01.10.2007 - 01.10.2007 35 °C
After 4 hours of fitful sleep I wake at 6:00 am, our overnighter only minutes away from Ajmer. Ajmer is the transit point for Pushkar, and after being greeted at the station by our driver, our minivan weaves its way out of Ajmer and into the surrounding hills, descending into the valley beyond. This is the setting for Pushkar, a small town situated on the shores of a picturesque lake. The town attracts tourists and pilgrims alike, and is famous for its Brahma temple, the only one of its kind in the world.
We're driven to the "Master Paradise" on the outskirts, and typical of a lot of the hotels we've visited, it's brand spanking new but with no connecting infrastructure to the rest of the town. In fact, the hotel itself is still incomplete, with a team of Bob the Builder clones drilling, banging and sawing from dawn to dusk! It's hard to take a nap under these circumstances so after a shower and breakfast we finalize the details of our pre-paid camel ride and while we wait, we update our blogs.
It's departure time and we inspect the means of transport. There are six of us in the group and our six camels are waiting, ready to spirit us off into the desert. Mine is a particularly frisky beast, and within ten minutes of climbing aboard, it's biting the backside of the camel in front! It receives a slap in the face as punishment, which makes me fairly nervous as a sedate camel is hard enough to stay mounted upon, let alone an irate one!
(Three hours of riding later and the base of my spine is red raw. To this day I've found sitting uncomfortable - each bump in a tuk-tuk (a small motorised taxi) makes me wince with pain. God knows how the 3-day camel trekkers manage!)
We stop at the half way point and watch the sun descend over the horizon. Strictly speaking it's not really desert with endless, rolling, white dunes (like Australia, it's more scrub-like) but what the hell...I'm living out my Lawrence of Arabia fantasy so leave me alone!
Upon return we bid our ships of the desert farewell and venture into town for a bite to eat. Due to its size the town is easy to navigate and we soon find a suitable restaurant/hotel that appears to be full of travellers. The town has a strict non-alcohol policy so we decide to make up for this by ordering two "special" lassis. I won't go into the details of what the "special" ingredient is, suffice it to say that within minutes our surroundings become markedly more surreal and our speech more animated and abstract. Lucky I only consumed a third of the glass, as navigating back to the hotel was difficult enough.
Talk about getting more "bhang" for your buck! (Sorry, a little Rajasthani in-joke there!)
I'm travelling with Dean, who also has a blog...