A big day for us in several ways!!! Firstly, we have summoned the energy to leave Udaipur for a day trip to continue our collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites by visiting Chittorgarh Fort. Secondly, after 44 days of travelling, we have crossed the £1,000 mark of our combined spendature (accommodation, food, travel, everything!). Not entirely sure why this is of importance (to me, especially!!) but it feels like an important milestone. Thirdly, Jayne got annoyed for only the third time during our entire trip but it was with such theatrical flouncing it was truly brilliant!!
Anyway, set an alarm clock to decide whether we had the strength/want to leave the confines of our room and decided that we needed to give it a go! Up, showered, dressed and at the local bus stand by 9.15am to work out how we were going to make the 2 hour journey to Chittorgarh. Managed, by pure luck it would seem, to get tickets for the 10am bus which was blissfully a Volvo Mercedes (meaning it was actually somehow decent – it even had air conditioning and ‘free’ bottles of water!!). Jayne read her book whilst I gave myself pins and needles in my arm by sleeping in the weirdest position possible. Once we arrived, we were surrounded by tuktuk drivers, all desperate to drive us around the main sights of the fort. Certainly the most hounded we’ve been in a long time but also by the least persistent – most of them had left us by the time we got to the end of the bus! Wanted to stretch our legs and knowing that the first gate was less than 1 km away, we decided to start walking. Found the initial fort gate (with a minor detour through some back streets, thinking we’d found a short cut but ended up doubling back on ourselves) and began walking along the defence walls up to the top. Each gate was deserted and we went exploring in each one whilst people stared at us from the back of tuktuks. Not sure if it was cause they thought we were crazy for walking or because they were surprised to see white tourists (we only saw one other white couple the entire day). The fort is covered in semi-restored buildings and palaces so we wandered around, looking at different things and trying not to over do it. Near the entrance was a beautiful Jain Temple which was surprisingly empty. There were signs near the door asking women not to enter if they were on their period which is the first time we’ve seen this. The carvings on the outside of the temple were particularly beautiful especially the ones that had sandstone running through them. Went to a different site that had a few different buildings in it – mainly a very tall tower that you could climb. We went in but after seeing people squeezing up and down the narrow staircase with no barriers we decided against going to the top. The site itself was very busy and, going back to my previous comment about not being used to tourists, we were inundated with requests for photos and people taking photos of us when they think we’re not looking (FYI – Indian people are the least discreet people we’ve met at taking sneaky photos!!). Think it was around the fifteenth man taking a ‘sneaky’ photo of me when Jayne lost her temper and stormed over to him demanding to have his phone. Turns out his was taking video footage and Jayne tried to delete it whilst telling him that tourists didn’t like having their photos taken. Not sure English was his strong point and since he was smiling so much so she waved her camera in his face saying ‘No photos. No videos. I don’t take photos of you!’. He clearly thought she was about to punch him in the face with her cannon SLR! It probably doesn’t sound it but it was incredibly funny to watch and it was nice to know that Jayne was feeling better enough to defend me against the locals. Surprisingly, we didn’t have anymore trouble for the rest of the day!! Went to the water palace before getting a tuktuk back to the bus stand. Having had such a lovely bus trip this morning, we were keen to get a similar bus on the way back. Unfortunately, we were back on a regular local bus although we can’t complain – we didn’t have to wait long, we got 2 seats and it cost hardly anything! A 9-year old girl sat in front of us and, for the majority of the 3 hours back to Udaipur, we played thumb wars, rock-paper-scissors and taught her some words in English. We asked her how many brothers she had and she started with one and then 2 minutes late, she had 4 – she had forgotten 3 of them!! One of her brothers wanted to practise his English with me so I chatted to him whilst Jayne got cheated out of a game of rock-paper-scissors. The brother had a bad stutter and you could see how grateful his parents were that I was happy to wait until he was ready to talk. When they got off at their stop, half the bus got off – their family was massive!!
Got a tuktuk back to the old town and went to our favourite restaurant – cheap and nice! Jayne asked for her vegetable byriani to be spicy and it has actually burnt my lips!! I’m such a lightweight with spices! Headed back to the guest house to plan the next few days and collapsed into bed!
A slow morning getting up and working out if Jayne was feeling any better this morning. I hadn’t slept very well (I was half keeping an ear out to make sure she was okay) and have got far too into the crappy book series I downloaded from the iTunes Store to rush Jayne out the door… Left the hotel around midday and headed out to get some breakfast/lunch. Went to a new cafe around the corner which has a Simonelli coffee machine on their counter top (one of the reasons Jayne wanted to try it – think she is reminiscing about her H&H days!). They had puzzles on each of the tables and, since there were no other customers, we collected them all and got to work on solving them. Managed the 2 maze ones but failed miserably at the rest. Jayne equally didn’t solve them and the effort did odd things to her hair!! As we were both feeling better, and had a slight case of cabin fever, we decided to start walking in the direction of the park for as long as we felt we could. Wandered into a Tibetan market randomly at the entrance of the park. It was almost like a car boot sale… All the stalls were tightly packed together and stuffed full of stuff that we didn’t want to buy! There were lots of Indians buying fleece lined coats and scarf/hat combos (whilst we are still hot in our t-shirts!!). Headed into the park and just walked around, avoiding families asking for photos of us. Found a path full of monkeys (the first time we’ve seen them in Udaipur) and a baby monkey seemed particularly keen to come close to me – the mum wasn’t so keen!! Walked past the ‘famous’ rose garden (with no roses) and ended up at the Gandhi statue. Deciding it was too hot to sit in the sun, we tried to find somewhere shady and fell upon the entrance to the city zoo. Debated whether to go in or not but, as it looked blissfully empty and incredibly shady, we decided to go in. There wasn’t really much to see in the zoo – 1 leopard, 2 warthogs, some monkeys, deer and lots of birds. The enclosures themselves were more fascinating than the animals inside them – some of them were clearly Victorian and were really ornate, having just been patched up in places rather than bring replaced. Sat for a long time on the swings in the children’s park that faced the deer enclosure, discussing the animals we would want if we bought a zoo ourselves. Left the zoo and continued walking through the park to the lake and the viewpoint. Decided that the cable car looked too dodgy to use it and neither of us had the energy to walk up the hill to see the viewpoint. Tried to go via the city palace back to the hotel but the security guard wanted us to have museum tickets just to walk through the grounds! So we headed back the way we came, looking in the lake and both were surprised at how clean and transparent the water was despite the amount of rubbish floating in it. Rested back at the hotel for a few hours, catching up with Mags on Skype before heading out to dinner. Decided to go back to the same cafe as this morning. Gathered up all the puzzles again and, thankfully, we finished every single one with comparative ease! Jayne spoke to the owners about how many coffees they made (about the same in a month that she used to make in an hour at H&H) whilst I read a journal article about the benefits of keeping a diary from a literature & writers point of view. Headed back to the hotel when we saw the fattest rat run up the open sewers along side the houses – even the locals seemed taken aback by his size. He was lovingly described by Jayne as ‘fatty ratty wanna chapatti’ which made us both giggle all the way to our room.
Karma is a bitch!!! After Jayne’s ‘delightful’ photo of me in yesterday’s blog, it seems that she has relapsed into her stomach bug with gusto!!! Mwah haha… Although, I mustn’t get too cocky!! It appears that last nights dinner had settled my stomach enough to get me a good nights sleep and, as such, I am feeling (surprisingly) on better form. Jayne on the other hand… Spent most of the morning reading my book whilst she was ‘otherwise engaged’ before convincing her to come out for breakfast to get some fresh air. Headed for our usual Cafe Namaste where Jayne fell asleep at the table – so much for food making her feel better. Ordered fruit muesli with no bananas (which was ignored). Realised that if I could stomach the taste of bananas after a 2-day stomach bug then I was really going to be okay! Took Jayne back to the hotel and then I headed out in search of an ATM and a pharmacy. Got Jayne some drugs (which I googled to check they weren’t going to kill her) and then settled in for an afternoon of watching her sleep/reading my book/catching up on FB. Woke Jayne up when our hotel owner knocked on the door to check she was okay (although, he rubbed her leg a bit TOO much!! Lols – so funny!! Not sure we’ll ever get used to the lack of personal space here). Headed out for dinner as she was in the mood for Chinese food – some things never change! Have cancelled our taxi tour for tomorrow. Hopefully another days rest might make all the difference!
It can be asking someone on a date, standing in front of your classmates giving a presentation or maybe that first car journey by yourself. These are all things we can relate to.
For me, it was timing the bathroom ‘trips’ precisely in order to make it to the cafe for breakfast and back without incident.
I was rewarded with such heroism by feeling decidedly better for the majority of the day. I was on the mend. I was going to make it. 🙂 Katherine on the other hand was still feeling it…
Despite tearing through the scrambled egg ‘in’ toast, and struggling through those delightful lemon electrolyte sachets it was slow going through the movies as we had to pause it nearly every 10mins for a break.
I felt that the nauseating smell of cow shit & open sewers and the cacophony of tuk tuk horns & street hawkers would be a welcome change from the confines of the room so I forced madam to get up and get dressed. This is where it all started to go wrong. The Christmas Snow Man placemats at the restaurant couldn’t cheer the slow deterioration of my body. The food that had been so welcome earlier now sat churning in my stomach with the effervescent bubbling of those bloody awful rehydration salts. Katherine was able to eat dinner and helped me through mine, while I focused on keeping everything from the day down.
Managed to get back to the hotel where exhaustion finally overcame illness and I passed out. Mr Bucket was close at hand and Katherine’s day of reckoning was almost upon me.
Whatever Jayne had/has, I now have it as well… Both of us are feeling a bit fragile as we tag team it to the toilet and going out to the shops for supplies. Have spent the day at the hotel, watching films, IM’ing Clare, Tracey & Gaelle and sleeping. Had a hilarious shower where neither of us had the energy to stand up so we just sat on the floor, huddled together under the hot water. I don’t think I’ve ever giggled so much at how pathetic we were being!!! Feeling a bit better after our salty crisp sandwiches and vast quantities of oral rehydration salts (FYI – they taste disgusting in every country despite what the Indian pharmacist told me…). Going to stay in Udaipur a few more days longer than planned and wait until we feel vaguely human again before heading to our next town.
Our last day volunteering at Animal Aid. We were both kind of glad that it was over as we felt that the long-term volunteers could be used in a more effective and productive manner. We did the same things each day and when we asked to help the staff (who looked run off their feet) in other areas, we were told ‘no’. Jayne had spoken to one of the vets yesterday who had offered to let Jayne shadow her for the day. So whilst I was with the paralysed dogs, giving them love and affection, Jayne was helping out in the puppy section, taking temperatures and helping to re-insert a prolapsed rectum. Around mid morning tea break, one of the charity founders told Jayne that she wasn’t allowed to shadow the vet anymore – it wasn’t what volunteers did! Despite protests from the vet, Jayne was told to go back to giving love and affection to the paralysed dogs as “they don’t have much going on in their lives!” Whilst I went to feed the baby calves, Jayne was asked to paint the kennels – which she did for the rest of the day. I went and helped her after lunch as her back had started hurting. As we had our rabies injections, we were allowed in kennel B (for dogs with skin conditions such as mange). It was so nice to be with dogs who clearly didn’t get much human contact but really craved it!! Headed home at the end of the day, both feeling a bit grumpy and frustrated, but the sight of the local bus made us giggle again! Got back to the hotel for a scolding hot shower and a nice dinner – obviously our eyes were bigger than our bellies… I could barely move afterwards!!!
Set our alarms early as we were off to volunteer at Animal Aid Unlimited. Started off by trying to negotiate a TukTuk to take us the 15km to the rescue centre. Jayne put me in charge of this task… Fool!!! After several attempts, I found a man who would take us for 150 INR (about £1.50). First stop? The petrol station where he requested his money. Gave him 50 INR and told him we’d give him the rest when we were AT Animal Aid. Good thing we did too because about 3km up the road, the TukTuk died a spectacular death!! He then found us another TukTuk to take us the rest of the way for the remaining 100 INR. As we got closer, it became clear that our new driver had no idea where he was going. As he stopped and jumped out of the TukTuk to knock on a house to ask for directions, the TukTuk slowly began to roll back down the hill with us inside. Seeing no handbrake, Jayne jumped out and used her brute strength to stop it rolling back.
Arrived at Animal Aid and were given a welcome talk by one of the founders, Jim. We then went on a tour of the rescue centre, seeing all the different areas that are used to treat and rehabilitate the dogs, cats, cows and donkeys. There are also goats, 3 tortoises, 2 pigs, 1 (blind) monkey and some pigeons and parakeets that are used to teach Indians about animal care and cruelty. Our jobs as volunteers were very different. Jayne, being forthright, was helping the vets change bandages and administer medication. I was working mainly with the dogs that are paralysed, helping them to move and massaging muscles and basically given them loads of love and affection. We both got to feed the calves which was adorable until one of them stepped on my foot and another nutted Jayne in the arse!!! Think the hardest part for both of us was the dying cow section. Euthanasia of cows is illegal in Rajasthan so they have to leave them to die naturally. The cows get comfy mattresses to lie on and stay in the shade whilst volunteers sit with them. 2 cows passed away today whilst we were there. Was very hard to see them lying there looking emancipated from eating plastic bags but probably not as difficult as watching the donkey that passed away in Jayne’s arms.
Came home feeling in need for a good, hot shower and a hearty meal with some sugar!! Got another recommendation for dinner from our guest house owner which was, as usual, spot on! Less fireworks and bangers tonight but they are still going off regularly enough to make my ears sore. Stopped by an Indian sweet shop on the way home to get dessert. I was too stuffed from dinner to eat anything but Jayne ‘sample controlled’ one of everything for me! She is going to be so hyper soon from all that sugar…
Slept for as long as possible and were very slow at getting out of bed – reading books and working out what to do with our time in Udaipur. Got up, washed, dressed and headed out for the day. Since I was in (a bit of!!) a grumpy mood, we headed to a local cafe for breakfast that was also a French bakery. Cheered myself up with a chocolate croissant and a pineapple juice made by basically putting a pineapple in a blender!
Next we walked through town and went to the Jagdish temple – abeautifully engraved Indo-Aryan temple built in 1651. It had a black stone image of Vishnu inside which is the first one we’ve seen during our travels in India.
After that, we headed to the city palace. Built with balconies, towers and cupolas, it is Rajasthan’s largest palace. It has some nice views over the lake and city but the most of the City Palace museum was pretty bland – it might have been better with an audio guide but we were both still pretty tired from our journey yesterday and not in the mood to be educated!! Our favourite section was the sculptures and the music instruments, which had brass men made out of wire holding each one so you know how it could be played. Went for a stroll around the town, visiting the lake and buying sweets for the family that run out guest house (for Diwali). As we went to head out for dinner, they gave us a weird corn/butter/milk drink. I’m not going to lie… It tasted and had the consistency of drinking warm sugary vomit! Drank it whilst posing for photos with the new baby and chatting to the different family members. Had an amazing local Thali for dinner – Jayne had hers ‘Indian spicy’. Think the owner was secretly impressed that she could handle that much heat!! On the way back to the hotel, I met the most gorgeous calf – tried to feed him the green stuff his was given but he kept just wanting to lick my fingers!! As it’s the first officially night of Diwali celebrations, the air is full of fireworks and bangers. It’s been going on since sunset (so as I write this blog, it’s been 5 hours!). The air smells like gunpowder and some of the bangers are incredibly loud. We were both glad that the restaurant we went to was nearby as the walk home was made significantly longer by having to stop to let people set off fireworks in the middle of the street!