And the final stretch begins...
After a somewhat jarring and now -after recovery- I can say, a quite funny, sleeper bus experience, my friends and I arrived in Venice, the "Venice of of the East"- Udaipur. Udaipur is a beautiful city in the west of the state of Rajahstan. One for nicknames, Udaipur is also known as the "City of Lakes." Located 403 kilometers west of Jaipur, Udaipur is known for Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, and Udai Sagar Lake and the many extravagant Rajput-era palaces along its shores.
Udaipur stands out in contrast to the previous cities I have visited, lacking the noise, overwhelming heat, crowds, chaos, and absurd traffic of Delhi and Jaipur (but don't you worry, there are still wandering cows EVERYWHERE). I was amazed and inspired by the layout and activity of the city, a colorful and intricately woven urbanscape of buildings and people. As one wanders from street to street, whether lakeside or at the heart of Udaipur, brightly colored and terraced buildings surround you. I spent much of my time closely observing and surveying the periwinkle colored facades, the many roof top clothes lines, the open terrace dining areas, and smiling elderly women and their day to day activities overflowing from floor to floor. Udaipur was always lively, from the infrastructure to the people.... except when the afternoon monsoon rains came of course.
Some of you may have already seen Udaipur without even knowing it: In the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy starring Roger Moore, Udaipur is the setting of the storyline in India, from Bond's near death in Lake Palace to his risky hotel stay at the Shiv Niwas Palace. After spending a day perusing the old city streets, many shops and cafés, and beautiful lakeside scenery, we ended our night on a roof top terrace looking out at the Lake Palace itself, eating delicious Indian Byriani and naan, and of course commemorating our stay with a viewing of Octopussy. The next day we saw many of the famous scenes in person. Beginning our site seeing at the royal, magnificent City Palace, the residence of the royal Mewar. Next we saw the Lake Palace and Jag Mandir by boat, sailing across Lake Pichola.
That evening we were fortunate enough to attend a cultural show at a local Udaipur outdoor theater. Shifting from the region's Hollywood fame, the show consisted of a series of traditional Rajasthani dances and folklore stories from surrounding villages. Again, only color filled my vision of India as sparkling, red, orange, green, blue, and gold chiffon saris fluttered center stage.
Early the next morning (still recovering from our sleeper bus extravaganza) we travelled by car approximately 7 hours southwest to the Blue City, the third and final stop of our tri-city venture through Rajahstan. Our twentieth stop since abroad.
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan- second to Jaipur-and is often referred to as the "Blue City" due to its many vivid blue-painted houses throughout its neighborhoods. We spent our two days meandering through the Old Quarter, shopping around the Clock Tower's many markets, visiting the Marwar Palace, and of course as one would expect ZIP LINING through the Mehrangarh Fort. The Flying Fox Zip Line adventure consists of six zip lines from 110 meters to 300 meters long. Oh so experienced from my rock climbing days at Pompositticut Farm Day Camp, I felt right at home up on the fort walls, on-belay, thousands of feet above red rock and vast lakes, zipping over a world heritage site and in India....
I'm alive to tell the tale. It was a great way to go out with a bang in India.
That night, enjoying our sweet mango lassis (an Indian desert delicacy), we toasted to our time in Jodhpur, to this beautiful, chaotic, and also surprising country, and to our two month trip.
Arriving at the Delhi International Airport on Monday morning felt surreal. I cannot believe my two month trip across the world is already finished. Every moment of my time in Asia was unbelievable and I could not be more thankful. From the bustling cities of China, to the lush mountains of Sapa and Luang Prabang, to the many clear ocean waters of Thailand, and the oh so many surprises in India, I truly loved and will remember every minute of it. But more importantly, I love and will forever love the people I've been traveling with.
Shout out to Kiley Philbin, Pippa Mason, McCulloch Cline, and Eda Herzog-Vitto for being the most loyal and caring friends and for making my trip of a life time.
Thank you everyone for following me along this spectacular journey!
See ya on the West side.