Pushkar was Amazing. We were there for the Camel Fair which was quite an experience. The crowds were large, the prices even larger and the atmosphere was incredible!
It's normally quite a small peaceful town so it was lovely to walk around in as you can't really get lost. Because there were so many other tourists people didn't hassle us too much and our hotel was just on the outskirts in a nice peaceful spot (other than the constant droning from the Temple next door). The Hotel was a wee family run business with a lovely homely feel and great food. In town we managed to find a little Indian style restaurant on the street which made western food at Indian prices and as Pushkar, for religious reasons, is a vegetarian zone I was in heavenJ
The shopping was pretty good too although the prices were a wee bit inflated. I bought another Sari though. One of the sisters who worked at the Hotel is also a seamstress. She is really friendly and it was cheap so I couldn't refuse.
We stayed there a day longer than we'd planned originally because we felt so at home and it was a nice break from our frantic traveling. It also had a really good shower!
On the 11th November Sean and I headed for Jaipur while Cait got the night coach to Jaisalmer.
Jaipur was short but sweet. We stayed for one night in a cheap grotty little place with a sweet older owner. We were temporarily engaged as otherwise sharing a double room would be unacceptable. The fact that we weren't married was already a tad strange for most people. We wandered around Jaipur and tried to do some shopping. It wasn't very successful. One; because Sean didn't get his card unblocked until the 2nd day and as I'd lent him my money over the last 2 weeks I'd run out too. Two; because the hassle was just too tiring. To have to bargain everything down to an 8th of the price in every shop means that after awhile you just can't be bothered anymore. Also their inability to tell you what material things are made out of. If you pick up a scarf and ask "Is this silk?" They say yes pashmina silk mix, fine quality. 4 parts silk rest pashmina. When you go on to say you don't want silk you are informed that the 4 types are cotton-silk, polly-silk, satin-silk and rough-silk. When I asked what rough silk was made from he answered "tree". They just tell you what you want to hear which makes finding the truth very hard.
In the evening we went to see a Bollywood film in the Raj Mandir Cinema. The Lonely Planet describes it as a giant pink Meringue which is a tourist attraction not to be missed. They are right! It was great fun. It's really posh and sophisticated, and the spectators are almost as beautiful as the building as all the women have on their best Rajasthani Saris.
The film was a love story revolving around lots of Indian weddings. The whole thing was in Hindi but we didn't have much problems understanding it. Especially as they stick in a couple of English words every now and again.
In the interval the man sitting next to us struck up a conversation with Sean. He told us the plot again and explained how he'd had a love marriage to his wife. By the end of the conversation we knew a lot about his family and he knew that sean and I were engaged, our family knew about it and were happy about it, we planned to get married in 3 years once we'd completed our studies (we're both in our first year at Edinburgh uni) and we plan to have children then and we love each other very much. What I always find fascinating is that they assume we're students and always ask what we're studying at the moment even though we just told them that we're in India for 3 ½ months. To me that makes no logical sense. How can we be studying if we're away??? However if you say you're on a gap year they look a wee bit confused so we stick to the studying story. Sean's in his first year of Engineering.
The following day we got the 13 hour night train to Jaisalmer where we met up with Cait again. She'd found us a lovely hotel room in an old Haveli for a very reasonable price. Just over £1 a night each. It's called Sri Giriraj Palace. So far as a group we've only stayed in PalacesJ
Jaisalmer is a beautiful city with a fort in the centre carved out of sand stone. A wee bit like a giant sandcastle city in the middle of the desert. The fort is inhabited by people, cows, restaurants and shops. It's a maze like place where you can be completely lost, then you turn a corner and you're back where you started. A lot of the buildings are delicately carved with thousands of intricate patterns which makes it a very beautiful place to be. It's especiallt romantic to dine their at sunset. Jaipur was called the Pink city but was more peachy and Jaisalmer is called the Golden city and really lives up top it's name a lot better. Especially at night when the fort is lit up with golden flood lights.
During our shopping excursions we met up with an incredible lady named Bobby. She did our Henna and we had a very interesting conversation about Indian culture. Her sister is having an arranged marriage next week. All she has is a photo of her husband who she says looks like a monkey. She will spend the rest of her life with him and will be allowed homw once every 6 months for 2 days. I asked her if she was looking forward to her lavish 5 day wedding. She said she's very nervous and is just praying he'll be nice. The wedding is for the guest's enjoyment not the Bride's. It's so strange. It's something you hear about but can't really believe until you actually meet the people and even then it's very hard to get your head round. It's fascinating but oh so unimaginable.
One of the reasons we cane here was for the Camel Safari. We went for 3 days and spent 2 nights sleeping under the stars in the Thar desert but I'll let the photos do all the talking for that experience.
I am planning on heading to Jodhpur tomorrow morning and Cait and Sean may follow soon after, they're not yet decided.
We're all starting to go our own ways now which is kind of terrifying. Cait will probably stay in Rajasthan and then either head to Kolcatta or head back north. Sean is making a beeline for Goa and I'm thinking of going to Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary home to the last wild Asiatic lions before drifting south to Kerela. However because I've spent longer in Rajasthan than I'd originally planned (and I'm still wanting to go horse trekking in Udaipur) I have to alter my plan. The thing is I just do not know what to cut out. I'm also not sure if I really want to travel by myself for long periods of time. I think it'll be a great learning experience traveling as a solitary female through India but I'm not sure it'll always be pleasant. I want to try it for a bit though but I might just end up following Sean around the south after that - depends how it goes. I really don't like having an exact plan though. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm sure it's very healthy for me thoughJ
Well we'll see how it all works out. I just sent 30 something postcards off so most of the people reading this (although I haven't actually got a clue who is, you should let me know by leaving a comment on the message board) should receive one shortly.
I'll update this again soon when I know what's happening and have a few hours to spare which really isn't that often.
Love you all loads