Since taking the train to Jaisalmer had been so much fun we decided maybe we’d try the bus instead to get our next destination. We were headed to Johdpur, the Blue City. We booked what we were told was a ‘tourist’ bus. What does tourist bus mean? Well, it’s supposed to shuttle tourists directly from one city to the next with few or no stops and typically, because you pay a bit more (well up to double the price) the bus is typically nicer and possibly has A/C. Well, the bus itself was not that bad but it was far from its ‘tourist bus’ status.
The journey to Jodhpur had taken almost all day and we didn’t arrive into Jodhpur until an hour or two after sundown so needless to say, it had been quite a trip and probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had by bus. The driver had stopped for what seemed to be every 10-15 kilometers to pick up more passengers alongside the road. The bus just kept filling up with more and more people and the ‘bench’ seats beside us kept filling up. The more the random stops occurred alongside the road, the more I realized we’d grossly overpaid for this ‘tourist’ bus. But hey, I guess that is just part of being a tourist in a foreign country. The best part of the trip however was when we came to stop in the middle of a small town to pick up more passengers. At most stops which last more than a minute or two, there are vendors that will come onto the bus or try to sell you drinks and food from the windows. And this stop was no exception. Just picture me sitting in my seat next to the window casually reading my book. All of a sudden a ten year old kid runs up to the window trying to sell me something small that was wrapped up in a ball of newspaper. He would tap on the window and wave at me for a sale and I would brush him off. He kept on for another minute, jumping up to the window and waving this newspaper ball in my face and again, for likely the third or fourth time, I waved him off. I mean, I didn’t even know what this kid was selling! After his repeatedly unsuccessful attempts, he decided on another approach and threw in the goods in through the window right into my lap. At this point, it got pretty comical. I through the package back out the window at him. He wasn’t having it… He stubbornly threw it back at me in through the window. I threw it back only this time I was laughing hysterically at this whole process. On his third attempt throwing it in, I just couldn’t take it and was laughing so hard I asked him how much.
It was about 30 Rupees and I assumed it was food. And I was in fact hungry but just didn’t think it such a good idea to be trapped on a bus trying to digest food wrapped in newspaper from the streets of India if you know what I mean. Anyway, the bus started to pull away and I balled up the money and threw it at him as he chased alongside the bus. It turned out to be some small fried vegetarian nuggets of some type that were a bit spicy and not too bad tasting….
We eventually arrived into Jodhpur fairly early in the afternoon but were still at square one when it came to figuring out where we’d be staying that night and of course, dragging your bags around town, especially in India, is not much fun at all.
We quickly found an address to a place we could relay to a tuk tuk driver which was relatively in the middle of the town and we were off, heading though some of the craziest side streets and markets we’d been down yet. In the 20-30 minute ride it took from the bus station to the hotel we were headed, I’d say we came close to getting in at least ten wrecks. We did manage to bump a lady on a bike but no harm done, we just kept driving.
The place we ended up staying was nice enough and had a rooftop restaurant that overlooked the Mehrangarh Fort. It was literally less than a ten minute walk from our place as was the market which are the two most popular spots in Johdpur. After eating a late lunch, we more or less decided we wanted to spend more time in Udaipur, our next destination and less time here in Jodhpur. The city was actually quite nice but it reminded me of the craziness we found in Agra and Delhi and to be honest, aside from wanting to see the fort and market, I didn’t really see the need to spend more than two days here. So we decided we would leave the next day. And since we had only one night here, we decided it would be fun to hike up towards the fort to get an overlook of the city for the sunset. Well, the hike there was interesting enough. We must have cut through a residential part of town that also had some schools nearby as we must have had over one hundred different kids following us at various times as we continued to walk towards the fort that evening. Some would want to say hi and practice a bit English while others would want to follow us for a while for whatever reason. I even had one kid that wanted to spar with me on the way up the hill. At first he caught me off guard with a kick to my leg. When I turned around and then started laughing (not so much at him but this situation) I got another kick to the leg. It was more a roundhouse really than a side kick. I was impressed. And I really didn’t know if he wanted to throw some nuggets, get out some grade school frustration or if he wanted me to chase him. Needless to say, I was laughing at the entire situation and there were about 6 other kids following along. It was a memorable journey ….
We eventually reached an overlook point between the fort and a temple that sat behind us with about thirty minutes before sundown. The hike up was well worth it too as the sun was setting just to the right of the fort. After sundown, we thought we would head back down into town and check out the market.
We spent about two hours wandering around the market but since we weren’t really buying much of anything, we decided to grab some food and head back.
The following morning we got an early morning start as the plan was to visit the Mehrangarh Fort and then take a late morning bus to Udaipur. When we got up to fort that morning, I realized this might be the nicest and most dramatic fort I’d been to yet.
There was a small charge to get in but luckily admission included a full audio guided tour as you went through the Fort.
It took us about two hours or so to make it all the way through the guided portion of the fort and then we headed up to the fort’s walls to get another overlook of the city. On our way there, we had to walk right through a movie set they were filming here for Bollywood. We found out the name of the movie and they told us it was set to be released sometime in the winter months. When we made it to the top of the walls, the view was just as amazing as it had been the night before. We were about to leave from there when a couple of young Indian guys approached us to find out where we were from. After these pleasantries, one of them wanted to take a picture of all three of us. And then after that, strangely enough, they wanted pictures of just the two of us.
After being in this very situation countless times before in both China and India, I decided to have some fun with this and told them we were married. Apparently that is when things just got weird. Upon finding out we were married, they wanted us to shake hands for this photo opp. Umm, OK…. We were laughing so hard at this crazy situation but really, they had no idea what was so funny. Apparently most married couple in Jodhpur shake hands with one other in public appearances. Nice…
That would conclude the festivities we had in Johdpur and we were off to the bus station later that morning for another whirlwind bus journey on our way to Udaipur where we’d planned on spending a few days….