Tuesday, 24 January 2012


DAY 4 Bikaner-Kuri
Today is going to be a very long drive.Our driver tells us 6 hours but we have worked out every time he tells us how long the journey is going to be add another 2 hours!So lets say 8 hours.We buy lots of fruit and water for the long drive ahead.It’s not so bad as we know at the end of this drive we have something very exciting to look forward to!We are going on a camel safari and then camping in the dessert.
Looking out the window its very yellow,bland,sparse,,sandy and dusty but in the Indian dessert for some reason there are lots of shrubs and trees.
I don’t know wether I have mentioned before how cold I is here.Me and Sorcha packed enough clothes for a day of coldness as we did not plan on being in the cold for so long.The last 4 days we have worn the same socks, trousers and layered many tops. Thank god for Bree buying me that north face coat as a leaving present I am living in the inner fleece! We stop along the way at truck stops drinking the world’s best chai for 5 cents, eating samousas and Bombay mix whilst local Rajhistanis ask us to pose for photos on their mobile phones and stare at us in amazement. These stops are nice, nobody hassels, begs or tries to sell you random shit. Talking about shit I would like to mention when we drive from place to place every day there are no toilets or rest rooms along the way we have to stop at the side of the road wherever we can and do our business in a bush or behind a rock. Every time I decide to squat somewhere there are these bloody dry shrub thorn twigs that always stab or attack me.
It’s funny…Everybody I spoke to about visiting India all said we will lose so much weight but I really cant see how. We eat curry, rice and bread for meals and all the snacks here are deep fried.Ok we do drink water all day but in the night when we have a few before bed the only thing available is beer. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a diet of curry, rice, bread and beer could lead to a fatty fatty bumba figure! Me and Sorcha are thiking along the lines that because everything is spicy it will speed up our metabolism and maybe it will burn off quick? But for 6-8 hours a day we are sitting on our asses in the car getting to the next destination only stopping to stretch when we need to relieve ourselves in the dessert or eat more curry!
I am actually typing this latest entry whilst we are in the car we have just stopped at a tea stall and they had a toilet! Hole in the ground, the smell of urine is so strong in these little rooms your eyes sting and the smell hit’s the back of your throat so bad u heave. There was shit sprayed up the back of the wall where someone had very bad Diarrhoea or very bad aim! I would have rather gone in the bush!
We arrived in Kuri and it was an old crumbling village surrounded by dessert, sand dunes, camels, shrubs and women carrying everything you can imagine on their heads.
The temperature has risen now it is late afternoon and we climb aboard our camel to explore the Rajhistanis dessert. It is so scary when the camel stands up and I have my fear face on, my knuckles are white from holding on so tight and I don’t know wether I am sweating with nerves or because its 24 degrees.
We head deep into the dessert with just the tinkling sound of the camel bells ringing in our ears.
It’s so peaceful here, no car horns, no motorbike beeps, no beggars…. Bliss.
We watch the most amazing sunset. The sky turns orange and the huge sun is a bright fiery orange setting behind the massive yellow dunes.
The ride back to the base is a fast one with the camels speeding up. Our asses are throbbing and our inner thighs are trembling like jelly. We eat another fantastic vegetarian feast of rice, bread, vegetable curries, vegetable dishes and chai whilst watching a lively colourful group of Indian musicians and dancers.
10pm we get wrapped up and layer our cloches and hop aboard the camel trailer. Well, everybody hops aboard easily. I try and fall off first attempt with our group of 5 laughing at me. Typical Paula..
Our camel owner Raga is an old Indian man of about 70 with a million wrinkles and a very sad old face. He is really old and cute and once again I feel sympathy for the little Indian man and imagine he’s my dad. I don’t know why I do this. Every little man we meet I always think ‘’ah he could be someone’s dad. Imagine if my dad had to lift blankets and people onto a camel’’ I know my dad’s not 70 but I still feel like they should not be working so hard! It’s pitch black and we can’t see anything. The only thing we take with us is the clothes on our back, a torch , toilet paper and some beer which I might add cost $4 each in India! But hey we are in the dessert,. We set up camp Rajasthan style. Blankets and sheets of various thicknesses with various stains and smells laid on the ground with sand pushed in a pile under the sheet to act as a pillow. I have a funny feeling we wont be getting any sleep tonight!
There are a million stars in the sky it is so beautiful. Prage goes to collect wood for a fire and I help him. Those bloody thorn tree wig things are catching on my trousers, scarf and hat and are pissing me off .I have a huge pile of wood and am a bit sad when Praga tells me to throw half of it back as its still wet. I should have learnt from camping with camp master Jeeno in Oz what is dead and wet!
We light the fire then one of the other 2 campers that are with us pulls out some charras(Indian cannabis) and opium. We discover the charras is tea leaves, they have been flogged! Praga tells us the opium is very strong and is definitely opium and to be careful and only take a little bit. He sticks a twig in and licks a pin head amount. 10 minutes before this we had all stuck our fingers in and sucked off a massive blob! It tasted of petrol,tar,camel shit and had the consistency of tar. We cant feel anything or any side effects though. We is around the fire watching the stars, shooting stars fly past and Praga sings hypnotising Indian prayers till the late hours. When we go to ‘bed’ we fall asleep star gazing after minutes of our heads hitting the sand.
Wake up later than normal 7.30am and all of us agree it was the best un interrupted sleep we have had our whole time in India. It’s freezing cold so we pack up and head back on our camel to the next destination.
Jaislmer is the quickest drive ever. Only one hour and we are in a bustling medieval city surrounded by a fort. All the buildings are made from sandstone and everything looks very Aladdin style if you catch my drift. The streets are full of bright fabrics,mirrors,silver,tunics,sarongs,bindis,cows,goats,deep fried goody stalls and lots and lots of motorbikes beeping loudly. Our ears are ringing, we are hot, sweaty, agitated, overheating and getting irritated by all the shop keepers trying to drag us into their Aladdin’s caves of goods.
Food time strikes and we head into a local ‘thalis’ food shop. When you go in these places you are given 5 small silver dishes.In each dish is a type of curry, pickle, rice, vegetable dish and sauce. You are then given copius amounts of freshly made rotis or naan bread and eat with your right hand. My thumb and two fingers are constanly yellow because of all the eaing with hands, No matter how much we scrub and wash there is still a slight curry smell with a yellow tinge on our skin. Nice.
The place is filthy, we have dirt on our skin off the tables and the poor little boy who is serving us is filthy dressed in rags. He is amazed by us and tells us him name and shakes our hand. His face is so black with dirt his teeth look even whiter than white. The meal cost us amount 1 dollar each.
Reading the lonely planet I spot ‘something’ for us to do. In Jaislmer there is a shop called a Bhang shop.
This is what the book says, ‘Some restaurants in popular tourists centres whip up bhang lassies- a yogurt and iced water beverage laced with cannabis or other narcotics. Commonly dubbed ‘special lassie’ this often potent concoction can cause varying degrees of ecstasy, drawn out delirium, hallucination, nausea and paranoia. Note that some travellers have been ill for several days, robbed or hurt in accidents, after drinking this fickle brew. A few towns have legal(controlled)bhang outlets such as the bhang shop in Jaislmer.’
We head to the Bhang shop and are handed the menu. Tea, coffee, lassies, magic cigarettes, cakes, smoking herbs, cookies all of various strengths. Budget goes out the window and we order 3 cookies, 2 shakes and 50g of charras (legal weed) to take away.
The lassi shake is delicious and me and sorcha drink on the roof of the hotel.We smoke some charras and are very relaxed. Head to bed and have he best sleep again.
Breakfast at the hotel today was cold toast and coffee so we stop at an Indian place and get some marsala parantha (bread filled with potato,spices,chilli and onion),a cup of chai and pickle.
Me and sorcha are smoking a little treat before the journey and our driver comes to check I out. He looks shocked and we try to explain what it is but no joy.
I don’t get it. In the book it says all drugs are illegal and there is a minimum jail sentence of 10 years for any drug. Cases can take up to two years before they are even brought to court. We explain to our driver what we have bought and where from and apparently because it’s government owned its ok? This place is getting crazier by the day! We have still not ate the cookies. We are keeping them for our next dessert safari in a few days. Hopefully they won’t go mouldy in our bag!
We have been in the car about 3 hours now and its funny, the Indian music is playing on the stereo, sorcha is reading her bookie typing, USA is eating nibbles and Vikash is watching the road.
He is driving very fast today we have nearly shit ourselves 3 times with speeding lorries just missing us. The lorries swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid cows, shit or whatever else is on the road! It seems human life is not important here. Ever day when we are driving you think a million things… I’ve been thinking about my family. I miss my mum and dad so much and wish I could speak to them every day. I bought an Indian phone yesterday so hopefully they call as I don’t have their numbers but emailed my sister mine.
I think lots about work in Weipa and really miss my job. I miss cooking, I miss Australia and a few of my good friends. I don’t miss cairns at all and am glad to be away from the drinking and partying.
Jodhpur is nicknamed the blue city. All the buildings here are washed with light blue colour, it looks really pretty from a high point. The fort here is enormous and probably one of the biggest we have seen. We did decide this morning that we was not going to visit anymore forts as we are not that much into history but when we seen it towering over he city we couldn’t resist. On the way to the fort a group of local Indians play music and the youngest of the group does a little dance. It’s so cute! Every time we see something interesting, weird or good viewing I video. I have quite a few random clips saved now and will put together a little DVD at the end of my trip.
The city is full of market stalls selling bright saris, fabrics teas and spices. The city is so dull, dirty, dark and gloomy and the bright materials stand out like bright lights. The materials are amazing and I want to buy everything. The smell of spices and teas linger in the dusty air and we stop at a tea shop to try some Darjeeling chai. Our driver tells us he knows of a very nice Punjabi ‘restaurant’ and we decide to eat meat. Resaurants in India are no like you imagine. They are like truckers cafes and full of Indians who stare at us like we are aliens when we enter. This place was filthy, dark, smelly and had the atmosphere of a grave yard. The brightly wrapped turban heads turn to stare when we enter and we take a seat on a dirty plastic chair and dusty table. It smells of shit where we are sitting and we realise this is due to some sort of rodent and cat or dog shit that is on the sill next to our table. We cant leave as Vikas has brought us here so we don’t wan to be rude. We order mutton (Indians do not eat beef as the cows are holy) in various forms but Vikas wont eat. He wants to wait till we get back to our Indian homestay so he can eat with his whisky. I feel so sorry for him he looks so tired his eyes are closing.We also just discovered he cant read! We gave him the menu and asked him what each dish was he asked the man and then we realised everywhere we go he asks for directions and does not read signs! The poor fellow only went to school for a year. He must have not told us he cannot read as he is embarrassed. Now I feel even more sorry for him,bless-I’m a sucker for old people.
Food is fantastic even with the smell of shit hanging in the air and we head back to our Indian home stay for the night.
DAY 7 Jodpur- Ranakapur
The sun rises with the sound of parrots screeching outside and he smell of parantha in the air. Parantha is Indian bread made with onion and potato served with pickle for breakfast followed by a cup of chai.
Our chef cooks breakfast in the garden in front of us while I make another video haha.
Only a 3 hour drive today Vikas tells us-so make that 5 hours I reckon. Vikas has 2 shots of whisky a night before bed so I decide to stop off at an Indian bottle shop to buy him of his favourite tipple. I have to ask him what brand he drinks so I get the right one and he gets out to buy it as its cheaper for Indians to buy things here. If any of us white folk went in it would cost us double or even treble! I give him about six dollars for a litre and he wont take the money he just wants a quarter bottle for 2 dollars. I tell him to buy a big one and he wont so I eventually say I will be very angry if he doesn’t buy a big bottle and he accepts the offer. I look at him in the shop and he is checking out the prices to find the cheapest bless him. He comes back to the car beaming with joy holding the whisky like a trophy. He cannot stop saying thank you and wiggling his little head side to side. ‘You must drink with me!You must share’ he says. He cannot accept it is for him only.
The town we are driving to is a holy town so no alcohol is allowed and he tells us to keep quiet about the whisky.
He tells us in the night to not accept food off the landlord of he hotel as he is going to buy and kill a chicken and take us into the mountains to cook us dry chicken tikka and drink whisky. He drums into us ‘please, please, please, please do not tell boss man I am cooking for you!’ We agree.
A huge marble temple is in the centre of town but we are bored of temples. We go for a peek and I is amazing. One of the prettiest temples we have seen. Walking there we see monkeys, cows, goats, peacocks and a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.

OH MY GOD! It’s 20.52 and I had to write this post right now!!!!
OK. Vikas rang us at 17.00 and said there is a big problem. The man at the hotel is angry as you are not eating dinner there. We say it’s ok no problem. He tells us to meet him outside at 19.00 hrs discreetly. We packed our Indian charras(weed) and magic cookies and all left separately and got into his car outside. He kept saying it’s a big problem but we said if it is a big problem we will stay here. He said ’no, ,no I promised you we go.’ Sorcha said we will stay here. was adamant we go. We drove about 10 minutes away and then he pulled over at the side of the road in the darkness. Vikas opened the boot of the car and there was chicken tikka already cooked wrapped up in newspaper cold. It seemed like we were on a major drugs deal creeping about in the dark and the drivers were nervous and on edge. We were wondering why they were so scared??? We all got a glass of whisky and started eating the chicken. It was divine. A few minutes passed and the hotel owner turned up with a guy on the back of his motorbike. They pulled out torches and looked at us all and started shouting in Indian. Vikas and another Indian driver who was with us were apologising and telling us to sit in the car. We could not understand anything that was being said but it was very heated and we heard the words police. I bloody shit myself as I had the weed and cookies. I have never been so nervous in all my life! I decided to ditch the stash but then decided to hide it in my pants in case they noticed it when the lights of the car went on. I am shitting myself, sorcha is telling me to give it to her and calm down- I wont. I then decide to tell the other driver what I have on me and he says its fine and takes it off me. I am ok now. At this point Vikas is literally bent over on the ground kissing the owners shoes saying sorry, sorry, sorry…. The other driver comes to us and starts to put together a story for the police when they arrive. The story is we wanted to eat elsewhere and we bought the booze and only us drank not he drivers. We all agreed on the story and waited…waited. Waited… half an hour passes the owner leaves without any bribe money and Vikas starts to cry saying sorry sorry…We hug him and tell him its ok and give him a well deserved shot of whisky. We couldn’t understand what was going on or what he problem was but the driver explained to us that in India it is very bad for anybody to take business away from the hotels. We wanted to do this and its our holiday so what is the problem? We just wanted a traditional Indian feast without the fuss.
We drove off and they then stop at another side road closer to the hotel. The whisky bottle is once again shared round nad the chicken comes out. What the hell is going on. They keep apologising and telling us to eat and drink. To be honest I just want to go home and have a big fat poo because my nerves are gone!
He explains we have to hang round because if we go back the hotel Vikas will lose face and will show ultimate submissiveness and the hotel owner will be bale to bleed as much money from Vikas as he wants. We stay there for another half hour with the other driver who speaks better English telling us that if police ever sop us because Vikas goes through a red light as an example we must be strong and speak for him and say we are visitors of the Indian government and we should tell them to speak to us not the driver. We must be strong. We all agree to be strong(I am pretending). Then he asks me to dinner tomorrow me an him alone! I tell him I have a boyfriend and he will be angry and he says no just friends! I say thankyou but NO! By this time Vikas is drunk and we have to leave .He starts the engine. He hit’s the other drivers car as he pulls out and then apologises provously and speeds back to the hotel at 5k an hr. I just want to get back now. Sorcha is being the mum telling me to stay calm whilst matt is loving the political action.
We arrive at the hotel and there is a mob of Indians waiting for us in the car park. We see the owner and tell him its very bad business what he has done and we will be reporting him to the embassy and trip advisor(they all ask you to give good reports to trip advisor its like they’re bible). We all say ‘bad man, bad business,…’ and he tells us the police have been called .
We go to our room leaving matt with Vikas as there is a mob of Indians surrounding him and vikas is so small we feel he is being threatened.
One of the hotel staff come to our room and say the tour company boss is on the phone and wants to speak to us. We let matt do he talking. Matt tells him we asked Vikas to take us out, he never drank, he has been the best driver and guide and the problem is with the hotel owner. We really don’t want vikas to lose his job, Now we realise why he always refuses drinks and is worried when we go out as the man says the driver should not let us eat out, stop at random places other than the hotel and should not let us walk about on our own. Matt explains its our holiday we don’t like staying in the hotels and this is what we want to do. The hotel owner has told him a completely different story saying vikas was drinking on the side of the road with us and we were in the middle of nowhere. We was but it was our choice but we never told him this. Now we are all sitting in our room wondering what’s in store for tomorrow and will the other driver meet us with our cookies and charras!

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