Tuesday 20 March 2012

Pushkar, camels, overcrowded buses and a sandstorm

So, last time I left you we had arrived in Pushkar, and spent the first day wandering around the little town. Pushkar remained hauntingly wonderful, and we enjoyed walking around the town to see the shops, the temples and eating at the restaurants. Out of the Blue was a lovely place to sit back and have a drink, munching on some sort of snack. We were disappointed with Sixth Sense though, which had rave reviews. When we stepped in, it was like hitting another world. Long trailing vines dropped down three stories around a central courtyard. It really was magical.

Our hotel was called the Moon Light Hotel, and it was certainly the nicest room we've stayed in in India so far. Clean, new (he only opened 4 months ago), run by two brothers and offered to us for Rs 300 per night. We were told the usual rate was 600, but we have no idea if this was the truth or not. Downsides to the place were the owners, one of whom spent the first day insulting other local places nearby... a lot. The second brother was worse, being exceptionally rude. If we hadn't been leaving anyway, I would have walked out after what he said.

And the bus, we had been told there was only a single sleeper and a single sitting spot left on the bus, so we took them so as not to prolong our stay any further (money is running dry!) and as we boarded the bus, it was already full. Two indians were kicked out of our respective seats, and I offered the guy who was sitting in mine the spot while I sat with Aya for an hour or so.

If you can book upper beds on this bus, you will have a very comfortable trip. The upper bunks come in singles and doubles and have sliding glass panels which separate you out from the rest of the bus. Good when someone outside is talking or playing music (AKA the drivers. All night long.) and curtains too to block the light. Make sure you insist on the upper ones though, the lower ones have none of this.

Anyway, Aya's single bed was very squished with the two of us up there, so I decided to get down to sit in my seat, and found the aisle was full of sleeping people, my seat had two sleeping women in it, and I was about as likely to get down and get into my seat as I was to sprout wings. This incessant need to overfill buses in India is very frustrating, especially when you have a booked seat.

Jaisalmer had a slightly dodgy reputation, we were warned that when we arrived we would be harassed by people to stay at their hotel, if we took a cheap one we would be pressured into taking their safari tour, and if we refused our room would suddenly become unavailable. Gulp. So we booked ahead into the Artist Lodge hotel. Owned by the larger Artist Hotel, but a more budget option, it was clean, small, Indian style toilet but for a paltry Rs 250 per night. Can't complain at them prices. We chose there due to the review in the Lonely Planet, and we were not bothered about Safari once, which was a relief.

And for the safari (which I just returned from), we hit up Ganesh Travels. It's the cheapest of the reviewed options, and cost us Rs. 1050 apiece. We didn't bargain, which in hindsight looks a little foolish, but I'm not sure if the price was negotiable. Knowing India, it probably was.

Sitting under the stars, singing around the campfire as we grew sleepy was wonderful. The camel trek was quite tiring on the legs after a while, and there were no stirrups to hold ourselves up with when they started to trot, but the view and the experience was wonderful. Downside was that soon after arriving at camp, a sandstorm moved in, obliterating the stars and forcing us to retreat behind scarves as the sand hit us.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures, I'm off to have a shower and get ready for our train to Delhi tonight.



  1. The second picture may be my favourite of all time, so help me Cher (or God, whichever's reading). The two shining (and only visible) stars above are actually planets, Jupiter and Venus, and they're incredibly bright here, too. Knowing that you're under the more-or-less same night sky is somehow comforting. Go figure, eh? lbx.

  2. Thanks :) It's on Facebook too with the people tagged :P You're very sentimental today Mum :)