MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We had a wonderful last few days in Phi Phi kayaking and hiking before heading back to Bangkok for our flight to Delhi. We arrived in Delhi late in the evening, met the Buchanans at the airport, and headed to our hotel – Absolute luxury compared to what we had been used to, but nothing compared to where we are now! The next day was a whirlwind tour of this incredible city. First stop was Humayan’s Tomb who was the second Moghul ruler of India. His wife constructed the tomb for him after his tragic death falling down the stairs! It was absolutely amazing and surrounded by a beautiful garden – Ben’s already agreed to build me one 😉 (Ben says: Actually, Jackie should build me one!) We spent the rest of the day seeing all the other historical sights of delhi, including a sikh temple where we all had to wear head scarfs.
The next morning we made a quick trip to the gym before heading to the airport for a flight to Udaipur, the city of lakes and venice of the east according to the locals. Unfortunately, the plane was delayed and ended up not being a direct flight so we missed our planned lake boat ride. Nevertheless, it was amazing when we did get there! We were staying in a palace on the Lake Pichola called Fateh Prakesh which was in the same complex as the big city palace, and the King’s residence.
The city palace was amazing, as were the views of the lake, as well as the lake palace which is right in the middle of the lake, and was used in the James Bond movie ‘Octopussy’. Upon arriving at the hotel, after a bit of confusion about our plans for the evening, it was finally established that we had all prepaid for the Christmas Eve Gala Dinner, which was held in a courtyard in the city palace, and the king was attending. Despite our initial reservations about a big dinner party, we all had a wonderful night. The decorations were outstanding, with flowers lining every path, and even the inside of our table umbrella. Also, they had a dance floor, but instead of performers and traditional indian music, we listened to pop and hip hop all night as we danced the evening away. TK even showed us his rendition of the Soulja Boy dance in the middle of the fountain!
Christmas day we all awoke to beautiful views over the lake, and headed out for our day of sightseeing. We started by visiting a public garden that used to be a private royal family garden. While looking around, Jackie was approached by an indian family for photos with all of them, and even some videoing before being introduced to all of them like she was a celebrity! It’s amazing how novel blonde hair is here! From there we headed out to some of the incredible temples in the area. The first was called Nagda, and was everyones favourite – it was no longer in use since it was desecrated in one of the many empire changes over the years. Since it is no longer a holy site, you can wander freely examining the amazingly intricate carvings on all of the walls and roofs! From Nagda, we went to another temple called Eklingji, which was in use and quite crowded but very interesting to see. After the temples, we headed back to the city and stopped for lunch at an indian restaurant in the grounds of the Royal Family’s car collection. Lunch was a delicious traditional meal of thali, where lots of small dishes come served in little bowls on a big plate.
After lunch the site seeing continued, with a tour of the grand city palace, where we learnt about the history of the Mewar Empire. In true Buchanan style though we ended the tour early to go and do some shopping in the nearby bazaar. My storm parents, John and Shirley, were also visiting Udaipur from Lake Tahoe, so at 4.30 we were back at the hotel to meet them and rush off for a spectacular boat ride around the lake, followed by a tour of the Crystal Museum. The museum shows off a huge collection of crystal furniture, plates, cups, cutlery and many other pieces that you wouldn’t dream of ordering in crystal. The collection was ordered by a Mewar King who died the night the order was delivered, so it all sat unopened for 100 years for fears of associated bad luck. The current King finally opened the boxes and put all of the crystal on display! Dinner that night was on the Sunset Terrace on top of our hotel over looking the lake which was stunning, and the food was delicious.
Yesterday morning it was on the road again. First a quick stop to see John and Shirley’s luxurious hotel, the Udai Villas, and then on to a village that was made to showcase traditional indian living. From there we headed to our next destination which, luckily, was only 45 minutes away. Our next destination was one of the highlights of the trip – an old fort/palace called Devi Garh that has been converted into a beautiful hotel. We’ll put up pictures of Devi Garh when we get a chance because it is hard to explain just how amazing it is! (In the mean time, have a look at their site) After arriving we quickly walked around the hotel, which included looking over the walls down at the village where children waved from the roof tops. It felt as if we were Royals looking over our people! The afternoon then consisted of relaxing by the pool and having a swim, as well as a family game of croquet on one of the lawns. It was great to fit some relaxation in to our busy schedule. This morning we’re heading off again for more sightseeing and then on to another city!
We’ll keep you all posted on our adventures when we can!
Have a look at the photos of Udaipur!
Ben and Jackie