Friday, 14 June 2013

Riding in a Coffin

We didn’t have many plans for the day as Jodhpur is not a huge place and, thanks to the heat, wandering around and exploring was not as enjoyable as it usually can be. For this reason we stayed in our room until check out time, which was only 10am, before braving the outside world. We stored our bags on the roof and headed into town for breaky/lunch which we enjoyed at another rooftop café – a bowl of toasted muesli so big we didn’t need anything else till dinner. 

We still had the afternoon to pass and the mercury was rising steadily so we headed to a nearby movie theatre, only to discover that all movies were in Hindi. We resorted with Plan B, a McFloat at McDonalds! It takes extreme heat (or an extreme need for the loo) for us to buy something from Maccas, but on this day escaping the heat was a necessity. While there, we decided that since we hadn’t been to see the Bhawan Palace we should go, so we negotiated an auto-rickshaw for only 60INS and enjoyed the refreshingly breezy ride out there.

The Palace grounds were nice for a stroll, but only one section of the actual Palace was open for tourists and it is a small museum. We explored it as slowly as possible but we were still finished within half an hour. There wasn’t much else to do there so we headed back into town and back to the rooftop of our hotel where we suffered with heat and slow internet until we deemed it time for dinner.

We went back to the same restaurant as the night before, mainly because we were dying for air conditioning. We stretched out our dinner and drinks until the sun had long set and the outside temperature had returned to a bearable degree and then we returned to our hotel to collect our bags before heading to the bus ticket office. After half an hour wait we were loaded into an auto-rickshaw with the other waiting passengers (we were the only gringos) and we were all taken to another office where the bus was meant to arrive at 10.15pm. 

By 11pm it finally pulled up and we hesitantly boarded, unsure of what an overnight bus in India would be like. The bus was like a normal bus – seated tickets were just normal seats , no reclining possible for the night’s trip, and the sleeper tickets were in what would normally be the bag rack, converted to fit two people side by side. Sarah took the window side only to discover that there wasn’t one, only a thin rail preventing someone rolling straight out of the bus. On the positive side it meant lots of air flow… We got as comfy as possible but it was seriously like being in a small box, or coffin even, and we knew it was not going to be a pleasant trip.

The view inside our overnight bus, aka coffin ride
It took another hour of the bus revving and clunking before we pulled out, finally on our way to Udaipur. Once the bus started moving we realised that being up near the roof of the bus meant that all motion was accentuated and we were rolled back and forth with every swerve and corner, and bounced with every bump – it was a sleepless night spent watching the starry scenery fly by out our windowless window. It didn’t help that our driver was a maniac, which became more apparent the next day when we realised that even though we’d left 1.5 hours late we still arrived on time in Udaipur.

We actually wouldn’t have minded a more sedate trip and arriving late, as we disembarked the bus at 5am, which in a new town is never easy. We waited at the bus station for an hour and enjoying hot chai with the locals until the sun came up. Still, at 6am, when we arrived in town most places were shut. We finally found an acceptable place around 7am, Nukkad Guesthouse, and once we’d climbed the stairs to our room we took a much needed cold shower before going straight to bed to try to catch up on some of our missed sleep.

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