Monday, 13 April 2015

12 Apr - Udaipur

Udaipur. I can look out from the small rooftop restaurant and see many of the Udaipur sights laid out before me, like the Lake Palace Hotel (strictly for the uber-rich) floating in the middle of Lake Pichola. After a touristy breakfast of honey/banana porridge I force myself to plan the rest of the day before heading off to the train station tonight. I say 'force' because, as Chattergee says in her backpacking odyssey 'Special Lassi', the process of looking at a map, shortlisting the landmarks and working out how to get there seems more like a chore than a leisurely holiday activity. We share the same paradox, that our love of travelling is at odds with our dislike of sightseeing.

I prefer to get the feel of a place by getting lost and just cycling about, stopping and chatting at tea and street food stalls. Nevertheless I bite the bullet and head for the City Palace museum to inform myself about the 'victory or death' Rajput dynasty and their many battles with the Moghuls.

I'm off to see Udaipur

Ho hum! Another day, another palace. The entrance to City Palace Museum.

That's the Taj Lake Palace Hotel - as featured in the 007 film 'Octopussy'

More tricks with mirrored glass - that's me in the distance.

I thought these lemonade bottles, sealed with a glass stopper were antiques........still in use here.

Bye bye Udaipur.......I say goodbye to the hotel gang and head for the train station.

The baggage handling with coolies and porters is quite antiquated too. I'm worried all these sacks will be dumped on top of my bike at some stage.
How different this train trip, now that I have 'the knowledge'. As I arrive at the station I just breeze past the security person waving me to the motorcycle parking and pedal straight on to the platform and look for the luggage office. A touch overconfident perhaps. I've booked a hotel in Mumbai, situated a convenient 500m from the Central Station. It's a pity, as I later discover, that my train is actually going to Bandra terminus to the north of Mumbai, and 16 km from my hotel. Smart guy!

I'm sharing the relative comfort of an air-conditioned sleeper with relatively affluent Indians. On the outskirts of Surat (but it could be any big city) we can look down on the abject filth and misery of the track-side slums and the black, putrid rivers choked with rubbish. I look at my travelling companions to check for signs of embarrassment or discomfort at the view. I don't think they see it.

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