Late in the evening, we tried to find a hotel in Jaipur, but the first 5 we tried were all full or refused us (because we are foreigners and they don't want the paperwork hastle!), but we eventually found a place in the area we wanted to be in and settled in. We went back to the rooftop restaurant of the first hotel we tried, and the menu included meat! We tucked into a platter of tandoori fit for a king after a long peroiod of veggie food. Hugo enjoyed a beer for the first time in equally as long. The following day, we trundled off to Anokhi, a modern textiles shop, a bit like cath kidston but Indian. I bought a few bits, but then we had to get back to the hotel, as we were getting picked up for elephantastic, our elephant experience. We travelled through the old city, swerving the traffic, driven by 'mad Max'. The tuk tuk driver entertained us with animal noises and impersonations. We pulled into the elephant village, and were met by Rahul, the overly serious elephant owner. He had 24 elephants, one male. Each elephant had its own house and family - imagine having an elephant as a pet! We were introduced to our elephant, Birly, who was 10 months pregnant. We stroked her trunk, which was very hairy. Apparently they can understand 36 verbal commands, most of which are Sanskrit. We began making bundles of corn to feed her to satisfy her voracious appetite. We placed them in her trunk and then she took them to her mouth and crunched them. They only have four teeth, but they are huge, and look like the soles of shoes. Birly got fed up of corn, and let out a trumpet, which apparently indicated she wanted sugar cane instead. We proceeded to give her huge sticks of cane, which she crunched on happily. We then got in a minibus with another English couple and went for a yummy veg lunch at rahul's house, cooked by his mother. She kept bringing out chapatis, which we eventually had to refuse as we were full. We then went back and climbed up some ladders to get on to our elephant for a ride around the village. I felt very wobbly, but Hugo was hands free ( he was sitting further back so I think he was better balanced). You could feel the bones and joints moving under her skin, and her thick spine creaking. The scariest part was getting off - she tipped forward to kneel down, then we slid off the side. She was definitely more graceful than we were. We then had a go at painting her in bright colours. We used little wooden paintbrush sticks to apply the natural vegetable paints to her thick skin. I painted a special birthday message to mum, who was celebrating her 50th, and then we painted her trunk in a traditional pattern. Then it was time for a drink, via a hose pipe. She filled her trunk, and then squirted it into her mouth, covering us in spray. After a good guzzle, it was time to give her a wash. We used hard bristle brushes and a hose to scrub her, and after 15 minutes were tired out and wet through. Time for a shower ourselves! We changed in to our spare clothes, and said goodbye to Birly. On the way back, Max took us to a small block printing outlet, where we watched in awe as guys made the block printed fabric on large benches, each with their own role, stamp and colour. Upstairs were the embroidery and beadwork men, although this work is normally done by the women because of their small hands. They were making wedding outfits for men. I bought some overpriced cushion covers, and then we went on our way. In the evening we went back for seconds of tandoori chicken at the same restaurant as the previous night. There were lots of fireworks going off because it was the start of the wedding season. For pudding, we went to the chocolate cafe that was part of our hotel. We shared a chocolate platter which was extremely chocolatey, whilst listening to Enrique Iglesias - what more could a girl (and Hugo) want! Early the next morning, Max picked us up and took us to the amber fort (actually pronounced amer!). It was huge, and was full of elephants. There was a constant stream of elephants ferrying people from the bottom to the castle approach up the hill. We walked around the courtyards and passages, before having a yucky salty lemonade at cafe coffee day (it was even salty when we asked them to make it again without salt). After seeing the sights, we headed back and Max took us to a dodgy jewellery shop, that was offering palm reading as a side attraction. This alone was signal to leave, but we stayed to hear the salesman's patter about the sheer quality of the rubies, and the high percentage of silver. There were some articles of questionable workmanship so we made our excuses. We got dropped off at the station to try to book tickets on to ranthambore. Max tried to charge us at least double the normal rate for our morning trip - we told him we were disappointed with him and gave him the fair price, much to his reluctance. After finding out that we could only get tickets an hour before departure, we headed to the old city to do our own walking tour. We made our way through the bazaars, stopping to buy some bed sheets, a table cloth and pashminas, and even got a free patchwork bag. We arrived at the hawa mahal, or palace of the winds, that is the iconic landmark of Jaipur, just as a Muslim festival was kicking off. There was drumming and marching, and general mayhem as we tried to find our way to the next sight. We got a guide at jantar mantar, an astronomical instrument display. What we didn't know was that this was mainly in the context of astrology. We listened to the guide's bewildering rabble about star signs and birth dates, although to give credit to the park, it was still quite interesting. Hugo ate a giant papad whilst we considered whether to go into the palace. We decided against it, and instead went back to have tea at the chocolaterie. We queued up for our train tickets and boarded our train, after briefly losing each other. Two hours later we rolled into ranthambore, and found a hotel (with a pool!).