I am having one of the funniest enlightening trips I have ever taken. We have a cracking group of girls and not one of them is a princess! Or maybe we all are and we just came from the same Harem of yester year and have now re connected……. Our local guide Raj, shared this thought with us whilst meditating in Udaipur. Hindus believe that we are all connected from a previous life and why we have somehow come together again now.
1000 blessings to Claudy and Raj, the relationship they have with this beautiful country has made our trip what is has been and is becoming.
Our past few days have taken us to 4 new hotels that have been wonderful in their own special way and I’m struggling to get enough sleep let alone time to blog with limited wifi. But I am so happy and really enjoying this crazy country and all it has to offer.
We left our beautiful summer palace in Udaipur and travelled to a very small village. Travelling along very bumpy roads, weaving from one side of the road to the other, to avoid the massive pot holes from the monsoon season. We drove past groups of people gathering for the end of the goddess festival week, walking to submerge the goddess statues that they had been worshipping all week back into the earth ??
Of course this was not before we had a van break down and needed road side assistance. Luckily we were only on the outskirts of Udaipur, when this happened as some of the small villages we have visited are waaayyy out in the boonies.
We ended up doing a van swap to continue our day trip, due to a blown fan belt and our regular van arrived later that day.
Back on the road, we ‘earnt’ a quick stop at Mount Barton Lodge for morning coffee and got to look around the amazing accommodation, built into the side of a mountain under Banyan trees.
They also made us amazing lunch boxes to take when we left with fruit and juice and the yummiest chicken roti’s I have had since that shop in Dee why closed down all those years ago. The afternoon saw us visit a famous “Jain” temple with a few 100 other people, however we have the magnificent Raj and he is the best queue jumper I have ever seen !
We went inside shoeless of course, some of us paid to be blessed by the local guru’s~ commercialism at its best but what an experience.
The temple took over 50 years to build and according to my skipper the statistical queen there were 1144 columns, 44 domes and 300 statues~ worth the winding road and the van break down.
A long day of driving, finally we made it to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Khempur…… We arrived on sunset and of course stood in front of the sign for ‘the elderly and the beautiful’, found the gorgeous swing, and then toured this historic hotel.
Think faulty towers though because this family heritage hotel is still a work in progress. We all got allocated rooms and then 2 women from the local village arrived to dress us in Sari’s ready for our first Bollywood dinner. This also went a little pear shape (in a good way~by choice) and we ended up in the main courtyard of this historic hotel, watching the movie~The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in our stunning sari’s, gin and tonics in hand and ahhhh all is well in the world. ?
We woke to the sound of peacocks…. no alarm clocks needed here, they are extremely noisy. Then an early breakfast on one of the terraces before yep ‘ on the road again’…….
To the village of Rohert. The most stunning and ornate village and heritage hotel Rohet Garh I have seen. I wanted to stay here longer and I will return. The local village was fun for shopping without being over whelmed and we visited the local stables to watch the stunning Marwari horses being fed ? . These beautiful creatures have ears that stick straight up like pixie ears. The mares are in the town and the stallions in the desert.
A roof top dinner with a buffet of Indian delights, including meals we watched be created at our 2nd cooking experience, ended the evening. I was a back seat bandit again with Di, as there is so much going on, we just enjoyed the experience sitting on lounge chairs and pretended to know exactly which herb or spice was being added. Di was busy sketching and I was happy to take photos.
All the hotels are beautiful and some are just hilarious our bathroom in the best exotic had no hot running water, a resident frog and I blew the circuit board trying to make the skipper a cup of tea !
The owners of this hotel also own a desert wonder, and yep you guessed it our group is so special, we were invited to have our breakfast and again a show and tell of this wonderful hotel after our village jeep tour. So an early start meeting the locals including the children ( skipping optional ) and attending a traditional opium ceremony with the elders of one of the villages. Some also enjoyed a cigarette, a lot of fun was had by us all. The locals invited us into their homes and quaint villages, that are a step back in time, where they have the basics and yet are so so happy.
The Journey just gets better and better and our next stop Jodpur and the RAAS hotel below the stunning red fort, wow goose bumps.
Jodpur is known as the blue city and is also a walled city. No buses or cars can get inside the walls. To be sleeping below the Red Fort that is huge was so breath taking, and although very noisy ( mosques ) at every corner with the calling to prayer, 5 times a day ~we had early wake up calls and late night chanting but hey embrace and get on with it. We had motorised rickshaw rides, thought this crazy busy little city as there was another festival (shock and amazed) this time a music festival called the Riff. People everywhere , dogs ? horses ? cows ? goats ? camels ? seriously so step toe and son and crazy Asian antics along every corner, gutter and roof top !
A highlight surprise addition to our adventure, we went to visit Claudy’s oldest friend in India’s safari camp out in Osian, for a sunset camel ride and dinner and drinks at his Jazz bar….. talk about laugh. Lindy nearly fell off her camel taking her co pilot Liz over the front of the camel. Need less to say we haven’t stopped laughing about this for 2 days. Sundowners and an amazing sunset ensured.
We had 2 nights here and enjoyed the pool, a bit of synchronised swimming and meditation. The trips on the bus are long and challenging at times as the roads are less than rubble and pot holes, but seriously I have never laughed or nearly wet my pants so much in my entire life. Our bus assistant Reid, keeps us well watered and filled with treats including the dark fantasy, and I just have to say what happens on tour stays on tour !
Yesterday we stayed in another heritage homestead hotel, from royal lineage prior to the Indian independence in 1947 this amazing family hotel is stunning, and we had a wonderful time meeting and hearing about the hotel and its rooms, etc. there is a pool and we all enjoy a quick dip to cool off.
We toured the local village just on on sunset for what they call the cow dusk hour, as all the animals are herded back from grazing by every man woman or child and secured safely for the night. We travelled in carts with comfy mattresses and cushions, pulled along by bullocks through the narrow streets, saw a guru at the local ashram, watched an elder throw clay on his wheel and create bowls, jars and pots, chatted with the local children who chant ‘1 photo 1 photo’ as we all snapped away on our i phones and me on my camera.
Back just after sunset to Fort Barli, to attend our own royal wedding, where again we all dressed up in traditional saris for our royal photo shoot before dinner by the pool and the now favourite Indian dinner of Tali, which is small bowls of local Indian cuisine with breads of naan papadams and other Indian breads. You dip in and enjoy.
After a quick tour of the fort this morning, we headed for the big smoke again of Jaipur. Straight back into the shopping, where we went to a trader with 4 floors of scarves, saris, clothes, bags pillows and other drapery, before heading to our oasis below the next fort ~ Amber Fort in Jaipur.
The locals probably wonder who we are as we also had a road side stop for kindy treasures that usually adorn trucks for good luck and to keep the evil and danger at bay… not us loads us up !
The peace and serenity of the Tree of Life Spa and resort about 40 minutes outside of the busy city is just the zen we all need. Stunning villas with outdoors showers and pools and an amazing sunset before our next cooking school….. I can hear myself think to get this update posted.
really struggling with the wifi so check out some pics on instagram below xx