It's been ages since I last updated my blog! I have intended to do it a few times but never got round to it.
So I left agra very happily on the 3rd December and took a train to Jaipur. On that train I bumped into Lee & Alex, 2 ossies I already met on the train to Agra and previously on the train to Varanasi. They reckoned Jaipur wasn't worth it and convinced me to go to Pushkar with them. I was traveling with 2 israeli guys met on that train and I convinced them too so we ended up in an all israeli hostel, which was quite fun.
Pushkar is quite small and most people stay 2 days. It is also mainly (and unfairly) known for being the shopping capital of india after Delhi. But it also has a lake (dried out at the moment but the spot is still gorgeous, with 52 ghats) and more than 500 temples. So when I tell people that I stayed there 5 days they think I'm a shopping addict while Pushkar is a really atmospheric place. According to the legend Lord Brahma created Pushkar when he dropped a lotus flower from his hand to earth. When the flower reached the ground water appeared in the desert forming three small lakes. Brahma is one of the three most important hindu deities (the other two being shiva and vishnu) however pushkar is the only place where a temple is dedicated to him.
My few days there were spent chillng out and visiting temples (and improving my little knowledge of hebrew). I found a very atmospheric spot by the lake to watch the sunset and the Savitri temple (one of Brahma's wives) - which you have to climb stairs for an hour to get to - gives a really beautiful view of the city.
On the follwing monday I took a night bus to Jaisalmer (nightmare journey again) and paired with 1 dutch girl and a canadian guy for the next few days. The Jaisalmer fort is beautiful but I wasn't impressed by the rest of the town nor all the touts trying to rip us off. We stayed there 1 day and went on a camel trek in the thar desert. And it was AMAZING!! We didn't see a single tourists, just us, the camels and the guides. My camel, Rajut, is just the sweetest and I am just loving riding him. It is baking hot and we regularly stop for us and the camels to rest. At night we made a campfire listening to raggae and slept on the sand, under the stars.....
Whilst the others stayed 3 nighs I only did one and took a train, after 2 days of riding a camel, to Jodhpur. Similarly, on the train I meet people who have been there and tell me that it's not that great but that Udaipur is magic. So out of the Jodhpur station I go straight on the bus to Udaipur, with some spanish and argentinians met at the stop. We spent 8 hours on the bus and the road was so bumpy I hurt my head a few times ouch. But it was worth it. Udaipur IS magic! And so far my favourite place. We decided to stay in a hostel that was recommended to me and it has the most beautiful rooftop I have ever been on, with a view over the city palace. I came for 2 nights and ended up staying 5. I spent my times visiting temples (its defo my favourite activity), improving my spanish, going to yoga lessons and going to a rajasthani cooking class. I also tried body painting, ie an artist painting on my arm, which was a great experience even tho it lasted only a couple of days. And, I also got 2 dresses tailor made for me which was a first too.
I left Udaipur only because I felt I had to move on or else I would stay there for a month. As I was ill after the nightmare bus journey I decided to fly to Goa (and not take a train to Mumbai for a few day stopover as I had planned). So on the 16th I got to Panjim, goa.
And I have to say that i was in (cultural) shock for the first couple of days. It's nothing like India. I get there quite late that evening and the hostel I wanted to stay in was full (and it was 20 quid a night anyway - Panjim is VERY expensive). I ended in a right sh* hole for a tenner. I love the way in the room there was a list of rules printed on the wall - "door closes at 10pm no entry allowed after, checking out 8am, no laundry service, not allowed to wash your clothes in the sink, no internet facility, no restaurant". ha! lovely. At that point I just want to leave and my plan is to stay that one night and booked a bus ticket to Hampi for the next day. But going for diner the bar tender recommended me another place to stay and so I decided to stay another night so I could try and switch my opinion of Panjim. The next day I went to old goa (which a long time ago was bigger than Paris or London and is now really empty with a few beautiful churches). I still don't quite like the vibe in Panjim but I can at least share my experience with Claudia, a german girl whos got a room next to mine.
She was planning to go to Arambol the next day and I decided to go too as I figured I could rest for a few days. Luckily Rich and Kim (that I met in Varanasi) were heading to Arambol too so we are now all here chilling out on the beach. Claudia and I are staying in a bambou hut - the place has yoga lessons and amazing food. Yesterday we rented scooters and went off to Terekol Fort and found a secret beach. We stayed on the beach well after sunset and got back in the dark last night.
I am not quite sure what to make of Arambol. It's nice to be on the beach but I can feel how goa is super touristy and commercial with lots of ageing hippies and souvenir shops. I am not digging the vibe and claudia and I feel there is something not quite right with this place (perhaps old bohemians raving at 4pm on acid, or maybe some pseudo spiritual people chanting and juggling on the beach? not sure but clearly not my vibe). So instead of spending xmas here as firstly planned we have booked a bus to Hampi.
From there I should reach south goa for a couple of days before moving on to Karnataka and Kerala.
Merry xmas to you all, have some roast for me!