Enjoying Udaipur, Round 2

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Unbelievably, Udaipur was going to be the last destination where we would spend quality time on this amazing journey. From here on out it would only be brief stops (Muscat) or just an overnight.  Hard to believe.  At least Udaipur is a great place to spend a little time.

After breakfast we decided a walk for a bit would be the best way to start seeing the town .  Our walked lasted about 2 seconds before we saw an elephant right outside our hotel and about 10 seconds before we started getting accosted by tuktuk drivers wanting to take us around.  One in particular, Imran, made a nice sales-y impression by showing us his guest book and pointing out previously satisfied German customers.  Before we jumped in his tuktuk we pulled money from the ATM.  As I was doing so, one bill got jammed and the cancellation was cancelled.  This was after I already pulled out my free $100 .  The day was getting off to a good start!  I had more luck at the ATMs in Udaipur than I did the tables in Vegas.

Imran took us through chaotic small alleyways to a colorful market.  Like any good tourist filled with wishful thinking, I bought some spices.  From there he mentioned we could get quality tailored shirts and jackets at great prices. Next thing we know, we spend a couple hours getting fitted for exactly that.  Lunch, the city palace, the maharaja's antique car collection, and then dinner along the lake with a great view rounded out a nice day .

The following day our first stop was the airport, and Imran took us there in his uncle’s car.  We figured that our best chance to avoid the pesky handling agents was to go to the control tower beforehand, pay our fees, and get our flight plan filed.  Just like in Chittagong and Patna, after showing ID and explaining your purpose, you go up to the tower to take care of these things.  The lone controller, handling the traffic (albeit minimal), then also handles the billing and payment.  It must be a taxing annoyance to them for those that don’t want to take on handling agents.  Still, saving another $800 sounded great to us.  The lady was friendly and although it took a while, we were out of there with all of $33 in expenses.  Boarding passes or the equivalent are mandatory even for crew, so we had her also give us a security pass.  (For the following day, this turned out to be the trump card our pesky handling agent didn’t anticipate us having!)

More shopping, exploring, and fitting for our shirts rounded out the afternoon before a group dinner with the other crews at their hotel .  The drive out was at least an hour and at night it was a hairy experience.  All cars and trucks would pass whenever it pleased, lanes were optional, and high beams were on almost all the time.  Of course, honking was also the norm. 

The dinner was ok, but at the end the handling agent made an unrequested, unwanted appearance.  He originally came to collect money, but was told by Jan that would be unacceptable.  Instead then he just asked who would need fuel and how they wanted to pay for that.  We were the only ones not taking on handling and were silent throughout the process.  Right before leaving, the agent asked Jan if the crew of N231WG was present.  Right next to Jan, I said I was the crew.  The smug shmuck first politely asked if we needed fuel in Ahmendabad, where we all had to go to complete customs.  Not thinking avgas was an option in either Udaipur or Ahmendabad, we filled up enough in Patna to get us to Oman.  He was visibly shocked when I that we wouldn’t need avgas, as that is surely how they wanted to get us with their fees.  He then said that there would be no way we would leave Udaipur the following morning without paying them.  Asshole.  I was speechless that I was being threatened by a handling agent at our group dinner.  He walked away with a smug smile.  In most of the replays of the conversation I had later that evening, the conversation ends with me punching him in the face ;-)

It was going to be a fun day tomorrow!  Let the battles begin!

Udaipur was just as fun this visit as the last.  As much as we enjoyed it though, we were excited about the long day ahead and the battle we anticipated with the handling agent company.  
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