Delhi Belly has gotten better, and Mum’s may have started. Two of our group left this morning for a stint in Goa, and the rest of us fly back to Delhi tonight.

We spent one fairly horrendous day on the bus (about 9 hours), immediately after a long day (eight hours) on the bus. Basically, mum’s worst nightmare. Me, I have an iPod and can read on the bus. Her? She’s staring at the desert and the oncoming trucks barreling towards us at unbelievable speeds (or so they seem when your bus and the truck are heading towards each other on a single lane road – one lane in total, not one in each direction).

What did we see those days? Some roadkill, a lovely fort/palace combo in Jodphur, an enormous Jain temple that looked a lot like Angkor Wat on the outside and something fantastically carved on the inside.

We left our driver (Mr Singh, who warmed up to us when we started applauding each time he pulled off another miraculous save) and his helper (Babaloo) here in Udaipur. Babaloo we think doesn’t earn much money (he’s basically there to help the bus back up, park, and change gears while going up a mountain – no joke, it’s his job to find a big stone, shove it behind the back wheel, and then run to catch up to the bus as it slowly changes gears and moves uphill). However, Babaloo has a booming side business in drinks. He sells the water, pop and beer for the bus, and around a 100% markup. Smart man. We’re paying less than $1 for water and pop, and he’s making about 30 cents on each transaction.

Our first night at the hotel in Udaipur (Lake Pichola) was … disastrous. We got stuck in the sewer room. Yes, a room that smelled like a sewer. Mum was up all night, I was stuffed up and didn’t smell much after that (but snored like a buzzsaw, apparently, thus contributing to my roommate’s sleeplessness). We changed rooms the next morning by 9am, thank god. The old room’s bathroom was so gross I couldn’t force myself to shower in it. And I really needed to shower.

Yesterday was my favourite day of the trip. First we went to a miniature painting workshop, where we all got little tiny single hair brushstroke paintings on one nail. Mine is a blue camel. Mum’s is a blue elephant with a red blanket. Then we went on a tour of yet another palace, this one being set up for a royal wedding happening in town right now. The wedding is three days long. The first day was at the Lake Palace, the second day (yesterday) was at the Lake Recreation Pavilion, and tonight is at the City Palace. They’re all within a kilometre of each other, by boat. Very swank.

After the city palace we had some lunch, and walked around town for a while. Then we had a one hour boat ride of Lake Pichola, in perhaps the dodgiest looking boat I’ve seen in at least a few years. It’s a lovely lake though.

After that I had a nap (I needed one!) and then we headed to the “cultural show”. When I say “cultural show” doesn’t that make you want to stab your own eyes out? Yeah, me too. Especially when I saw were were sitting on benches. Kill me now. But, it was actually pretty fantastic. There were about 8 women who did different kinds of indian dances, some holy men possessed by the spirit of the goddess (dudes, they were pickng up hot coals with their teeth – s’all I’m saying), and the ubiquitous drum and windbox accordion thingy playing. It was really quite amazing. Mum was sitting in front of me, and she was swaying in her seat and nodding her head the whole time. It was a lot like going to the Messiah with my dad!

Today we have a free day until 3PM (it’s around 9:30 now). We’re going to stroll the streets of Udaipur. Mum’s going to negotiate on a painting that she really wants. And we’re going to have a leisurely lunch after checking out of our room. Tonight (around 9PM), we’ll get to Delhi. Mum’s airport transfer is at around 7AM tomorrow morning, and mine is at 8PM. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but have a sneaking suspicion that some shopping will be involved.

Looking forward to going home, but will miss my mum as she stays on in India. Pictures to follow when I get back!

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