Evening All =)
Sorry for not updating for so long.. for the IT centre of the world its surprisingly hard to find an Internet connection (at least one which doesn't leave you banging your head against a wall in frustration after 10 minutes of page loading)
We've been pretty busy since Udaipur. We spent a couple of days in Jodhpur which was rather warm but very pretty. The bus journey there wasn't so much fun - the advertised 5 hours soon turned into a baking 6.5 accompanied by the frequent sounding of the less than hilarious squeaky arpeggio horn. We made it to our nice little hotel following a severe ambushing by TukTuk drivers - all trying to take us 'anywhere we wanted for 10 rupee'.. yeh right.
The next day we visited the Mehrangarh fort which was very cool and gave us a great view of the 'blue city' below. In the afternoon we sought refuge in a nice cool internet cafe and then wandered around the bazaars nearby when it cooled down. We purchased some very fetching turbans from a shop which took pity on us and made them up into the right shape - in preparation for the camel ride we were planning the following day.
On Sunday we were picked up at 12 (ish.. turned out to be Indian time) by our guide who then took us out into the desert in a rather packed jeep - as he'd decided to invite his uncle/brother (he seemed as confused as we were about which) along for unknown reasons. We'd hoped the jeep would have aircon, but no such luck - though we did get 'free' mineral water! We stopped at a temple in the small desert town of Osiyan where our guide explained the procedure Hindus go through when they visit and we enjoyed a dash around the beautifully carved exterior (the marble floor was boiling!). At around 6 we arrived at his hut complex in the desert, met his lovely family and had a very tasty and rather large afternoon tea. Our camel herders arrived shortly afterwards and took us off on a circuit around the nearby hamlet and up a dune to watch the sunset..behind a cloud. Our turbans caused much hilarity in hamlet and were declared incorrectly tied by the herders who then proceeded to compete as to who could make them the best. When we got back we had yet another huge meal and then settled down for the night in basic cots under the stars.
We woke to the sound of peacocks at around 6am and rushed to get ready as our guide had told us we needed to leave at 7 to arrive with enough time to visit Jaisalmer. Unfortunately this turned out to be Indian time, again, and he emerged at around 8 am still unwashed and in pajamas to take his goat into the hamlet to be sold. We were not amused. After another crowded and hot jeep ride (this time both his wife and son decided to join us too.. making it 7 people, 2 backpacks, 1 suitcase and assorted small bags) we arrived in Jaisalmer rather short tempered only to find the luggage counter at the train station would only look after our backpacks for the couple of hours we had left if they were locked. We explained the impossibility of locking a drawstring, but our appeals fell on deaf ears (seemingly literally) and we left even more wound up than when we'd arrived. In the end we managed to leave our bags with a small boy who was looking after a mobile phone stall and made a quick dash up to the Jaisalmer fort - which was really amazing - we wish we'd had more time! It looks like a giant sandcastle as its made from local sandstone and unlike the other forts we've visited its still inhabited, which is cool.
We took the night train to Jaipur at 4.30, spending most of the trip worrying about the strange men in the bunks below us and the mysterious packages and visitors that kept turning up. We arrived in Jaipur at a glorious 5 am, hung out amongst the beggars, touts and dirty old men in the station before venturing to our hotel of choice - Pearl Palace- which turned out to be very nice - thank goodness!
I spent most of the day dozing and feeling feverish - the 47 degree plus temperatures didn't help much. Billy enjoyed a day of reading and eating with various other lonely backpackers in the rooftop bar. In the evening we ventured out to a shopping mall nearby where we enjoyed a McIndia...
Yesterday we went to the City Palace, which we renamed following a particularly unexciting audio tour - the majority of the content seemed to be a sales pitch for one or other of the shops there - and the attendants who were rather rude and often wanting to add to their 'collection of foreign coins'... There were a few pretty buildings and Billy enjoyed the armoury a lot, but overall we were unimpressed! In the afternoon I took the plunge and got myself a haircut... she lopped off quite a bit but its not so scary. We'd booked tickets to the raj mandir cinema earlier for the Bollywood film 'Ready', which turned out to be entertaining despite us not understanding a single word. According to the Indian guys we met in McDonalds (I know, i know) just before it had a very famous actor as the male lead who even has temples dedicated to him here. Judging by the enthusiastic response of the 1500 strong audience (and not just the women) we are not surprised.
Today we've been to the Amber Fort. We decided against taking an elephant ride as the treatment of them is meant to be not so great and enjoyed the brisk stroll up the hill. The fort was rather spectacular - we took an audio tour which thankfully refrained from advertising and Billy found very amusing. The fort isn't very well signposted or organised, which actually turned out to be an advantage as we got to wander around wherever we wanted, getting lost several times in the process! This afternoon we've mainly been getting hot and bothered while searching for an internet cafe. I think next on the agenda is a trip to the train station again (joy of joys) to try to buy tickets to go to Ranthambore national park tomorrow (they have tigers , hopefully!) .
Sorry about the lack of photos - we'll try to get some up asap
See you later,
Lots of love,
Rosie and Billy