So we've had pretty s***ty internet so haven't really been able to write anything on here!!
We are now in Jaisalmer, after doing the sights in Delhi and Bikaner too. So a little summary....
On our first proper tourist day in Delhi we heading to Humayans tomb, which really was beautiful. It's one of the most amazing buildings we've ever seen, and the symmetrical design of it hugely satisfied Katie's maths brain! From there, we headed to Ghandi's memorial, which marks his last footsteps and the place that he was shot. It was hugely peaceful and very well done, but we both wish we'd know more about Ghandi!! Clearly need to do some reading up. We also headed to Hazrat Nizam (a Muslim shine) which was hidden away amongst a small bizarre. We didn't really understand what was going on but bought some flowers and left out shoes outside and headed in. After a lot of walking down long corridors lined with beggars, we reached the shine which was very beautiful. But no sooner had we got there, a lady came up to us and asked why we were there is we weren't Muslim... At which point we left sharpish as we didn't think we were very welcome!
The following day we headed to Qutb Minar, a collection of ruined tombs and monuments, which again was spectacular. There was a huge school trip, so every few minutes we had children asking for photos with us... Felt like celebs!! Today, we hired a Tuktuk driver for the day (Catherine first nervy experience of a Tuktuk, but its absolutely fine now!) who told us we should see the lotus temple... Which was unfortunately closed (it's Republic day soon, so loads of Delhi and come sights are closed for security reasons as Obama is visiting), so instead he took us to a strange warehouse bizarre. The products they had on sale were amazing, and we both had a bit of a splurge, sending a huge parcel home! We think in hindsight we actually got a good deal on most of the products, so don't regret buying them at all! In the afternoon we headed to the Imperial Hotel for afternoon tea, which was just luxury! We paid £10 which gave us a three-layer cake stand full of cakes and sandwiches each. YUM. It's almost like a bubble in the middle of Delhi - so calm and luxurious, at the centre of mad Delhi life.
We joined up with our G Adventures group on Monday evening, so have been busy sight seeing since then.
On Tuesday, we had our orientation walk with the group, which was being led by a guide from the Salaam Balak trust, a charity that supports Delhi street children. Our guide was an ex-street child himself, who was able to give us a first hand account of life on the street. He was only 17, but spoke brilliant English and was very confident speaking to a big group of foreigners. His story was very moving, but he was an example of just how successful the charity is at changing lives. On the walk, we went to one of the charity shelters and spent some time playing and chatting to the kids, who all loved seeing us! From here we went on to visit a mosque called Jama Masjid, which was very beautiful, but also gave us a great areal view of Delhi from its towers (just a shame about the smog!) DJ, our G Adventures leader, then took us on to a Sikh temple, which didn't look particularly impressive from the outside, but was hugely colourful and full of singing inside. Sikh temples offer food, drink and shelter to any person who needs it, so they have a community kitchen. The idea is that each person contributes to the temple in some way, such as cooking and preparing meals in the community kitchen. So we all joined in rolling and making flat breads, which was actually really fun.
In the afternoon we had free time, so the two of us plus two girls from the tour, Beth and Chenelle, all headed to the Red Fort... Which looked much more impressive from that outside than it was inside. It was hugely under construction and didn't have much information around it, but oh well! From here, we took rickshaws to the spice market, and the driver guided us around, taking us through the market and up to a view point, which was amazing.
That evening we took our first sleeper train! Luckily we had been upgraded to 2nd Class, so Beth, Chenelle, and the two us us had a compartment to ourselves. Catherine slept incredibly well, and Katie did too when not disturbed by the light. It wasn't nearly as bad as we expected it to be!
We arrived in Bikaner early after the sleeper train, and headed straight to the hotel to clean up. We were staying in the old palace of the King of Bikaner (we think?!) so it was a beautiful building and very nice hotel!! Soon after, we bundled in to Tuktuks, which took us to the camel safari. We would be riding camels that were individually owned and guided by the owners. Whilst waiting to go, we watched the camel, and there was one in particular that was very badly behaved - bucking and therefore constantly being hit by its owner... So nobody wanted that one! When it was time to choose a camel, Katie got a camel led by a cute old man, but Catherine was too slow and left with the badly behaved one.... So instead she opted to ride in the camel drawn cart, which was pretty much the same experience just much more comfortable. (It ended up that the camel drawing the cart was also badly behaved and bucking a lot, which was pretty scary!) After about an hour riding (unfortunately through the rain!), the party stopped for lunch - we had a beautiful meal cooked and prepared for us by the locals. It was great! After lunch, the safari continued for another 2 hours, so Katie opted for the cart as well for comfort reasons! After a few hours, we reached the camp sight which had already been set up for us by the locals. We had a brilliant evening, which included another yummy home cooked meal by the locals. It was quite surreal to be sitting in the middle of the desert, around a fire, surrounded by camels just drinking and chatting to the group. We had a tent to ourselves, which was surprisingly comfortable, but Chenelle opted to share with us too rather than sleep in a tent on her own - which was probably a plus as the three of us were pretty much the only ones who were warm the whole night! Early the following morning, after another great meal, we headed back to Bikaner.
The room we had at the hotel was beautiful - a very welcome change to a tent in the desert!
That afternoon, there was a plan to head to the Rat Temple just outside the city... Which Catherine immediately wasn't keen on doing (but may have gone in if we'd been allowed to keep shoes on)!! Bloody hate rats!! This temple is home to thousands and thousands of rats, and people come to the temple to pray and share communion with the rats. It's is one of the weirded places ever. Katie headed inside with the group, who all stayed inside for approximately 7 minutes before heading back out.
We boarded a very early (5.15am!!) bus from Bikaner to Jaisalmer the following morning. It was probably the coldest, most bumpy journey ever, and the bus had THE most annoying horn tune in the world. But 7 hours later we arrived in Bikaner in one piece. Again, the hotel that we're staying at is pleasantly surprising - we have a big room, but the best part is that we have a hot, strong shower! Bliss!! In the evening, we headed to see a man made lake in Jaisalmer, which was surrounded with very interesting building. Also a great photo op! From here, DJ took us to a great vantage point from which to watch the sunset from which overlooked the whole city with good views of the fort. Amazing!
This morning (we're up to date now!!) we headed for an orientation walk of the fort by one of the locals (who looked like he belonged to the local Mafia, but assured us he didn't!) He was very knowledgable and guided us around the old fort. This is our favourite place that we're been so far. It's much more relaxed than Delhi, but more interesting that Bikaner. The building in the fort has some of the most intricate carvings ever, all made of sandstone. It's truly beautiful! The locals are spoilt - nearly every home has this ornate carving, which make it all look very attractive. We did a bit more souvenir shopping here too which was fun.
We had a very brief day in Jodhpur yesterday, staying in a nice hotel in the old town with great views up to the fort. In the afternoon we went zip wiring from the fort which was so so much fun!! The longest one was 280m over lakes and rocky hills. It was so much fun and the best way to see the fort for sure! After that exhilarating view of fort, we opted for the more detailed version, with audio guides. The fort was really interesting, with a great collection of the Murhuraghs (no idea how you spell it!!) own belonging. The building was again so beautifully carved and really nice views of the town.
We're now in Udaipur!! We'll try do an update as much as we can, but internet connection is pretty bad... Damn we take broadband for granted!
Miss you and love you all!! Parents, keep an eye out for our parcels!