Katy and I realized instead of the 3 months we’ve been saying we have, our visas are up in 2. So we chose to do 2 cities in Raj in a week and happened to have some train layover time in a third. We arrived in Udaipur from Agra and quickly fell in love. This gorgeous city sits on Pichola Lake and is covered with temples. Their famous City Palace glows beautifully at night (although warning it closes at 4:30pm something we didn’t realize on our last day and unfortunately didn’t get to go inside). The Lake Palace Hotel sits on its own island and costs around 300-400euros a night. James Bond’s Octopussy was filmed there and the city likes to play the movie every night on almost every rooftop restaurant.
That night while walking around the town, we were invited in to a house to celebrate Ganesh’s bday (the Hindu elephant God known as the Remover of Obstacles). He had a bday sign, candles, and we were given prasad (a sweet Hindu blessing treat). Saturday morning we hit up a yoga class and learned that Ganesh’s real bday celebration started at 10am. Quickly the streets were flooded with floats, Ganesh statues, drums, fireworks and dancing. We noticed everyone was wearing pink or covered in a chalk-like paint and at first I was doing everything to avoid it. It didn’t take long for some kids to drag Katy and I into a big dance party and soon enough we were covered in color. I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much so sober. Katy was interviewed by the news and everyone loved how colorful she was. The next day our yoga instructor saw us on the street and informed us Katy made the Rajasthan newspaper. He invited us into his house for tea and let her keep a copy of it. Reason #327 why I love India, they’ll invite you into their home without even knowing your name. Sundays are the only day kids don’t attend school and all of them swim in the lake so Katy and I decided to join them. The water felt great and they got to us jump off the bridge with them multiple times. Later we met some Norwegians and headed up to the Monsoon Palace for sunset and another beautiful view of the city of Udaipur.
The next day we took a bus trip through the night to Jaisalmer. It was one of the most terrifying points in the trip. Katy and I were thrown into a double bed compartment in the top corner over the back tire with all our belongings. An extremely bumpy ride which included a Dixie-like horn that made you want to rip your hair out. Somehow I slept while men stood in the aisles staring into our cabin. Katy slept with her pocketknife. Anyway, we finally arrived around noon the next day and as I step of the bus I hear my name being called. Our hotel mgr in Udaipur called his friend in Jais to tell him we were coming and he was trying to get us to stay at his hotel. Real creepy. We ignored the guy and found our own guest house with a beautiful view of the Fort.
We hung out in the hot city, got lost inside the winding fort, and went on a camel safari to the Thar Desert. The Norwegians, Katy, and I took an hour jeep ride to where our new friends were waiting. We rode all day on our two humped friends with a few breaks in between. The camels would roam as our 2 guides built a fire and cooked our food. We traveled through a few small villages including a gypsy camp. 1-humped camels are much less comfortable than the one but trotting is fun, plus our guide was singing camel-a-safari songs. We chose a remote spot in the sand dunes to camp out and wait for the sunset. I’ve never seen the sun so large and beautiful. My pictures don’t do it justice. A guy even appeared with beer. Anything is possible in India, even in the desert. Eating in the dark was difficult because as soon as we’d use our torches the bugs would come to the light. And holy bugs. I’ve never tossed so many beetles away from me. I had to pull one out of my sleeping bag at one point. But you deal and you lay back down on top of the sand dune and stare at the magnificent night sky. I woke up as the sun was sneaking up. Once again insanely large and mesmerizing. Camping in the desert via camel…can’t get more India than that.
That night we said g’bye to the Norwegians as we headed to Jodphur by train. Our first leg of our trip to Goa. Arriving in the city at 5am we thankfully met a nice Kiwi (New Zealander) on the train who let us put our belongings in her guest house room. As we waited for the city to awake we walked through the blue city of Rajasthan which stretches out below the Mehrangarh fort. Zip lining around the fort was only $20 for 6 zips so at sunset we flew around the fort for some awesome city views. That night we jumped back on the train to head south.
First 2 trains I barely slept. We arrived in Ahmedabad at 4am and lived in an air conditioned restaurant for 6 hours waiting for our final 22hr train to Goa. Drank chai after chai hardly alive. But somehow 11:30 rolled around and we boarded our last leg. Trip flew, I slept hard and we were at the beach by noon that day. Currently enjoying the sun, sand, Arabian sea, and cheap beer. Spring Break India Style. Might get stuck here for a bit.