The next morning started with us eating fresh mango for breakfast and all sitting around to talk about the upcoming activities for the day. Then, the excitement began even before we had left the hotel: because I found my phone!!!!!! It turned out that it was actually just in the bottom of the laptop pouch of my backpack, not somewhere in the Himalayas. I was so shocked, but it was a great way to start my day.
Our first stop of our busy day in Jaipur was a place called Hawa Mahal. This translates to “Palace of the Winds”, and it is made out of beautiful pink sandstone. Jaipur is actually called “The Pink City”, and this is an example of why. We took pictures of this lovely structure, and then moved on to our next activity.
The Amber Fort was our next stop of the day. We trekked up the marble paths to the fort, and explored for a few minutes then waited for our tour guide to meet us. We were then given a looong, boring tour around the fort in the hot sun. Even though the tour was boring, though, it was still great to see the fort because it was absolutely beautiful. After our tour we got to look around a bit more on our own, and then we stopped at a small shop called Café Coffee Day within the fort where we rested our feet and enjoyed cold coffee drinks with each other. This café was like an oasis in the desert because of how hot and tired we all were from walking around the fort for the past few hours.
For our last stop before lunch, we went to the Jaipur City Palace. Before even going in, we got to see a street performer who was a snake charmer outside, which was really interesting. Then, we went inside and got to explore. I walked around to different shops and talked to owners, and did my best at haggling. One shopkeeper let me have pants at 50% price if I would give him “a gift from America,” so I went through my bag and found a small bottle of Victoria’s Secret Perfume, which I gave to him and he said smelled “beautiful”. After I finished haggling, I went to explore more of the palace and complete my Cultural Geography on-assignment task for the day. We were told a few different options for tasks for the day, but I chose to complete the one I liked the best: to ask people a story about their religion.
Since I am a ginger with pale skin, red hair, and blue eyes, I looked radically different than almost everyone around me. This led to many people wanting to take pictures of or with me, which I always allowed because I thought it was funny. Eventually though, I started asking people for money (mostly as a joke) when they’d ask to take pictures with me. On this day, a few 20-something year old guys asked to take a picture with me, so I covered my face and yelled for 100 rupees. I kept lowering the price as they kept trying to take pictures, and eventually we drew a crowd around us. When I realized they weren’t going to pay, I said “Fine! I’ll take pictures with you if you tell me a story about your religion!” which really confused them, but they complied. Since it turned out none of them were religious, they called upon another stranger to tell a story that one of the guys transcribed into my journal while the others took pictures with me, all while the crowd was still watching and taking even more photos. It was such a fun experience!
After this whole event, I explored a little more and then left with my group to go to lunch at a strange restaurant downtown, which most of our group did not enjoy (but I thought was pretty good). After lunch there was even more to explore in the city…