The bus to Jodphur was a bit of an adventure. After finishing my last blog we had dinner, got some snacks and went to play Ludo on my travel Ludo (which I knew would come in handy one day!) while we waited for our tuk tuk to the bus station. Smarmily thought I was way ahead but then Jade won. The tuk tuk took around the other side of the lake on what was actually my favourite trip in Bundi so far, it looked really beautiful with the twinkling lights and a better view for the Fort. When we had been eating dinner there were monkeys running along the balcony in front of us, a beautiful sunset and then beautiful stars and little gheckos pootling around. It was really lovely, although Jade was less impressed by the big flight of bats that took off over the lake. Anyway, Bundi is a really pretty place and we probably didn't make the absolute most of it, having said that I am also quite glad that we didn't go off cycling around the hills and get stuck in a massive downpour.
At the bus station we watched most of some odd Hindu horror movie, and although the bus was pretty late we didn't really start minding until we noticed a rat running along the shelves in front of us. At this point we were counting the seconds. The overnight bus was not a joyous experience. We were in this weird bunk which you can lie down in. Generally would have been ok except for the fact it was damp and smelt a little bit of wee. And also the journey was really bumpy, and because you lie with your feet facing the driver when the bus rocks as it moves it feels a bit like being shaken up like a coke can. Also because you can't see the road each turn feels a lot more severe which is a little freaky. I did not sleep well because I was on the side with the slidy doors which people kept opening and then not bothering to shut when looking for their own cabins. However, we got there in one piece and managed to get our train tickets in a deceptively hidden booking office before checking in to the Baba Guest House to drop our stuff and freshen up. Later on we went to see the Mehrangh (no idea if that's the right spelling) Fort where we got a free audio guide and wandered around for a couple of hours. It was quite interesting and a very impressive place. Lots of people put their children in front of me for photos which, having not slept well on the bus, I can't say I was massively appreciating. One of the most memorable bits of the fort for me was seeing the handprints of the Maharajahs wives which they had made just before going to commit mass suicide on their husband's funeral pyre. Some of the handprints were so tiny, they must have been so young.
After the Fort we the Jakanta something which was this lovely building not that far away made of marble. It is so tranquil there and so lovely to walk around after the hectic journey. Definitely going to be one of my "happy places" to remember, with beautiful gardens and incredible views of the fort, the hills and Jodphur all around. We then headed to Chittorakh (or something that sounded like that) which had another name of Umaid-something Palace. I can't really remember the names but basically it's this huge and very decadent palace commissioned to create jobs during a severe drought, which has also created a massive dam which is also great for Jodphur apparently. There was a car museum here with lots of very expensive old cars which I know my grandpa would absolutely love. There was also another museum with quite a lot of stuff bigging up the King who's palace it was and then lots of slightly bizarre crockery displays. Felt a bit like walking through displays of Victorian era drawing rooms, like the kind of stuff we got taken on school trips to see where they have one of those old school washing boards.
We then went to see the clocktower and the market in Jodphur centre and had a bit of a break and some food at the Anil Sunrise café. Lovely bit of much-needed downtime although sadly our food took about 500 years to come; we ordered a sandwich and chips and having waited for about half an hour the sandwich finally came, followed by the chips a good half hour later. I could hear them chopping up the potatoes after we'd finished our sandwiches and almost could have cried, much too hungry for Indian timings. Then off to a recommended-by-the-LP spice shop where I bought some spices which will hopefully mean I can make some yummy curries when I get home. Probably not but at least the recipes on the back so I can try. We then went back and had a nap for a couple of hours, both being pretty exhausted. Such a good nap. After we went to the Jarokhar restaurant (again I'm just guessing the spelling) and had nice (although pretty spicy) pizza. Just as I'd finished mine it starting pouring down so we moved under shelter and enjoyed the moody monsoon while peeking out at the fort in the dark. Luckily it had stopped by the time we headed off on our overnight bus to Jaisalmer. Really liked Jodphur. Hope we managed to do it some kind of justice in one very full day.
The overnight train to Jaisalmer all went pretty well. We slept above a sweet little French family who we made a pact with to wake each other up if we got to Jaisalmer and were still fast asleep. About 1 am the ticket conductor decided to come round, who I can't say I was delighted to see in the midst of my short sleep. Probably the first sleeper train I've been on where I haven't got off with "chai chai" ringing in my ears from constant chai sellers. Arrived and met our hotel man who took us to Hotel Mirage, which is sweet. He made us some masala chai, which was lovely although we had actually just wanted to go to bed and not particularly sit upstairs and chat about life and camel safaris. Finally around 6 am we made it into bed for a little nap. Later we had a little adventure around the fort (which we're staying inside of) and met Tom (from England) and Sam (from Germany) who joined us on our little wander. They were a hilarious duo, completely different from each other, Tom being super organised and Sam being the most relaxed person I've ever met who isn't asleep. On route we booked our camel trek with Ganesha safaris (which Ba our hotel owner got a little bit grumpy about and then proceeded to tell us all the reasons his was better). We left the boys and went for a walk around the palace (leaving Tom on a search for Sam who had wandered off again). Again very interesting but also a bit dilapidated (which I guess seeing as it's really old and a palace isn't that unusual) and to be honest felt a bit samey after our previous palace walks. Then had some dinner and a nice cold beer to watch the sunset to before an early night ready for our camel trek the next morning!