PLANES, TRAINS AND 'SUPER-DELUXE' BUSES
After numerous trains we decided to travel to Jodhpur by bus. After much shopping around we booked the 'Super-Deluxe' 5 hour bus to Jodhpur. Needless to say it was neither 'super' or 'deluxe', however we did have the best seats at the front of the bus, with pleanty of leg room. The upside of travelling on the bus is that you get to see so much more of the country that you're travelling through. The views of the Rajasthan mountains were amazing. The drive itself was more than a bit hair-raising at times, with the driver taking narrow hairpin bends blind! The driving was, however, typical of Indian motoring. There is an unwritten system in place that, despite being more than a bit haphazard, seems to work. Basically the bigger your vehivle the higher you rank. Coached out rank trucks, trucks out rank cars, cars out rank autorickshaws, etc. - unless of course you're a cow - in which case you trump all other road traffic and everything moves around you.
Another quirk of Indian driving is that horns are used instead of indicators. The horns also get more elaborate with the size of the vehicle. Our coach driver had a whole panel with about a dozen buttons dedicated to different horn effects. He had everything from the 'reversing rubbish truck' to the 'General Lee' from the Dukes of Hazard.
The coach ended up taking over 7 hours instead of the promised 5 as Max and Paddy (the driver and his conductor friend) stopped at every oppourtunity to pick up as many people as the bus could hold (pocketing any pofits in the process!). The downside of this delay was that the last two hours of the journey were spent in the dark and the glorious Rajasthan counrtyside was replaced with views of a large, plastic, multi-coloured, migraine inducing, glowing Shiva on the dashboard!
Our hotel in Jodhpur is amazing. We have a whole 'suite' in a stunning old haveli at the base of the fort's walls. Each evening the street outside has been lit up so that the local children can stay out late dancing as part of the Durga-puja festival.
We met a nice couple who gave us their tickets to the fort - no one had collected the stub from them when they went so they were still intact. Our visit to the fort was side-tracked when we ended up playing a board game with a local guy called Ashoka - it was like a cross between air-hokey and pool. When we eventually did make it to the fort we treated ourselves to a palm reading with Mr Sharma (the Royal palmist and astrologer) which was fun.
We also had another comedy traffic moment - two guys sitting back-to-back on a motorbike with the one at the rear carrying 6 dinning chairs!!!
Next stop Jaisalmer....