We left Dehli, passing the temples and moments, burn piles and trash heaps, amidst the smog and horrific traffic. The highway transported trucks to cars 10:1, alongside camel-drawn carts, livestock, freely-roaming cows, taxis, bicycles, and PEDESTRIANS.
The roads to Jaipur were packed and sloooow. The bus drivers (buses and trucks have a driver, and assistant driver who leans out the window to make sure the bus can fit through the space attempted) did a great job, but still it was rather stressful as passenger. The rough roads, the stop and go traffic, and the HONKING. Most large vehicles are painted with "Horn please" to encourage honking—it's the norm to alert other objects on the road you are passing or nearby. It is constant.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire to get up to the Samode Palace. I thought the roads had been washed out, with its deep ditches causing a bumpier than bumpy ride, almost flipping the bus at one point. But indeed no, the roads were in normal condition I was told.
The next day, my head cold was in awkward full force, and I was excusing myself often to blow my nose. It finally subsided by the time we reached Varanasi (the last days of the trip). An early start so that we could engage in a cheesy tourist opportunity to ride elephants up to a fort. The elephant I was on left in the middle of the pack, but we arrived last...and a good deal after the others. The poor girl must have been quite old, as I am not the heaviest of fellows. It made me sad, both to trouble the poor creature, and to be engaged in something so...circus. I know the maha rajas used to ride them...but for us as tourists...it felt more carnival than royalty.
Later, en route to a bazaar, rickshaw ride #2...this time, on Jaipur's seemingly busiest roads, navigating round-abouts between buses, trucks, taxis. This time was not fun, and definitely nerve-wracking. We stopped at the bazaar long enough to be bored but not long enough to really explore. It was getting sketchy as it got dark.