Jaipur Ranthambore Jodhpur and Jaisalmer

Ok so last time I posted the Indian government had just decided to scrap the 500 and 1000 rupee notes.
Now India is cash economy, the majority of its daily transactions are done in cash. Very few places have access to card machines and many Indians don’t have a bank account. This means their savings are in cash. Cash with a higher denomination, mainly the 500 and 1000 notes.
The banks gave people 50 days to exchange 4000R per day or to deposit unlimited amounts to their bank accounts.This has lead to huge ques at banks and ATMs running out of money as soon as it’s filled.

This all being said most Indians seem really to be in favour of the changes as it will help to eliminate the country’s “black money” money that is being used for nefarious purposes that can’t be traced or taxed. People I have spoken to seem keen for the country to become more reliant on card transactions.

Now for me travelling it has meant a full on ball ache.
Much of my cash I couldn’t now spend. It also became nearly impossible to get cash out at an atm.
It’s had days of walking for hours to find a restaurant that takes cards.
I’ve had to beg hostels to allow me to pay via the Internet. However stressful the past 10 days have been I’ve still done so much.

I had just got to Jaipur when I last posted. I spent a few days here, 2 of those days were spent relaxing and not spending any money (as I had none)
However on Josh and Marks last day in Jaipur we had a busy day.
We took a Tuk tuk down to see the water palace. The water palace is a beautiful building built in the middle of a lake.
It creates a stunning view. From afar. One you get close to the lake you can see all the pollution and rubbish in the water. The rats scurrying around the waters edge sum up the cleanliness of the place.

20161110_131652

We took a walk from here towards the Jaighur fort. Jaipur has 3 big forts surrounding it.
I feel totally spoilt by the culture and buildings in India.
Our walk towards the fort took us past 2 Tuk tuk drivers who warned us that it was a really long walk to the fort.
We assumed they were just trying to get our business so we walked on we made it 15 minutes up the steep road before the smug driver came past asking if we wanted the drive now. We did!

The fort offered some great views of Jaipur and also housed the worlds largest cannon. Totally for ceremonial use as it had never been fired!

We went along to the Amber fort and got some nice photos but opted against going inside as we were a bit forted out. We instead went for a walk around to try and find a step well we had read about and were eager to see.

When we found the well we were crushed to realise it was closed for the day! An Indian boy must have seen our disapointment and showed us a nice wall to climb over to get into the well.

20161110_173359

While this was probably highly illegal it did mean we got to see this beautiful well without the crowds I’ve come to associate Indias wonders with.
The well was stunning, it resembled an Escher painting.

I said goodbye to Mark and Josh and had a few days counting my penny’s.

I decided to head over to the Ranthambore national park to try a spot some tigers.

What a beautiful place it was. The terrain of the national park was just fantastic. Hills, mountains forest jungle.

My morning safari didn’t get me any tigers, although we found some fresh leopard prints and some bleached bones of a deer, a tigers meal from a month ago. It was still lovely as I met a nice Indian couple who were so friendly.

I decided to do a second safari to try and get my tiger. And it worked. Within 15 minutes we found our tiger. A sleeping tiger that could be seen through a break in the trees. I got some nice photos before India struck. Where initially there was the 1 car watching the tiger there was soon 9. Each with 20 people in them. All vying to get a look.

As wonderful as seeing a wild tiger was, and I know how lucky I was to see it, this totally took the shine off of it. Loud Indians shouting at each other, cars reving and trying to force into gaps to get a better view.

But I saw it.

People in 20 years may never get the chance to see this wild beauty.

My next stop was Jodhpur, the blue city.
I stayed at a really nice hostel called crashpad. This hostel is a diamond in the rough. Not the comfiest or the best rooms but the atmosphere created by the wonderful staff makes it a great place to be.

They took 5 fellow backpackers and I around the city for 3 hours in an attempt to find cash.
6 backpackers in 1 Tuk Tuk made for quite an adventure.

20161116_114725

We got a bit of cash and went to the Fort. We didn’t go in but the viewpoint offered an amazing view of the blue city.

The following day was a really special day. We went out 65km from the city to a rural community. We went to a local temple famous for curing paralysis before going to a local school.

This was really amazing and I got quite emotional. The school had 160 pupils, all so smiley and happy to be there. Some walk 5km a day to get to school.

20161117_144542

The resources were very basic, blackboards and chalk. There were some classes going on outside as they lacked the buildings for the kids.

 

But they were so welcoming and so friendly. The kids happy to show off their English singing songs and reciting poems. It really warmed the heart.

We went for food with a local family and had some amazing home cooked food. Our car managed to get stuck in the sand so joined by all the villages children we had to get out.

20161117_162429
The evening ended with a trip to a sand dune to watch the sunset. It was such a great day and really helped ease the stress of the money!

20161117_173450

 

My next stop… over the desert to Jaisalmer near the Pakistan border.
We jumped on a 6 hour bus and headed out over the bumpy roads into the desert.
On arrival we were accosted by eager tuk tuk drivers all keen to sell us a hostel and a ride. They were overly insistent and wouldn’t take no, we have a hostel and are walking, for an answer so we had to be quite firm with them.
We arrived at our hostel not knowing what to expect. We had paid 99R (£1.17) a night for our rooms so expected a dive. We were pleasantly surprised. We had lucked out a treat. Our hostel was lovely, nice rooms, friendly staff and an incredible attached restaurant.
We met a few awesome people who were going on a camel safari the next day so decided to jump in with them. A quick trip into the local fort and we were all decked out with some traditional clothing.
12 people cramed into a jeep and we took off on our 60km drive to meet our Camels.
I don’t know if anyone reading this has ridden a camel before but my word it’s an experience. They are deceptively tall and have a distinctive smell.
We rode our Camels across sand and scrub for 5km before setting up for the night. My legs were aflame after these 5kms so I wasn’t sad to get off the camel.
20161120_163416
Instead of getting camp beds we opted to sleep under the stars on the sand itself. The sunset and night sky was incredible.
20161120_175203
Zero night pollution meant we had a blanket of uninterrupted stars to gaze at all night. Now I’ll keep the blog PC but we had a lot of Bhang (Google it) and all lot of beer. So much so that they had to send a camel out to get more.
It was a wonderful evening and I throughly recommend the desert safaris to anyone out this was.
The morning bought on its own challenged with sand in every orifice and the struggle of a hungover morning constitutional in the desert!!
An uncomfortable hangover camels ride back to the Jeep marked the end of the trip.
I spent a few more days in Jailsalmer enjoying the hostel food and walking around the towns majestic fort before boarding a 13 hour night bus to Jodhpur.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s