The White City. Romantic. City of Lakes.
We have hit the midpoint of our India adventure and it feels almost like the literal cresting of a peak. The wide open possibilities of our calendar have now been chopped into distinct remaining segments. We can feel the descending steps to the end.
Suddenly in Goa and Mumbai it was time to start planning backwards from the fixed point of Kevin’s arrival and figure out how much more we could/should do. Our original rough sketch had several weeks in Rajasthan, and because of the train lead times, it was time to make that real.
After blocking out several 4-5 day chunks, we found we had a few awkward days to spend. Not enough for an additional destination, too many to stick on the ends. (Oh, if we had just booked a flexible flight out of Mumbai…)
We were starting to feel the treadmill effect anyway, so we decided to extend Udaipur to 6 nights. This despite our research not turning up a compelling list of stuff to do and eat and drink there. Despite “Romantic” being one of the lowest appeal descriptors for us. “Quiet” and “laid back” came up often enough that we figured we could make do, even if we just hung out catching up the blog. And when we were able to get one of the 5 rooms in the 9.2 rated Peacock Paying Guest House where many reviews said they just wished they could stay longer, it seemed like the right decision.
Skip forward to our early morning arrival, weak and semi-delerious from a sleepless night of projectile vomiting in turns. Unable to appropriately acknowledge our host’s warm greetings, struggling to climb the endless stairs (for views you must climb, he laughed), we still managed to be duly impressed by the view, the balcony, the room and the quiet. It was immediately obvious that at the very least this was good place to recover.
Muna brought us water, and then we slept. We went down in search of plain vanilla biscuits and bread in the late afternoon, then slept again til morning.
It’s hard to describe the quiet of Lal Ghat. This tourist guest house ghetto rises over a 3 x 5 mile lake, with twisting lanes so tiny that even few motorbikes, scooters and tuktuks make their way through. So while densely packed, and not free from sounds, you are free from the honking, in a heavy sort of peace.
The next day we woke knowing we were through the worst of it, but still uneasy at the thought of eating or straying from our clean toilet. Between naps, we made brief forrays onto the balcony which we shared with a very kind semi-retired French cyclist couple who were busily packing up to return home after a month around Rajasthan. They shared good insights for our trip ahead, and general wisdom about India, as they had been coming on these annual adventures for many years.
Finally, by dinner we ventured out to a nearby rooftop restaurant for our first meal in 48 hours. Small enough to draw comment from our server, but tasty and it stayed down.
So thankful that we’d had extra days to waste, we began exploring Udaipur on day three. And our sense of peacefulness was completely shattered. The tiny twisting lanes all spill out onto a few quite narrow streets that are packed at all times with kamikaze scooters, motorbikes, tuktuks who don’t seem to care at all if they hit pedestrians. Even the normally nonplussed Indians scurry across and leap out of their skin when the horns blast behind them.
After short adventures out of our neighborhood, we found ourselves retreating to the guesthouse or a nearby rooftop to avoid the terrifying roads. We did manage to cross a bridge to the nearest island, and go explore the City Palace. We attended the cultural program we heard from our room every night at 7 and 8 – far more amateurish than we expected from a twice daily show…
But overall we were quite happy to hang about reading and writing and watching sunrises and sunsets.
Just the reset we needed to get us excited to explore Pushkar.