Friday, 30 March 2012

Amazing Udiapur

Arriving in Udiapur was a relief after the 8 hour game of chicken on the roads of Rajasthan. I lobbed in to town in the middle of a festival. It had lots of meaning but basically it was 'find yourself a husband' night. The street were full of colorful sari clad females all trying to snare a bloke. Now this is all well and good but meant our vehicles were stopped and we were dumped on the street quite a way from our destination.

Not to worry, we loaded up and headed through the streets of the wonderful town of Udiapur. I checked in to a family run guesthouse (think Indian B&B with loads of charm and your own bathrooms) and we headed a fancy hotel for dinner.

I sat in an amazing rooftop restaurant and watched the festival, fireworks and all.

The next day began with the obligatory town tour. I fell in love with the windy hilly streets and smiling locals. But there was no time for lingering, it was off to Indian cooking school for me. Yes, you heard it, I willingly chose to cook!

Our chef for the occasion had a wicked sense of humour, kept our spices on track and veggies chopped. What a lunch!

The town of Udiapur is dominated by an enormous castle on the hill and a few others scattered around the lake - I called them the east and west wings. These buildings will be familiar to James Bond fans as Octopussy was filmed here.

Our leader Yaddu is very proud of his home town of Udiapur, so after a rather lengthy tour of the castle we headed to his place for dinner. Once again sitting on the roof, this time with views of the castle, we were joined by a few dozen members of his family and a couple of dozen friends. The rum came out and the fun began. Thank god we headed home around 11 as the rum just kept on aflowing until the wee hours. Yaddu wasn't seen much the next day.

Brekkie the next morning was with the fab girls from the UK in a little (once again) rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake - with a coffee machine! OMG that coffee was good.

I needed to stopped sipping expresso and make some plans for the next few weeks. So where else to head but the 'one stop shop' up the street. It is kinda like a mini-mart with travel thrown in. I booked all my flights - Calcutta to Mumbai (3 nights), Mumbai to Goa (7 nights), Goa to Cochin (5 nights) then Cochin to Sri Lanka. Pleased that is done. The Indians may be efficient but all in their own good time.

Then I rounded up a few of my new friends, piled into auto rickshaws and headed to the local spice and veg markets to check out where the locals stock up. The smells and colours were amazing - just a shame all the smells weren't good.

The day was finished off with a boat ride on one of the 7 lakes.

Dinner was held at my fab guest house - you guessed it, on the roof. While chomping on curry and naan we watched Octopussy, with each location either in front, behind or up the hill from us. All was going well til I realized I was on the 6am train the next morning. I guess a 5am start meant we weren't traveling in the heat!

After 5 or so hours on the local train, including a chai stop we arrived at some station over the mountain from Pushka. Onto the bus and off to the hotel - another family run place that is divine and also comes with requisite rooftop restaurant, but at first I thought we were in the middle of nowhere!

An evening walk through the second holiest city in India was interesting but for the first time I came across scamming kids and begging grannies. But I'm kinda Indian street smart now so managed to totally avoid eye contact or a sideways glance.

Dinner was with a local family, on the roof! For 200IR or $4 we dined like royalty.

Given I had spied a pool from the rooftop and the fact that Pushka isn't my fav spot, today was live like royalty day! Sleep in, lounging around on rooftop cushions leisurely enjoying my porridge then off to the pool for a day of splashing in very cold water in 39 degree heat. Even the monkeys joined in. Quite a few hours later Nat and I were pampered by a massage. It was quite relaxing - until she poured oil on my head. What the hell, I was on my bed and didn't want to sleep in an oil slick.

I'm now sitting on the roof watching a Bollywood blockbuster (no Kathryn not the one starring Brett Lee) and look like an oil slick. It's veggie curry then a shower for me.

- Posted from somewhere round the world...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Leaving Delhi for the desert state of Rajasthan

Old Delhi, there's nowhere like it!

After a morning of walking the hectic and chaotic streets of old Delhi I raced back to the hotel to wash off the Delhi dust, buy snacks and head to the station for a 19 hour overnight trip to Jaisalmer .

After a chilly night (some of us assumed the train would be hot!) and a few mice encounters I arrived in the beautiful and serene city of Jaisalmer. The hilltop fort dominates the town and it was within the fort area where I am staying at Deepak Rest House for 3 night.

The town has lots of winding streets to explore with amazing little shops selling all sorts of treasures. we all bought 'desert outfits' so we would look the part on our camels, dressed in saris and had henna tattoos - in a little shop with quite a few rats (I must say I remained surprisingly calm!)

I found a pool in a fancy hotel and had the best swim of my life!

We loaded our day packs, mounted our camels and rode for 2 hours into the desert dunes. With somewhat sore butts we arrived at our home for the night. After the obligatory chai on arrival (drunk perched on the top of a sand dune to watch the sun set) we set up our beds, found our newly purchased instruments (we weren't very good), lit a camp fire and opened the rum. It was such great fun and I had an amazing sleep under the stars.

A quick change at the hotel when we got back then it was on to the local bus for a 6 hour drive to Jodphur. I loved the local bus, but boy Indians are loud. I was quite excited that I found earplugs in my pack after my iPod went flat.

Dinner that night was on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the town. I was starting to feel quite awful so had an early night. I can't tell you much about Jodphur as the next day I only went as far as just outside my hotel door. Delhi belly had hit, but I had quite a cozy day in my room - and I caught up on all my laundry!

Rather than take the local bus to Udiapur we decided to hire a couple of jeeps for the 8 hour trip so we could check out some sites on the way. OMG the drivers in this country are crazy. Picture sitting in a small jeep, overtaking a line of 3 trucks with another couple of trucks heading towards you. Somehow we managed to make it in one piece. But I have all decided that local buses or trains are by far the best modes of transport!

- Posted from somewhere round the world...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Ahhhhh welcome to Delhi

Standing in the check in queue I was worried. Not only was I the only person without at least one flat screen tv, I was the only female - and non Indian at that. My hair is so sun bleached I certainly stood out.

I chilled for a bit in the club lounge, filled my pack with as much free food as I could then nearly missed my flight. Oops, popped into the shops on the way to the gate.

Was excited to be sitting in the first row of economy. The dude (v large indeed) next to me moved so I could get myself sorted. I did a little dance in my seat when he decided to stay in the middle row. Two whole seats to myself and a wall in front to put my feet on. Woohoo!

I got up to put my bag in the overhead bin and looked around. There was not another non-Indian or female in the entire cabin. Too funny. But even funnier was the poor flight attendants trying to get people out of the loo, off their phones and into their seats as we were leaving the ground. The flight was quite good considering Indian men talk at a yell and also talk more than me!

Driving into Delhi in a beaten up small hatch thing was hysterical. Laughing so hard while trying to get my seatbelt on was a challenge. Then I landed at the incorrectly named Hotel Perfect. But I was so tired from such a long day of travel I slept very well.

Wandered out of the hotel this morning into the chaos of Delhi. I couldn't get the smile off my face. I wanted to see some of the sites before my tour so got chatting to a tour agent dude.

I couldn't work out if he was trying to scam me, but we had a lot of laughs over a cup of chai so I decided he was ok. I booked a driver for a few hours to see the town.

Wouldn't you know it, next thing a battered up small hatch thing pulls up. They seem to be the transport of choice in downtown delhi.

I went to a cool temple, India gate, parliament house and Humayun's Tomb. Plus a few shops.

Cool temple (it does have a name but i can't quite remember it. Will be known as the temple where I should have bought those cool pants for 200IR or $4).

This is near parliament house. The president has an enormous pad plus gardens that go for miles. Must make up for the fact he has to live next to his office.

Looking towards India gate. This is where the discussion on the merits of Ricky Ponting started!

India gate. It's very cool and is a memorial to people who lost their lives fighting for their country. The layout kinda reminds me of Washington DC.

When the driver man said he wanted to take me to a tomb I was a bit worried - thoughts of boredom sprung to mind. OMG was I wrong. This tomb was build 100 years before the Taj. There are rose gardens and lots of other small tombs. Could have stayed for hours but I ran out of water.

Then me and Apu took a break.

We decided to agree to disagree about Ricky Ponting, bonded over Gillie playing 2020 and both cracked up laughing as soon as he said Shane Warne.

He's picking me up tomorrow .... he says some lotus temple is worth a look so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Location:Hotel Perfect, Karol Bagh India

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Leaving home .... again

It's Wednesday morning and yes I should be at training but I'm taking the morning off to enjoy well whatever the day brings (and I had a shitty sleep last night). Only 2 full days left in my home of Rawai, and yes it feels like home.

Well home where the sun shines down every day and half of every day is spent punching, kicking, kneeing or sending a flying elbow at someone. It's so tough to training every day in the heat but so great to see progress - there's nothing like landing a great right elbow!

Friday I sleep in India. Not sure I'm ready to let this place go yet.

I've spent some time hanging out with the little fighters at the gym. They finish school at 12 and muay thai becomes their job. Now while I screamed and cheered really loudly for one of my little buddies when he fought in Patong, I can't help but feel a bit sad for them. So to lighten their days, we've had a few visits to my hotel pool. It's so great to hear them giggle like the kids they are - and I fill them with ice-cream and lots of other bad food. So much fun!

Speaking of fun, I've had loads. Saturday's at the beach and Sunday trips to Patong for pampering (and burgers).

And last Saturday just happened to be tuk's birthday (he owns the gym). So not only did we go out to play, so did the trainers. And what a night it was. Dancing on the bar just like at the bridge hotel, tequila shots just like well any big night and so much dancing and laughing.


This last pic is my favourist trainer, Sid. He really let lose.

Anyway off for brekkie and maybe a swim. It's a tough life but I'm giving it a good shot.

Posted from somewhere round the world...