Monday, 30 April 2012

26th April - The big chop!

So after five and a half years of being in a relationship with a mop of long hair, today it all changed!!! The daily temperatures of 35degrees (and soaring further) have finally proved too much and Luke has gone to extreme lengths to fight the tropical harassment! Here are the results!....

inspecting the instruments!

and now this is this new Lukey!!

And so with Lukey's new aerodynamic streamline hair do, we climbed to the top of a near by hill to check out Pushkar in all its glory!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Loving life in Pushkar!

 We arrived in Pushkar late last night to a more noticeably pleasant atmosphere. There were no touts when we got off the bus and so we were free to casually walk the streets and find the guest house which had been recommended to us by some friends in Nepal.

The people were much more welcoming and we were often greeted with a 'Namasté,' something we haven't heard since Nepal. Many people stopped offering to help us, nothing more, just help. One older man on a motorbike even pulled over, phoned the guest house and arranged for them to meet us on the street. We have found some nice, helpful people at last!!!

The guest house is perfect. We entered into a big courtyard with outhouse rooms surrounding the edge. The smell of the vegetation is overpoweringly beautiful and a fantastic change to the general stench of urine which we have become accustomed to! We settle into our room and decide this will definitely be our calm home for the next few days!

our fantastic €5 guest house!

In the morning we went out to explore the streets. We were quickly hustled to the 'holy Lake,' and were guided to some 'priests' who made us sit at opposite ends of the lake and began to recite a mantra which we had to repeat. They gave us flowers which we offer for our family members, blessed us and wrapped a string around our wrists. Before the blessing ended the guy told me it is expected that we make a donation 'for the poor.' I replied that I understood and would do so on my way out. He then glared at me and asked how much? I said I could offer 100rupees. He looked at me irately announcing that that was not enough, I had to pay for each member of my family and friends that I wanted to bless and that people usually offer between 500 and 1000rupees. I said that's very nice but I did not have that much money and I would be DONATING 100rupees. He continued hassling me as I tried to explain to him the meaning of the word donation.

on the way to the holy lake

He continued on and so I asked him to put out his hands and I placed the flowers and bracelet into his hands and told him to head off. I starting walking over to Luke as he ordered me to sit down and not to disturb his mantra. I continued anyway. Luke had just gotten to the part where the mention, I saw Luke's expression change too so I told him to get up that we were leaving. We took our shoes, had another argument with a group of four other supposed priests and we made sure to tell them exactly what we thought of them. We left, once again, completely infuriated. This is supposed to be a sacred place of worship and they are absolutely destroying it with their crookedness.

Lukey, incredibly pissed off, sitting at the entrance to the lake after our 'spiritual' experience!

I reminded myself that Pushkar IS our safe haven and that I will not let this group of twats ruin that, like they have done so at so many other places. With that thought in mind we continued to walk around the streets with the locals pleasantly acknowledging us. Their are lots of women here because they come here especially to worship so I feel very comforted by this presence.

Pushkar is a really nice and relaxed place. Time is slipping by very easily here and we are loving every moment of chilling out! It is completely vegetarian, there are no eggs here even, Luke is devastated! There is also a ban on alcohol which is a bit of a downer because we usually spend our evenings relaxing with our good friend rum. It's like Good Friday constantly, knowing you cannot have it makes you want it a hundred times more!!

laid back Pushkar

ladies everywhere :)

It's not just the people, the streets have amazing character too..

and as always, there are too many lovely things to buy :(

We braved our first local eatery last night. We have been so careful sticking to safe looking restaurants and cafes but we met a girl who recommended this as a great local place so we trusted her. Authentic does not begin to describe it! As we were waiting to order the chef was walking around sweeping the floor with with a small broom. It was like slow motion horror as i saw him raise the broom to the work surface and I grimaced as he began to brush the chopping board with said broom. That's it I thought, we're going to be sick here! The food was good and the atmosphere was fantastic. The fear however as I fell asleep was not so great, I tossed and turned waiting for the 'Delhi Belly,' to set it! But...all was good!! Phew!

From what I have read, this is the only such place on our hectic route around Rajastan so we will take this little mental health break and make the most of it!! We have met some other really nice backpackers here and even after months of travelling through India their daily frustration is still the same as ours. It comforts me that it's not just us that feel like that, but at the same time it is not an atmosphere that I would be willing to spend a long time in. Yes I have seen some wonderful and amazing things here so far, but it is often outweighed by the negative feelings caused by the majority of the people. One older traveller from France told us that she believes India is made up of 10% good people, 90% just have to do your best to seek out the good! All I know is I have never felt such huge negativity in such a short space of time, that is not me and that is not what I seek. We will see what happens from here, for the time being I'm going to sit back and enjoy a glass of chai ( delicious Indian tea) and listen to Luke strum away on his guitar.

Ps. Luke is shaving his head today!!!!! In all our time together he has always had long hair so this is going to be a serious change!!!!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

I think Luke has found incredible India in this photograph

I love this photo so much. For me, it's not just a beautiful image, it really represents what I think of India so far. The beauty I believe lies with the women and children, who's vibrancy shines through in this photo. The men are a mere blur, dominating the background, but dominating is their sole purpose.

22 April Jaipur

Didn't have the best sleep last night. The were mozzies everywhere in our room. We spent a couple of hours on a killing spree but I still woke up this morning with nineteen new bites. Oh joy! We have decided that we want to get out of here and rather than finding a new hostel we're going to do our sightseeing early and then get moving to Pushkar.

Steff sent his uncle Momad to meet us and we paid for his driving for the day. We had been avoiding doing so all along but actually when you add the amount of transportation cost that you clock up daily it all adds up. Plus we get to see everything quite quickly hense not having to spend another night here.

First we asked Momad to take us to the bus station where we bought our ticket for Pushkar. Next we went to see Hawa Mahal. We got there early at around 9.30am so there were very few people there, allowing us to roam freely around the wind palace. Its names is so because there are hundereds different sized windows with no glass.The wind blows freely thoughout the pink sandstone palace, adding to its whimsical charm. The palace was built for the ladies of the royal household. It allowed them to spy on the outside world and watch the life of the city, without the unwanted gaze falling on them. Wouldn't mind a bloody transportable wind palace of my own!!

the perfect peep hole

view of the pink city from the top

I love the decorative doors

Afterwards we went to see the Amber Fort. The huge fort towers above the town and anytime you look to the horizon it can be seen in its gigantuian glory. It is the first thing I noticed when we arrived here and I have been waiting it anticipation to go and see it.

We travelled thirty minutes outside the town to reach the fort. We passed elephants and camels trekking up the long road on the way.

Epic does not explain what we were faced with! It really was like something from a big budget movie set, but this was real! The amber colour shone prodly in the sunlight rising high into the sky. Indian ladies walked around also observing the building, their saris glowing vibrantly against the amber stone. It was the perfect setting to sit down and people watch, imagining times gone by.

We enjoyed the sights Jaipur had to offer but after two days we had seen them all and did not want to hang around in another hectic city. We have heard Pushkar is supposed to be really nice and laid back so we are making a beeline for there and hoping for the best.

The bus we are sitting on currently is hilarious. We are sitting up in a space where the over head luggage is usually kept (given that it is about twice the size!) We are crouched over with our legs stretched out in front. There is a small plastic panel and curtain for privacy from the other people on the bus who are also in similar cubby holes and there are about thirty more people than should be allowed how are standing the entire length of the aisle. We are the only westerners on board. I feel like we are on display in a pet shop! I think it will be a long five hours!!!!!