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Tuesday, 17 March 2009


15th-17th March

Leg 4 – Bundi to Pushkar
Distance – 192kms
Time – 4 Hours
Average Speed - 48km/h
Road – 2 lane highway, then short mountain pass

Over the last year our motto has become “expect the unexpected”. Maybe it was this particular highway but we couldn’t help but feel that every truck in India was making its delivery this Sunday. The result was a stinking black cloud of choking exhaust fumes and so much horn honking that ones Ipod couldn’t even drown out. It also means that we have to spend the journey crawling along near the hard shoulder – “might is right” over here and the smaller your vehicle the slower you are expected to drive – completely the opposite to home! Anyway, we weren’t in a hurry and we were concerned about the upcoming Snake Mountain – a mountainous ridge between Ajmer and Pushkar that would make up the last hour of our ride – this would be the bikes first test – would it overheat?! The mountain actually turned out to be a mere hill and we were up and over in around 20 minutes, still in the heat of the late afternoon.

We found our guesthouse of choice – The White House (where else?!) and sat back on the rooftop to admire the views. Opposite from our place was the rooftop of another guesthouse, The Milkman, and as we were just discussing whether we should have gone there (they had a real grass lawn and lots of hammocks) we saw two familiar faces looking over. Standing up to take a closer look it turned out to be two friends (Lisa and Michael) we’d met in Darjeeling, and again in Siliguri where we had dinner together! Surprised (but then again not, this seems to happen all the time!), we jumped ship and went over to join them for the evening.

Pushkar, a pond-sized Hindu pilgrimage town is a magical desert-edged place, with one of the world’s few Brahma temples. Rows of sacred ghats form a mytsically magnetic lake where hundreds of milky-coloured temples and weather-touched domes sit beneath a shifting, pale sky.

Unfortunately our visit was timed badly. With less than three months to go until the monsoon, the lake’s waters were fairly diminished. Worse still, a project to lower the level of the bathing ghats had led to a huge sectioning off and drying out of one side of the lake. We even managed to walk across the middle of it on the sandbanks that had been created. It didn’t make for a great photo, but then photography of the sacred lake and ghats is prohibited anyway (and hence we didn’t take any in Pushkar at all). The town was charming, though way more touristy than Bundhi and we saw more pasty faces than anywhere since Thailand.

For the first time since leaving Delhi we bumped into a group of people touring on Enfield Bullets. It has surprised us how we haven’t come across anyone whilst riding. We also met two guys who’d travelled over from Ireland in a campervan – they gave us the guided tour and we were quite envious of their creature comforts. Oh well, some other time!!! We visited a couple of temples and eventually made our way through the tight security of the Brahma temple – there’s a very long list of banned items, including phones, cameras and bike helmets, so we had to make a couple of trips back to the hotel first.

We had agreed with Lisa and Michael to make the one hour trek up to the hilltop Savitri Temple, but come 5 o’clock, nobody was bothered. Since buying the bike, neither of us have the inclination to walk anywhere! There was a nearby hotel pool we wanted to visit, open to non-guests and this seemed a lot more appealing. L.P. described it as international standard, and certainly it was large enough to swim some lengths. Upon a closer look, we couldn’t see beyond the top 10cm of water – it didn’t look dirty as such but was definitely quite cloudy and you certainly couldn’t see the bottom! Perhaps it was to give the swimmer additional privacy from appreciative onlookers (the pool had separate opening times for Indians and foreigners but this didn’t seem to help!) sitting on the balcony above!

To end the day, Sam was booked in for an Ayuverdic massage. Hopeful that it might ease the continuous neck and shoulder pain (a year away from a desk clearly isn’t enough!!) the masseur was instructed to be rough. Compared to the hands of Joy (our Thai massage teacher) this guy didn’t come close, and though it was soothing to receive it didn’t inspire signing up for a weeks training course. The resident chef did himself proud though with his amazing organic menu, no mean feat in a town where meat, fish and eggs are banned. Oh, kissing is also banned in Pushkar so we were keen to be moving on!

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