Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A rather interesting Indian adventure!

We were in perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in Rajasthan if not the whole of India when five out of the six travellers (including myself) fell violently ill with a nasty gastro bug. One by one we went down and if it weren't for our sixth friend who amazingly didn't get sick in the whole 5 weeks we were travelling, we would have had an even more miserable time in the picturesque city of Udaipur. She ran around for us all getting all kinds of wonderful drugs to help ease our misery and organised our mode of transport to our next destination. We were supposed to take a five and half hour train trip to Ajmer and then bus to Pushkar where we were to spend two nights checking out the annual Pushkar Camel Festival. Without revealing too much of the story so soon, I will just say now that I am a little glad that we were so ill and had to spend another night in Udaipur.

We cancelled the train tickets to Ajmer and organised a taxi which we were convinced to do by the "travel agent" who sat at a desk in the convenience store next to our hotel. We stayed in bed in our super luxurious hotel rooms for one more night to get some much needed rest before we embarked on the next big adventure of our trip.

We all piled down into the lobby where we are greeted by our less-than enthusiastic taxi driver and shoved our bags and ourselves into the rather fancy (by Indian standards) 4WD. We said a quick goodbye to the beautiful city and off we went. We winded our way through the narrow streets until we reached the "highway" and traveled at 90km/h whilst dodging cows, people and random piles of rubble. Having just spent the last few nights running backward and forward to the bathroom, we were all a little bit cautious about our rest breaks. Luckily, we managed to get over our sickness enough to not trouble us the whole six hours.

We drove through Ajmer and we all sighed a little with relief at knowing that we are only half an hours drive to our destination. We winded around, up and down hills until we spotted the city of Pushkar (slightly underwhelming). We arrived at a checkpoint where we are told that the city was closed to traffic during the festival. Much to our disappointment and grumbles, we all piled out of our 4WD and began the task of extricating our luggage. You can imagine that after spending over six hours sitting in a car, weaving around cows on the highway and trying not to be sick, we didn't really feel up for the "five minute" walk to our hotel, especially with our backpacks on. The five minute walk turned into about twenty minutes because we were westerners who had been sick. We don't walk fast for anyone! We decided to make our walk a little easier by hiring one of the wagon guys that was begging for us to use his service. We were a little too slow for him and he was getting a little bit frustrated and I think he was beginning to regret begging us to let him take our bags. His service didn't include porting our backpacks into the hotel lobby, so we took our time getting our luggage off his wagon in slight retaliation to his frustration.

I can't say that we were greeted very hospitably in our rather rundown hotel. The manager looked like he was more concerned with his fashion than making his new guests feel welcome. He was quite slow and gruff with his service and summoned one of his subordinates to give us the grand tour of the sh*thole. We trudged through the hotel looking at our crappy rooms.. Crappy is a little understated! Two of our travel buddies got the rather raw end of the deal because their room had an in-between toilet. Half western, half squat toilet which consisted of a western style toilet bowl with foot platforms to stand on and squat. I felt a little relieved that we were more fortunate to get a room with a normal toilet, but sorry at the same time for their predicament. By the end of our trip, most of us were starting to appreciate squat toilets for what they were. A squat toilet meant that we didn't have to touch any part of the nasty things. I'm not one for sitting on public toilets and let me just tell you.. it's quite hard to hover over a western toilet while your digestive system is playing tricks on you.

So we got through our stay in the disappointing town of Pushkar and were glad when our transport arrived to take us to Ajmer to get the next train out of there. The only good thing about the hotel was that the restaurant staff were so neglectful of their customers that we slipped out without paying the bill in protest of waiting so damn long to get any service.

We lugged our bags out of the derelict hole (not before the manager showed us his prized, bejewelled suite - his shining glory) and squeezed into a tiny, white van which was to take us over the hill to Ajmer. Puttering along the busy, rural road - once again dodging cows and rocks we began to ascend up the hill. We encountered a little bit of a traffic jam where the driver thought it would be a great idea to try and dodge the jam by driving on the wrong side of the road. His little, white van wasn't cut out for lugging six westerners and their mound of luggage over a mountain because it decided to conk out. A few hair-raising seconds later the van started again and the driver tried to get us up the hill on the wrong side of the road. There's never usually a quiet moment on the main street into a town, so we were being passed by large buses (driving on the wrong side of the road) filled with other unsuspecting tourists who were keen to see the camel festival. We all began to fret, wondering whether we were going to end up on the news as "Six young Australians found dead on the side of a dusty road in rural India". Luckily our driver managed to get us out of our sticky situation and finally got us to our train without a scratch.

No comments:

Post a Comment