Mittwoch, 11. November 2009

Coming to an End in Jpdhpur

I have breakfast at the roof top terrace of my guest house wit ha spectacular view of Jodhpur's fort sitting high above the city on a massive rock.
It is a litle cooler than the last two weeks, which is actually kind of nice.

After breakfast I head up the hill to Jodhpur's Mehrangarh.
Yet an other fortified palace of yet and other Maharaja of the Rajputs but again it is amazing and stunning. The mix of millitairy fortification and representative palace demonstrating the wealth of its ruler is anstonishing.
I spend several hours wondering around.
The view of the blue city from the walls is amazing.

Later I head over to the Jaswant Thada memorial. It's white marbel remindes me of the Taj Mahal in Agra, though it is something entirly different in style and size.

By now it's late afternoon and the sun is taking on a warmer color than the bright white of mid day.
I would like to stay and chill here for the rest of the afternoon but I'm hungry and - again - there is no place to get some food here.

Later this evening when I am back in my guest house chilling with two other travelers on our roof top I realize it is my last night out here in the real India.
Tomorrow I'm headed back to Delhi and after spending the night and the subsequent day I will board my flight back to Germany.
We order us an other bottle of Indian Kingfisher beer and take it easy for the rest of it.

Getting back to Jodhpur

After the experience with the Indian Sleeper bus I descide to opt for the train this time. I get a 2nd class AC sleeper, though it's only a five hour trip from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur (285km !). The train is supposed to leave at 16:45 and get there at 22:00. But it is four hours late getting to Jaisalmer and because it has to be cleaned (it *really* needs to be cleaned but they don't *really* do it...) it can't just turn right back around. We finally leave Jaisalmer at 19:30 with not even three hours delay. I have to bunk in the isle above the window. It is marginally wider than the bus but at least it is long enough to strech out.
The ride is smooth and at some point I even fall asleep despite it all.
We get to Jodhpur at 12:45.
The station's hall is full of people camping there waiting for their train. It is some sight.
Outside a hord of tuck tuck drivers is waiting to chaufer us to our respective guest houses. I get my ride for 30 rupees but the driver doesn't have a clue where my guest house is. I would think it a core competence for any driver here to know the places tourists want to go to. If it's in the Lonely Planet, they shoudl know it. But apparently honking ranks a higher priority here. They are all masters of that.
So my driver follows an other one who also needs to go to the same place.
We are droped off at a corner because the street is getting too narrow to drive. But the place is just around the corner.
We help ourselves in through the doors left unlocked for us. The lobby is dark and deserted. Then something is mooving in the sark and a short guy appears from the floor behind a table, switches on some light and shows us to our rooms.
We're here.

Kick it like Beckham

As nice as Jaisalmer is looking at its architecture, the chiseling of sandstone and richly decorated buildings, it is also the single most shity city in all of Rajasthan. And I mean this quite literally. I have not seen one other city in all of Rajasthan with more cow shit on the street than Jaisalmer. And the people even swipe it away on a daily basis!
But that's what you get if you let your holy cows strain everywhere feeding on your garbage.

They will eat anything. Food left overs, plastic bags, paper. Yesterday I saw a cow tearing up a large cardboard box and eating it piece by piece. And it wasn't a box with traces of eatables in or on it. Just a plain old box of corrugated cardboard.

So I am walking down the street, a pretty narrow one. There's an other specimen of these holy creatures, filthy as can be. You watch where you sit or what you touch with your hands here. But these disgustingly dirty animals you don't want to as much as touch with your short or pants.
I am almost past the ruminant when all of a sudden this stupid animal turns and gives me a good check with its forehead at my leg right below my hip! Damn that hurt!
I turn around and give it a firm kick on it's hind leg as well.
What is this thing thinking?!? Like it is the end of the food chain?
But here it kind of is. Who wants to have a slice of something feeding on municipal waste?
I don't!
But I'm lookig forward to a nice slice of juicy steak or some filet of a young calf...

Dienstag, 10. November 2009

Jaisalmer - The Desert Beauty

I was not sure whether I wanted to go through all the pain of getting all the way out to Jaisalmer. It is in the far west of Rajasthan just before the Pakistan border.
But I am glad I did it. What a marvel in the desert!

I get there in the morning after my ride on the Indian Sleeper. I'm still tired and exhausted. But the recommendation for acomodation was gold. I take a shower and have breakfast on the rooftop terrace just opposite the fort. Then I head up the hill to go check it out.

Unlike anything I have seen so far, this fort is still inhabited by people. It has little streets winding around corners. Virtually all the houses are covered with rich ornamentation chiseled out of the yellow sand stone.

I head for the city palace and admire the rich decoration of every wall, every corner, every pillar, every piece of furniture. The view is spectacular from its rooftop.

I kick back in a cafe with a fresh mango juice and start to relax.
It is then that I decide to spend more time here and slow down. I want to get some rest from all the moving around. I have only a couple of days left in India and I want them to be nice and keep them in good memory.
This evening I hang out with some fellow travelers on our rooftop terrace once again. We enjoy the view of the fort some great food and a couple of cold Kingfishers.
When I fall into bed later I am sound asleep within seconds.

Montag, 9. November 2009

Indian Sleeper

Leaving Udaipur there is no train to Jodhpur und on to Jaisalmer. So I get a fare on a sleeper bus at 10pm. I have heard from other travelers about these excuses for a means of transportation.
There is two seats at one side and one on the other and a small isle between them. But while in Argentina this made for threee luxury seats similar to an airplane's business class, here it's a rather cramped arrangement. Apparently busses are somewhat narrower here.
Above the regular seats are little comparments seperated by walls from each other and with sliding windows to the outside and the interior of the bus. On the one side is a double sleeper for two people, on the other side a single. I got a single, thank god.
However I wonder how to get into this tiny comparment while taking also by small carry on bag.
I manage to get in. But it's too small to strech all the way. It must be no more than 170cm long and maybe 60 wide. In oder not to bang my head against the rear wall I have to angle my legs up, they are almost touching the ceiling. I have to fight the image of lying in a coffin. At least that would be about my size. Truely no for claustrophobic people!
We leave Udaipur and wind our way out of the city. There is a lot of honking, breaking acceleratiing again, bumping over elevations in the road and crashing through pot holes. It's impossible to lay in one's side for roling back and forth all the time.
After we have left the city I notive the double compartment opposite of mine is empty. I over and make myslef comfortable using the full diagonal. This is actually quite ok. I wonder whether it's possible to buy a double for oneself if simply paying for two people or whether they will charge double but still only give one a sigle (or maybe two...). Anything is possible in India.
About an hour later we stop again and there are two guys lurking into my compartment. They call the bus whalla because their space is taken. He tells me to get out and I go back to my single (which surprisingly is still empty!).
We leave town again and continue on a road so bad, the entire bus is shaking and banging. It is hard to breath because laying on one's back the wind is constantly beat out of oneself with every bump in the road. No slepp is to be found. It reminds me of the the sandpists like corrugated sheet metal in africa. Quite a smooth ride when driven over with the correct speed. But one hell of a ride when too slow or to fast. This ride is both.
I am seriously worried about the bus and me in my little sleeping compartment. There is again the picture of a roling coffin. I am only glad I'm on the left side, opposite oncoming traffic (people drive on the left side here - supposedly). It we crash into an other truck or bus it's not going to be my side. But if we tip over trying to avoid it, I am the first to hit the ground.
Still I manage to get a couple of minuites of sleep in before we reach Jodhpur at four something in the morning, surprisingly ahead of schedule.
We are shown to our connecting bus, just regular seats.
In the safty of a parking bus I close my eyes and actually sleep a little until the bus is staring to fill at five in the morning.
Then we are off again. Six westerners and a busful of Indians.
The sun is staring to come up but it is still freezing cold.
Just like in the previous bus, the windows keep juddering open. I close them again but 20min. later I get reminded by the increasing cold wind that the windows are too far open again.
With the raising sun, the air starts warming up. I keep my fleece jacket on though until we are all the way in Jaisalmer.
We pull into the bus station and once again there is a frenzy of u trying to get to us. They are kept a bay by a policeman swingling a large stick at them.
I spot my name on a sign and head over for my ride.
I'm glad I made it.