A Travellerspoint blog

Spices, a tuk-tuk tour and some opium!!

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The staff in our hotel in Jaisalmer were amazing and made Jo and I a packed breakfast to take on our early morning bus ride at 5am to Jodhpur. Cheese and tomato toasties! Yum!!

The bus was amazingly comfortable and I think most of us slept the majority of the way (it was needed I think).

After a much needed freshen up at the hotel we grabbed some Thali for lunch then had an orientation walk around the centre of town towards the clock tower. Onto the local spice shop for a talk on the different spices and tea they sell. It smelled amazing in there!

On route back to the hotel in the tuk-tuks we were taken to the fort which is on top of a huge hill. Apparently when the fort was built, someone was buried alive underneath it for good luck. We were assured that this person had volunteered for the honour! The views from the fort were, of course, incredible. We could see the palace, the royal burial ground and the rest of the city. Gorgeous!!

Next activity...village safari! Living up to the name of safari, we travelled in open jeeps!! At the first village we visited a local potter where Jo tried her hand at making a bowl. The potter was impresive; he used a potters wheel which he spun by hand!!

Then onto a weavers where they make the most beautiful rugs. Yet again, Jo and I had to talk each other out of buying things and getting them shipped home!! We resisted (for the time being)! The weaver who gave us the demonstration showed us his scrap book of articles and photos. The rugs they make there have been featured in Vogue!! And Richard Geere and Prince Charles are among the famous people to have visited them in the past.

The final stop on our safari was to see an opium ceremony. The man who showed us this was crazily happy (I wonder why)!? Once the opium water had been prepared and filtered several times, it was first offered to the god and then to the guests. The guests being us! We were assured there was only the tiniest amount of opium in the water so we all accepted (it would have been rude not to hey)!?! After a few people in our group had a go at balancing a huge water container on their head (which we saw being made at the potters), we made our way back to the hotel as the sun was setting. Thanfully no-one dropped the container on the floor...it would have smashed into a thousand pieces and it was the family's main water container!! On the drive back, our jeeps got held up in a road block...by sheep! It was like being in the Lake District!!

Another early start tomorrow so a (relatively) early night for us!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 03:36 Archived in India Tagged jodhpur Comments (0)

Patch's hangover...

And a rather impressive fort!

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View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.


Patch wasn't the only one to wake up feeling worse for wear this morning! Poor Tammy was not feeling her usual chirpy self and we were both very tired after her 5.30am sleep walking! But up and out we went, for a tour of Jaisalmer Fort.

The fort is one of only two in India which still exists as it did in previous times, with 3000 people still living and working inside it. It was spectacular! By far the most impressive things were the intricate stone carvings on the exterior of the buildings. Beautiful! We also visited two Jain Temples which were also very beautiful inside and out. After exploring the narrow streets inside the fort and stopping for a rather extended drinks break at a bar overlooking the city, we made our way out into the old town. We visited a few amazing mansions and then went to a local textiles shop where the owner showed us his very beautiful wares, at which point Tam and I went googoo eyed over various stunning bedsheets and wall hangings. We've restrained ourselves somehow for the time being, but the textiles over here are gorgeous and I don't see any hope of us holding out for very much longer!!!

Then back to the hotel for a quick swim in the pool (yes, you heard me - pool!) before showering. As we have no chance of topping last nights antics we have decided to have a chilled out one tonight - room service and maybe some Game of Thrones.... Brilliant!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 02:09 Archived in India Tagged jaisalmer Comments (0)

Patch's drunken night out

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Rebellious Patch had a rather raucous night out last night, as evidenced from the pictures above, which tell the story of his evening! It should be pointed out that Patch's behaviour was under no circumstances influenced by our own........ As you all know, we are little angels and were thoroughly shocked by his antics! But he is popular amongst our group of companions and is rapidly turning into a bit of a superstar. We hope it won't go to his head!

Jo & Tam xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:41 Archived in India Tagged and india jaisalmer Comments (4)

Giant catfish and a beautiful restaurant

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And so yet again the alarm goes off at a completely ridiculous hour for a crazy early train to Jaisalmer!! It was a six hour journey through the desert and some of the scenery we saw on the way was amazing. Raghu convinved all of us to hang out the open door whilst the train was moving at full pelt. Don't worry mothers...we were being held onto so it was "perfectly safe"! And it was great fun so totally worth the disregard for health and safety!!

Late afternoon we went to the lake in Jaisalmer to feed the (giant!) catfish. This is supposedly good karma so we fed them a lot!!

Dinner tonight was at the most beautiful rooftop restaurant. The views were incredible and the food was delicious (as it seems to be everywhere we go here)! There was live local music and we all got up to join in the dancing after dinner.

It was decided that a party was in order so back at the hotel we all piled into Ian's room after sneaking beers and rum into the hotel in our handbags!! I'm sure Ian later regretted offering up his room after many a drink was spilled, the seriously late finish to our antics, and the general state of his room after. We played (far too many) games of ring of fire and all ended up singing our own national anthems at some crazy hour in the morning. The rest unfortunately is a bit of a blur! I'm sure we were perfectly sensible though!?!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:38 Archived in India Tagged and india jaisalmer Comments (1)

The Rat Temple.........

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We all woke early this morning for the sunrise after a suprisingly good nights sleep, despite the night time chill of the desert. It is fair to say that we were feeling a little sore after the camel ride yesterday, and were relieved to learn that we would not be riding back in the same fashion! Instead, after a good breakfast, we loaded ourselves, and our bags, onto a few camel carts and set off. It was definitely easier to appreciate the scenery when not sat on top of a camel and in the early morning sun the desert looked spectacular!

We were back at the hotel by about 10am, had quick showers and then reconvened in the bar to decide what to do that day. We all agreed to hire some cars and go to see a famous, and apparently must see, temple nearby - the rat temple. Now, those of you who know me will know that I have a recurring nightmare that a giant rat is stood over my bed, claws out, ready to attack. I once jumped up onto the seat of a car yelping because I had a brief glimpse of a rat outside in the carpark at Asdas. So why did I agree to embark on this mad mission to a temple where people worship rats? I blame fellow tour member Felix. On learning about my rat phobia a few days ago he began to tell me all about this temple full of rats that we were going to visit. Tam and I were absolutely convinced that he was just trying to wind me up and that, in fact, the rat temple was something completely different. Perhaps there was a giant stone rat that everyone worshipped, or it was named after someone called rat? Either way, we both merrily agreed to go along on this trip honestly believing that Felix's stories were all nonsense.

However, at our lunch stop on the way to the rat temple Tammy admitted that she was starting to think that Felix was telling the truth, as a few other tour members had got the same impression about the rat temple - a temple full of rats. I point blank refused to believe it, even telling myself that our tour guide was in on the joke when he also told us that the rat temple was a temple full of rats....... But then we arrived outside the temple and Raghu began to tell us a story about a woman whose stepson died suddenly. She was distraught and begged the gods to send him back to her. They told her that the best they could do was to send him back as a rat, so they did. When this woman mysteriously disappeared years later they declared her a goddess and built a temple in her honour, which they filled with rats. People now go there to pray to her and feed the rats, believing that some of them may be deceased relatives of their own....

Well, making up a story like that was a little extravagant for a prank and so I finally had to admit that I was about to enter a temple full of rats. Cue butterflies in stomach, feeling sick and dizzy, and beginning to hyperventilate a little. But in I went! Tammy was very brave and wandered around like there was nothing wrong. I, on the other hand, shuffled about flinching every few seconds, hating every single moment I was in there. The low point had to be when I forced myself to walk through a small corridor filled with rats in order to see the likeness of the women who was the reason for the temple (possibly my least favourite person in the world!). At this point I started crying! But I made it out in one piece, shaking and feeling very sick, but just a little proud of myself.

Homeward bound for dinner at the hotel - yet more delicious curry!!! Then a small amount of room switiching as the air conditioning didn't work in our room. The end result - a large suite at the top of the hotel! Very nice!

And so ends a traumatic day in India for me!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:37 Archived in India Tagged and india bikaner Comments (2)

Desert camel trekking!

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After a surprisingly good nights sleep on the train (except for the appearance of a couple of cockroaches...one of which happened to be squished under Jo's pillow) we headed to our positively palacial hotel. It's actually owned by the cousin of the maharaja of the city, which perhaps explains it's granduer.

Once we'd had a shower and eaten breakfast we ventured onto our camel safari. Being highly, highly allergic to horses I was extremelly concerned I'd only last half an hour before I couldn't breath properly. Thankfully dosing up on antihistamines for the last few days paid off! It was amazing. The scenery was breathtaking and the camels behaved themselves; Jo's was called Morty, mine were called Rani and Raja (Raja was a baby baby camel tied to Rani..very cute).

After several hours of trekking, with a nice lunch stop in the middle, we arrived at our campsite. All the camp beds had been lined up in a long row outside so we could sleep under the stars!! We were very excited about this (except for the slight worry about snakes)!

We watched the sunset from the top of a sandune which was beautiful. And then had an amazing al fresco dinner. Jo and I introduced the card game of sh*thead (sorry for the language) to a few people in our group and Raghu, our guide, taught us how to play poker properly.

Some live music around the campfire completed our wonderful day in the desert!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 04:32 Archived in India Tagged and india bikaner Comments (1)

Women only carriages!

If only we'd known that yesterday!!

sunny 29 °C


Early start - breakfast, check out and then off we troupe back to the metro station. A much less horrific experience this time around as we discover female only carriages! WIN! Sights on our list today.... A Sikh temple, where we got to help out in the kitchens for a few moments (before they realised that we were useless!), the red fort off in the distance and a mosque (apparently the most important in India). All very impressive.

We thought we had left our celebrity status behind us in China, but it seems not. Again, the photos began. But I think we'd feel a little neglected without it now!

This afternoons entertainment was largely gained from the train station, where we came to board our luxurious (sarcasm!) overnight train to Bikaner. As we waited on the platform a passenger train turned up. People started scrambling in through every possible gap - windows, doors, you name it people were using it as an entrance. Our guide explained that in the seat carriages, seats are not assigned.... you know how the saying goes - you snooze you lose! Insane to witness! But I think I would be jumping in through a window at the prospect of standing for a 24 hour journey!

So here we are now, sat in our bunk on our first overnight train in India. Oh, Chinese soft sleeper trains........ how I miss you!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:35 Archived in India Tagged and india delhi Comments (2)


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View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.

We arrived at our hotel in the early hours of the morning. By the time we were in bed it was almost 3am so needless to say, this morning was a late start for us!!

After a good breakfast, we vetured out into Delhi. First challenge...decipher the metro! Pass! We successfully got ourselves to Connaught Place (abeit on the most crowded uncomfortable tube journey we'd ever experienced)!

Apparently the architecture of Connaught Place is modelled on the Royal Crescent in Bath so of course it was a must see for us! Connaught Place itself is just a big collection of shops. But we did find our way into an underground bizarre which was...interesting! So loud! So busy! So many stores! And all the shopkeepers wanted us to go into theirs! I did succumb to buying a skirt...but for the equivalent of about £3 how could I resist??

After sampling the (delicious) local tea, Masala Chai, in a rather fancy restaurant, we headed back to the hotel for our meeting at 6pm with the rest of our group. And so the adventure begins...

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:33 Archived in India Tagged and india delhi Comments (0)

Goodbye China

The top ten things we've learnt whilst in China:

1. Queue...what is a queue?
2. If it is webbed it is not a chicken's foot.
3. It's your job...there is no word for please!
4. On the toilet front, be thankful if there is a cubicle of any kind.
5. Caucasian blonde girls are funny to look at.
6. LOUD NOISES!!! It is ok to be ridiculously loud in any situation and shoot people with water guns when completely unnecessary.
7. Bartering...decide on a price and don't move from it (usually a third of what they're asking for).
8. Strike a pose!! You need to go the extra mile to get the perfect picture.
9. Some things are lost in translation...... signs here are hilarious..... Lasagne Brownie anyone?
10. If all else fails, just laugh!

Jo & Tam xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:28 Archived in China Tagged china Comments (3)

Another hilarious journey!

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A few things that happened to us on our two day journey from Yangshuo and Hong Kong:

1. Our taxi driver got stuck in traffic and we almost had to travel from our hostel to the bus station in Yangshuo on the back of scooters, with all our bags!
2. Express bus does not mean a bus that takes less time. In fact, it means a bus driver who makes many more hair raising overtaking manouveres!
3. Taxi drivers do not take pity on stupid foreigners and WILL charge you a fortune for a five minute ride round the corner! We knew we'd been duped when he and his taxi driver friends started laughing when we agreed to the fare!
4. People refusing to let you enter the train station does not always end in disaster - this time we were allowed into the exclusive soft sleeper lounge!
5. Sometimes the doors of train cabins lock themselves for no apparent reason! Whilst the other girl in our cabin seemed quite frightened at the prospect of being locked up with us for our overnight journey, Tam and I were less concerned! In the end we managed to open the door!
6. We can now use chopsticks! Much to the disappoint of the train's chef who was clearly convinced that watching two Western girls eat with chopsticks would be the highlight of his evening!
7. Trains do not to run to time! Our train that was due in at 5.25am actually arrived at 10am!! DO NOT bother waking up until everyone else on the train does!
8. THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO GO TO HONG KONG! After 6 attempts at buying train tickets to Hong Kong we eventually managed to succeed!! It was a painful experience!

Next stop Delhi!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:27 Archived in China Tagged and hong kong yangshuo Comments (0)

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