A Travellerspoint blog

I am still trying to get the colour out of my hair!

Happy Holi! And round two of Udaipur...

All I can say is AMAZING!!!! Holi could very well be my new favourite festival of all time! Those Indians really know how to party. It is completely insane! As a white single girl, I certainly wouldn't recommend going to Holi on your own as it can get slightly out of control and the men love to wish you a "Happy Holi" with a hug that lingers a little bit too long (and close!). Fortunately, I was with my friend Rahul and his mates, so that prevented the unwanted advances. Nothing like a harsh look and a few stern words in Hindi to send them packing...

The Holi Festival is a Hindu festival that is also known as the Festival of Colours or Love. The Hindus love a festival! For anyone that has any business relations with India (I certainly had to deal with them quite a bit when I was at PwC)...they're always on bloody holiday! And now I understand why, their festivals are awesome. Who can blame them! Holi signifies a few things; the triumph of good over evil, beginning of spring, end of winter, and is just plain fun! It is a two day festival. On the eve of the Colour Festival, a Holika bonfire is lit and people will sing and dance around the bonfire to signify the victory of good over evil. The following morning is the Colour Festival and this is when it gets really crazy! Anyone and everyone is fair game. You wish people a "Happy Holi" by putting coloured powder on your hands and rubbing it on their cheeks and neck. Music is blaring in the streets and everyone is in great spirits. People will also spray you with water using big bazooka water guns (this is why it almost looks like I am covered in paint, because the powder gets wet!). Another "interesting" thing that they do is some people like to bathe in a mixture of water, cow dung and cow urine! It is believed to be very healing here in India. So much so that some will even ingest cow urine to improve their health...gross, I know! As you can imagine, I very kindly declined any offers to be sprayed with that concoction!

I was very fortunate to be able to celebrate Holi in a variety of different locations all over Udaipur on the back of Rahul's bike (and being on the back of that bike in its self is quite the experience! Fortunately he is a great driver...much safer than many of the people I saw while I was here!) We went to many street parties and got to wish hundreds of people a HAPPY HOLI!!!!! By far the most surreal experience I encountered that day was overtaking an elephant while being on the back of the motorbike! I wish I had a pic...even he was "Holi'd" too, haha!

Holi is absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend anyone who is in India during the festival to take part! I definitely would like to do another one...can't get enough! An absolutely amazing experience; one that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Sadly, this entry concludes my stint in India. After Holi, I headed back to the ashram for a few days to bid farewell to my friends there. Those days were enjoyable, but uneventful so do not warrant a post. I am still flawed at the impact that India has had on me in these seven, very short weeks (they absolutely flew!). I have never felt so alive or connected with myself as I have while being here. This country is truly incredible and I am very sad to be leaving. I could have easily spent my entire year away here without a hitch! My time here feels so unfinished, there is so much more I want to see and experience. I will definitely be back...but enough with the sentimental stuff!

Namaste my friends...talk to you from "sunny" London!

Mel xx

A few weeks prior to Holi, I started to notice giant bags of coloured powder suddenly appear in the markets. At the time I did not realise what it was for, but it was India, and I was certainly becoming quite accustomed to seeing odd things and not giving it too much thought! Who was I to judge their ways! I later found out that it was indeed the colour for Holi! On the morning of the Colour Festival (or if you are an early bird and organised, which we were not!), people head into the markets to purchase their colour for the day. It's dirt cheap and comes in a variety of colours (as shown below). I also like to think that it is nontoxic and hypoallergenic (I got quite a lot in my mouth at one point)....it didn't taste awful so it was probably ok! Nothing like having bright purple teeth!
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The night before Holi, the celebrations kick off. People set up large bonfires like this in the streets and set fire! It is complete insanity! Rahul took me on a drive through the city when everything was alight, unbelievable. A complete fire hazard...and it wouldn't surprise me one day if a city burned down! But it's the Indian way, and it makes no sense and is crazy...another reason why I love India!
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Jagdish Temple...there was a giant bonfire right in front of it!
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One of the bonfires outside of the Temple. Another tradition is for any babies that are celebrating their first Holi, the father will walk the child around the fire 7 times (I think it's 7...clockwise) for goodluck in the child's life. Indians are very superstitious with some of their traditions. We saw three babies making trips around a fire that evening.
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Another bonfire in front of the Temple.
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The before picture....a very clean Mel! The best 250 Rupee investment ever! I am very glad I took a few before snaps. This kurta got completely ruined by colour during the festival. And straight in the bin afterwards...
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Breakfast of champions! Nothing says good morning like a few Kingfishers, an onion paratha (one of my favourite Indian snacks - a chippatie stuffed with onions) and vegetable pakora (deep fried veggies...delish!). This was the rooftop bar of the hotel that I stayed in while in Udaipur. The views were to die for! I spent a great deal of time here contemplating life over a few brews. And by the end of it, was on a first name basis with all of the staff...legends!
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Before we had even started with the colour, the bike was trashed (and so was the hotel manager! He had been bombed with some serious colour! So much so that his teeth were purple!).
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Jagdish Temple on Holi! Bit of a difference...this place was wild. I didn't have the camera out for much of the day as I was worried it would be completely ruined but I did take it out periodically at a few "safe" times to take a few snaps. Although because it was "safe" it didn't capture the fun parts (aka the complete ridiculousness!)
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People everywhere!
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We had a bit of a rave on this street which was outside of one of Rahul's friends' hotel. The music was pumping with some serious Hindi (and sometimes English...yay!) tunes. There was some pretty phenomenal dance moves happening here (of course mine were as ordinary as ever!). But of course that didn't stop me getting amongst it!
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Close up of Rahul & I in the middle of the chaos!
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Kunal and I knocking back a Kingfisher! One of quite a few that day... The great thing about being coloured head to toe is that it makes your teeth look insanely white! Ready for a Colgate commercial!
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Tourists getting amongst it too!
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Not everyone likes to partake in Holi. I loved this shot. These people were watching our antics from a very safe distance above!
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The bike...a mess!
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Prior to taking a dip at Tiger Lake. So messy!
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Tiger Lake is stunning! But the water is freezing! It really took my breathe away when I dove in. And apparently the Indians were really impressed with my skills as I was asked to dive in several times. Not sure if they have ever seen a dive before? There was quite an audience. Slightly awkward...
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So calm (this shot was taken before Holi, which is why these guys have no colour! There were masses of people here swimming in the lake on Holi.) I wish I had my camera out!
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This is my instagram shot of Holi that I posted to Facebook (few repeat photos here) but thought I'd include for good measure
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Posted by melpage 05:41 Archived in India Tagged udaipur holi Comments (0)

Glamping and the Golden City

Jaisalmer is hot, hot, hot!!!

I will preface this post by firstly explaining what glamping is as I am sure not all of you are as well versed in the lingo of the young folk these days (shamefully, I know more than I should!). Glamping is glamorous camping. And I was very fortunate to take part in this experience, my first time for such standards, on my first night in the Jaisalmer desert. Safe to say, as you will see from the pictures below, that is has completely ruined me! I am not sure I can ever go back to regular camping. It's a bit like going back to punter class after a stint in business class (not that I would know, but part of the reason why I do not, is that I know I would never want to go back to economy and my flying days would soon be over!). We can't have that happen...I love to travel far too much! And what would happen to the blog...

A few hours drive north west and you certainly notice a difference in the temperature! Wow. Jodhpur was still very warm but not hot and dry like this. It was definitely desert conditions. And as soon as the sun went down, it was cold! The camp site was a 45 minute drive from Jaisalmer, but because of the location of the site, we never had to actually drive into the city itself. From the distance, I could see the Fort (yes, it was that huge!). A small taste of what it would be like, and I already could not wait. We arrived to find a small hotel where there was a small group of people congregated in the front courtyard. I was served some chai (I usually ran on about 4 cups a day of this sugar-ladened delight...I miss it!) and we waited for about half an hour before our camels arrived. Hurrah! It has been a long time since I have been on a camel, and I was excited for the trek into the desert to watch the sunset. It was coming to the end of the tourist season (as it was becoming so hot), so our group was very small. Yet again, I found myself the sole English speaker amongst some locals and French people (another game of charades). This time, the French people spoke very little English so it was even more isolating. But they were lovely and just spoke French at me as though I completely understood what they said. I must have laughed at some of the correct cues early on in the discussion because all of a sudden the husband of the couple launched into a very excited discussion with me. I just continued to smile and nod. Even though for the most part, I only had a vague idea of what they were on about, I certainly appreciated the effort!

Spending a night in the desert was a great experience, and yet again vastly different from the last! Rajasthan is an incredible state. Each city so remarkably different from the last that it is hard to believe they are all within reasonable proximity of each other. After the trek and sunset, we headed over the to the camp site for some traditional Rajasthani music and dress. We were served the traditional local foods which were delicious! The following morning, like any camping trip, I was up bright and early and ready to head back to Jaisalmer to get my sightseeing on!

First order of business in Jaisalmer was to explore the Fort. I spent a few hours here, winding and weaving through the streets. It was amazing. After a spot of lunch (more curry!), I then hired a scooter to cruise through the desert and see some additional sites (and get back to my Bermuda roots!). It was nice to hit the wide open spaces and explore some of the views that weren't within walking distance (there were quite a few!). Following my tour, I went to dinner and then, based on another recommendation from Corinne, sampled a "special" lassi which is something that Jaisalmer is known for. As you can imagine, it had a very pungent herbal flavour. Let's call it herbal infused curd...interesting concept! It didn't taste completely vile, but on taste alone, I would much prefer a mango or salted lassi instead! The hours that followed that drink were seriously interesting and highly entertaining (really knocked me on my arse!). Loopy juice...but good fun and a great way to sign off on Jaislamer! Gotta love Corinne and her eccentric recommendations; never a dull moment! I am very much looking forward to seeing her in St. Tropez, I am sure it will be another very memorable experience.

And so my tour of Rajasthan was due to finish, but in my heart I knew I was not quite done with my adventure here. Another promise I made to myself before I went on this trip was not to over plan and to just go with how I feel. If I loved a place, I would stay longer. I wanted to keep my plans fluid and see where my experiences took me. For this reason, I knew I couldn't go back to Jaipur to make my way back to the ashram. Not yet. So I had my driver take me back to Udaipur to spend more time in the place that I felt such a great connection with. Looking back, it was the best decision that I ever made...and I got to spend my very first Holi with my newly made friends. Result! But that story is for the next post...

Lots of love to you all

Mel xx

Hello Mr. Camel! No visit to the desert is complete without a camel trek. Brace yourself for a lot of camel photos...just imagine how many there are on my memory card...
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This part of the Indian desert, we were about 45 minutes outside of Jaisalmer, is much like the Australian outback (if the dirt was redder!). This particular photo doesn't show that as well as some of the others so you will just have to take my word for it...but it was, I promise!
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Lots of cows on our trek. And oddly enough, one part of the trek was paved...haha!
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Me and my camel! She was 7 years old (they apparently live a good thirty odd years)...youngster! At times she was slightly temperamental and loved to give me a good shake when she was standing up and down.
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These three fellas were our guides for the trek. The guy on the left was mine. He was an absolute legend! He taught me how to take the reigns of the camel and make her gallop. He gave me full control of the camel for quite a while; I think he may have regretted this as after that we spent most of the time hooning around over the dunes (and no one else was doing this)! It's really hard to stay seated when they gallop too - poor bloke had to hold me down. I couldn't stop laughing! And more fantastic mustaches!!! Legendary...
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Desert sunset...
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Me & and sunset...
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Me & my camel on a well deserved break...my camel really got a workout!
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The camp site...
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At first I thought it was really odd that there were so many toilets everywhere over the camp site (and with no privacy!). It wasn't until I went in my own tent that I realised the tents had toilets...I am seriously dense sometimes - duh!
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The camp fire! The package also includes traditional Rajasthani performers (both music and dance). It was absolutely amazing...
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This lady was incredible...an amazing sense of balance! She was twirling and freely moving all over the place while balancing those bowls on her head. I don't know how she did it!
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Taking a note out of a cup...some serious skill! Another amazing thing she did was to dance on crushed glass! She would really stomp her foot too. She has been doing it since she was a little girl and apparently feels no pain. Incredible!
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Now this is my kind of camping! I don't know if I can go back to the basics again...
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Check the facilities! My own loo and shower...
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Breakfast of champions...no breaky is complete without Vegemite! A lovely parting gift from my friend Raghu at the ashram
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The Jaisalmer Fort, one of the largest in the world! It is known as the Golden Fort and was built in 1156AD by Rao Jaisal (where the name is derived), who was the ruler at that time. The Fort contains several temples, 4 gateways, havelis and even boasts a Royal Palace! It is seriously impressive...and an absolute labyrinth to navigate! Yet again, I found myself lost winding throughout the narrow streets.
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One of the temples
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The street maze within...
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Jaisalmer from the top. I have found each city within Rajasthan to be so different from the other. Jaisalmer is certainly much different from the others. You truly feel like you are in the desert (and you are!).
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More streets within the Fort.
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Another temple
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The local markets outside of the Fort
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The view of Jaisalmer...getting good use of my zoom!
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Posted by melpage 00:36 Archived in India Tagged jaisalmer Comments (0)

The Blue City

And one of the most impressive forts that I have ever seen!

Aside from the Fort, the city market and the beautiful blue buildings, there isn't too much else to Jodhpur. The city was hectic, horns were constantly blaring and I felt my stress levels rising; take me back to tranquil Udaipur! I only spent one night here (arriving late in the afternoon and leaving early the next morning), and to be honest, that was plenty!

As soon as I arrived and checked into my accomodation (by far the nicest I stayed in on the Rajasthan trip), I hit the streets armed with my camera. It still amazes me how quickly I have changed into a person that is obsessed with taking photos. What happened to the girl who never owned a camera?! Clearly this trip is changing me, in more ways than one!

The architecture and buildings in Jodhpur are beautiful but I was certainly not as blown away as I was in Udaipur. I wandered the streets aimlessly for hours trying to find the local markets. The city was quite hard to navigate as the streets were small and narrow, and twisted and turned, a bit like a rabbit warren! It certainly made it hard to determine whether you were still travelling the same direction or not! Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed getting off the beaten path and amongst the locals. The streets were full of life and all kinds of characters. It was a fantastic people watching experience, one of my favourite pastimes. As soon as it became dark, I made my way back to the direction of the Haveli and found a great little restaurant for dinner. The food was fantastic (although I am not sure what I ordered as I had the waiter choose for me!). Always a bit of a gamble, but what's the fun in playing it safe?!

The following morning, I was up bright and early to see the Fort. The Fort is incredible; I still cannot get over the enormity of it. I was in there for hours! This was partially because I had gotten lost on my way back to the car and had begun a trek back to the city without realising! Luckily some locals stopped me as they had assumed I was not in the right area (bit like the "back o'town" in Bermuda). I arrived back at the car in one piece and unscathed...ready for a six hour haul. My appetite for being in a car was beginning to dwindle...

Next up, a night in the desert and my "last night" in Rajasthan.

Hope this finds you well...where ever you are...

Mel xx

Another highlight of my stay was my accommodation. I stayed in a beautiful old Haveli. I had a gorgeous view and the room was absolutely enormous! This was my room! Spoilt!
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I loved the decor!
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My private courtyard...
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Streets of Jodhpur. Most buildings in this city are a shade of blue. It looks amazing from the Fort as you can see a tinge of blue throughout the entire city...stunning!
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More blue buildings
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I don't think this bloke was too impressed with me...getting the evil eye!
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The detail on the buildings in some of the old parts of the cities in India are incredible...certainly no exception in Jodhpur!
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The city is full of narrow winding streets. I got lost weaving in and out of these!
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Children love having their photos taken! On several occasions I have been chased down the street by children saying "Just one click!". It's really cute. These two were obsessed. I think I have about 10 photos of them as they kept asking for more...thank goodness for digital cameras and the ability to delete! I don't need hundreds of photos of random children...people might get the wrong idea..haha
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This photo still makes me laugh every time I look at it. Such a little poser! He was pulling all kinds of moves and having me take photos of him!
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This was their mother...they also wanted me to take a photo of her...she's beautiful!
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More blue buildings
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View of the Mehrangarh Fort from the city markets. It is absolutely incredible (and enormous!). It sits 122m above the city and is one of the largest forts in India. It is over 500 years old, with the first foundation being laid in 1459. I am not sure how long it took to build, but judging by the size, an incredibly long time! A number of Maharaja (kings) have lived in this Fort. As you would expect, it is full of history and crazy tales of the past. There is so much rich history and incredible stories about the prior rulers in India...
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This photo makes me laugh. Clearly this lady is quite pleased with herself having a bit of a lie down in her pashminas! I wonder if this behaviour effects her sales quotas?
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These two kids were also quite keen for their photo to be taken. But as soon as I took the camera out, the little girl wouldn't turn around...temperamental!
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The magnificent Fort.
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All of the staff that were onsite dress in traditional Rajasthani dress...quite smart! I loved this guys mustache! I have seen some phenomenal mustaches since I have been in India...all sorts of funky shapes and sizes
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The interior of the Fort. Unbelievable!
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Staircase going nowhere...
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The top of the Fort
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View of Jodhpur
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A very glitzy room!
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The blue tinge of Jodphur from the top of the Fort (and a tonne of crows!)
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The intricacy of the interior is exceptional!
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One of the many courtyards
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More of Jodhpur
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Posted by melpage 01:03 Archived in India Tagged jodhpur Comments (1)

A spot of tea with a difference!

An unexpected encounter

I think the thing that I love most about travelling is the people that you meet along the way and the unexpected twists and turns that your journey can take as a result of meeting them. My chance encounter with Corinne from St. Tropez was certainly no exception!

I met Corinne in Udaipur on my last evening as I was waiting to watch a puja from my new favourite tea and lassi shop that was opposite a small temple (not sure the name!). Anil, the owner, a very eccentric and funny Indian man, had invited me back to the shop that evening as he said it was a cannot miss in Udaipur. Shortly after I arrived, Corinne showed up. She had just arrived from Jodhpur (my next destination the following morning) and had already visited Jaisalmer (the next destination). Corinne spoke a little English but we managed to communicate very well either again using some form of charades or me saying every English word analogy that I could think of to guess what she was trying to say (and when Anil was free, he would translate). Corinne has a daughter that is a few years older than me but despite the age difference we clicked straight away. Like most French people, she smoked like a chimney but was so full of life and fun. She is also an accountant and works for a hotel in St. Tropez (where she is from) and based on the high demand during the summer season in the South of France, she can work for six months of the year and then travel for six months of the year. What a deal! How can I arrange that?!

We chatted for several hours that evening and then proceeded to dinner. We exchanged several recommendations with each other of the places that we had each been to. She was traveling through Rajasthan the opposite way that I had been so it was a perfect pairing! Because of the language barriers, I didn't always know why or what I should be doing at some of Corinne's recommendations, but just that I needed to go. But it didn't matter. Because at every place she had recommended was fantastic and well worth the visit.

I awoke early on Friday morning to meet my driver. It was going to be a six hour car ride to Jodhpur with a minor detour to Bishnoi Village. Bishnoi Village is appropriately 20km outside of Jodhpur so it was luckily not too far out of the way. Thank goodness Nipo is so patient and kind as I'm sure he thought it was a little strange for me to be telling him where I want to go and not being able to tell him why or what we were going to see. All I knew was that I needed to get to the village and find the lady with the giant nose ring. Fingers crossed this place was small!

As we arrived in Bishnoi Village, it appeared that finding the lady with the giant nose ring was going to be harder than first thought (I realise now looking back on it how ridiculous that sounds! Did I just think I would arrive in a village and there would be a sign in English pointing me to the direction of the woman with the large nose ring?!). Anyway, after a couple of attempts by Nipo to speak the local dialect, somehow we managed to find the right place. All of a sudden a man asked to get in the car with us and direct us there personally. This made me slightly nervous. Not because it was a stranger in our car, but more because people in India tend to be so "helpful" and not wanting to disappoint you by saying they don't know where it is that you are asking, that they will make it up. On several occasions I have been sent on a wild goose chase. I quickly learned it is best to corroborate any "directions" you are given by asking someone else. I usually like to get about three people to corroborate before I avoid disappointment (I have been burned a few times...but all part of the "experience" - I guess?!). Anyway, the travel angel was with us that day (that's for you Jan!!) as this bloke knew what he was he was on about. We arrived at the house safe and sound and little did we know, he was the son of the lady with the nose ring. Now next question....what on earth are we there for? I hadn't quite understood the full story from Corinne.

Ramu Ram, our "director", introduced us to his lovely family upon arrival; his mum (giant nose ring lady), dad, daughter and brother. They served us chai upon arrival and Nipo and I sat in their living room chatting with them about their home and family. Ok, so was this it? Surely, Corinne didn't send me here for a chat with a nice family and some chai? Well, my friends, the detour was certainly well worth making. All of a sudden Ramu brought out some bizarre concoctions; some form of paste and what appeared to be leaves (almost like spices). He tabbed a bit of the paste on his finger and ate it. He then gestured for me to try, and I did so. It was tart, but not horrible. He later informed me that it was opium and his family were known for harvesting it (I am not sure if harvest is the appropriate word here?) and brewing opium tea. People come to the village to visit his family to take part in an opium tea welcoming ceremony. A famous tradition in the village! It was definitely a different experience...I'll let the pictures below tell more of the story...

This was certainly the most bizarre and unexpected few hours of my life! But what an experience!!! Something I will certainly always remember! Next up, Jodphur...

Mel xx

Making opium tea - Ramu Ram and his brother
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Mixing the opium paste with some kind of crystallized substance. I tried both. The paste was quite tart!
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Mum & Dad! See the nose ring! I think it is fantastic. She looks so beautiful!
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Very important to filter the tea. It was filtered many times.
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Now the "fun" part...drinking the tea! This was definitely a day of quite a few firsts for me. I have never drank opium tea before nor I have ever drank tea (or any other liquid) out of someone else's hand! As part of the welcoming ceremony, you take three drinks out of the hosts hand.
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Sip number three! Drinking it like a champ! It is honestly the most bizarre feeling to drink out of a strangers hand!
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Grinding my own millet. This is the wheat they use to make chapattis! And as I have been consuming about six a day on average, thought it was about time I know how they make them!
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The local Rajasthani spices and edible foliage. I later had a curry made out of what looked like twigs in Jaisalmer. It was delicious!
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Ram family photo! From left to right; daughter of Ramu, me, Mum, daughter of brother, Ramu, Dad and brother.
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The family home (plus cow!)
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Posted by melpage 01:59 Archived in India Tagged bishnoi_village Comments (0)

India's response to Venice

I have left my heart in Udaipur!

First off, I would like to apologise for my tardiness in getting the blog entries out. I have become very slack indeed! I am now sitting here in the English country side at my friend Liz's house with a cup of tea gazing out on some very lush green countryside and feeling very far from India! And I still have not yet left India in the blog - yikes! I assure you, not all of my momentum has been lost. I have several entries that are about 70% of the way there, I just need to put the final touches on them. The last few weeks were quite busy and I was moving around a lot, and did not always have a solid internet connection (which is key as I have lost material quite few times which has been devastating and resulted in a series of serious dummy spits and meltdowns!). Excuses, excuses...

I am not sure where to even begin trying to explain the effect that Udaipur has had on me! Words cannot express the beauty and connection that I felt to this city. It is by far, my favourite city in Rajasthan. I fell head over heels in love with it (so much so that I came back for a week after I had finished my tour of Rajasthan; but that is a story for another time!). It reminded me a lot of Venice (with it's own Indian quirks, of course!). Perhaps that is what I love most about it; its picturesque beauty paired with all of the "Indianisms"...hysterical! And once you get past everyone trying to make a Rupee off of you, it is also an incredibly romantic city.

Udaipur, also known as the City of Lakes, is a smaller city in India with a population of about 600,000 people. The Old City, which is where the majority of the tourist sites are, is small and quaint. The city is nestled in between the lush hills of the Aravalis and is surrounded by the azure water lakes (there are three and they are all interconnected). It is a very popular tourist destination and many Bollywood films are made here because of the scenic beauty. It is the home of countless temples, museums, gardens, mountains, and palaces...certainly no shortage of sightseeing possibilities! Certainly the best way to explain the beauty, is through the pictures (I just wish I was a better photographer!).

Nipo and I arrived in the early afternoon after a five hour car ride from Pushkar. During the drive, I had spent some quality time with my 'hand me down' Lonely Planet guide (thank you Sagey!) so was well versed on the main attractions that Udaipur had to offer (and there seemed to be quite a few!). As soon as I arrived, I quickly checked in and then hit the streets. There was a lot that I wanted to accomplish in the afternoon (and I was primarily concerned with making sure that I made the 5pm sunset cruise of Lake Piccola from the City Palace as the views at sunset were apparently to die for!). But before I could begin to take sightseeing seriously, I needed a bite. Nobody likes Mel with low blood sugar! I was very fortunate to stumble across a brilliant little restuarant called Lotus that was located down a side street off one of the main drags and had the most amazing meal (Kale papad ki subzi lentil - basically a lentil curry but a delicacy in Rajasthan). Just thinking about the aromatic seasoning and vibrant flavours of that curry still leaves me salivating! And here I thought I was going to be curried out eating it three times a day! Not a chance!

Armed with a full belly, I was finally ready to hit the streets for some serious sightseeing. I took a ridiculous amount of photos of Udaipur. I took about 100 photos within the first hour of being here! The buildings are painted brightly (another lovely reminder of my former home, Bermuda. Big shout out to my Bermuda mates!!! Miss you guys!) and many have beautiful hand painted murals. Most are run down and "dirty" but that is all part of India's charm.

Aside from it's beauty, another reason why I look upon my time in Udaipur so fondly is because this was the first place (perhaps because I had two nights here) that I was able to make some friends in Rajasthan, both local and foreign. First there was Rahul. I met Rahul on my first night at dinner. Dinner is always a bit of an awkward time when you are travelling solo; I hate eating alone. So when there are other patrons or staff that are fun, I jump at the chance to spend time with them. Rahul was "working" at Jasmine (his friends restaurant) and not long after a short exchange of some pleasantries, we became fast friends. Working is in quotations because he actually doesn't work there but was there helping his friends out (as he often did). The clever cookie speaks an array of languages including being fluent in French, Spanish, and English (and a bit of German, Korean, Japanese on the side). Very impressive; I felt seriously inept! Anyway, his dream is to open a restaurant and any free time that he has, he would spend at his friends restaurant learning all about the ins and outs of running one. Rahul invited me out for a beer after dinner and the rest is history! He gave me an incredible tour of the city and I was very lucky to be able to see the real Udaipur. Nothing beats experiencing a city with a local who was born and raised. It's good to venture off the beaten path (and out of the Lonely Planet guide!). And not to mention have a local order food and make recommendations for you in Hindi...

My next friend was Anil. Anil ran a fantastic lassi and coffee shop that was just outside of a temple. I sat here one afternoon and downed one of the best mango lassi's that I have ever had. It had been a long day of walking in the heat and a break was well deserved. Like Rahul, Anil also spoke a ridiculous amount of languages (a common theme here. Time to up my game!). He was an absolute character too; full of off beat jokes and riddles (I think he must have thought I was a bit slow too...I did not have one decent answer to any of the riddles he posed at me). Before I knew it, I had spent a couple of hours on the porch of Anil's shop. Anil invited me back later that evening to watch a puja. He told me it was the best seat in the house, and he was not wrong! It was my second puja experience, and even though I didn't "perform" it, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Watching the puja was where I met my friend Corinne, a very lively French woman from St. Tropez. Her English was far superior to my French, but was still average. Despite the language barriers, we managed to have some very long and stimulating conversations! The laughter roared (perhaps we were laughing at ourselves rather than what we were actually saying?!). We used every synonym under the sun to pull together our sentences and I played quite a fun game of 'guess the French word in English'. Good times! When Anil wasn't busy with customers, he was certainly our lifeline in communication as our expert translator. But that didn't stop us from enjoying each other's company. So much so, that we decided to go out for a dinner together...and the game of charades continued into the wee hours of the night!

I hit the streets hard in Udaipur, and certainly was very fortunate to see a lot in a short period of time. It is probably best to explain my two night stay using the pictures below. If I was to narrate the entire visit, the posting would be obscenely long! And nobody wants to read my drivel...I'd probably lose quite a few followers (haha!).

For the first time in my travels, I was genuinely sad to be leaving a place. My time here felt so unfinished. There was so much more I wanted to see and experience; fortunately, I went back! Next stop was Jodhpur (with a minor detour as recommended by Corinne...and well worth the diversion!)

Lots of love to everyone! Love hearing from you all so keep the texts, emails and messages coming!!! And for any British mothers out there (Hicksie!!!)...Happy Mother's Day!

Mel xx

The Old CIty is full of cute little buildings painted like this.
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Jagdish Temple.
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More funky buildings (I only noticed the tantrum being thrown after I took the photo...classic!)
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Jagdish Temple close up.
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More intricate artwork on the buildings. I just loved it!
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Another favourite...
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On the first evening I took a sunset cruise of Lake Pichola. The views are breathtaking!
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Safety first! God forbid the boat sinks and we all drown! Surprisingly, I was the sole English speaker on this tour. Rajasthan (and all of India really) is very popular amongst the French, German, Spanish and other European countries. There weren't nearly as many English speakers as I would have expected!
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The perimetre of Udaipur is surrounded my grand mountains.
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There are several "floating" buildings in the middle of the lake.
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The Old City & Palace by water
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More of the Old City by water
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A very grand and expensive hotel in the middle of the lake
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The City Palace from the water
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Sunset over the mountains
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More sunset
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Two women discussing their veggie orders of the week (maybe taking some creative liberties here!). Shopping as a local is quite different here as men will pull carts through the streets shouting what they are selling, and if you need something, you just go out your door and they will stop. Most locals will buy all their produce from carts that get pulled through the streets. Talk about convenient!
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The "other" side of the bridge
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Four men having a game of cards by the water. I was having dinner at Jasmine on my first night here.
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The entrance to Bagore Ki Haveli. This Haveli is absolutely amazing and well worth a look if you are in Udaipur! They have converted it to a museum and it has hundreds of rooms full of old artifacts, costumes and antiques. Generally, I avoid museums like the plague and usually adopt a "get in, get out" methodology when I visit. I like to see the highlights and then leave. I spent a good hour here wandering around (that is huge!). If you are a museum buff, you'd easily spend a few! It was absolutely stunning.
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The view from the City Palace.
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Two blokes having a spot of lunch. Indians all tend to squat instead of sit. I don't know how they find that relaxing! I guess if you have done it since you were small, it would be much more comfortable! Their head ware is also the traditional Rajasthani dress for men.
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Women washing their delicates at a very public spot on the lake. I've even seen people bathe here! Not sure I'd want to be swimming in that water though.
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More of the city from a roof-top restaurant that I was at.
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Nipo and I at the top of Monsoon Palace. This Palace boasts an incredible view of the city! The views are to die for. At night, it looks like a floating gold blob! Even though I had already been there, I still asked Rahul what it was when we were at a rooftop bar one evening - duh!!!
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The "climb" to Monsoon Palace
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My friends Tina and Tapu. Another example of the very generous Indian hospitality. I visited Tina's husbands shop to purchase a memory card and they instantly insisted that I come upstairs to their home for some chai. They were so lovely!
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Some local graffiti
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Another puja! Every night at 7pm there is a puja at this temple. This photo was taken quite early in the ceremony. By the end there were so many people there! It was crazy.
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My friend Anil and Corinne from St. Tropez.
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Practicing the "selfie"...lots more practice needed I think! Me on the bridge.
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On one particularly hot day, Rahul and I decided to do the trek up to Nimach Mata Temple. It was an 800m very steep climb up to the top. The views were well worth the agony but that didn't stop me cursing the idea of making the climb in such hot conditions (probably about 37C) at the time!
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Just stunning! We stayed up here for at least a good 45 minutes taking in the views.
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Beautiful!
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And another...I am very snap happy with my camera in Udaipur!
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Posted by melpage 03:49 Archived in India Tagged udaipur Comments (0)

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