(Jaisalmer to Jodhpur)
We left lovely Pushkar last Wednesday on our first overnight sleeper bus. What a fun time THAT was! The journey wasn't actually too bad however getting onto the bus was interesting. I managed to trip while completely loaded up with backpack, holdall and camera on the way to the bus stop and once you start falling with that much weight there's no stopping. In fact there's no getting up either as I found out after it took Lauren and two passing Germans to get me on my feet again. I literally was like a turtle stuck on its back. Thank GOD it was dark. I'm sure it was most amusing to anyone who wasn't me.
After that minor embarrassment we found our bus only to be told we couldn't fit our packs in the hold and they'd have to come in our sleeper compartment with us. Again, fun times trying to fit that much luggage and two girls in above about thirty people crammed in the alleyway and another fifteen in the doorway. I have to admit, I did shout at a couple of bus men and shoved my hand luggage at them however this did seem to have the desired effect as they soon took my bags from me and put them up in our little area.
We awoke after a surprisingly okay sleep in beautiful Jaisalmer. Oh Jaisalmer how I love you. Dusty, hot, loud, hot, yellow, hot Jaisalmer. We were in early so checked into our hotel, had breakfast (banana nutella pancake not quite as good here as Pushkar but better masala chai) and went straight up to the fort.
The fort is huge and rises from the desert upon its hill almost like a mirage. The town itself looks half finished, although so does much of India, but the fort looks over everything dominating any skyline. It draws you to it, you want to see it from all angles, and from within.
Inside is a total maze, a real labyrinth. It was like another city altogether with people living and working, yet more markets, restaurants, tuk tuks etc etc. There are still canons at some of the view points and there are steps leading to amazing view points. You really can see the whole city and beyond, and although it's a city of thousands when you're up there you're completely alone.
We were soon back down in the hustle and bustle however and off to a posh hotel to use the pool. We needed a little luxury after that bus ride!
The following day at 7am we headed off on a camel safari deep into the Thar Desert. Unfortunately it rained when we started out which put our group of six in maybe not the best mood and not very chatty. The camel guys quickly made a make shift cover for us to sit under but no one really knew what we were then going to do all day and night. Luckily though after some lunch the sun came out with full force.
It was beautiful, I love the desert so much. It was so great hanging out on the dunes, reading, watching the camels hang out and the cows, goats and dogs. My camel, Buddha, was awesome - he was HUGE!
We had dinner where we all made chapattis that we ate with dal and rice sitting under the stars. The camel guys sang to us, we danced, we rolled down the dunes in the pitch black, we played games (which included a lot of laughing at Lauren?) and generally laughed a lot.
Sleeping outside is one of my favourite things ever so to be able to do it there was fantastic. The stars were bright and it didn't rain!! It reminded me a lot of being in Australia apart from when a cup of steaming chai was delivered to my bedside early in the morning. You absolutely can't beat waking up to a spectacular sunrise after spending the night in the fresh air of the desert.
The bus ride from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur was a day bus and was certainly interesting! It was NOT a tourist bus and we were the only white people on it - quite a curiosity to most who then piled on. It's amazing, people can fold and fit into the smallest of spaces! There were at least six people in a small overhead compartment similar to our first sleeper, then another few children too. It was hot and dusty but definitely an experience!
We only freaked out once when we thought there was a road block that wasn't expected appeared however it turned out to be just a level crossing. The local people found our slight panic then relief quite amusing and had a good laugh. We spent most of the six hours being stared at but this is now pretty much par for the course. Especially my blonde hair. I'm guessing we're on a fair majority of Indian people's mantle pieces now as the English friends they once made (but really only actually had a photo with).
So then Jodhpur and WHAT a difference! The bus got in hours late so we were starving, tired and just wanted some relief from the bus. The hotel we booked turned out to be at the top of the highest hill with no rickshaw access. A few choice words were muttered and unfortunately the poor guy leading us there got a bit of a shouting at (I was tired and hungry - you know what lack of food does to me) Our room then turned out to be up yet another three flights of steep steps in what was pretty much a store cupboard. Seriously, it was like altitude training for Nepal!
Luckily when we woke in the morning to a beautiful view of the majestic fort and gorgeous blue city all was forgiven. We wandered to the old fort which was absolutely amazing. It was huge and so imposing on the top of it's hill, you could just imagine approaching armies of old being fronted with that. The architecture of the palaces within was something else and the intricacies within each window panel, each balcony, each and every part we're astounding. The skill and time given to it is something you don't see in today's buildings. It truly was spectacular within the walls. Even the gardens were meticulous.
It was a fun morning as there were a lot of Indian tourists to Jodhpur too from villages in the desert who all wanted their photos taken and wanted to take our pictures on their smartphones, we really are regular celebs here. It was hilarious. I couldn't understand a word that was said but there was again much gesturing and laughing!
We found our way to the old clock tower and warren of market stalls. It was more a local market but fantastic to look around and some real bargains to be had.
Jodhpur seems a more real place. People living and working and being. Its busy and bustling, smelly, dirty and noisy, the people are constantly in your face on foot or from a tuk tuk or on a motorcycle. It's hot. I bloody love it!!
After a pink gin which wasn't so pink on a rooftop overlooking the beautiful blue city watching kids fly kites and the sun set behind the fort we are off to Udaipur. Jodhpur I'll be back. The maze of the market is still calling, the camera shots are still waiting.