Jodhpur to Udaipur

Last Night in Jodhpur
Last night we went out to eat last night at a very nice restaurant called "On The Rocks". There was a reserved room waiting for us. This room was stacked with plush couches and the walls were made to look like rocks as if we were inside a cave. There was a color TV and western music was being played loudly. This was a VERY rich place. We arrived around 7:15 and many of us were quite hungry, but we were only having drink now and had to wait for the table. We waited over 1 hour and 15 minutes. By the time we finally ordered we had all decided what each of us were ordering. I got Mutton Ra-Ra and it was did I miss the taste of meat.

Udaipur, India
The next morning (today) I woke up at half past 6:00 and packed my bags...AGAIN! We hailed auto-rickshaws and went to the bus stop. We left Jodhpur at 7:30 sharp and were on our way to Udaipur. We made one 15 minute stop around noon for the bathroom and some snacks. I asked where the bathrooms where and a man said anywhere and made a hand gesture pointing all around. I took a leak to the right of a food stall with my back facing the bus. Others went to urinate as well, but in front of me...staring at me as they walked past. We then boarded the bus again and drove until half past 3. I sat next to Deb, who had a window seat. We moved up a row immediately since we noticed, by the rancid smell, a splatter of vomit on the window beside us. I took a sleeping pill immediately and got a good hours sleep (at most). I read the last 200 pages in my book and listened to at least 60 Dave Matthews Band songs. I have never read that many pages in one sitting before. The book turned our to very insightful and I'm glad I read it during my travels in India. I recommend you all read it. It was called "The White Tiger" in case you forgot and it won some 2008 book award. It made me think about my driver in Delhi, Mr. Kamal, and it makes me very sad. O well. I'm in Udaipur right now and it's very nice. Much more touristy than the other cities we've been to so far. I actually see other white people here. I'm thinking about buying some journals and maybe a new hookah, but the shipping may make any purchase pointless. It's much hotter here in the south. We are staying in a hotel that is right on the lake. We have a rooftop restaurant that is 5 or 6 floors up, so the view is great. Our room has plenty of space, but the bathroom is far from luxurious. There is just a bottom part of a toilet and we have to manually flush the toilet by filling a plastic jug with water and repeatedly pouring water into the bowl. I don't mind at all. I think I am going to plan my next trip around the United States. I think it would a great experience to backpack around the 'middle' states, maybe a feel a motorcycle/camping trip coming my way?

Anyways, here are pics the sights that are in Udaipur, India:
The Lake Palace (see picture above left)
The Taj Lake Palace (see picture above right)


2 Days in Jodhpur, India

Jodhpur, India
We walked around town a bit and took a 5 hour public bus to Jodhpur. The bus was not too bad, though the locals tried to 'squeeze' onto the seats that we were sitting in. I didn't let them sit with me though. We paid for our seats and the others just paid to stand. When we go into town we walked around and met for dinner on the rooftop restaurant. The first thing I noticed when I got off the bus and stepped off was the thick dirty air. I was coughing up a lung. It was much dirtier than Delhi, at least that was the impression that I got. Our hotel is just in the heart of the town...less than 5 minutes from the clock tower (picture on right). I wanted to visit some local villages on a safari, but no one else wanted to join me. I couldn't go alone so I pleaded. After I showed the others an in my lonely planet I got 4 of them to change their minds. There were now 5 of us taking a village safari to the Bishnois village. These people sacrificed their lives to save the cutting down of a tree. We took a jeep packed with 6 of us total and went off road (really really off road) 50 km or so until we pulled up to a couple of huts. We were informed of the Bishnois caste and some other information about their small village. We drank some opium tea and then some Indian chai. We toured the village and helped grind flour and some other daily chores. Next we went to another village, of the caste I think is Megual (something like that). There we tried on some turbans and local clothing and helped an old man weave carpets from camel wool (see picture on left). All these castes are sub castes of the Brahmins. The Brahmins don't eat meat which is killing me, but tonight we are going to an upscale restaurant which serves meat, yummy. I keep ordering my meals extra extra spicy, but am left having to order a side order of chillies. I don't think the Indian food is as spicy as I hoped. After the village safari I went to the Mehrangarh Fort (see video below), where I got a 50 Rp discount since I had a student ID card. For the total price of 200 Rp. we got an entrance ticket plus an audio tour of the Fort. It was quite wonderful, but I think I'm done with the forts. The village safari was about 6 or so hours and it was 550 Rp ($11 USD), which included the 100+ km round trip off road transport, a tour guide, and lunch.

A few of you asked where I went to the bathroom in the behind a sand dune! As for TP, I typically remember to always snatch a handful wherever I find it, but you just have to improvise. I was very happy since our hotel last night and tonight actually had hot water, but only from 7-10 in the morning and 7-10 at night. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to write about but am at a loss of words. It's just so dirty here, people spitting, their mouths and teeth stained red from whatever the hell they're chewing. Cows and dogs just sleeping in the middle of main roads, constant honking of the horns. The smell can be pretty rancid, but not as bad as it could be. There isn't much of a night life in India past 8:00, and TVs are not really available, and Internet cafes often don't have signal. This morning I walked with a couple of people to the clock tower before our jeep picked us up for the safari. There we went to a stand and got some breakfast, some type of fried break with some yellow and green sauces. I think they were just curried chillies. Tomorrow we wake up early for a 7 hour public bus journey to Udaipur, we'll be there for 3 nights. Cheers!


Camel Safari in Thar Desert

The Camel Safari
After a short 30 or so minute jeep ride into the heart of the Thar desert we unloaded our packs. We took just what we needed and tossed the rest into a cart pulled by a camel. We each were given out own camel. The man claimed my camel's name was Raj, but I'm not too sure how much the name means. Dave's camel was named Michael Jackson and the others had typical Indian-sounding names. We were all in dressed in pants and shows to protect ourselves from the abrasive sand and sun. We rode the camels nonstop for roughly 2 hours. I was doing quite well, but the others were complaining about their backs and bums when they had gotten off. We were only 5km from where we initially started, but it was desolate. Very little vegetation and sand dunes all around us. There were ants and large beadles swimming in their endless baths of sand. We watched the sun set which started at 6:30 and was fully set at 6:40. It set over Pakistan and tomorrow we will watch it rise over Delhi. We enjoyed a nice snack that was freshly cooked by the people that walked along out camels. We got some fried vegetable stuff, along with some sweet biscuits, and some freshly fried potato slices. They also had this one treat that is similar to the Chinese colored wafers some restaurants give you for your soup. This of course was accompanied by some authentic sweet chai. We played some drinking games and drank the Indian beer of choice, Kingfisher. While we were watching the sun set a man played some music for us using some type of metal vibrating pin. See to the right for a sampling.

After a short while a local hill tribe (gypsies) played us some music and danced. One instruments was a drum and tambourine while the other sounded like a bag pipe. There were two young women dressed in native clothing and danced gracefully for us. They took our hands and we all joined in, only not so gracefully. Men were building a fire at this point and preparing our feast. Were were all very hungry since we hadn't eaten for a while. When the meal came we couldn't believe how much there was. We were given chapati, rice, and 4 vegetarian dishes. I didn't think it was too much, neither did Deb, the Scottish born Aussie who was sitting next to me. See a photo of Deb on the right. Much to our surprise men kept coming back with large pots of food and gave us heaps upon heaps of food. I couldn't believe how much I ate. After dinner we got a table/bed closer to the fire and set up a card game to drink to. Each card has a rule and every player takes turns drawing cards. The point of the game is to drink. No winners, no losers. We all drank and drank for hours until it was about 12:00. We were listening to some music at that point. It was funny because no one had a pair of speakers that was working and my iPod wasn't loud enough. One girl had a flashlight you can wind up and charge anything via a USB port. One of the girls had bought a small speaker that charges just this way. So we would be winding this damn flashlight to power the speaker, and If I would wind too slow the speaker would just stop. It sounded like a broken record was playing. We were all having a blast trying to wind this thing fast enough to keep up with the music of the iPod. We gazed at the stars and it was just so clear. We slept on a, well, don't know how to describe it. There was a frame with 4 legs, and along the top there were some straps of fabric. On this fabric we laid some sheets and then a pillow. We were just sleeping out in the open under the stars (see picture on left). The nearest toilette is wherever the hell you want it to be. The rule was just that you were supposed to kick sand on wherever you had just gone. I was writing in my journal and there must have been at least 5 girls swarming over to see if I had written about them. They were quite put off that I had not, though I passed it around and let them all write a little something. I've been keeping up very good on my journal writing. Everyday, between 2 and 4 pages a day on average. Here in India they sell nicely crafted leather bound journals with nice paper and I want to buy them all. I am not sure I have any more uses for them, so Please give me some suggestions as how I could use them. I need SOME type, ANY type of an excuse to buy 1, 2, or 8 of these. Also, if you like journals and want one, just let me know what size, and style and it's yours. TRUST ME ON THIS...I went to look at many journals before settling on the one I brought with me on my trip. The leather journals back in the states will cost between $15 and $80 USD, while the SAME ones will cost between $2 and $10.

Anyways I'm off to take a 5 hour public bus to Jodhpur, India.