Mentioned earlier in the 'L is for Lakes' section of this A-Z, Udaipur was a town that we really enjoyed. Udaipur is famous for being the setting for the James Bond film Octopussy, and indeed many of the restaurants there screen the film every night. I found this snippet on youtube - unfortunately the dialogue isn't in English, but as it's 95% action it doesn't really seem to matter. It's a fairly accurate representation of the city traffic too..!
It is also a lovely relaxed place (despite the auto-rickshaws), with many great shops - aimed at tourists of course, but some good haggling to be done, and nice souvenirs to be picked up.
V is for Views.
Take your pick - there were plenty of stunning ones, and sometimes it was good just to take a quiet moment to appreciate them.
It's hard to choose favourites, but here are a couple of mine: the Taj Mahal from across the river, and Jaisalmur city and fort from our hotel rooftop.
W is for Wells.
We were travelling along quite happily one day, on our journey between Fatephur Sikri and Jaipur, when suddenly our driver Ram veered off down what was almost a dirt road. "I show you something!" he announced, but wouldn't explain what. Baffled, but realising that we had no choice other than to trust him, we sat back and waited... a good 20 minutes later we pulled up outside what looked like quite a small and rather dull temple in a village. We were mentally rolling our eyes, thinking that we'd quickly pop in and look, just to be polite, but when we walked inside... wow!
This was Chand Baori in Abaneri, a famous stepped well. I realised that I had actually seen photographs of this place before, but hadn't realised that it was on our route. I hadn't even realised it was in India actually.
Stunning (thanks Ram!).
X is for...
I could have gone with the wincingly awful eXtraordinary, or eXtremely interesting, but couldn't quite bring myself to do so. Perhaps the best attempt might be eXtreme, for India is certainly a land of extremes... extreme wealth, and extreme poverty; extreme beauty and extreme squalor.
Happy as a pig in...
It's a country that puzzles and confuses me. I loved some things about it, but detested others. It's so hard to see where you would start when it comes to making changes. Yes, it's becoming ever wealthier, a new super-economy, but driving around you really wouldn't know it. So much needs to change in order for the vast majority of people there to have an improved quality of life. It needs better roads, better sanitation, better housing, a system of rubbish collection, the list goes on and on. In many ways I found it terribly depressing, and yet we had some amazing moments there too.
Y is for Yellow.
Z is for Zooming home (crap I know, but cut me some slack)
We had a great flight back. We got an upgrade from Delhi to KL as we had signed up to 'Optiontown', meaning we were top of the list to take any spare first class seats. It only cost us $50 each, but on a 5-hour overnight flight it was worth every cent to have a flat-bed seat and a pillow. A 7-hour wait at KL airport then followed, but our flight back to Brunei was in beautiful conditions - bright sunshine and perfect white clouds.
And it was certainly good to be home. We vowed we'd never again complain about the traffic or driving here in Brunei ever again - it could be much worse!