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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

INSTEAD OF YOUR MORNING NEWSPAPER

Traveling around India - investigating the local sites, discovering the culture and annoying the natives.



MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION FOR UDAIPUR

Hotel Hill Lake - 16 rooms. For two people, the deluxe is 1200 RS, the super delux is 2000 and the standard is 1000. They have wifi in the rooms but unkindly charge 200 RS for 24 hours, 300 RS for 48 hours. Past the breakfast the menu gets very pricey - you'll be spending 200 RS per meal. I got a look inside one of the rooms. Honestly, they didn't look like anything special - certainly not different enough to warrant the heavy charges. That just reinforces the opinion some people have more money than sense. The main thing you are paying for there is the view - and you don't get to see it all that often. Ironically, this place had difficulty making change for a 500 RS note!

Janta Medical Store - 37 Ashwini Marg. Excellent spoken English. Good place to pick up any medicines you'll need.

Liquor store near 7 Karmantri Sadan, I/S Chand Pole, Opposite Nagar Parished Office.

Lonely Planet correction: According to their information, Bawachi Restaurant had 55 RS Thali. This is untrue - they have no Thyali.

'Cool Restaurant' review:
Ordered - mineral water (15RS), Chicken Curry (95RS), Chapati Butter x2 (10RSx2), Plain Rice (40RS) - total, 170 RS and it wasn't very good. Upper class meal prices, moderately trashy restaurant.



UDAIPUR THOUGHTS

The 'city coolness' was about the same as Jodhpur ended up being but Udaipur costs more. There aren't any cheap restaurants and the accommodations aren't anything special. The guy at the guest house I was staying at was super nice and helpful - but they didn't have wifi which I like for so many reasons. Hence, it wasn't a place I wanted to stay indefinably. I don't recommending budgeting much time for this city. If you are into having continuous internet, this city will piss you off. The only places that have real wifi (in your rooms, no extra charge) are mid-range (ie seriously over priced) hotels. If just one savvy business owner set up wifi in his guest house, he'd be the king.

Since my bus ticket to Jodhpur was only 200 RS, I was happy to have the guy at the Nukkad guest house book it. I caught the tuk tuk (50 RS) over to a 'bus station' (two offices that sold bus tickets) I'd never seen before. The one I hadn't had my ticket booked through was open. Despite speaking excellent English the guy working it was of the 'pain in the ass' variety to the point where I asked him if he was going out of his way to be unhelpful. I ended up sitting with a group of super cool other tourists waiting as the street cleaners set piles of paper and plastic on fire. Dawn eventually came. With a lot of tourists I've not seen of since I boarded the bus and off we went to Jodhpur.



JODHPUR

When I got to Jodhpur, I had several hours of daylight left. I'd written down three different places culled from the out of date and sadly misleading Lonely Planet. The first one that was closest to the but station not appearing on the Lonely Planet maps was the mispelled 'Cosy Guest House'. It was a nightmare of hills and stairs to get to it. When I got there, it was sadly overpriced. The tuk tuk driver wanted to take me to the Sarvar guest house. I'd gotten worn down enough to accept. Damned stairs. It turned out that the Sarvar guest house was just what I wanted. I've been living here for the last few (3? 4?) days. They've generously given me a 600 RS huge room and charged 500 RS then the next day 400 RS - since 400 RS was my budget. It has wifi in the room and more space than I know what to do with.

Getting a few gigs of videos uploaded in India certainly isn't easy but you'll get to see the fruits of that labor in the video section of this blog - for better or worse.

Fortunately, Jodhpur isn't a 'holy city'. Although a lot of Indian shopkeepers deny even having plastic bags until I stress I want it also for reuse if it is of clear material. More of the 'lying' thing from them. I meanwhile slowly build my clear plastic bag collection. Soon, I will be able to start replacing old ones. Not having to open up a bunch of bags to see what is inside is a good thing. There are also stores at which one may purchase alcohol.



MV SPICES

The sharp eyed owner of MV Spices saw I was writing stuff down and invited me into his spice shop for tea. Normally, it is a really bad idea to take anything to eat or drink from someone you don't know. However, I had divined his motive - he wanted advertising. So, I went to his shop. Since I was in India, I may as well see one spice shop. They have over 70 different types of spices and have been written about in various guidebooks and newspapers. He sold spices in pre-measured bags. As an interesting touch, on the back of each bag was a recipe for the spice in question. It may not be what you had bought the spice for but lo, here was yet another use for it. For example, on the back of the cinnamon bag was how to make pudding with cinnamon. [Yes, I did just use 'lo' in a sentence. How about 'dat shit'?] According to the owner, a lot of spice vendors put oils or perfumes into their spices to make them smell more strongly. Here, not. In general, 200g of spices seemed to go for about 250 RS. The cleanliness of the store impressed me. The owner also had me taste the tea but I explained that I was a smoker thus immune to the subtle tastes.

So, go there if you'd like to get hold of some spices!



THE FORTRESS

Judging by the locals facial expressions, it had been a long long time since a foreigner had worked their way up to the back door. I'd done it by generally being lost and just making my way in the most direct fashion to the fortress. By the time I got to this huge thing built into the cliff side, the urge to purchase the expensive ticket had completely left me. The daily allowance is a scant 1000 RS - giving up nearly a third to see a fortress when I was already physically drained did not appeal. After you've seen a couple fortresses, they all start to look the same. Generally, the external grandeur is more interesting than the cramped head threatening rooms within.



ORIENTATION WITHIN THE CITY OF JODHPUR

Within the old quarter is the clock tower. This is the single most important landmark. Around the clock tower are the old city walls as well as the gates. Note that early in the morning, some more recently erected fences and such are closed and full access isn't possible into this area. I don't know why.

West of the clock tower and out of the gate is roughly where I am staying. There are several guest houses in this area.

South of the clock tower is the main street. It is here that you can find shops like MV Spices, the 'hole in the wall' restaurant I eat at and a deep fry place I attempt to avoid.

The other directions don't contain a lot that is special yet - just more of what I term the 'mad street life of India'.

Jodhpur is big enough that a good map is important if you show up to look around. Or, just find tuk tuk drivers who can speak better English and get them to drive you to where you need to go. Generally, they'll try to get 100-150 RS off of gullible tourists. You can get by with half if you know how to bargain.



INTERESTING INDIAN CUSTOMS AND FOLKWAYS

INDIA HOURS

Although this country isn't 'officially' on the clock, it has hours. The roar of traffic and people generally subsides around midnight. Somewhere between 5AM to 7AM, people will begin to yell and honk at each other. By about 10AM the store are mostly open though some don't open until the afternoon.


ROOM CLEANLINESS

If the room has been swept however badly with a straw broom and clean sheets may (or may not) be on the beds, the room is considered 'clean'. You may still find trash left over from previous occupants and such. The rooms here wouldn't approach 'clean' standards in Europe or even in parts of SE Asia. I asked a guest house owner why that was and he told me 'good help is hard to find'. Apparently, even in a country with billions of people. I'm not sure how the cleanliness is at the more expensive places - this is just for the 'low end' stuff. The general cost of the 'low end' stuff is about 3-15 USD per night. The mid range is approximately 20-100 USD per night but I'm always baffled when people drop that kind of money for India. You can stay anywhere in the world for that kind of money.


LYING IN INDIA

Remember in an earlier blog entry where I had the conversation with the shop keeper about honesty? It is sporadic at best here - and even on easily check-able stuff. For example, I've had many guest house owners/managers tell me that wifi is indeed available in the rooms. This often turned out to be complete bullshit. If you want to make sure you often have to ask questions like 'is it free' and 'what is the wifi password'. When you ask those questions, suddenly it is revealed that it is not indeed in the rooms, only hooked to an ancient computer. I believe the reason for this might be that many people have the 'get the money now' philosophy rather than the 'if you give good customer service you get money'. Kind of sad and it keeps you on your guard constantly.


BEGGING

When I first got here and saw a woman with a baby begging, my first thought was 'isn't that tragic'. I know that some women like to borrow babies from other women to increase their take but it still touches a cord of wishing they weren't in a bad way. After being subjected to weeks of beggars including the grabby ones, my opinion has gone from that to 'So, you like to fuck - why do I have to be bothered with your upkeep?' It is a definite hardening of attitudes on my part. I'm not totally happy with it. Perhaps it is some sort of internal shifting to defend myself against the little guilt I might have had for being able to afford to eat. In my case, it is obvious I could afford to eat well. Very obvious. Some of the beggars are very insistent and present yet another obstacle to traveling - like the cow shit.


ALCOHOL STORES

These are kind of strange places. In most countries, you merely purchase the alcohol and carry it off to drink. Here, you can stand around and drink it. The drinkers seem to be a fairly depressed lot, standing around and just getting hammered. It's also a pretty small minority of people here that actually drink - or at least let themselves get spotted drinking by the strange foreigner.


CHILD LABOR

I constantly see kids of all ages - from age five on up - working in various businesses. Not a clue if they go to school or if it is even compulsory here. Most kids work in their family business. If your parents own a restaurant, you will be waiting on the table of the fat white guy - or giving it what passes for a cleaning here. It would suck if you didn't like what your parents did for a living.


MCDONALDS AND SCHOOLING

Much to my surprise, I discovered a McDonalds out in the city of Jodhpur. I was further surprised to find that several classes worth of school children (grade schoolers) seemed to be parked here for a few hours. Why, I do not know. They were all watching the TV at McDonalds. I suppose it is good to see the young easily programmed minds of India's youth being programmed with Americanism.


METAL DETECTORS

While in India, I've gone through two metal detectors at the urging of the security guards. I beeped. It could be due to the metal within my bag in the form of a knife. Both times after beeping, I was waved through without a bag or body search. What is the purpose of a metal detector? Does it have some mystical way of knowing if I have a gun? Do I need to be carrying an assault rifle to actually get searched? It's a bit confusing as to why they insist on using them then ignore the results.



TRAVELERS LORE

Indonesia is dirt cheap. Cheaper than India.

Philippines are about the same prices as India. Like Mexico in Asia. They also have the biggest garbage mound in the world. Palawi - last stretch of the Philippines not to be deforested. Get out of Manila (the capital city).

To get to and into the Taj Mahal, 750 RS. Other travelers have reported feelings of disappointment when seeing it so it's not high on my list right now. It's a "I'll see it when I see it" thing.



BOOK REVIEW

American Gods - Neil Gaimon. An interesting book. At times, I felt a bit frustrated with the protagonist as I knew thins he didn't. Like where the days of the week came from and so on. Yes, it is hard to believe that a lot of people are completely clueless about such things but here we are. The book was a decent read.



BUNDI VIDEOS

Open Sewers
250 rupee room
Maya Hospital 1
Maya Hospital 2
Fortress 1
Fortress 2
Fortress 3
Fortress 4
Fortress 5
Fortress 6
Fortress 7
Fun with electricity
Yet more fun with electricity
Bundi outskirts
Eighty Four Pillars
More Pillars
Queens Private Bath
Summer Palace of the King
Lake Path
Ummaid Bagh Resorts 1
Ummaid Bagh Resorts 2
Childs 1st birthday



UDAIPUR VIDEOS

Udaipur First Glance
The Palace
Udaipur Traffic Jam
Hotel Hill Lake Restaurant view
My Room



JODHPUR VIDEOS

TJ Mode
Jaswant Thada 1
Jaswant Thada 2
Jaswant Thada 3
Smoking View
Logan Makes Strange Noises



KEYWORDS FOR THIS BLOG

What are the top 'Search Keywords' used to find this blog? In order, from most used to least with my comments in parenthesis:
dogs playing poker (what the hell? Really?), logan's voyage, logans voyage, dead hooker (thank you Matt L), lawrence of arabia (weird), dead hookers, top secret cover sheet (very strange), samuel solow (not sure who this is), dead prostitutes, impatient (and also strange).



PRICES

Cheap Thali at my new 'cheap spot', 50 RS.

Very small cake, 10 RS.

Random candy off of the candy store to see 'what the hell is this', tourist price is from 10-30 RS.

Gypsy - fancy all you can eat Thali place, 175 RS. Note, this is one of those places that squeezes a few rupees more out of you for 'service tax'.

Alcohol, hip flask size (whiskey or rum) 70 RS, small bottle around 350 RS, brand name (Captain Morgans) 700 RS. The alcohol isn't that expensive but there is nothing clearly cheaper than other stuff - whiskey and rum are fairly reasonable.

McChicken meal (pre selected drink, shitty fries, not good sandwich), 141 RS. Made me feel lethargic and a little sick for the rest of the day. So much for nostalgia.

Raj Kachori (food). Several different textures - milk - very spicy. Weird. When I ate it, I classified it as 'tasty, wild shit I hope doesn't make my ass explode later'; 42 RS.

Hotel Priya and Restaurant - good place to eat. Rooms listed on menu at 400 - 800 RS (single) though I've never seen them.

Jodhpur fortress admission, 300 RS.

Jal wati - two different sauces, one is chili. You get two round bread balls. These are crumbled and the sauces added along with onions. 40 RS.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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