Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Rajasthan’

Jaisalmer and Udaipur: A Hospital Visit and A Shave

In India on May 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm

The night train to Jaisalmer was like sleeping in a sand pit. The desert tracks and wide windows were not a good combination. Luckily we still had the extra strong sleeping pills from Shimla but we woke up looking like we’d rolled down a sand dune.

We stuck to our commitment to the dice

We had plans to rent motorbikes and drive out to a small village or to the Sam sand dunes about 40kms away. Minja was tired so she checked into a room on the 1st floor of the train station while Filip and I booked train tickets and picked up the bikes. Minja was still tired when we returned at 9am so we went back into town and had breakfast. It was then when it happened.

I would like to say I was pulling wheelies along the highway when an elephant came out of nowhere being chased by a tiger, I swerved crashed into a fruit stall and grazed my knee. The real tale was more like this; I snatched the clutch on the third time I’d ever pulled away on a bike, narrowly missed a rickshaw and fell off the bike to the side. I did graze my right knee but sliced open my left leg on something sticking out of the motorbike. Luckily a rickshaw driver saw the incident, along with half the population of Jaisalmer that were hanging around the main square, and he drove me off to the dirtiest hospital i’ve ever seen.

The fresh gash

Such a happy chappy just doing his duty

Stitch up

After the incident we just chilled out for a bit while I got drugged up on paracetamol and then headed out on the open road to grab a deal on camel rides at the Sam sand dunes. En route we stopped off at the exclusive Thar Vilas so the other two could have a dip in the 5000 Rs a night hotel pool.

When we arrived in Sam, extremely windswept but invigorated by the freedom of the open road, we haggled with a few of the hustlers for a good deal. We wanted accommodation in a hut, dinner, evening entertainment, breakfast and a camel ride all for 1000 Rs in total (£5 each). We managed it and also got a 20% discount on beers in the local beer shop.

Minja showing the locals how it's done

The entertainment was good fun but went downhill when us westerners thought it was a good idea to do an impromptu acoustic session of Hit The Road Jack. It was only when we were up there, on stage, that we realised only one of the English blokes we’d met knew one verse. It was a low point when the owner of the camp said “do another one or let the band carry on”. I think they were expecting too much of six drunks.

The next morning, suffering slightly from the legal bhang and the strong Kingfishers the three of us hit the dunes on camels and luckily for my arse the ride was only 20 minutes long.

Camel trekking in the Thar Desert

Back on our arses again we returned to Jaisalmer via a couple of Pepsi stops in local villages and got a luxury bus that afternoon to Udaipur. The town is probably most famous for its floating palace and featuring in the Bond film Octopussy. It was here, a month after leaving Blighty I decided it was time to scrap the beard. How else would you go about doing that in India then with a trip to the barbers? The sleazy Mexican look was my moustache of choice.

I can guarantee the closest shave you'll ever know.

We just had a lazy day in Udaipur with a ride on the city’s ropeway, a couple of Kingsishers in a park, a rushed DVD burning session and a long goodbye at the train station. I was now alone again, Swedeless, and off on a three day journey to Kolkata.

A trip on the ropeway. I had to upload a pic of the new look too

Alea Iacta Est

In India on May 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

It began on the bus from McLeod Ganj to Amritsar. Filip, Minja and I came up with the unoriginal idea of letting a die decide where to go next. I had plans to go to Agra and Varanasi on the way to Kolkata and the other two didn’t have a clue where to go.

Filip was dieing to get to the next destination

So, we purchased a very cheap and small die from a 7 in 1 game pack from a toy shop near the Golden Temple and arrived on Sunday morning bright and early at the train station to find the perfect roller. We wanted someone who would understand the enormity of the task assigned to them, so they would probably need to speak English and also someone with a good character so they’d become part of the game. We’d already randomly assigned the six places we’d like to visit to the six sides, some wacky and some obvious, through picking out of a tibetan style hat. It was necessary to do this because the die was lopsided and had a tendency to favour the 2 and 5.

The six destinations of destiny

Why did I waste my money on that stupid hat?

As we announced our intentions to a few of the hassling rickshaw drivers on the train station forecourt a crowd started to gather. I felt like Dave Gorman on one of his missions or Dave Cameron on the campaign trail. One Sikh man turned us down, “You don’t want a rickshaw then it’s not my job” and out of nowhere the perfect gent stepped into the circle to take centre stage and do the deed. The five foot tall drunk in orange rags was explained his duty in hindi and kindly obliged to accept the challenge. A throw to the floor and the number, as half expected but not certain, was a 5. We were off to Jaisalmer. That is the place Lonely Planet says you’re mad as a dog to go to during the summer.

He was the man for the job and got paid generously for it

The fatal five

We went straight to the station manager to ask for advice on how we can complete our mission and he sold us an interesting but extremely confusing train timetable, Trains at a Glance. We roughly deciphered a route from the map but after going back and forth from the booking and reservation offices left without tickets and decided to return on the day to see if we could blag it.

Monday morning and we’d discovered the previous afternoon from helpful travel agents that it was best to go from Jalander City (70km from Amritsar) and get the 13.30 train to Jodhpur and then the day after get the 23:something from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. A massive mission but we had to complete it because the die had spoken.

A two hour government bus to Jalander and with half an hour to spare we’d made it and had the vital 2nd class tickets to Jodhpur. We of course blagged it all of the way in sleeper class to the annoyance of some polite families who hadn’t the heart to tell us to move and a very kind conductor who hadn’t the language skills or time to fine us.

We decided to hop off the train early in order to sleep properly at Bikaner where we had a fantastic day waiting for the 23:something night train the next day to Jaisalmer. We did most of the sights the town has to offer. A camel farm/research centre (the only one in the world), a rat temple (also, probably the only one in the world) and the old fort (one of many in Rajasthan).

Not as good as goats milk. Camel is the salty, more lean alternative

Not a place for the squeamish. The Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner