Hey all! We’re in Bikaner, Rajasthan, a small city of 6 million (!!!) people. There has been no internet since Jaipur, though it’s been a heck of a ride. Literally.

So, what have we done since the Bollywood movie that wasn’t? I’m not sure if I posted on this (too lazy to check), but on the day of our infamous Bollywood movie I woke up feeling like a mack truck and plowed through my head. With a fever, no less, and I’m here to tell you that even when I had pancreatitis, I didn’t have much of a fever. Good times.

So, there was no bollywood movie for Kerry. Instead, there was a light dinner, a very hot shower, a long period of trying to recover from freezing after my very hot shower, and about 12 hours of sleep. Oh yes, 12 hours. I felt pretty miserable the next day, but we had a 5 hour bus ride so really, what could I do? I took a lot of cold medication, which I fortuitously packed, having just gotten over a series of colds, and drank a lot of fluids. Which isn’t so much fun in a bus that only has shocks in the front, let me tell you.

From Jaipur we drove to Mandawar, with a stop at a fort on teh way. There’s lots of forts and palaces in Rajasthan. We might have well just have called this the Fort and Palace tour, I swear. If we’re not staying in a fort, we’re in a palace. Anyway, for the last two nights we actually stayed at a really cool hotel called the Desert Resort, in Mandawar, population around 25,000. The desert resort is a series of stand alone and connected huts made of concrete and then covered in mud and straw daub. It smells a little like dung, but has an overall cool effect, as the walls have decorations ranging from holes filled with coloured glass to mirrored bits stuck in the walls and alcoves to create extra light. Most importantly for the ladies, this hotel had great water pressure and lots of hot water, two things that have been a little lacking.

On our first night there we sat down to a bufeet dinner with 123 of our closest friends, the majority of whom spoke french or german. We had two tables, they had a whole lot more. There were little bonfires between the tables, lots of rum punch was consumed, the local beer (Kingfisher) was consumed by many (sadly not me), and a whack of eatign went on. Then we had a musical procession, led by a very subtle male dancer with foot and wrist janglers, and a puppet show which was quite funny, and a really bad musician and a boy dressed up as a woman singing. Really bad. Regardless, it was entertaining. Mum and I actually stayed up til 11pm, which you’re going to have to believe is a shocker for me.

Yesterday in mandawar, we checked out a lot of havelis (painted mansions), many of which are in terrible disrepair. We also saw the town’s original well, which is now being used as a toilet for men, dogs and goats. Too bad – I’m sure it was spectacular before it went dry – it had mini plunge pools, washing areas for clothing, washing areas for men and women (enclosed and not enclosed showers), and washing areas for dishes. Pillars, pagodas and all. And now, it’s a toilet.

Today we drove for what felt like forever (Mum’s resorted to taking gravol just to stay on teh bus without yakking) to get here to Bikaner. There was a stop at the Rat Temple on the way. I’d tell you about it, but to be honest I’d rather rot than go in a temple with 3000 rats in it. Where it’s good luck to have a rat run across your bare foot. Cause you know, there’s no shoe wearing in temples. I don’t mean to be disrespectful here, but there’s no such thing as a “very nice rat”. They’re vermin and they spread pestilence. Enough said.

Tonight we’re staying in some crazy palace in Bikaner. Our room is a suite. It has television! It has free internet!! And our dinner is going to be 3 times as expensive as the identical lunch we ate today! Whatever, I’m down.

Tomorrow we’re off to Jaisalmer, the hometown of our guide, Dinesh. We’re going to meet his family, visit a city palace, probably see another fort, and then the group is going off on its camel safari while Mum and I spend a free day in town. There may be some shopping. There likely will not be internet, since it’s a very small city.

Some observations on India so far:

  • The country people live somewhat medieval lives. They till their soil by hand. They burn their garbage. They live in tents or shacks by the side of the road. The women wear brilliant saris, even to work the fields.
  • Men pee EVERYWHERE here. If there’s a wall, someone has peed on it recently. You can’t walk down a street without seeing a dude whip out his penis and take a leak. Consequently, it stinks. Bad.
  • Goats, cows, and dogs shit everywhere. Drying cow patties for fuel for garbage and cooking fires is a seemingly lucrative business. Wouldn’t you love to have the job of collecting them, separating them, and shaping them into new, flat patties?
  • Mobiles? Only in the big cities and for the rich. Most people use metered phones in phone shops. Seems weird, but if you make 25 cents a day, I guess that’s what you do.
  • I’m not signing onto a single agreement that doesn’t include India doing something about pollution. This country is so smoggy, it’s actually revolting. They need garbage collection. They need clean incineration. They  need… so much that you don’t even know where to begin.

That’s all for now. I have to go tell our tour leader that we’re not getting in teh bus for another 90 minutes just to eat a fly-ridden dinner outside a farmhouse.

Later all!