Published: January 8th 2011January 8th 2011
Ah it has been a little while! Can't help but blame beautiful Goa for this long delay haha! I had my next post all written up, but never got around to typing it yet until today.
I am currently staying in Palolem, Goa and it is simply put HEAVEN ON EARTH!
This entry will be all about my travel through the province of Rajasthan and then my stay in Mumbai. It covers Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Udaipur which are all located in Rajasthan and then also Mumbai (located in Maharashtra).
I tend to add quite a few things here and there as I go along typing my entries. SO...It will probably turn into a nice long read like the last one ;). Enjoy the post!
On my way to Agra I saw my first monkeys near the roadside. They are purely for entertainment there, as the drivers go and pay the road toll, a man will walk by all the cars so that the passengers can see them. Since those ones were on leashes, I wasn't really too impressed. Makes me feel a bit bad and I was hoping that I would get to see some wild monkeys soon. Well as I am now on the road and making my way to Jaipur, I am seeing plenty! Most are in big groups near a big lob sided trees that create lots of shade for them. Looks a little like they are sitting in a classroom and the tree is the blackboard. Really cool!
The landscape changes quite a bit as you are approaching Jaipur. The driving bit was quite fun. A bit of a bumpy ride and pretty long too. The distance between Agra and Jaipur is about 250km. Let's just say I got plenty of reading done ;).
Stone art is very popular here and as you enter small villages all you see is shops with stone carvings. All looks very beautiful. Some of the carvings I saw were of Elephants and temples. We took a short break for Chai and 2 boys asked for candy. I had promised myself I wasn't going to give to people all the time, but I had a bag of gummy worms from the airport that I had for certain situations haha. I gave them a handful each and they literally danced a few circles around me and said Thank You.
Jaipur is a fairly large city and I was excited to have finally made it to a different area too. A new city with all different people and more beautiful sights. I stayed at a small guest house called Cosy Home. It was a delight! Got a warm welcome from Mahesh, the owner. Felt at home instantly! Had a nice relaxing shower and then had some dinner and a chat with Mahesh. I was tired from the drive so I made it to bed a bit early. I had lots of sightseeing to do the next day. Slept well and it was a lot more quiet in this guest house than the place I stayed at in Agra. It was a nice change!
The Amber Fort was probably the highlight of my time spent in Jaipur. That place is absolutely beautiful! The views are spectacular. I walked around here for most of my day and explored all around the Fort. They also offer Elephant rides here. After the Fort I went to the main bazaar and did some walking around. I love the markets and bazaars in India. All the nice smells of food and spices. And all the colours of the textiles. It is always a fun experience. I bought some shirts and some comfy pants here after having to do a bit of bargaining of course ;). After the bazaar I went back to the hotel to get some rest. The temperatures here are quite cool in the morning and evening. But during the day it gets really hot. After a nice bit of walking around, it is nice to have a nap in a cosy guest house. I wanted to head out for some snacks, so I ended up exploring a bit on the main road, near the hotel. Had some naan bread and tried some sweets at what seemed like a local spot. Of course got a few stares here and there. Had a little boy waving and smiling from across the store. As curious as always here in India haha! I wandered back to the guest house and got a great nights sleep after using the internet for a while to type up my last blog entry. Mahesh's family is lovely and they allowed me to use the computer for as long as I wanted. Felt like it was my home too! If only all accommodations were like this!
I enjoyed Jaipur, but it is a pretty large city to explore. Really loved the Amber Fort though and the few temples I got to see. Also was glad to have stayed at such a lovely guest house. It was a fairly relaxed 2 days. The next morning we were headed to Pushkar. A much smaller city about 130km away.
Pushkar is one of the five sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. It is also one of the oldest cities in India. The place is very interesting and also very beautiful. Feels nice to enter a much smaller place after Jaipur, which is such a huge city.
My hotel had a great view of the hills and all the rooms had little balconies. I checked in pretty quickly and then headed towards the city bazaar. Everyone walks here, as everything is very close by. Pushkar is a hippie kind of town with lots of backpackers doing day trips and long time travellers who stick around long term. It has a really great vibe! I walked all around Pushkar Lake and took in the breathtaking views. This Lake is considered holy so it is a primary pilgrimage site in India. Lots of people bathe in the Lake at one of the many Ghats. You have to take off your shoes here and photos are not allowed (I did sneak in a quick one!). People from all over India come here to Pushkar and it is fascinating to watch the bathing! Watched a lovely sunset at the lake and it was amazing. Those kind of sunsets never get old! Met a French couple at the lakeside and got given a Hindi name by a local teacher. This man was so friendly and he gave me the name Chandrika, which means Moon Light! Pushkar is definitely one of the reasons why I would want to explore India further. It is the most nicest place to be. Really enjoyed it there. Who knows, might just come back again sometime in the near future! Actually Pushkar is also very famous for it's annual Camel Fair, which I think would be really neat to attend. Had a really tasty vegetarian stir fry at local cafe and then headed back to the hotel for the evening. Another great day! Since this place is so holy the sights are quite neat. The bathing in the Lake was a whole interesting thing to witness on its own. Makes your jaw drop haha. Hopefully Pushkar and I will meet again. For now, it's on to Jodhpur!
The drive to Jodhpur was nice and short. Met a really nice Dutch couple when I was using the computers in my hotel. They were also traveling India for the first time. It is always fun to meet people from Holland, since the conversations always feel so easy going. I did some sightseeing the first day and once again loved the views. The Meherangarh Fort was really awesome! I did the audio tour and walked all around the property. Then made it to the highest point where you can see the whole city. Explains why the city is called the Blue City. The houses you see from here are all washed in a blue color. It was very pretty. That night I went to a restaurant named Gypsy and had "thali" there. Thali is traditional meal served on a metal dish. It consists of vegetable/vegetarian dishes and they are served with rice, chutneys and bread. Super delicious! And this place was all you can eat Thali for...3 dollars! ;). The family next to me helped me with some of the dishes, so that I knew what I was eating. Some of it was spicy, but I did try most of the things that got served. I was eating local by myself, so of course I got a few stares. Like usual though, it is nothing but friendly curiosity with lots of smiles! I love India! Got a rickshaw back to the hotel and read a little bit before resting for the night.
Day 2 in Jodhpur was a lot of fun also. Went to the few more sights around the Fort and then made my way to the Sardar Market, which I really loved! Walked to one of the well known spice shops and got greeted by a wonderful girl who showed me how to make real chai tea! It was the best. You simply take some milk, water, sugar and add your chai spice mix and some black tea and bring it all to a nice boil. Then you just pour it into a cup and sip away! Beats those silly chai latte versions right outta the water ;). Had a neat little experience on the motorbike thru a bit of the main bazaar in Jodhpur when I needed to get to an ATM. One of the guys from the shop drove me to a bank. Hopped right on the back and went for a ride. So fun!! Jodhpur in general was lovely. Some wonderful shops and markets with lots of sights near the Fort that really blew my mind. The world is home to so much beauty!
Christmas is just around the corner, and I was looking forward to spending it in Udaipur. Will admit...I really forgot all about Christmas. Doesn't feel like the holidays when you are here. Either way I am glad to be here and to have gotten that ticket to Delhi. Really a holiday season I won't soon forget! I got all my stuff gathered again and was ready to make way for Udaipur in the morning. It was going to be a long drive I had been told.
Udaipur is incredible, BUT the drive over was horrendous. Well no not horrendous, just a pain in the butt haha! Very long and extremely bumpy. I tried to sleep most of the way, since reading wasn't an option. We stopped in the village of Ranakpur to see the Sheth Anandji Kelyanji temple. Very nice inside with lots of carvings. Saw some wild monkeys here as well! They were hanging out in big trees near the parking lots. Saw a few playing in and around a police jeep! Reminded me of the movie Jumanji actually. Pretty sure there is a scene in that movie where monkeys are playing in a police jeep as well. Funny stuff! So like I said before, the road to this place and to Udaipur was craziness! Feared for my life a few times. Well really all I ended up doing was hold on tight and hoped for the turns to go smoothly. The roads had lots of sharp turns and the roadside offers nothing but a few inches for a car to drive along. To your left all you see is a steep cliff. It was a really fun ride in the end. Very memorable indeed haha.
Got to Udaipur finally! After a crappy drive like that, I really couldn't wait to get out of the car haha. The hotel was nice with a very lovely view over a small lake. I got settled in my room and had a light dinner at the rooftop restaurant. Met a few locals who were having a few beers, so I joined and we sat and watched the sunset fall over the lake. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
Udaipur is a ton of fun. Had lunch at Edelweiss the next day, which is a little cafe that makes delicious apple pie and crumbles. Oh it was definitely my kind of place ;)!I walked around for most of the day. The main bazaar in Udaipur is really great. Lots of tourists are to be found here. Since I was headed for a warmer climate in a few days, I stocked up on some new open sandals and some light shirts here. That afternoon I booked a little boat ride on Lake Pichola. Got to see the City Palace from the water. Just a perfect way to spend Christmas! Another 2 days well spent in a lovely part of India. Every city offers something new. No place is the same.
After a 9 day journey on the road of Rajasthan, I was getting my backpack ready for the train travel to Mumbai. I got rid of quite a few items of clothing haha! The South was going to be a whole different climate and the sun was going to be greeting me with open arms. Yes, I won't lie, I was getting excited alright! I slept like a log that night, because I knew the drive to Falna was going to be another bumpy one.
So...my final day in Udaipur was my most hectic day so far in my trip! I had woken up nice and early and planned to make it down to the market in the morning to get a few things done and have some lunch. Wanted to head to an ATM, so that I would have some money on me before making it to Mumbai. Well, my card ended up not working at any of the ATM's haha. I got worried, but ended up trying different machines, but without luck. I ended up at an internet cafe and used up my last few rupees to talk to ma & pa online. Called them real quick too, to see what was wrong. Ended up not having enough money to cover the call haha! Good thing a very friendly man paid for it after the cafe owner thought I was going to walk out without paying. LOL! Mom of course had a laugh with me and told me that I should just use my charm to get this sorted out. I did get it all sorted out in the end after a bit of running around. I had a much needed breakfast at the hotel and I met some lovely girls from Hong Kong! It was a delight to chit chat about India and to have a laugh about my mishap earlier that morning. Their names were Jennifer and Odie and I hope they are enjoying many more nice parts of India right now! So after breakfast I was getting ready to hit the road, but another mishap was right around the corner this time! The driver's car broke down haha! Good thing the whole hotel staff was around to give the Tata a quick push around the bend. And off we were to Falna. Hopefully without any further surprises ;).
It was going to be my last drive on this trip from out of Delhi. It was a short drive to the Falna Railway Station. I was excited to finally be doing some train travel. When we made it to the station it was time to put my "backpacking carrying" to the test haha. Of course the typical staring was the order of the day, but I felt so nice and free! The backpack felt great on my back. It was the perfect weight and I felt ready as ever to be making my way to Mumbai by train.
Train stations are packed in India. So many families! I hung out in the waiting room until my train was ready for departure. 2 wonderful young girls helped me pick out some tasty snacks for on the train. Their English was flawless and they explained all about the different seating arrangement in the train and where I had to go to get to my spot in the train. After a little wait. I ventured over to the terminal. Mumbai here I come! The train journey was super long and I sat with a really nice Indian-American family who I chatted with before getting some sleep. Also met 2 guys who were on the way to Mumbai for a wedding. I slept most of the journey and I felt the heat rising as we kept going more South. I was smiling inside! Finally after a long 12 hours, we had arrived in Mumbai. One of the biggest cities in the world! A lot of people live along the train tracks and me and another traveler (who name I did not catch) talked about the trains and how 3500 people die annually from mostly the local trains! People hang out of them and was scary to see them go by. This sight got me a wee bit worried, because I also had to take a local train. Only a bit worried though. People don't recommend taking these local trains, but in order to get to central Mumbai, I kind of had to haha.
So before I knew it I had gotten off at Bandra Station and stood in the LONG que for the local trains. I figured this was going to be a pretty fun experience. Everyone uses them every hour of every day. Nothing to be afraid of...right? ;)
The ride to CST was fine! It was quick and I ended up sitting with mostly women the entire time. Finally I had made it to Mumbai! With a sweaty forehead and moustache I fetched myself a taxi to the Red Shield Guest House (Salvation Army). Mumbai is so modern! And flippin' busy too haha. No rickshaws allowed in Mumbai, so the taxis are a nice touch. Gives this city a different vibe. Tons of shops all over the place and the traffic is quite slow going. You get a good feel of the city just driving around for a few minutes. This is one happening place people!
The Red Shield was perfect! Simple dorm rooms that were for females only. I felt at home right away and since I only had one night to spend in Mumbai, I was happy to be saving myself some rupees. I left my things in the room and got out and explored a bit of Mumbai (or well in this case the area of Colaba). So many rows of shops! Bought a simple black shoulder bag, that way I was able to store away my day pack for a good while. Also bought a sweet set of turqoise earrings. Very lovely. When I got back to the dorm room, there were 2 girls in my half of the room chit chatting about. It was friends within minutes! One girl was from Denmark and her name was Camilla, she had brought her travel guitar and was playing a few sweet tunes in the room for us! She was lovely and was planning to make it to Kerala after Mumbai. The other girl was Julia and she was a 19 year old Ukrainian living in Germany. She has been in India for 3 months. Also her first time visiting India. Me, Julia and Camilla decided to go out for something to eat that night. It was a much needed meal after a long day of train and taxi travel. And it was lovely to relax and talk with 2 great new people as well! After dinner Julia went back to the hotel and me and Camilla figured it would be a nice night for some exploring. We went to the Gateway of India and took some pictures. Then went to a delicious European style bakery where we tried some goodies. I had a banana tart and a brownie and Camilla had some chocolates. So yummy! Then I had to try a banana lassi on the way! Also very tasty. Lassis are one of my favourite drinks here in India. Before we got back to the Red Shield we checked out the sugar cane juice stand on the way. I had to think of mom and dad, because we recently watched an episode of the Amazing Race where they are in Bangladesh. One of the things the team has to do is drink a glass of sugar cane juice! Haha, so after this thought, I HAD to try it too! The boys working the machine, were so funny! Dancing and singing as they were turning the wheel. The sugar cane juice was amazing! I drank the whole glass. Although after eating all those sweets, the lassi AND the sugar cane juice....I was so full haha! So glad I tried all those things though, it was well worth it. I had a great time with Camila that night.! I got to do some Mumbai sightseeing and take some pictures along the way too. Sometimes you don't need a lot of time in a place, you just need to spend it with a few nice people and make the best of the time you have, even if its short. So I can hereby say that I really enjoyed my time in Mumbai! My train was to leave really early that morning. So I said goodbye to my new friends and exchanged names, then got a bit of sleep.
It was an early one that morning! Got a taxi to CST and waited for about a hour until the train arrived. The station was busy as always and the train to Goa had lists of names on the outside of each carts. Was nice to see my name listed. Many people were looking for their names also, since their ticket was probably wait listed. Trains to Goa are very busy and the tickets are well sought after. It is the spot to be be at for Christmas & New Years! I was so excited!
The train journey was another long haul, but sleeping thru most of it helps a lot! Shared the berth with a mom and her 2 young sons. They were from France. Going to Goa for the holidays. They had a lot of clothes with them, since Paris had been hit by a lot of snow recently. I am sure they had a wonderful time in the sun!
The train had a delay for a hour, but then it was finally arrival time! Man..whatta long ride! Felt good to have made it to the South. The beach couldn't come soon enough. Since the train arrived at around 7 at night, I ended up having to figure out where I was going to wait until I could get a bus to Palolem (South Goa) from the train station. The buses don't run at night, so I guessed that most people wait in the stations. I ate a quick Indian Veg meal at a local dive next to the station. That meal was much needed, let me tell you! Since there were no real cheap hotels in Margao, I ventured over to the waiting rooms. These places are used as total camp outs and sleeping there was quite a funny experience. You have to buy a wait room ticket, which is good for 2 hours in the station. Then you can sleep on a chair or you can like most Indian people do; take one of your blankets and sleep on the floor. Which is exactly what I did haha! The look on people's faces, it was too funny. Did save myself some money, that's for sure. And got a pretty good rest! It was a particularly memorably moment of this trip!
The next morning I caught a local bus to Palolem, which is located in the Southern part of Goa. I have been stuck here for a good week now and plan to be staying in Goa until the 20th of January.
GOA is getting it's own separate little entry in this blog by the way! With lots of pictures to go along with it of course. For now I hope you will enjoy this entry above. India is so wonderful. My mind is full of picturesque temples and forts and the sunsets are hard to forget! The people, the food, the land and the culture have already made a lasting impression on me and I am looking forward to sharing the memories with everyone I know and will meet in the future!
Well I am off to catch some dinner and drink a few Kingfishers on the beach! A few friends I met here, are leaving fairly soon, so gotta make the best of these last few nights
KEEP IN TOUCH,
Love & Peace
Ps. Pictures coming soon, promise! Going to make some more albums on Facebook. That will be much easier and the quality will be great!