We said goodbye to our new friends who we hitch-hiked with on our epic journey from Udaipur to Jodhpur. Hugo was still suffering from heat exhaustion and I was half cut from that one beer I’d had in the car. We were dropped at the sign for Crash Pad Hostel, one of two popular backpacking hostels in Jodhpur. Pushing my bike around the neighbourhood, it took us ages to find the hostel and when we did it resembled a run-down graveyard with two young Indian’s inside watching the cricket. No surprise there. We decided to try the other hostel, Zostel, a chain of hostel that I previously stayed at in Gokarna. Unfortunately Zostel was a good 5km on the other side of town and it took us over an hour to push our bikes there, not ideal when suffering from heat exhaustion.
The next day Hugo continued to suffer. I became restless not having stepped foot outside the hostel so I went to explore Jodhpur alone. Not wanting to miss out, Hugo decided to join me on my quest to find omelette man who has become quite a celebrity among backpackers. The TukTuk driver knew exactly who we were on about and dropped us off at a small shack close to the clock tower. I asked omelette man for his most extravagant, most popular omelette, which happened to be the Ali Baba – three eggs, two types of cheese onion, chilli and masala in a pita. Now I’m not overly keen on omelettes but this was by far the best omelette I have ever tasted (Mum, your’s comes a close second don’t worry).
We took a walk around the bazaar which was how I imagined a typical Indian market to be. Spices, fabrics, antiques, jewellery, fresh fruit, tea and a whole host of other things can be picked up here. I don’t enjoy shopping, especially in India where I am often hassled by requests to “come come looking free“. As soon as I feel pressured into buying something, that’s it. I’m gone. Every hundred metres or so Hugo needed to take a breather to try and cool down but each time we stopped people gathered around us. They either wanted our photo, wanted us to look in their shop or wanted Hugo to take some of their water. I’m not often phased by others but Hugo’s patience had run out.
After meandering through a series of narrow blue back-alleys, getting chased by dogs in the process, we finally reached Mehrangarh Fort. Mehrangarh Fort is huge and the walk up to the entrance was intense in the scorching heat. We just about made it to the ticket booth alive. One thing that does bother me is when foreigners have to pay nearly ten times more than locals and, like in this case, queue up at a separate ticket booth. I am beginning to really notice a “them and us” attitude in India, particularly the main tourist spots.
Inside the fort is what we considered a never-ending maze and we spent a whole hour trying to get out of the bloody museum. Not interested in museums in the slightest, I was on a quest to find that all important view overlooking the blue city. Asking everyone I passed, I was met by the same response – a point in a random direction accompanied by a head wobble. I never did find the picture perfect view I was after and Hugo and I left feeling we pretty much wasted six quid, which to us has become the equivalent to around £50. The damaging affects to a cycle tourist in India!
I only saw two other tourists in Jodhpur’s most popular sight and it soon became clear that we were in fact the tourist attraction. I couldn’t walk past anyone without us asking if they can have a photo with me. Soon after Hugo had dashed to the loo, leaving me outside, a huge crowd of families and friends stood around me queuing for a photo. Children were pushed next to me by their embarrassing fathers, I was passed babies to hold by young mothers and old men stood beside me with huge grins while their equally old friends took a photo. This utter madness was so intense I just put on my sunglasses, put my head down and let it all happen around me like I was oblivious to the chaos going on around me.
I’m really surprised by the reception I’ve received from locals in Jodhpur. Being a central tourist hub, I would have thought people would have been used to foreigners like me. This time, I wasn’t even wearing my helmet or Lycra shorts yet every time I went outside the hostel I was stared at like I was some kind of alien. Even as I came out the loo in the hostel was I asked by the cleaner if he could have a photo of me. I don’t mind too much but this whole selfie thing is getting a bit ridiculous now and does sometimes me feel rather uncomfortable, especially if I have just come out the shower or I am swimming in a bikini!
After a couple of iced lemonades, we were feeling better so we gave in to one guy who invited us to sampled some tea in a touristic tea shop. Hugo hates this as we never buy anything but I see it more as letting the poor guy showcase his business and keep him company, as we are probably the only tourists he’s seen all day with it being off-season. Plus I do always seem to get roped into these situations, being too nice to say no, apparently. Did we buy anything? Once again, we blamed it on our bicycle’s limited ability to carry cargo.
With another flat tyre and Hugo feeling too unwell to cycle, we spent a good hour figuring out how to get to Pushkar, our next destination. How do these backpackers get themselves across India? It’s an absolute nightmare! We didn’t fancy getting up at 5am for the train and the AC bus was during the night which would have delayed us an extra day so we decided to risk it and take the government bus, deemed “too uncomfortable for tourists“. I guess that means it’s time for another eventful journey!