Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Udaipur II

Udaipur, known by some as "City of Lakes" or "Venice of the East", is struggling at present with the fact that its lakes have been dry for at least the past year. Apparently it's been many years since things have been as dry. Still, it's a pretty interesting place to spend some time in. At first I felt quite dispirited at how 'touristy' it is, in that there are more western tourists & tourist infrastructure here than anywhere else I've been in India this trip (without forgetting that I'm also one, of course). So, leaping wholeheartedly in, I had an 'Aruyvedic' massage out the back of a local barbershop (Millenium) for an hour (cost: Rp 400, which seems fairly standard around here. It was reasonable, but I'm not keen on the coconut oil residue that sticks around for the next day or so. Then, the next day I had a massage from Raju, who runs the Bharti Guest House, Restaurant & Massage Centre in Hotel Lake Pichola Road. It was a very strong massage, which I like, and he employed some unusual techniques. I was briefly alarmed when he removed his own trousers, but thankfully he put on some shorts, and was again startled when he sat astride me to commence the massage, especially as the hairs on his legs were rather prickly. His approach was thorough & professional, and I may well have another before I leave here. At Rp 1050 however, it was extraordinarily expensive by Indian standards.

Yesterday was the time for a big treat, and so I went and had lunch at the Lake Palace Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel in the the Lake Palace, built in 1754. It's in the middle of the lake, usually surrounded by water. You're taken to the hotel by boat. Lunch is a buffet comprising soup, salads, a dozen or so veg and non-veg dishes and perhaps half-a-dozen different deserts (cost: Rp 1200). Sometimes buffets can be a bit pedestrian, but this food was delicious, and we were there for several hours. Later we managed to have a look at some of the rooms by the man in charge of housekeeping there. The rooms, at over $300 a night, were wonderful.

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