An early start today to ensure we were packed up and out of our room in time to leave ourselves a full (last) day in Udaipur. We had breakfast on the roof before Tom went off into town in search of an ever illusive bike to hire. He returned about an hour later, triumphant, his mission accomplished. He picked me up from my spot on the pavement and together we set off through the chaotic streets of Udaipur bound for the monsoon palace. Another friendly Indian kidnapping took place when asking a young man for directions. “Follow me sir, I show you” was his response. Five minutes later we pulled up outside his house where we were dragged in for chai and a sound staring at by his family. Eventually we made our way to the palace gates. A long, steep, winding drive up hill followed. There was lots of giggling half way up when our crappy bike gave up. After much trying and a slight temper on Tom’s part the bike finally came back to life and we made it to the top. Hilarity reigned in the car park when an unsupervised toddler managed to start his father’s car. It began rolling backwards down the hill accompanied by the high pitched screams of the child’s mother.
The Monsoon Palace, though itself a bit dull, provided beautiful views across Udaipur and the surrounding mountains and lakes. It also provided the best toilet experience I’ve had in India thus far. The toilet only had 3 ½ walls so whilst squatting amidst the filth I was presented with unrestricted views of the valleys below. We drove back down the hill at breakneck speed, much to the delight of Tom.
We had a few hours of aimless driving round lakes and over hills. Obviously we stopped for a million chais en route. Food wise, we found ourselves a plethora of food stalls to indulge our stomachs.
On the way back into Udaipur I became childishly excited about being stuck in a traffic jam caused by an elephant. A novelty that never seems to wear off!
We took the bike to the far side of Lake Pichola where we found ourselves in the middle of crowds of Indian holiday makers and all the kitsch that that surrounds them. Camels were flaked out by the side of the road. People were posing in Rajasthani costumes for pictures by the lake. Kids were feasting on ice-creams.
We found a café on a hill overlooking this joyous (tacky) scene and chilled out there for a few hours over chai, dosa and shisha. Lake Pichola made an exquisite background for the amazing people watching opportunities that played out before us.
As the sun started to fall we went for a last drive on the bike. With wonderful timing we stumbled across a chair lift, jumped on and were promptly transported to the top of a big hill overlooking the city in time for the sunset to make an emotional mess of me. It was the first touchdown sunset I’d seen during this trip and it was spectacular. Well worth the wait.
We ate dinner on the guesthouse roof before heading to the ‘bus station’. Arriving very early we had time to top up on chai before going our separate ways. Tom’s bus has just left so just now, for the first time in a while, I’m sitting all alone. I have a tiny glass of chai and tears in my eyes. Who would’ve thought I’d find such a wonderful travel friend in a 19 year old Australian lad? I think I’ll miss him.