India: Oct 12: Traveling from Agra to Jaipur

As it turned out, the whole day was spent traveling to Jaipur.

We got up, had breakfast, and checked out of the hotel. As we did so, I asked the staff member who's given us many good tips and been really helpful to us about how to mail an international postcard. I expected to be able to give him some money and have him do it for me. Apparently not: he said it's effectively impossible to mail a letter from Agra, and that I should try some other city.

A cycle-rickshaw driver watched us as we negotiated with some auto rickshaws to take us to the bus station. We had packs. To explain why we weren't talking to him, we said, "I'm sorry; we can't go with you." He replied, "I can't take you." :)

The previous day we'd asked our hotel's front desk clerk to reserve us a spot on the bus to Jaipur. Although we booked a bus with air conditioning, the bus that arrived to take us did not have it. We got a refund, but had to do without AC. This contributed in a minor way to the unpleasantness of the ride.

A larger contributor to the unpleasantness of the ride was the amount of time it took.

At one point, traffic was delayed and we had to stop for a while (half an hour? an hour?). I still don't understand why we had to stop. A train? A one-lane dirt bridge?

Later, we stopped and the driver found a nail in a tire. He drove a while more, then stopped again to remove the nail. He drove farther and stopped to refill the tire. Eventually, we made it to Jaipur, stopping a few times to add more air to the tire. I guess changing the tire wasn't an option.

Arriving at 5:00pm, the total trip took seven and a half hours instead of the scheduled five and a half.

In retrospect, we should've taken the train. We were told the train usually runs 3+ hours late (both arriving and leaving), and we didn't want to wait at the train station for three hours twiddling our thumbs. As it turned out, the train would've been faster anyway. We vowed to avoid buses as much as possible in the future.

Once in Jaipur, we hunted for a hotel, aiming to stay in a "heritage" property. As I understand it, the term applies pretty much to any building older than fifty years. We ended up staying in a number of these over our time in Rajasthan.

The first hotel we tried was fancy but had no availability for two nights. The second was nice but too expensive. The manager sent us next door to the other half of the property, owned by his brother. (While many times in India we'd get referrals to someone's supposed relative, we believe most of those references were simply commission system referrals. This time, however, we truly believed they were brothers.) Their father divided the property in his will.

Surprisingly, the brother's property had cheaper rooms (1800 rupees compared to the 2700 or 2450/1900 we were quoted at the other places) that were also larger! As the videos show, these rooms were enormous: by far the largest we stayed in during our trip. We took a room in this hotel, the Hotel Meghniwas.

I guess this is a good time to link to my pictures and videos for the day. Mostly they're just pictures from dinner and videos of the hotel room, with only a few scattered comments and pictures from the rest of the day.

Incidentally, while investigating hotels, J or I hung around outside with our bags and chatted with our rickshaw driver, Abdul, and his friend Ali, who also drives a rickshaw. (Ali pulled over when he saw Abdul hanging out with us.) It's neat to chat. Ali is a character. We'd run into both of them again as we explored Jaipur.

Dead from this long day of bus travel, we decided to eat in the hotel. We chatted with the brother/hotel manager over dinner. He "lost his kids to America" (that's how he put it), meaning at some point they visited it (school?) and now they live there.

Our meal at our hotel's restaurant was decent but not notable.

After dinner, we did some laundry by hand. I don't recall ever having to do this before. Of course, we could've sent our clothes off, but this was cheaper and we had time.

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