Day 8 – New Years Eve. What should’ve been a fantastic end to 2019, instead, marked the day that cracks started to show within our group.
I guess when you have 14 people travelling together for a considerable period of time, with varying amounts of sleep, sickness, and enjoyment, it’s only a matter of time before tensions start to build.
The first signs of trouble appeared on the train from Pushkar to Udaipur. I thought nothing of it to start with, but when one of my closest friends on the trip was struggling to hold it together, I knew there was a problem. And she wasn’t the only one.
I had noticed one of the girls on the trip starting to get a bit mouthy. A little bit ‘my way or the highway’. I had chosen to turn a blind eye to this, but others were struggling with it.
On any kind of group trip, whether it’s with friends or strangers, it’s important to remember that everyone has different needs, as well as different expectations. But what’s most important to remember is that this is your holiday. You have to do what’s right for you. If you want to do something different to the rest of the group then that’s ok. But it’s also really important to voice it in the right way, to try to keep the group as harmonious as possible (otherwise the trip could end up miserable for everyone).
I actually began to realise that I had much higher tolerance levels than I thought I did. I just tried to accept everyone for who they are. I didn’t want to take sides, as I genuinely liked everyone (albeit to varying degrees). But I also wasn’t going to allow others to ruin what was essentially a trip of a lifetime for me.
We arrived in Udaipur on a warm, sunny day. We were by now starting to defrost after a colder than expected start to our trip, and we knew that by the time we reached Mumbai in a couple of days, we would probably be complaining that it was too hot! But for now, it was time to enjoy the last of our Rajasthan experience in the city of Udaipur.
As with Pushkar, I had never heard of Udaipur before I booked my trip. The photos I had seen online however, made it look like something out of a fairytale, and I couldn’t wait to arrive.
Hotel Udai Niwas
On arrival, we checked into Hotel Udai Niwas, and headed straight to the rooftop, where we enjoyed fantastic views over Lake Pichola whilst we had a bite to eat, before heading out to see what Udaipur had to offer. Hotel Udai Niwas, was the most central hotel we had stayed in so far, and had by far the best views!
After lunch, it was time to head out to explore.
I was starting to get slightly frustrated by the number of government run shops our guide was taking us to. They seemed to have some deal with Intrepid, and as much as the items they were selling were lovely, it was all a little bit out of my price range!
However, I accepted it was just part and parcel of the trip, and started to amuse myself, by taking an interest with no intention of buying. The salesmen were good, but I stuck to my budget, and only paid out in one shop (and that was the cheapest item on offer!).
Udaipur was founded in 1568, and sits beside the beautiful Lake Pichola, with the Aravalli Hills providing a spectacular backdrop. Udaipur is said to be one of the most romantic places to visit in Rajasthan, if not, in the whole of India. Although I have to say, the first thing I noticed, wasn’t quite so romantic…
Everyone had prepared me for an assortment of smells in India. From the smog to the spices, from body odour to sewerage. Whether it was because of the cold temperatures so far, I hadn’t found anywhere (or anyone) who had a particularly offensive odour. That is, until we reached Udaipur. The drains ran openly down the sides of the street, and there was a definite smell of sewerage as we walked through the streets. This definitely took the romantic edge off the city for me!
After our orientation walk around the city, it was time to head down to the lake, where we would be boarding a boat, in time to watch the sunset over the lake.
Lake Pichola is 4km long and 3km wide. It’s relatively shallow, and often dries up entirely during severe droughts.
There are fantastic views of The City Palace complex from the lake, which covers nearly 1km of the lake’s eastern shoreline.
New Years Eve Celebrations
After some debate, our group split and went off in different directions for our New Years Eve celebrations. My roommate was heading off to meet friends who were also staying in Udaipur, and a number of the group decided they wanted to stay at the hotel to see the New Year in.
As much as it would’ve been nice for everyone to stay together, I hadn’t travelled all the way to India to spend New Year chilling at the hotel!
Our Intrepid guide arranged for a small group of us to spend the evening at Khamma Ghani, a beautiful lakeside restaurant in Udaipur.
For around £35, we were able to enjoy an all inclusive evening which consisted of an all you can eat buffet (which was served to us at our table), an endless supply of drinks, and a disco.
Our journeys to and from the venue were also meant to be included in the price, but a scamming tuk tuk driver conned us into paying him on the way back! Although our guide managed to track him down the next day and gave him what for (although we still didn’t get our money back!).
And just when we thought the buffet was coming to an end, another food area opened up, and out of nowhere appeared tables full of curries, rice and dessert!
We had a great night celebrating together, and I’m so glad we decided to do our own thing. Klaus and I were first up on the dance floor and we were soon joined by Donna and a couple of others who had joined us from another Intrepid trip.
At midnight there were fireworks above the dance floor, which were followed by hugs, more dancing, and wishing everyone well for the New Year.
Spending New Years Eve in another country should be unforgettable, and I can safely say, this one will stay with me forever. Not just for the fact it was spent in India, but also because of the new friendships I was making. Donna and Klaus were no longer just people I was travelling with, they were becoming my friends. We had a great night together, eating, drinking, dancing, and most importantly, laughing.
What a great way to see in a new decade 😀🇮🇳🍾