1) Mt Abu - We were quite interested about how this mountain town little number was going to pan out. Apparently it's a very popular holiday destination for the natives, in particularly those from Gujarat. We soon discovered however that there was very little to do. Owing to the time of year, we were unable to do a mountain trek for fear of bears attacking us! We therefore settled down for the night chez our hotel with some well needed alcohol. It is in fact quite diffictult to get your hands on the stuff over here. Most restaurants are technically unlicensed and many Indians are tee total. However, our eagly eyes spotted an off license and we were fully beveraged up with 'extra strong' cobra and some Mother's ruin (though not quite of Bombay Sapphire standards). We enjoyed the added bonus of Baywatch being shown on tv so a drinking game involing the 'Hoff was thus born.
2) Jodhpur - safely out of the bore of Mt Abu, we made our way to Jodhpur, the blue city. Unfortunately we did have to sit for an hour or so in the world's worst train station at Abu Road with all sorts of excrement, cattle, beggars, dirt, flies, heat. You had to laugh else you would just cry. Sadly, it is nigh on impossible to escape the filth and abject poverty in India. You just get used to it. Upon recommendation we stayed in Cosy guesthouse, in the heart of Jodhpur. And cosy it certainly was, our room being situated on the ground floor bang next to reception and thus all the hotel staff who slept on the floor in reception. Al, bless him, had to make do with a mattress on the floor shoved into our allegedly 'triple' room. The owner however seemed friendly enough and had lots of useful advice.
The main attraction in Jodhpur is its incredible Fort (Mehrangah - I think that is spelt correctly.) Equipped with a superb audio guide, we scaled the fortress and were rewarded with great views of the blue city and a live demonstration of how to put on a turban!! Jodhpur (yes the trouseers do come from here) is nicknamed the blue city because many of its buildings are so dyed, apparently with a view to repelling insects.
The following day we booked ourselves onto a village jeep safari where we travelled from village to village to sample the various different ways of life. Unfortunately this was to be where I was parted from my beloved Ipod. Good thing I went for Gold standard Insurance with no excess to pay (and that I have a devoted mother who can make the claim for me!) We sampled some opium tea (rank and of no effect whatsoever) got treated to a 'feast' of a lunch which consisted of chapatti, green stuff resembling grass and yellow stuff. We also witnessed handmade carpets being made (thrilling) and make our own pots - more exciting and evoked memories of the film 'Ghost' - without the raunch though!
Jaisalmer is another fortress town, this time to the west of Rajasthan state. Although it differs from Jodhpur as one is actually allowed to stay within the grounds of the fort. Very exciting for us if lacking a certain concern for the preservation of the fort. Oh well. I instantly preferred Jaisalmer to Jodhpur - it was far quieter and given the location, was most atmospheric. The principal reason for any visit to Jaisalmer is for desert camel trekking so we quickly signed ourselves up for a 2 day/1 nigtht excursion all in for less 5GBP per person per day. Bargain. The camel trek proved to be a brilliant if exhasuting experience. I certainly wouldnt want to do it for much longer than 2 days. Day 1 was an early start with a short jeep ride to the desert where we were picked up by the camels. Mine was called Mr Laloo. He had a slight identity crisis in that he was wearing some pretty necklaces. Though. to do him justice, he was quite a competitive little camel and liked to be ahead of the pack - which I obviously enjoyed. Sam's camel 'Kaloo' was not quite so cooperative, having a deep affinity with all the various vegetation found in the desert, in particular hurtling her into cactus plants. She still has the scars to prove it. Al, on the other hand was stuck at the back with 'Sonja Gandhi', the only female camel of the pack. She was, sad to say also the slowest and he was put in the remedial class for the duration, not even being allowed to hold the reins for much of the trek!!
We camped out in time for sunset which was all very romantic for the couples on our trip, bleurgh bleurgh bleurgh. Instead, our trio headed for where the 'cold' beer was! The camel drivers cooked us up a treat and we sat there listening to them sing about god knows what. At least they were happy about it! Fell asleep under the stars with just a few blankets comfort - I actually think the blankets for the camels were more luxurious than ours!
I was awoken at some unearthly hour the next morning by the head camel driver whispering sweet nothings in my ear - well actually he was muttering something about 'chai.' After a quick breakfast, we were back on the camels by 7.30am - a little too early for my liking. 5hrs later and I was still on said camel and lower body was beginning to ache somewhat! After a well deserved lunch break and siesta, we were back on the camels. much to our dismay by this point. Fortunately there was only about another hour to go. All in all, a very worthwhile experience.