Sunday, 23 September 2007

Our Rajasthan tour continues...

Well, our tour has been pretty hectic so far! We're currently in Udaipur, a lakeside city surrounded by mountains, which is a cool respite from the scorching desert heat in the rest of Rajasthan.
Our camel safari took place about an hour away from Jaisalmer, we had a camel and a guide each and rode up to the sand dunes to watch the sunset, where there were a ton of other tourists as well. Like every other touristy place in India there was an enterprising drummer/singer guy who would ask for your name, sit down and sign some song, and then ask for money. He did it to Mark who unfortunately couldn't stop him in time, at the end he asked for 100Rs but I gave him 10Rs, which I think wasn't too bad a deal considering I took a video of the whole thing! Will upload it to YouTube later on... 
At night we had dinner with the people who ran the safari, usually there would've been music and dancing as well, but since a young woman and her baby had died the previous day they weren't having that, which was totally understandable... And I don't mind that much either, being pulled up for cultural dancing isn't really my thing!
We opted to stay in the desert so we got in a 'camel car' (basically a wagon pulled by a camel) and went into the sand dunes again, I'd been wondering whether it would involve tents or something, but turns out they just put the bed and the mattress on the sand, and that was it! By the time we got settled down it was about 11pm, and there was a slight breeze but it was still quite hot, so I didn't get the most amount of sleep ever, but it was definitely a novel experience... We got up at 5.30am or so to watch the sunrise, which wasn't really that different to sunset really, and that's when all the insects came... not that pleasant, but we got to see some interesting dung beetle action - will also upload the video when I can!
Our guide was called Vikram and unfortunately he didn't speak a huge amount of English, but he seemed fascinated with my GPS unit (just takes a log of GPS coordinates so you can match them with your photos) and also my Lonely Planet phrasebook. He told us about the animals we saw as we went past on the camels - apparently the cows and goats are used for milk, the donkeys for farmwork and carrying things, the camels for tourists and also pulling things, but the dogs just sat around doing nothing...
Both on the way in and out of Jaisalmer we saw a lot of windmills, which apparently supplies most of the electricity to the town and surrounding area.
After Jaisalmer we went to Jodhpur, famous for its teas and spices... Rakesh took us to one particular shop and we may have gone a little bit overboard, but I mean when I looked at the prices and compared it to how much it costs for a small little box of Greggs or Masterfoods stuff which isn't even as nice, we thought we might as well... The teas we tried were reeeeally nice as well, in fact all the masala teas (chai) we've had here have been a million times better than anything I've ever had in New Zealand! Then again there are probably places you can get better stuff in NZ, I just wouldn't know where, and it's probably expensive as well.
In Jodhpur we stayed at a quaint little guest house with a lot of colonial artefacts, taxidermied animals (okay, not sure if I can use that as an adjective but...) and other curious things. Kind of a shame we didn't really have a chance to play on the billiards table! Not that I know how to play billiards...
There were actually quite a few blocked roads in Jodhpur which was a bit annoying, at one of them Rakesh just looked down the other side and said "No problem, I go on the wrong side" and soon enough we were zooming down the road against tons of oncoming traffic. Great! In fact, we've had tons of fun driving experiences here so far, they don't really have road rules here per se, definitely no such thing as the 2 second rule, the don't-pass-unless-you-can-see-100m-clear-on-the-other-side rule, the give way rules, the wear-your-seltbelt-all-the-time rule, etc. But I'm already quite immune to it all, we've only seen two or three accidents so far (and they weren't that major).
People are always asking us 'which country?' or  'where (are) you from?' and when we say 'New Zealand', they usually immediately mention cricket. We had one guy in a museum who started listing all the cricket grounds he knew, actually first he asked if we were from Hamilton (LOL) and then continued to mention Napier, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Since the Twenty20 world cup is on at the moment, everyone mentions that right away. Last night we witnessed our horrendous defeat to Pakistan in our hotel room, actually we didn't even bother watching the whole thing since it was obvious we're going to lose... And then turns out that India beat Australia (yay!) so it's going to be an India-Pakistan final - should be exciting, I hope India wins otherwise everyone's going to be in a bad mood tomorrow... Of course nobody knows anything about rugby, but I guess there's no big games on until much later anyway. If all goes according to plan we should be in Goa when the world cup final is on, so provided we're in it (and we better be) hopefully we can find a touristy enough bar to watch it in!
Anyway, should probably stop hogging the hotel computer, I've also been uploading some photos to my flickr page so feel free to head over there and have a look! Hope everyone's still doing well, and I'll update again when I have a chance to. =)

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