Cycling in India, The Insulated Tourist

Where was I ? Oh yes I remember, we’d just checked into The Pearl Palace in Jaipur, a great hotel run by Mr and Mrs Singh, they are truly devoted to making your stay a great experience, Mr Singh even took us to see his new Hotel, a work in progress but the attention to detail is only matched by his unbridled enthusiasm !! …….20121019-151450.jpg
Mr Singh and Naomi in the new hotel πŸ˜‰
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One of the bedrooms at the new hotel, very swish but still reasonable prices !!
Any way back to the blog, we just chilled out on the afternoon we arrived and while I uploaded over 1200 photos to FB, we planned our assault on Jaipur for the following day. We took full advantage of the rooftop restaurant for dinner and retired early as we knew we had loads to do !!
Up early, breakfasted, laundry left at reception, instructions for the tourism office to book our train tickets also left with reception and directions to the ATM in hand we set of !!
The ATM was only a block over so we walked but the next part of our plan required an auto rickshaw or tuc tuc, no problem finding one of them, we got lucky as our driver spoke great English, something that would prove useful later πŸ˜‰
First job, find a courier and arrange to get our excess baggage taken to Mumbai so we don’t have to lug it round India !
Our tuc tuc driver found a courier and with his help translating our needs we emerged half an hour later and only 2000 rupees (about Β£25) paid, and a promise that our bags would arrive safely and be stored for free until the 4th of December, hurrah, job done πŸ˜‰
Next job, see the city, we put our faith in the tuc tuc driver and let him take us to where he thought the best bits to see were, first off, The Maharajas Cemetery, made of Italian marble it really was quite beautiful although like so many of India’s historic monuments it really wasn’t very well kept, such a shame….. 20121019-153126.jpg20121019-153206.jpg20121019-153236.jpg
See, it really is quite beautiful !!
Onward to the next part of the tour, through the city gates…20121019-153400.jpg
Past the walking road block, had to get out here and have a photo…20121019-153533.jpg20121019-153627.jpg
Out of the city we rattled along, our driver giving info on most things as we passed them, some of it was even interesting lol. Then as we rounded a bend we saw this….20121019-154005.jpg
It’s called Amber Fort, and seeing it from here it was stunning, although when you get inside its even better, and the views are incredible, here are a selection of photos, both inside and out…..20121019-154429.jpg

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Fabulous place !! The full album is on FB if your interested !!
Next stop Narhargarh Fort, not that much to look at hear but the views over Jaipur are stunning, here are a selection of photos…

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As I said, great views but not much else !!
We were ready to stop now but our driver had one more thing to show us…

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The Water Palace, you can’t go to see it, only take photos from the shore but it does look stunning πŸ˜‰
And with that we were heading back to the hotel to collect the bags to take to the courier, we arrived back to find that the hotels tourism office had not been able to book our train tickets so we asked the driver if he was still free, fortunately he was and two hours later the bags had been left at the courier and we’d secured our train tickets for all three of our train journeys in India, full speed back to the hotel for a cold beer to celebrate a very successful day, we paid the driver, handsomely and thanked him for all his help.
The following morning we set of for Tonk, back on the national highways, not pretty but good Tarmac, flat roads, plenty of chai stops and sign posts. We made good progress and had covered about 50 miles when Naomi stopped with a problem, the sidewall of her rear tyre had split and the tube was poking through enough to catch the mudguard supports, we removed the tyre and looked for a patch, fortunately over the road there was a truck tyre repair, they gave me a piece of rubber and between us we refitted the tyre and set of, the tyre wasn’t pumped up enough and we’d also decided to swap the front and rear tyres over, we stopped and swapped the tyres but when we tried to pump them up both of out pumps failed and broke, so there we are at a chai stop with no pump and two flat tyres and 14 miles from our destination, bugger !!
All was not lost though as Miss Johnson soon had a friendly truck driver agreeing to take us, our bikes and luggage all the way into Tonk, he did exactly that and more, he dropped us of at the only bicycle shop, I tried to pay him but he wouldn’t take a single rupee !!
My faith in human nature restored we left the bikes to get fixed and set off for lunch, not to bad, a bit touristy and quite expensive but it was all there was !!
Bike to the bikes, two new pumps, two inner tubes and a new tyre, 1400 rupees or a bout 18 pounds, not to bad really !!
Next problem, where is there a hotel, only about 5k back the way we’d come, so off we went, turned up and got the whole, are you married, hope you don’t drink thing !! We lied about both then they tried to charge us 2000 rupees, we halved it and they settled, after that they were some of the nicest people yet….

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Our friendly truck driver and crew !!

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The bike shop and staff !!

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Our hotel in Tonk and the family that ran it πŸ˜‰
After a little chill out time we went looking for food, we headed towards the station as that’s where we normally find cheap but very good food, we weren’t disappointed…..Tonk turned up trumps and has to date produced our favourite meal, three veg curries, two salads, two plates of rice, ten chapatis, raita, coke and mineral water and all for less than a fiver, brilliant !!
We woke early again the following day and grabbed breakfast and chai along the way, we were heading for Bundi eventually but would be staying in Devli as our next stop, nothing at all exciting happened on the way there, we found a hotel and after Naomi had troubled them to clean then room and fit clean sheets we made ourselves at home, showered and then went looking for food, now unlike Tonk we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, seriously we tried to figure out where people ate , we asked, we looked but no, nothing !! We ended up getting an auto rickshaw three k down the road to a tourist restaurant, yuk, yuk, yuk, oh and expensive !

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Our hotel in Devli.

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The tourist restaurant !!
Noting the lack of food on offer we brought snacks for later ! After more chilling and laundry we decided to go into town for a cup of tea, we found a nice quiet little stall and sat down, it didn’t stay quiet for long!!, it seems the town knew about the two strangers in town and soon enough we were surrounded…..

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Still they were a friendly bunch so we had a good night πŸ˜‰
Morning arrived all to swiftly and we were away early….

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I love cycling early in the morning, less traffic, less heat and having the roads to ourselves means we can get a real move on !!
The run into Bundi was nothing special until….

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Looked amazing and we’d arrived really early, we found a hotel quickly, checked in and had a late breakfast before setting out to see the Bundi Palace !!
Sadly before I even got to the end of the road my flip flop broke so we headed into the market to find a new pair, not easy in a country where size 10 is considered large !!
Anyway I found a pair of shoes, thanks to these guys…

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And off we went, now the palace is not in great shape, it’s a little frayed around the edges but it has such charm, both Naomi and I thought it was great to just clamber around and explore……

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I hope these photos give you a sense of the place, loved it !!
Next was the long slog up the hill to see the fort or at least the views anyway…

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Shows off the palace really well !!
Here are some more from the fort…

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Another great place, just left to decay, no one there to supervise you so you can just explore it as you wish !!
Bundi really had been a great place to stay what with the Palace and the Fort but Bundi itself was also quite lovely as was our hotel…..

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Our hotel room !

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The hotel lawn, we took breakfast here πŸ˜‰

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Our lounge πŸ˜‰

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So to finish, a few photos of Bundi πŸ˜‰
That’s it for this blog, thanks for reading, hope your enjoying them !!
JC

Oh, your probably wondering about the title !!
Simple, as we travel on our bikes from place to place we get the opportunity to stop when we want, see what we want, talk to people, see things that most tourists don’t see, we’re not protected in a metal shell so people stop us and talk to us, they pull along side on motor bikes and scooters and talk to us, they help us, there inquisitive, they woop with delight when you show them pictures on the iPad, kids follow us up the street and shout hello, all in all we are not insulated from the real India. Now don’t get me wrong I can full understand why if you’ve only got two weeks holiday you’d join a fully air conditioned tour and get whisked from point A to point B, have all your meals and entrance fees sorted, fly across India to see Kerala and Goa, after all India is huge and for most people you only get the chance to go once so I suppose you need to see as much as possible. This makes me realise just how fortunate I am to have so much time to explore this amazing country, insulated tourist, no I’m not, I’m a cyclist and proud to be one πŸ˜‰
JC

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About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
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