Jun 26, 2016

Memoirs of Rangoli ... (p22) - Amer Fort ... the elephant ride

Amer Fort, Jaipur
Rajashtan, India
February 2016

it was (only) our fourth day in India. as much as time was really flying, i felt like we'd been in India, longer than that. perhaps, because we'd been really taking our time embracing our time there, memo-graphing any possible moments. like they said ... we stopped and took time to smell the roses, and it just that that we didn't encounter the scent, other than ... well...as what i mentioned in my previous posts. eheh.

the visit to Hathi Gaon, the day before, left me to ponder and agreed, commercialism always a threat to such life. i mean, while it should've been paving the path for people to find the 'right' opportunities, the greediness will always creep in, and taught them a different story. easy money..as they said. i was stunned as seeing the welcoming mahout, traded his manner for sake of 500 rupee per person tips, instead of relying on our honest generosity.

anyway, we'd be visiting another major attraction in Jaipur which was Amer fort. i read somewhere, it was also known as Amber fort. we gathered at the hotel lobby, once had the buffet-spread for the breakfast. it was good, and i think it was the first time i got my self to taste the famous ' masala chai'. well...i must said, it was too strong for me...the herbs/spices that they put into the drink. it took away my imagination of this would be like a tasty 'teh tarik halia' that we could have in our mamak's restaurant in Malaysia. 
some of us were hit by the most common problem when travelling in India - diarrhea. probably, it was caused by the 'masala chai' that sold by the street before, as other than that every of us had food from the same restaurant etc. i don't recall any of us trying any street food. anyway, they had to live with the situation, rather than let themselves missing the opportunities like visiting the fort etc.

the ride took around 20-30 minutes, as we left our hotel. the guide, let us call him Manu, this time, was really enthusiastic. as far as i recalled. i mean, he was good and kept his momentum explaining all sort of thing while we were already in our own mood, upon riding to the fort. we were there early, i think we arrived around 8am, as Syib told us that we gotta beat the crowd if we wanted to ride on the elephant, that would take us to the fort.
apparently, we were not the earliest, as the queue was already long by the time we arrived. but Syib told us it was not that bad, as last year, the group joined when the tail of the queue was already at the nearby garden. we had to pay another 1000 rupee for the elephant ride, which it thought was already part of the package.

while waiting for our turn, we had to deal with the street vendors that selling stuff like souvenirs, hats, pashmina and even the travel magazine. they were very persuasive, as once you made contact with them (eye or speak), they would follow you as far as permitted. well...the starting price always on higher side, but with a good bargaining skill, you could get things at a reasonable and/or cheap price. for example, the magazine/book about all forts in India which make a good coffee table book was offered to Pojie and Kak Ros, ridiculously at 2000 rupee at first, but then was sold for at 200 rupee just before we entered the forbidden zone for the vendor. well..it seemed very reasonable...and i think almost half of the group bought the same book later.
how about the ride? hmm... it was not that comfortable and gave me a backpain for a while. i mean if you can see from the picture above, we approached the elephant, and our seat from the side, and had to sit like that all the way up to the fort. the total ride took about 20 minutes, more or less. i think my elephant ride back in Chiang Mai was much more comfortable as the seat was arranged in such a way that you facing the front.


we were about to approach the fort, when our mahout finally opened his mouth to chat with us. a typical question on where we were from etc. he then suddenly made a stop as we were entering the fort, and told us that we have to give him tips. and he mumbled something about small salary etc. we just nodded and told him don't worry, as we were planning to give him. but what stunned us when he asked for 'hundred ringgit' each for the tip. ah...he knew ringgit, as we told us we were from Malaysia.
'what!' that was my reaction as he spoke of the 'hundred ringgit each' tips. and guess what he was very firm on the request, and didn't want to make a move. a short argument happened, and we told him 'no' and finally each of us gave him 100 rupee for the tip.that incident was really disappoint me and it spoiled my mood for a while. it reminded me the incident we had with the mahout at the Hathi Gaon that we visited the day before. 

i saw the signboard as we left the platform, telling that tips should not be entertained, and we should report any misbehavior to the fort authority. anyway...we didn't care much, as it'd be a long story.
ah...we discovered others only paid 50 rupee each for the tips...and obviously me and pojie had been badly scammed. uhuh...we waited for everybody to arrive, and then followed Manu for our guided tour of the Amer Fort.

so..the elephant ride? well..for 1000 rupee extra, and with uncomfortable ride that gave me backpain, plus the bad experience with the greedy mahout, i won't recommend. a walk to fort at your own pace, would be much better option.

tbc.

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