Mumbai, India | 9 January, 2007 | $20.56
This hotel room was the cleanest I stayed at in India and one of the most difficult to book. I lucked out with a cancellation and got this room at the YMCA in Mumbai for two nights. Mumbai was the most frustrating and expensive city in India to book accommodation and if I went again I would probably book in advance.
More photos of Mumbai can be seen in the gallery.
Aurangabad – Mumbai, India | 8 January, 2007 | $13.33 (hard sleeper train)
Indian sleeper trains must be shocking to anyone who hasn’t traveled outside of the U.S. before but I got used to the hard surfaces (and people trying to sit on my legs while I slept) after a few rides. India is a huge country and I seemed to be taking a train every few days. I think I really wore myself out trying to see so much, but I’m really glad I spent time in the South—those photos are coming up soon.
Aurangabad, India | 7 January, 2007 | $6.67
The Ellora caves near Aurangabad were much more impressive than the Ajanta caves because of the huge scale of the carvings. In both cases the attractions were crowded with visitors and lacking any serious security. I’m more concerned with the Ajanta cave painting surviving years of curious hands roaming their surfaces than the sturdy rocks of Ellora.
More photos of Ellora can be seen in the gallery.
Jaigon, India | 6 January, 2007 | $4.45
I was only looking for a place to stay in-between visiting the Ellora and Ajanta caves and saw little of Jaigon. It doesn’t seem to be a place worth stopping but this hotel room was odd in it’s sterile modernity.
More photos of the Ajanta caves can be seen in the gallery.
Train from Ahmedabad, India | 5 January, 2007 | $5.67 (train ride)
I stopped in Ahmedabad specifically to visit a textile museum (and it was worth it) but managed to make some friends along the way.
More photos of everyday life in Ahmedabad can be seen in the gallery.
Mt. Abu, India | 2 January, 2007 | $6.67
I woke up early on new year’s day and took a bus into the mountains to Mt. Abu, a vacation spot for locals more than foreign tourists. Before I saw my first temple of 2007 I had fallen off the back of a truck and flat on my face. I spent a lot of time in this hotel room pouting over my injuries. This post I made at the time tells the whole story.
Mt. Abu draws quite a crowd for sunset watching. The videos below give you a taste of the atmosphere on the side of the mountain.
Udaipur, India | 31 December, 2006 | $6.67
On the road you run into a lot of towns that have their own “claim to (Western) fame,” often based on a Hollywood movie. Udaipur is very proud of it’s cameo in the 1983 Bond film Octopussy and every hotel in town seems to offer free movie viewings nightly in the common areas. Sui and I took a short boat ride around the “floating” palace in the middle of the lake which Bond infiltrates but weren’t allowed to go inside—that privilege is reserved for high-paying dinner guests.
Udaipur felt a lot different than previous towns I’d visited in India. One huge difference was that all of the hotels were six stories tall and few had elevators. We took advantage of the height on New Year’s Eve to look out over town and find a roof-top party that wasn’t horribly loud. Once we arrived we found that the quiet party was only quiet because the electricity had gone out and our peaceful New Year’s Eve turned into a headache-inducing countdown to 2007. Sui was so fed up by the noise that she decided to go to bed thirty minutes before midnight, leaving me alone on New Year’s Eve watching Indian children dance inappropriately to horrifying dance music. It wasn’t the greatest New Year’s celebration but it was certainly memorable!
More photos of Udaipur can be found in the gallery or check out the videos of New Year’s Eve festivities below.
Thar Desert, India | 25 December, 2006 | $10 (Camel tour)
Slowly waking up on a sand dune while the sun rises in the distance, trying to stay warm under a heavy, smelly camel blanket made for a special Christmas morning. Christmas night was the same as the last—our small group sitting around the fire, eating dinner and listening to our guides sing folk songs.
In all honesty, riding a camel all day is fairly monotonous but I’m glad I did it once. More photos of the desert can be found in the gallery.
Thar Desert, India | 24 December, 2006 | $10 (Camel tour)
Sui and I decided to take off toward the border with Pakistan for the holidays. Along with a few other tourists we spent three days traveling (slowly) by camel across the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. Going to sleep Christmas Eve on a sand dune, worrying wild dogs would steal our food and creepy insects would crawl in our ears was certainly a memorable experience.
More photos of the desert can be found in the gallery.
Jaisalmer, India | 21 December, 2006 | $6.67
Jaisalmer was notable for the opportunity to sleep inside the fort itself. My hotel room was the same price as in Jaipur but this one had an adorable window seat with hand-dyed curtains. Another highlight was the restaurant around the corner with cushion seating atop the fort’s ramparts as you see in the photo above.
Jaisalmer fort featured intricately carved exteriors and window screens, photos of which can be found in the gallery.