The Roseate Hotel, Delhi.
Perfect way to end the trip! Bliss
Things i have learnt about Rajasthan:
People are friendly and curious and that's ok.
Poverty is inevitable and unavoidable and distressing.
Litter is a first world concern.
Be resilient when set upon by stall holders and shop keepers - don't be drawn into bartering unless you really plan to buy.
You can never have too much hand sanitizer, too many tissues or too many wet wipes.
Street food is fine if it's from a well frequented stall - empty food stalls are empty for a good reason.
Bombay mix is always better with a squirt of lemon.
ATM's never have cash in them.
Changing money is a challenge unless it's $$$s
2 January 2017
And we are off - on the 15:45 from Ajmer Junction to Delhi. Whilst it is definitely NOT the Shinkansen there is a lot more legroom than on an economy flight and the catering is, let's say... more interesting!
Sadly they don't have the whizzy technology to move the seats so I'm traveling backwards all the way to Delhi. On the bright side it's the fast train- so 6 hours not 8!
Bye bye Pushkar. So not looking forward to the eight hour train journey back to Delhi. Hoping for good chai, Bombay mix and a comfy seat.
1 January 2017
Pushkar, one of India's holiest cities. Note that the consumption of non- Veg food is considered to be as big a crime as the use of drugs and alcohol! Woohoo!
It might be one of the holiest cities but they go after the tourist rupee with an enthusiasm that's a little off putting. By far the unfriendliest city so far!
There are an awful lot of shops selling swords and knuckle dusters too! (Violent lot these veggies!)
Camel safari, Pushkar.
I know just how those camels feel ... yawn!
Pushkar, six hours by train from Udaipur. Gulaab Niwas Palace Hotel is owned by a Brahmin caste family which means its 100% vegetarian! It's also a 'dry' hotel for the same reason.
They do like their paneer however...
Edit: turns out the entire city is vegetarian! Happy face
Another early start to catch the train to Ajmer Junction.
31 December 2016
Obligatory culture show! Dharohar entertainers. Actually not bad - especially the puppeteer.
Vegan restaurant - great breakfast spot. Date and almond shake followed by banana and vegan Nutella pancakes. Happy face
Around Udaipur, a beautiful lakeside city with a great feel to it. Love it here!
30 December 2016
Boat ride, Pichola Lake, Udaipur. Known as the Venice of India for good reason.
City Palace, Udaipur
29 December 2016
Indian camping, Pangath Retreat, Chittaurgarh Raj
Village life, Chattaurgarh
28 December 2016
Hotel Castle Bijaipur, Chittaurgarh
Early morning Breakfast on the train from Bundi to Bassi Bijaipur. It's never too early for Bombay Mix!
It would have been a happy face except for the ungodly hour!
27 December 2016
Food, beer and henna!
Masala chai - Indian staple. This guy was something of a local celebrity.
Garh Palace, Bundi
We got stopped by a local photographer who took our pictures as the sun was setting. Seems we're going to be in the local newspaper at the weekend!
Village life, Bundi
Village life, Bundi
26 December 2016
Lots of evidence of tigers including paw prints, scratches and poop! There was also plenty of monkeys, deer, peacocks, turtles, eagles and crocodiles. But no tiger!
25 December 2016
Christmas in Jaipur
Lovely surprise today when it turned out that the planned Christmas Day lunch was hosted by my guide's family who opened their home in the most hospitable way.
There were Christmas hats to be worn as I enjoyed some of the most delicious home cooked vegetarian food. Despite being almost too full to move this was followed by a wonderful eggless Christmas cake full of deliciously spiced fruit. Finally there were traditional gifts. Lovely.
Back at the hotel, in the evening there was a pretty big clue that the buffet was non- Veg.
Oh and Santa brought me a rather lovely new stone to replace the one that was lost from my favourite ring almost two years again!
24 December 2016
Christmas with Krishna
Interesting evening at the Govind Dev Ji temple. This Hindu temple in the City Palace complex is dedicated to the Lord Krishna.
Resembling a music festival, devotees began gathering early evening and as it neared the time for the darshan or viewing of the deity, the crowd now numbering in thousands, got more and more excitable. Waving hands, clapping and chanting was followed by fervent singing and dancing.
Not what I was expecting on Christmas Eve.
Inside Amber Fort
Whilst the recommended tourist restaurants are probably safer, Indian street food has far more taste!
Jal Mahal, Jaipur.
Once a summer palace, no longer open to the public unless you are making a Bollywood movie!
Early morning start for the short trip to the pink city of Jaipur. Very much looking forward to it but I am sorry to leave this magical place.
The food here has been pretty delicious too!
23 December 2016
Culture... of sorts
Indian sunset from Fort Madhogarh, Rajasthan.
Village life. I can recommend the tea but not the tractor ride!
Heritage stay, Fort Madhogarh, Rajasthan. Amazing place!
Leaving Agra this morning. Four hours in a public bus may sound intrepid but I've a feeling it's going to suck!
Hoping Ganesh here brings me a bit of luck or some comfort at least.
Welcome tea stop in Mahwa with Veg pakora for breakfast. So far so good.
22 December 2016
Today's dinner was at a lovely roof top restaurant boasting views of the Taj Mahal. Turns out you can only see it during the day!!
Fortunately dinner at the Maya Restaurant was fabulous. After a busy day's sightseeing I demolishing a very tasty mushroom and spinach curry served with a small beer (it would have been rude to send it back!)
Prices have dropped since we left Delhi so it was a trifling 600 rupees.
Strictly enforced for entry to the mausoleum. Unlike the no photography rule which was flouted left right and centre.
Sadly, the discarded shoe covers floated around the beautiful floor tiles surrounding the exit.
Very, very beautiful but not exactly a peaceful haven thanks to the hoards of tourists and the almost constant whistles of the guards to move people on or prevent behaviour not in keeping with a world heritage sight.
Amazing to watch the colour of the marble change as it neared sunset and the gardens, full of birds, are delightful.
A magical, wonderful place!
John Lewis carpets being made right here, right now!
... and before anyone asks, I resisted temptation!
First glimpse of the Taj Mahal - it's out there honest
Agra Fort. 75% is still used by the Indian army. The part you can access is well worth exploring.
Watch out for the chipmunks, the monkeys and the ferrets!
Indian sunrise, Mathura Junction.
Early start at the station to catch the fast train to Agra. The station itself was like a small city with hundreds of people bedded down inside and out.
The train itself has seen better days, but I have a comfy window seat with reasonable leg space and vegan breakfast included. I'm hoping for some views once it gets light!
It's not the bullet train however!
21 December 2016
Dinner at another local restaurant catering predominantly to the tourist market. Extensive Indian, Chinese and Thai menu with a scale of spice from mild to extra spicy. Medium disappointed.
Despite the wussiness of the spice, the Muttar Mushroom Masala was excellent helped no doubt by the generous serving of Bombay Sapphire which made the 1000 rupee bill less painful!
I'm certainly eating in style even if the accommodation sucks!
Received a new 500 rupee note today - so new in fact I think the ink is still wet! I had to check three times that it was real. Currency changes are tricky!
Delhi Spice Market is not for the faint hearted nor the mildly asthmatic!
Delhi Gudwara feeds hundreds of people everyday all prepared by volunteers. Worth a visit but bring a scarf to avoid wearing one of theirs!
Getting there was something of a challenge however. Try the cycle rickshaw at your peril!
Breakfast at Kinari Bazaar included samosa, potato paratha with curry sauce and ending with Indian sweets and fruit. Tasted great!
Delhi mosque, Jama Masjid, is well worth a visit if only for the rather fetching robe women are asked to wear. Beautiful architecture and pretty views, there's room for 8000 people to pray at any one time.
Plenty of yoga in India Mairi! Hope to see pictures of you in this position.
Morning stroll through Chowri Bazaar.
Navigating the Delhi Metro. Patience and confidence required in equal measure! It's not for the faint hearted.
20 December 2016
Dinner this evening at Crossroads, a 'safe' local restaurant specializing in North Indian recipes for western travellers. Although there were quite a few Indians eating there too.
Good choice of vegetarian and vegan meals. I chose wisely with the Chana Masala served with naan bread nom nom nom. Add in a kingfisher ultra beer and the bill came to a hefty tourist price of 500 rupees! Glad I enjoyed it all so much!
Mukhwas are basically "mouth fresheners" available in most Indian restaurants and usually brought with the bill or you find them in bowls at the till.
They are also supposed to aid the digestion so when you see them munch away!
India's swanky new 2000 rupee note
Hotel Regent Continental lacks both charm and amenities but it is in a great location for the famous Karol Bagh markets.
At least it has one saving grace!
Dosa- Indian fast food.
Thali Veg lunch at Restaurant Anna Mess nom nom nom... plenty of food choices for both vegetarians and vegans.
All for the bargain price of 120 rupees and included a large bottle of mineral water.
Turns out I've been eating my papadums all wrong. You're supposed to eat them at the end of the meal to aid digestion.
You live and learn!
Cause and effect. This queue was replicated at every bank and ATM in the city. In an attempt to fight corruption India has abolished the 1000 and 500 rupee note and issued a swanky new 2000 note. There is a limit to how many notes you can change at one time so people are having to make multiple trips to the bank. Hence the ridiculous queues.
Sights and sounds of Karol Bagh. Easy to forget how noisy, crazy and chaotic India is. The sights and sounds assault you as you step outside.
19 December 2016
Finally arrived in Delhi and despite rumors to the contrary, China Southern Airlines ran on time, were efficient and all went to plan. The upgrade to business did not at all influence this review! ;)
Very impressed with Indira Gandhi airport. Well organized and the e-tourist visa was super smooth. Long, long queues at currency exchanges and ATMs however, Modi's new money laws seem to be causing serious challenges as people have until the end of December to change their 500 and 1000 notes. I shall cross that bridge tomorrow.
Thirty minute transfer to my first hotel and in bed by a little after midnight. So far so good
Bring on the Rajasthan adventure!