Tuesday, 4 November 2014

India: Jodhpur

We faced our first overnight sleeper train in India for our journey from Agra to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. This was scheduled to take 10 hours, however when we arrived at the train station in Agra we were informed of a 3 hour delay. By this time it was already 8pm so we were not too happy to hear of this. Although there was nothing we could do about it so settled onto the platform and played our favourite game 'how much..?'. This has kept us entertained for hours upon hours during these sorts of times and we were keen to share it with the Spicy Mermaids. It's basically a game where you test how much money it would take for somebody to do something awful. For example, one question was "how much for you to take a bath in henna so you turn orange for a few weeks?", or "how much to shave your head?". We really enjoy this game as it tests how high or low peoples standards are and you get some hilarious responses! After a few hours had passed we noticed the train getting more and more delayed until it finally arrived a massive 7 hours late! We were all so exhausted by this time, I'm pretty sure we were all sleeping before our heads hit the pillow. 

Waking up in Jodhpur we got a pre paid Rickshaw to our hostel. Getting a pre paid taxi service whenever available is sensible as it lowers the chance of getting an inflated price - standard when your a white person in India. We have been told that almost every price you are quoted is at least 50% more than its value. We met one group at the hostel who paid 2,000 rupees (£20) for their journey from the train station, when we paid 80 rupees (80p). It really pays to do some research before heading to a new destination to find out how far away the hotel is from the train/bus station so you know what kind of price you should be paying. Also, barter like hell! If one man wont give you the price you want then there are about 80 others all lined up to take you. Walk away and they usually come running after you with the price you want. 

We stayed for 3 nights at the one and only hostel chain in India - ZostelWe were lucky to have an 8 person room all to ourselves which was ideal! After some home comforts in the form of baked beans on toast we were ready to do some exploring. We were dropped off near the clock tower of Sadar Market, which consisted mainly of textile shops. We got roped into going into one which claimed to serve all the big designer brands such as Kenzo and D&G. They sat us down and proceeded to display all the different types of items we could purchase in store. They showed some amazing blankets/throws and scarves made from cashmere, pashmina and alpaca wool. One of the guys got very into the display, draping the blankets over himself and a friend demonstrating how to get 'cosy' on a winters night, haha! His show worked a treat as our friends bought some souvenirs and gifts for family members.

That evening we got a few drinks, chilled on the balcony of the hostel and listened to music. This was a great opportunity to meet a few others staying at the hostel along with the hostel manager. After a couple of hours and a few too many drinks for some (Sinead crawling onto her top bunk), we were ready for some well deserved rest. 

The next morning we visited Mehrangarh Fort. Inside the fort there are many palaces and one of Rajasthans' best stocked museums. It felt so magical walking around the Fort, the detail in the buildings were exquisite. The palaces were all very lavishly decorated with the most spectacular views across the Blue City of Jodhpur. A guy we met at the hostel recommended we visit Flying Fox for a Zip Lining adventure around the Fort. This cost us around 1,300 rupees  (£13) each for 6 zip lines, lasting a total of one hour. The group felt a little mixed about this experience. If your a total adrenaline junkie then this is quite possibly not scary enough. We didn't dislike the experience we were just expecting something a little more.

Later that afternoon we attended a cooking class at Spice Paradise. We stumbled upon this the night before completely by chance and thought we'd take a look at the different spices on offer. We were met by Rekha, the most grateful, humble lady you could ever wish to meet. Immediately we were welcomed into her family home as if we were old friends and we did not hesitate to book a cooking class with her. Our cooking class cost 1,000 rupees (£10) and lasted 5 hours. We felt this was definitely worth it, we cooked such a variety of dishes including chai masala tea, biriyani, paneer curry, mixed fruit and veg raita, chapatis, garlic naan, sweet paratha and saffron lassis. Rekha also talked to us about each individual spice and its medical purposes and gave us a massive 15 page cook book to take home.

Our day of the cooking class marked the beginning of Diwali - the festival of lights, which is as big as Christmas in Asia! Rekha and her husband Anil could not thank us enough for being their 'lucky charm of the year'. We wish them all the luck for the future, no doubt they will do very well - we will remember their warm welcome and honest faces forever. 

For our last night in Jodhpur we did a home stay outside of the city. We decided this deserved a write up of its own as we did so many activities and had such a brilliant time - keep posted!

Here are a few pictures of our time in Jodhpur: 

First glimpse of Mehrangarh Fort - 400ft above the city
Jodhpur Centre
Jodhpur Centre
The Clock Tower
Deciding on our purchases
Jack jumping on the henna wagon
Mirinda King
Mehrangarh Fort
View across to the Blue City

Palace within the Fort

Young boy singing
Off she goes!

Team Zip Line!

Rekha teaching us all about spices and their medical properties
Ingredients for our Biriyani
YUUUUM! - The silver is for presentation when you have special guests 
Now we're all happy!
Thanks Rekha!

Happy Wanderers 

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