We left Jaipur early Wednesday morning (17th July). The hotel manager had told us that there was a bus leaving for Pushkar around 11 so we thought we'd get there early to find the bus stop. First we were told there was no bus until 2, but then luckily we found a bus going to Ajmer leaving straight away so we got on that and changed at Pushkar. Both of us being used to getting on buses that then don't leave for hours we got on with our stuff and Jade went to get us water and biscuits for breakfast. However, in an unusual move for India, the bus left straight away and on pulling out had another bus stuck behind it. I jumped off and ran to get Jade (who luckily had just managed to buy some food) and we ran back to the bus apologising. We arrived in Ajmer without much problem. Here at the bus station we were directed to a bus to Pushkar. We tried to get on the bus asking to check it was the right one. The guy pointed us to the next bus. So we went and tried to get on that one. The guy pointed us back to the other one. We were walking back and forth between them for a few minutes, with the second guy saying "no English". At first we thought he was just being a little rude and not allowing us on the bus because I was English, although it seems he just couldn't speak English. We were a little confused as to why that mattered seeing as all we were saying was Pushkar but all's well that ends well. The bus took us through "Snake mountain" to Pushkar, a really beautiful scenic journey. On arrival we ended up staying at Shree Palace Hotel, which was 100 rupees (so about £1.15) each a night for a double bed with a bathroom and a pool (although the pool was a little green looking and we didn't venture in).
Just as the sun started getting low we went down to "Sunset Café" to have dinner. It was incredible, right beside this beautiful tranquil lake with lots of ghats surrounding it. Finally began to feel a little bit relaxed which was lovely. Both of us had pizza for supper which looked great but sadly had no tomato sauce so wasn't quite so yum. We made do with some extra tommy k. We got chatting to some Indian guys (I say got chatting they interrupted our conversation to ask Jade about her lip piercing but same same) who seemed to think when I told them I studied Psychology that this meant I could read palms and held their hands out to me. Bit awkward. We told them we had to go and meet some friends and took off back to the hotel. On the way we met the guy who worked at the hotel and sat for a while with him and his friend and had a chat. During this time the guys we had previously met walked past and asked if our friends weren't waiting, which was even more awkward.
Thursday morning we went to Honey and Spice restaurant for breakfast. I'd suggested it after reading about it in the Lonely Planet, this absolutely lovely very healthy food place with such a cute old man running it. They had all these signs there about the benefits of eating healthily and all this lovely veggie health foods which felt exactly what we needed after some not very healthy few days. I felt seriously virtuous with my yoghurt filled with all these yummy fruits and nuts which I almost wish I could bring back some of and give to mama because she (or you if you're reading this!) would absolutely love it! A little bit pricey by Indian standards which still means ridiculously cheap. We then went and did some shopping. We bought some more baggy trousers from the shopkeeper next door to the restaurant (I don't really know why just got caught up in the moment) and I bought some cool cushions and bits I look forward to showing you when I get home! Also bought some Ayurvedic face wash, which I'm hoping will help to get rid of the layers of grime that it feels like India is building up on my skin daily. We also bought some crystals which are multi-coloured and are meant to represent the 7 elements of your shakra and you can swing them around your palm to tell if you have good or bad energy. Have to confess I'm a little sceptical about this last part, but they were really pretty anyway! Later we went back to the Sunset café for a drink before having a little venture down to the ghats. We didn't go too far as we could see the whole lake from where we were and both were pretty tired from all the shopping. Plus 40 feet from the water you are meant to take your shoes off and it was too hot to do that without burning your feet (and I have no idea how far 40 feet is). Later we went to the Baba café for dinner, where I had some yummy red pesto spaghetti, which I had been craving for ages but too scared of gross overcooked mush to order, and Jade had "the best rosemary potatoes" she'd ever had.
Friday was our last day in Pushkar (waa) so we started it off by going down to the Bluebell salon. Here I got my eyebrows threaded and tinted for the grand total of 200 rupees, less than £2.50. The threading actually wasn't anywhere near as painful as I had thought and Jade assures me that the tinting looks good. I like it now but at first I was a bit worried that I looked like a bit of a tit. Still, a fun experience. Then we went back to the beloved Honey and Spice and had brunch. The day before Jade hadn't finished her muesli and the man had told her to take a walk and come back to it so we were both aware we were going to have to finish our plates. I had this very healthy feeling and yummy spinach and mushroom and mango and papaya salad with this absolutely delishioso blackberry and apple lassi. A bit like one of those petit filo but 100 times nicer. And that doesn't even do it justice. We then went back to the shop we'd bought our trousers from the day before and demanded he swap us for some that weren't see through. This took a while and he kept trying to get us to pay more, but we went on the lines that he had assured us the day before that they were opaque (which luckily we had discovered they weren't just before we went to have supper the day before in the hotel room when I'd asked Jade who had looked very dubious). Eventually he caved and we won some new baggy trousers which are apparently of better quality although similar style to the ones that ripped in Agra. All quite good humoured and one of the shop assistants even nearly bought Jade's primark aviators (which he obviously thought were real Ray bans for a few thousand rupees). Later we did a little bit more shopping and then went to see the Brahma temple, which was nice and had a lot of engravings to people who had passed away which was very touching. Little bit less fond of the massive wasps in there though and we didn't stay all that long. In the evening we went to the "Magic View Restaurant" and had some more lovely food for our last evening. Looked out over the lake and the mountains and listened to some great music and chatted to the guys who worked at the restaurant about Indian life and Western life.
Saturday we went off to catch the bus to Bundi. Again the "direct bus that leaves every half an hour" didn't seem to appear. We were told at the bus station there wasn't one until 11 and then that there wasn't a direct one at all. Who knows. Either way we decided just to get a bus to Ajmer and change. We got on the bus (with our luggage on the roof which always makes me nervous) and then spent about half an hour in the bus station waiting to leave while they filled it up as much as possible. This was made more annoying by the fact the bus kept starting and then stopping, so I kept feeling hopeful we were off and then we only moved 2 cm. We paid 40 rupees to get back to Ajmer, which was over 3 times the 13 rupee fair there. Really sweetly one of the locals sat nearby us asked us about our fair because he thought the bus conductor was ripping us off and called him to demand he give us money back. It turned out that the fair was more for our luggage on the top (a random extra charge that sometimes seems to apply according to the bus) and the conductor had a bit of a smug look on informing the guy of this. But still, it was really nice of him to look out for us, as well as another person further along the bus. Sweety pies, loved them. Seem to spend so much time here with people trying to rip you off that it's especially nice when someone just checks you aren't being ripped off out of the goodness of their heart (and it was just him being nice, he wasn't using it as an excuse to be creepy or anything after that he just carried on on the trip with his family). We got dropped off at the "bus station" which was actually a little walk away from the bus station but eventually found it and managed to get on with our luggage. Keeping our luggage with us meant we had it in the space our legs should go in so a slightly uncomfortable trip but at least it was safe! The conductor then told us "5 minutes" and we were just being amazed at how fast we'd got there when he explained to us it was just a rest stop. At the rest stop we were then told to change stops, and got on another bus we were just hoping went to Bundi after a confusing conversation with some of the locals in broken English. On the bus the only space left was a row of three so I ended up sitting next to this religious looking chappy in white robes with a big knot of hair on top of his head. I feel a bit ignorant saying that, sure by now I should know which religion that all signifies/it'll turn out to be a sign of a very holy priest or something but I'm afraid I don't know. He was having a mare trying to open his water bottle so Jade saved the day. He then lost his phone, at which point I got poked in the face by his big bundle of hair several times while he searched for it. He then got up to the luggage rack to check for it, leaving Jade scared he was going to fall on her and me with a face full of white-robed bum. After a while he eventually found it down the side of his seat and we all laughed. He then stared at me for a while with his hand open as if he had just asked me a question and I was rudely not replying, so I turned and smiled and said hello, which he ignored. I then couldn't help laughing a little bit, because his expression was so funny but managed to get myself under control and then fell asleep. Jade said she had wanted to take a picture of us both sleeping side by side looking like a very odd little pair.
We finally arrived in Bundi, and took a tuk tuk to Haveli Uma Megh, which we'd decided on based on the LPs description of lovely meals outside beside the lake. The room was really cute with a very oldy feel and an old mirror and little mural. Seemed a bit like something you'd expect to find in Miss Haversham's house or some big old country house which has seen better days. It had a lovely view over the lake, which Jade described as like a picture of English countryside, even with some horses grazing nearby. Lovely. And pretty cheap. I think India is always cheap but off season is great for prices, especially because it's not so hard to bargain. We then went down for dinner (around 5) both starving. We had both only had more breakfast cookies all day so were ready for our lovely little lakeside meal. The table was under this makeshift style shelter in the garden and the cook and people were very sweet. It was a nice view but sadly not really what we wanted both being pretty tired. Where we were sat was a bit anty and flyey. My Sprite was completely flat. Then we tried to go inside to eat because there were monkeys chilling out on the side of the garden and I am really not a big fan of monkeys after being chased by them twice and then seeing the hoards attack in Delhi. We asked once and the guy said that the white faced ones, which these were aren't dangerous, it's only the red faced ones. Still, we weren't convinced. They ended up moving along and we had a little guard at the edge of the garden while we were eating. Sadly Jade's pizza which she had been really excited about turned out to be an odd sort of fried naan with curried onion and bits on top. Not ideal. My Rajasthani thali wasn't much better. The vegetable bit was nice but so salty and the other bit had lots of very nice seeds. The chapatti was nice though so I ate all of them. The cook was so sweet we didn't have the heart to say it was anything but delicious. We then sneaked out to a local shop and bought snacks and went to our room and watched Eat Pray Love and chilled out after a pretty tiring day. Laaavly.
So I'm writing this on Sunday on Word on Jade's laptop. Not sure when I will upload it. We woke up a bit late, checked out and booked an overnight bus to Jodphur. We had planned avoid the breakfast but when we went to pay they all leapt up so we sat down and had scrambled eggs on toast which actually was nicer than expected. We had to fend off offers of lunch and dinner but then all nice. We then went to see the Fort and the Palace. It didn't look that exciting, kind of impressive from the outside but a bit mouldy looking. We were put off further by the man outside selling sticks to fend off the monkeys inside with and the fact that the LP said that some of the rooms have bats (which Jade is scared of and I'm not massively fond of). Instead we decided to have a walk through Bundi which doesn't seem to be very exciting. We decided to go to Tom and Jerry's café up the hill and turned back when it started raining. We found quite a comfy shelter of ledge with a step to stop under and then ventured out when we thought it had stopped. Mistake. About 30 seconds later it started pouring and we ended up under a tiny ledge trying to squish ourselves under to keep dry/keep our bags dry. Luckily, just as we were wishing for a tuk tuk one turned up. He managed to drive right up to the ledge so we didn't have to step through the now flooded street with all the pee and dirt from the streets swilling around in it. He took us to Tom and Jerry's where we sat for most of the afternoon and wrote up blogs/diaries. We also shared a pizza which was actually yummy, so at least we both got our fix. We then asked if there was anything to do. The guy there said the Fort, I asked if it was very good and he said "not very good" so we decided to save money and go for another little stroll. This ended up at Shivam Guest House in their rooftop restaurant where I am now sitting drinking Masala Chai and writing this blog. Also watching a tortoise called Krishna pootle alongside in the café. Makes me miss little Tilly, maybe I can bring him home and they can be friends. I can't say Bundi has been the most worthwhile of stops in this trip, especially as it turns out to be actually quite far out of our way. The guy at the place we are having chai t has just told us there is a waterfall we could have gone to see and we could have spent the day cycling around in the hills. Sounds nice except quite glad we gave that a miss and didn't end up stuck up a hill in torrential downpour. Either way it's been a nice day. It looks like the next two nights will be spent on sleeper buses/trains to get up to Jaisalmer to go on a camel safari so probably a chilled out day is just what we need to prepare us!
Lots of love, sorry that this blog is insanely long, hope it isn't too boring! Jade's battery is about to go so yet again no time to check through. Xxxx