Jaipur mega post

As promised, a Kat rough guide to the Pink City:
Watch out for where to stay because I have had massively awful experiences with a place called Chit chat hotel/ restaurant. It's about 200 rs. per night - about 6 bucks- but you're living in a concrete bunker with a garage door and a huge padlock AND you never feel safe because the only people coming by are Indian men. P.s. they walk by your door and rap on it at night.
After one night, I'd had enough, so I left to Pearl Palace Hotel. It was a God send, as they say. The only room available was a 4-bed, balconied, hot shower available, t.v. included palace; and the cost hit at 700 rs. per night. The 200 rs. per night standard room that I initially wanted, including your own toilet and shower, was unfortunately booked already. It seems that my habit of arriving then deciding for a hotel doesn't always work out. But a bit of luxury is needed after 4 months of living in not so stunning conditions. 'The Pearl Palace is family run and well-established, and it shows; the furnishings are intricate and chosen with care, the rooms are spotless, and the restaurant on top serves some of the best Western and Indian food I had in the North, adding a truly unique Indian flare to the place.
Another great place I have stayed at was just around the corner from The Palace. The rooms there are also spotless, warm water is available, and room service is no extra charge. Basically, you have luck with any hotel in that 2 km radius.
So you have a place to sleep and an oasis in busy Jaipur- now what do you do? One word of advice that I picked up the hard way is don't go to the manufacturing district and warehouses. Rick shaw drivers (some) will tell you it's cheaper, and that technically make sense: the place where the shoes, textiles, clothing is made is the place where it is the cheapest. But that's not how the Jaipur sale crowd computes it. These places are money-traps. I think they are made just for the very purpose of ripping tourists and travellers off. I was taken to a few such places by a rickshaw wallah (see above for which hell hotel they took me to) and paid a price that was reasonable for me, with my Canadian dollar frame of mind. After much investigation and several trips to the bazaar and markets, I realized that I paid four times the going price. The difference was immense to me and to my pockets felt it. Here is a quick Jaipur chart of typical prices:

-Rajasthani slippers/thong sandals, leather, regardless of whether they are "camel" or not, because there is no way to prove it and its best assuming you are misinformed: 150-250 rs. per pair
-Traditional Rajasthani shoes pointy toes leather: 200-600 rs. no more though!!
-Rajasthani skirt/top/scarf set, regardless of "hand made quality, blah blah blah", but the price will vary according to material, length, and amount of real mirrors used in the design: 450 for a cotton set to 1600 for a silk one. 250 -600 for just the skirt. The thing is, after they sell just the skirt, they will have trouble selling the rest of the outfit, no one wants to mis match!
Bargain and if the price won't find its way down south then leave because most of the stores sell the same exact product. I found at least three stores selling the exact same outfit- must have been the same manufacturer. And the prices were all different; from 600 at a friends shop to 3000 at the manufacturing place!
-silk bed sheet/ blanket/ pillow set: between 800-2000 depending on quality, colour, what it looks like. Some are very fragile and badly made (flimsy) so look at the detail.

To do in Jaipur, your guidebook will tell you all. One suggestion is to plan a day visit to The Amber Fort; it's stunning and mostly in the open, so you can feel a fresh breeze and get panoramic views of the surrounding areas. It's like a maze, though, so dress comfortably and wear proper shoes. Also, prepare to take loads of pictures, so if you have a manual, bring extra rolls of film. Oh- and a water bottle or two. The hike up is half a km and no one sells water, although if you're used to the local one, taps are open half-way up so you can crouch and scoop some tap water.
The guided audio tour costs 100 extra rs. and is well worth it. It will tell you the history and meaning of the fort, along with some interesting facts to take home and inform everyone. If you follow the map and the guide, you will find beautiful scenic views from the fort that you might have not been able to find on your own. You'll have a laugh over the sound effects and actors: "I am AMBER FORT! I am formidable and strong and NO ONE passes my threshold!" Good stuff.
After the Amber Fort, go to the Tiger Fort for sunset. You can put your feet up, down a beer and munch on salted peanuts as the sun sets behind the Pink city. Snippets of conversation, shouting, music, and children laughing drift up to you from 13 km below. Dinner is at 7:30 in the open air restaurant, where you can sit in black wrought iron chairs and stare at the stars circling overhead. Oh, and don't hike to the fort. Make sure to take a rick!
Finally, another precaution: touts lurk at the major tourist sights. Children can be fun at first but eventually pester you to give them money and may try to grab at your purse if no one is around. The monkey fort is listed as a sight to see, but you may want to avoid it since the hike up is steep and long and inside the temple, the main guy will expect money for anything he does, even an unasked for blessing. The temple itself is quite small but the view is, again, stunning. There is a cluster of buildings on your left side as you climb that look like a neighbourhood in Jodhpur, seeing as they glisten blue in the sunlight. This is the old part of the city, so old in fact that the locals even refer to it as "Old City".

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