On the way to Jaipur, we stopped at a place called, "annoying temple". Actually, that's not its real name, shockingly, but I can't remember what it's called and so have dubbed it thus in my mind. Soon I'll look it up, but for now... Okay, looked it up. It's called Fatehpur Sikri. And it's not a temple. Not overall. It's the "former imperial capital of the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar," but WE were in the little temple/tombs area. And we didn't even go to the palace.
Anyway, it was foggy and beautiful. There were so many steep stairs up to the entrance. It was only annoying because soooo many people tried to get us to buy things, and they were very...annoying... about it. We buy as much junk as we can, truthfully. Well, you know. We try to balance out not buying too much "junk" and buying enough to help out the sellers here and there. Anyway, we bought some stuff, and some stuff we didn't, and those people just would NOT leave us alone. Well, eventually they would sigh disgustedly and walk off, making us feel like jerks. And then. Sigh. We knew better, we did... one nice fellow attached himself to us inside the gates and, even though we told him over and over that we didn't want a guide, insisted he would show us around for free. Yeah, right. We knew there was a catch, but we honestly couldn't shake him. He was really nice, but did eventually lead us to a little corner where his "family" marble goods were set out. They, shockingly, looked EXACTLY like all the other marble elephants and boxes and candle holders that everyone else's families had lovingly carved. People think we're suckers, because we're American and nice. They are so wrong. We shut down when someone tries to sucker us like that and no matter how much they fawn over our kids, we're not paying triple for a paperweight. We did buy a couple of things, but for good prices.
The temple, though... that was beautiful! Several goats were just hanging out on the steps up. Bran and Nuala really liked them, especially the ones wearing sweaters. This one is not, obviously, wearing a sweater, but they liked him, too.
Just look at that.
Bran took this picture. Hmmm, I wonder what he could have been looking at? Answer: the guns.
A cool lattice-work marble wall somewhere inside. Very pretty.
A pig family hanging out.
Riding the tuk-tuk back down towards our van.The food cart we stopped at. This stuff was really good, and really cheap. When we went back to the van and told Casey, our driver who was waiting there, what we'd had, he was shocked. "I don't even eat at those places! They will make even me sick!" he said. Oh. BUT, we did not get sick. So there! Well, we (Z) did, but not until a couple of days later and almost certainly from the hotel's papaya.
Jaipur! They call it "the Pink City," because, well, the walls are pink...ish.One night while we were there (we were there for 3 nights, I think?) we took the kiddos to a cultural-type park place, called Chokhi Dhani. There were rides and performances and a dinner, etc. Here are Bran and Nuala riding the man-powered ferris wheel. As the wheel goes around, this fellow will dangle by his arms, pulling it a bit harder with his hanging weight. Then when his feet are on the ground, he runs as fast as he can, getting it going more and then hops on. Maeve and I rode it, too. Worked fine and dandy!
N and B on the camel. Poor Nuala. She reminded us afterwards that Bran got to be in front the last time they rode a camel. Life is so unfair.
Maeve and I riding the other camel. Maeve LOVED it. Even today, a month-and-a-half later, she still talks about it. Seriously, literally today. She's said at LEAST 4 times, "My ride a camel with Mommy!" and then usually that's followed by, "it be weally fun!" or "it be weally big!" So, yeah. That camel made quite the impression. Camels are cool.
We went to Amer Palace... Or "Fort." Apparently, the British folk called them "forts," and the Indians called them "palaces." It was up on top of a hill... and I see we have no really good pics of it up there. Just take my word for it. Or google it. Aha! I just copied a picture from Wikipedia, from a fellow named Michael Hoefner. This is the view of it as you drive along the road by the river. Also, it's sometimes called the "Amber Palace." I think "Amer" sounds better... more Indian. so, that's what we call it.
We waited for about 15 minutes in the elephant-riding line. Some of us didn't wait in line, but frolicked and lounged about on the grass.
Nuala, Maeve, and me on our elephant. We rode in those little box things. It would be cool to just ride an elephant bareback one day, but this was fun, too. This was very touristy. A whole line of elephants (just females, because the males get too irritated and aggressive. And the females are all only allowed to do four trips up and back to the fort, to keep them happy.), just moseying up the hill, dropping their riders off. But it was fun, and the kids loved it!
Bran and Zachariah, heading out... look at Bran's face! He was really, really excited. Their elephant's name was Lateemay Baby (surely spelled differently, but that's how it's pronounced), and Bran sure loved her.
Sigh. It's so hard to say goodbye.
In the courtyard where the elephants dropped us off.Up in the fort, lookin' down. I just like their little matching pigtails. And look! Their little ponytail holders actually match their shirts! That is rather rare.
Looking down on the courtyard.The garden. This was a really fun fort/palace to run around. Lots of places to explore. Bran and Nuala even found a bottle of pee! Well, it totally looked like that, we didn't actually investigate further to confirm it...
Fun walls to walk along, too. Poor Maeve was taking this very seriously, and was ticked when Bran and Nuala hopped on. They obviously did not respect The Wall like she did.
Monkeys hanging out at the fort.
On the way back to Jaipur, we stopped to look at this palace, out in the middle of a lake. Someone lives there still.Oh! This place! In our picture folders, I have dubbed it the "cool place," since I can't remember its name exactly. Looking it up, Z tells me that it is: The Royal Gaitor, and it's a funerary complex... marble mausoleums of the ruling family of Jaipur. A long time ago. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and we loved it. We were alone most of the entire time.
See the monkey behind Bran? See the steps behind Bran? Well. About 5 minutes before this picture, Nuala, Maeve and I headed up those steps to get a closer look at a mommy monkey and her baby. Not too close, mind you, but closer. The mama monkey did not think that was cool, and started screeching. That monkey behind Bran must have been the daddy, or her bodyguard, or something, because he came galloping along the wall, running down along the steps, screaming bloody murder at us. It was quite scary. Two thoughts flashed through my mind: 1. Ack! My face is going to get ripped off by this guy! and 2. I really don't want to be bitten by a wild (though really I wouldn't want a tame one to munch me either) monkey in India. I'm sure many shots would be involved. Though I would prefer that to my face being ripped off, it's true. I wasn't worried about the girls, because obviously I would protect them (I AM awesome), plus I'm sure the monkey would feel most threatened by me (I AM huge, compared to Nuala, Maeve and the monkey). Anyway, I footballed Maeve, grabbed Nuala by the scruff of her neck and we raced down the stairs. Z was a bit confused, he said, because he just saw us high-tailing it down those skinny steps. Then he saw the monkey chasing us and understood.
Bran and Nuala got to stamp their own elephant at a textile factory. We asked Casey if he knew a place we could get a little dress or sari for the girls, and he brought us HERE. As soon as we pulled up, we felt ourselves droop. It was a big carpet place, with a little shop for clothes on top, and it was soooooo (of course) touristy. As usual, the guy is super nice and friendly, lets the kids do all this stuff, then boom! Into the big room with tons of carpets that cost way more than we ever plan on spending on a carpet. Plus, we didn't want a carpet. We aren't carpet people. We don't really care about them. We told him that, over and over (well, not that we "don't care about them." That would just be insulting, don't you think?), but it didn't stop him from saying, "but, if you WERE going to buy a carpet, which would it be?" etc., etc. Finally, as it was approaching 6:30pm, the kids were bouncing off the walls, and Z was just baaaaarely feeling the first twinges of the stomach bug that would be his constant companion for the next few weeks, the guy realized that we were not, in fact, going to buy a carpet, and up the stairs we went. We got a little outfit each for the girls, and neither has worn them since. I should go make them wear 'em. The little elephant-stamped fabric squares were my favorite part of the visit. I actually really like those.
We girls all got henna tattoos in Jaipur. It was fast, cheap, and pretty.Maeve stayed sooooo still for hers. It was amazing, how focused she was. Then about 72 teenage girls came by and all tried to hold her and take her picture. Then they saw the other two little blondies and went even more beserk. Then the henna lady asked us to leave. Really, she did. We were blocking the view to her business.
Here are our arms, while the henna was still drying. It's a paste, and she squeezed it on like it was icing, in bird and fish and abstract designs. It took about 20 minutes to dry, and then we picked/brushed it off.
While it was drying we went to Jantar Mantar, a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, from the 1700s. There were "fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars' location as the earth orbits around the sun," etc. It was an interesting place. It was hot. Here we are by something having to do with the sign of Leo. Since I'm a Leo, I thought I should stand by it. And Bran really likes lions. The henna is still a-drying.
Zac and Maeve stuck in the center of a picture-taking crowd again. Hehehee... :) I always found it way more humorous when HE was one who was captured with the kids. He tried to cut down on that by putting M on his shoulders. Then people couldn't try to hold her, but apparently they still wanted pics.
It was so cute... at one point at Jantar Mantar (isn't that fun to say? You know you like it.), Maeve only wanted Bran to hold her. She kept saying, "My hold you, Bran!" That's how she asks to be held: "My hold you!" He tried to oblige as much as he could.
One of the devices... for something...An elephant statue at Jaipur palace. Maeve was running out of steam. Well, out of nice steam. She had plenty of grumpy steam left.
Bran and his monkeys! He was always so excited about the monkeys. There's a monkey there to his right, and he and Nuala got to feed it! And get pretty close to it! I just didn't get a picture until afterwards. That was a pretty fulfilling monkey experience. Bran was happy.
Maeve was done being happy. As we walked back past the henna lady, she motioned us back over. She wanted pictures of Nuala and Maeve for her portfolio. And she gave them a free henna design on their other arms. She did not want my picture, and I did not get free henna. Nuala loved pointing that out to me, over and over. "Mommy, are you SAD that you did not get a free henna tattoo? And that she did not want your picture?!" she would say, giggling gleefully. She is such a sweetie. Anyway, Maeve was soooooo done. There are both her little henna-d arms. The one already picked off, and the other drying. I thought they'd be darker after they dried, and they did darken more than it appears, but not as dark as I thought they'd be. I bet it was fairly diluted, "tourist-version" henna. It was fun and pretty, though.
Oh, man...! Oh, UGH. Z was almost full-blown SICK by now, so what did he crave? A vanilla milkshake from McDonald's, the poor guy. The least Indian thing he could think of. So we just all got lunch there. The kids were excited to have something different (plus they got happy meals. Hello, toy!), and Z and I got these. The Chicken Maharaja Mac. They were the most disgusting things ever. And the milkshakes were NOT milkshakes. Well, they were milky. And a bit frothy. But poor Z... I'm pretty sure he about died from the disappointment, not to mention his poor stomach.
The pool at our hotel! This hotel was beautiful. And, like I said, it had a pool. Now, it was warm/hot in India, but not quite hot enough to enjoy swimming outside. Unless you're a four-almost-five-year-old. Even they didn't last all that long, but much longer than I wanted them to. They had a lot of fun in that cooold water.
There's Z, buying some stuff for his bug friend at a pharmacy. He was so sick. I almost had to take him to the hospital one night, but thank goodness he perked up a bit. That would have been a huge pain, in many ways.
A cheery group of truck-riders. They were totally staring into our van while we all waited in line at a toll booth. We got started at a lot. Well, the tiny blond ones, especially.
And that's that. We went back to Delhi, but that, my friend, is in the Delhi post. Anyway, there were ups and downs, but overall it was a good trip. Especially as time continues to dull the bad memories...aka, the horrible stomach issues. In fact, tonight Zac said, "Huh. I'm actually beginning to look back FONDLY on this..." Definite progress. I'm so thankful we have the opportunity to do all this traveling. It's really is a major perk of Z's job. Soooo, goodbye, India! See ya later! Maybe.