Sunday, 11 January 2009

Udaipur to Pushkar

We got a night bus from Udaipur to Jodhpur. The bus was an experience! We had a sleeping compartment so we were being thrown around with all our luggage at every pothole (of which there are many on Indian roads!). We got chucked off the bus at 4.45 am in Jodhpur with nowhere booked to stay and 4 tuk tuk drivers shouting at us to give us a ride. So we got dropped off at the clock tower and then walked through the dark, eery streets, empty except for the stray dogs and cows looking for a suitably cheap hotel. Unsurprisingly everywhere was shut! after about an hour we had managed to find our way into the old town and found a hotel that was letting people out so we were able to get in.

Jodhpur wasn't as touristy as we had expected, the guest house owner told us that they were suffering since the mumbai attacks. We had one night in Jodhpur, it was an interesting place to explore with vibrant markets and an impressive fort, but we (mainly Alice!) weren't feeling too great! We got a night train out of Jodhpur to Jaisalmer - the desert! We were picked up from the station by the hotel people and crammed into a jeep. It wasn't very big and there were 10 passengers, one was even hanging off the back. Our luggage was thrown on the roof. After a good sleep we were persuaded to take a camel safari. We had originally decided to wait until Bikaner to do this, but the half day trek running from our hotel that afternoon sounded like exactly what we wanted.

We were driven out to the desert in a jeep and stopped at a couple of local shools and villages on the way. The benefit of being in the jeep was that you could get far away from all the touristy places. We were dropped off by some camels (we were with an Aussie couple and a Dutch girl as well) and we rode for an hour and a half through the desert scrubs and dunes. It was fun but a bit bumpy and neither of us were envious of the people who had booked 7 days on a camel trek! We stopped at some secuded dunes for sunset. It was very peaceful and beautiful, and nice to be away from other people! we had dinner cooked for us and we ate round a camp fire before we were driven back to the hotel. It was a lovely evening.

The next day we explored Jaisalmer and its fort before heading on another night train to Bikaner, also in the desert but further north. The train was freezing, the desert was hot in the day but very cold at night. We stayed in a very nice hotel in Bikaner. On the first day we checked out the town and the old city and ate some good and different street food (which may have been the cause of our illness a couple of days later - but it tasted good!). The next day we followed Eddie's wishes and took a bus 30km to Karni Mata temple, famous because it is full of rats. They are looked after and encouraged as it is thought that a God called Yama had turned the storytellers into rats. Unfortunately, as it was a temple, you still had to take your shoes off, and walk amidst the rats and their droppings. and there were a lot of rats! luckily, admission was free. We got the bus back and went to the fort in Bikaner, and had a yummy dinner at a streetside restaurant.

We got another night train from Bikaner to Jaipur. We then got a train (3 hours) from Jaipur to Ajmer and got a local (very crowded) bus to Pushkar, a Hindu holy pilgrim town. By this time the food we had eaten had caught up with us (in particular Eddie!) and we ended up staying here for 4 nights, twice as long as we had planned. The town is fairly peaceful though, and tuk tuk free! Its in the mountains so the surroundings are beautiful. On the 2nd day we climbed a big hill/ mountain to visit a temple. We nearly didn't make it up due to a particularly vicious monkey and when we did make it up we didn't stay long due to Eddie's nausea. The next couple of days were fairly chilled out while we had some recovery time, but we think we are over the worst now. We get a night bus to Agra tomorrow to see the Taj Mahal and then a night train on to Varanasi.

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