Welcome 2008! Happy New Year from Jaipur!

New Year’s 08 Newspaper
We’ve had quite an exciting trip since our last post and as you can see from the above photo from today’s paper, the Indian paparazzi were out in full force for our VIP appearance at the Sheraton Rajputana’s New Years Eve Gala in Jaipur where we are now! Keiren, TK, Ben and I were even out numbered on the dance floor by these guys trying to snap photos – definitely got a taste of the celeb life! Thanks Dad for the hair…it’s been quite an attraction here in Rajasthan! Last night was a lot of fun and it was wonderful to ring in the New Year in another new city with all of us dancing the night away. Upon arriving at the Sheraton here in Jaipur yesterday we found that we had prepaid for the New Year’s Eve Party so decided we might as well go along. It started off slow – We were about the first to arrive despite being almost 30 minutes late, however as the night progressed it got busier and we had a lot of fun. Ben, TK, Keiren and I spent most of the night on the dance floor, winning lots of prizes and generally having a great time. 🙂

Back to what we’ve been up to since the last blog: After we left the luxurious Devi Garh we began our journey to Deogarh Mahal with a must see stop at the Jain temple in Ranakpur. Siena arranged for us to receive a blessing, known as a Puja, from the High Priest there. The blessing was powerful with his amazing voice and the most piercing eyes that I swear saw straight into your soul. The temple had 1,441 marble pillars – none of which were carved the same. It was truly extraordinary and you’ll have to see the photos to really understand the ancient awe-inspiring carvings. We hit the road to Deogarh – another renovated palace. Passed on through the family for generations, the palace was opened 11 years ago as a hotel. Each room had its own special touches and we lucked out with an amazing double room with a sitting room and gorgeous marble pillars. It reminded me of a Mexican inspired ranch house inside of an antique palace.

After a special night there we all jumped in the van and headed to Osian for our camel safari. The camp was built amongst the sand dunes and couldn’t be seen from the road but our permanent tents were much more luxurious than we’d expected. We headed straight out for our sunset camel ride. It was so much fun! We had dinner, watched traditional dancing, and then headed back to the ‘lodge’ with the owners for a bit of indian ‘old monk’ whiskey! Quite the experience.

Jodhpur was our next stop and we relaxed our first day with massages, sunning, and Siena and I had our hands “Henna’d.” That night we met up with Ben’s storm parents, John and Shirley, for dinner which was wonderful. The next morning after a sunrise yoga class we headed to the Mehrangarh Fort, and then the clock tower markets to preview some ‘Hermes’ shawls.

Our 7 hour journey the next day to Jaipur breezed by allowing time for us to check out the silver and semi precious gemstones Jaipur is known for. After meandering our way through numerous streets, alley ways that seemed only to lead to other alley ways, and literally thousands of people we made it to the store recommended to us by some friends. After a few purchases 😉 we began the adventure back to our car. It was at times overwhelming but the ultimately exciting energy took over and I really experienced the life of the city and the rich culture of these people.

Today was an early start after a late night. We headed out to the Amber fort, City Palace, and the ancient observatory. Tomorrow we’re off to Ranthambore to stay on a Tiger Reserve…and well…see some tigers!

Wishing you good luck, best wishes, and love for the New Year,
Jackie and Ben

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