Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wednesday 29th February - Camel Riding

We both wake at about 3 a.m. The celestial sky is still there and there are a few more shooting stars to see. It is getting a little chilly but neither of us is willing to get out of bed to fetch the extra blankets from inside the house. Next thing we know it is starting to get light in the east so we leap out of bed, in honour of today's date, and sort ourselves out. Back up onto the roof to see a pretty spectacular sunrise.

There are peacocks to watch until we get the call for breakfast - millet porridge, sour yoghurt and banana washed down with chai. Meanwhile our mounts for the day have arrived along with their cameleteers or whatever they are called. We hop on board and are soon heading further away from civilisation.

Our first port of call is No 1 camel boy's dad's house where pater is waiting with a state of the art camel cart. The camel pulling the cart is D's camel's dad and his son keeps up a lively pace following the cart. This contains a full load of bedding and cushions and after about 20 minutes we arrive at another cluster of dwellings in the increasingly sandy landscape. Here everybody has a breather and a chinwag while the cart is unloaded and then we head off towards the horizon.

Travelling by camel gets you much closer to nature and there were plenty of birds to see although a swaying camel does not provide a good platform for photography. We passed a herd of camels, grazing the desert thornbushes, and all marked as belonging to somebody. The baby camels are very small and have difficulty walking for a few days. We were told that this chap is about ten days old.

Our guides took us to the foot of a big sand dune and offered us the chance to climb it. Like the mugs we are we said yes please. Jock Wallace used to improve the fitness of the Rangers first team by sending them up sand dunes. We are amazed that they ever recovered enough to play. The view from the top was worth the effort. When we got back down to the camels there was half a stone of sand to empty from each shoe.

All good things come to an end and we found ourselves back at "Uncle & Auntie's". The scariest bit about camel riding is when they sit down to let you off. YOu must hold tight, lean back and try not to yell. Although it is only 10.15 a.m. lunch is ready, pretty much a repeat of last night but still very tasty. After our guides had had their meal we set of back to Jodhpur, once again our driver showing us what Grand prix racing would be like if cars travelled both ways round the circuit and there were a few goats and sheep ambling across and along the track.

Back at the Durag Niwas we met Govind, the owner. and we were able to thank him for a really excellent excursion. R has just about forgiven the place its little eccentricities
such as the colony of tiny ants (mainly) behind the wall hangings in our room, a bathroom tap that is shoogly even by Indian standards and the off white nature of some of the linen. You try washing your sheets in the river and see what they look like.

Once again it was time to pack for the next stage of our journey. This done, we took an auto into the centre to try a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant, the Indique on the roof of the Pal Haveli Hotel. We were lucky enough to get a table on the highest level of the roof where most other tables were reserved. From here we got views right across the city and in pariclar a great view of the sunset by the fort.

This was by no mens the cheapest meal that we have had in India but it was probably the best. The setting was fabulous and the heat radiating from the stone parapets kept the chill away. As it darkened candles were lit for all of the tables. Despite the place
becoming full there was no pressure for us to leave the table until we were ready.

A really splendid evening

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