After countless people pointing us in the wrong direction we arrived at Jodhpur’s local bus station with moments to spare. Asking for the bus to Pushkar we were sent back and forth across the station in an attempt to try and find the correct bus. Luckily I overheard an old lady say Pushkar so watched her like a hawk. Waiting patiently until the old lady moved, a bus soon pulled up and she jumped on. In a mad panic Hugo and I tried in vain to lift the bikes onto the roof of the bus. Everyone shrugged their shoulders when we asked if we could take our cycles on the bus, so we went ahead and received absolutely zero help from anyone else in getting the bikes on.
To the horror of the whole bus station, I climbed up on to the roof (it was quite a sight in my Lycra shorts) to pass Hugo the bungee cords. Everyone was blowing their whistle telling us to get down. All of a sudden the bus started to leave with Hugo still on the roof. I threw all our bags on my shoulders and ran around to the front of the bus waving my hands and screaming to the driver that Hugo was still on the roof and our bikes half hanging off. I was fuming. Why did it seem that everyone doing everything in their power to stop us getting on the bus? As expected, there was a whole load of commotion throughout the journey with various people trying to communicate in local language. The kind old lady who I followed onto the bus signalled something with her hands “Your husband’s on your phone?” Hugo said guessing what she was trying to say. Turns out what she was actually saying was that she could hear our bikes rattling around on the roof. Some of our miscommunications on this trip have been really quite amusing.
After a lazy day by the hostel’s pool, Hugo and I joined a French/Canadian couple, Frederique and Gabriel, for a walk into town. After a brief look around the bazaar we visited the ghats surrounding the lake. Pushkar is one of India’s holiest places and Hindus flock here to the holy lakes to “cleanse” themselves. Despite Pushkar being firmly on the traveller map, I was surprised to find most of the signs around the sights only in Hindu. I had an incline we probably weren’t allowed to swim in the lake due to its holiness but when we got there it was full of families having fun, kids summersaulting into the water and woman bathing topless. There was more water activity than in a typical Indian waterpark.
With this in mind and nothing telling us not to, we went for a dip. The green murky water was most definitely the dirtiest water I’ve ever swam in but, hey, “why not”, everyone else was doing it. After a few minutes in the water I heard the tannoy surrounded the lake turning on and a very stern sounding man broadcasting “foreigner get out of the water, this is a holy place, please respect our religion” oh shit. I hung my head in shame and made my way out of the water fully-clothed and dripping wet. Looking back we all thought it was rather rude that we were spoken to like that – who’s to say we weren’t Hindu and why were we judged just by the colour of our skin? I have come to notice that Indian’s can be pretty harsh when it comes to confrontation and pretty much in all aspects of life.
If I had a pound every time an Indian says to me bluntly “what’s wrong with your face” “you have problem with your face” YES I know I have pimples but I am continuously sweating in this heat, eating oily foods and being covered in dust and fumes and guess what? Absolutely none of it is my fault. I don’t look like this in “real life” I promise you, certainly not dressed in these shabby clothes! I guess I can’t blame them, living in such close proximity in a population so big. It’s a dog eat dog world out there! Funky Monkey is the place to go for a truly amazing four cheese pizza, one which I enjoyed with new friends at the hostel. We all had a few sips of the boys “special” lassi which pretty knocked us all out.
After a truly wonderful nights sleep, Hugo, Frederique, Gabriel and I hired cute little motorbikes to explore outside of Pushkar. Cruising through the desert, the wind on my face was so hot it felt like a blow torch was on me, like on my bicycle but with the fan speed up high. We visited Aloo (potato) Baba. Aloo Baba lives in a temple around 10km out of town and rumour has it he eats nothing but potatoes – hence the name.
Sure enough there he was with his potatoes on the floor (I did spot some chilis there too – little liar!) Aloo Baba gave us chai and offered us a joint, which being the responsible adult that I am, politely declined. I have to admit, I was on edge the whole time expecting him to ask for money but turns out, he’s just a genuine nice guy who must like potatoes an awful lot.
We picked up our Dutch friends Lois and Olga from the hostel and headed to Savitri Temple on top of Ratnagiri Hill on our motorbikes. The poor girls had to get off and walk every time we hit an incline, the bikes were that shit. We excitedly got tickets for the new cable car which has only been open for a few weeks. Ticket in hand I turned the corner and saw the biggest slow-moving queue of my life. There was no way we would reach the top before sunset. Wah.
Indians can’t queue (I’m sorry but it’s just not part of the culture) so I rather enjoyed watching them struggle and look surprise when we stopped them from pushing in. I’m a big advocate for queuing, me. Even though we missed sunset the view over the desert-like plains and the subtle night lights of Pushkar is great. A trip to the top is well worth a visit but I would definitely walk up rather than wait in line, stuck with sweat to the guy next to me.
I was told Pushkar is the place to do some shopping so I felt like I ought to treat myself. The few clothes I have with me are pretty horrendous (everything gets ruined cycle touring) as you can tell from my photos and I’m desperate to wear something that I would wear back home. Being highly indecisive on pretty much all aspects of life, I absolutely hate shopping, but once I start spending I find it difficult to stop – I get this from my mother. 😉
I had tea with my new friend the ‘shoe man’ while we talked business and of course, bargained over my camel leather shoes. After a long and tiring afternoon browsing the market I finally got my hands on some beer! Pushkar is meant to be free of alcohol, meat and eggs and famous for marijuana – funny that. After just two beers I woke up with the worse hangover known to mankind and felt too sick to remove myself from the pool. It must have been a combination of the heat, dehydrating AC, oily curries and maybe those two beers. Of course I still made it out to dinner that evening which was enjoyed at Sunset Bar overlooking the lake.
I was going to head back to Udaipur by train, which I planned to book on the day at the nearest station, Ajmer, 15km away. Hugo had booked a train to Delhi for the same day at the same station, leaving a few hours earlier, so I said I’d cycle to Ajmer with him. It was a hugely stressful morning having to pick a few bits and bobs from town, sort out my ever-growing luggage, have various conversations with people offering next to nothing for my bike (I’d rather see it till the end of its day than sell it for nothing) and as usual, totally changed my plans in a last minute decision to stick with Hugo.
We had less than an hour to cycle the 15km mountainous road both with flat tyres – bike shops here do not sell the correct size inner tube – but miraculously I did it despite still feeling grim and carrying the additional weight of my new purchases. It’s got to that stage of summer where the water I drink is close to boiling and any fruit I buy goes mushy in just a few minutes. 45 minutes of cycling reminded me why we can’t go on by bicycle. It’s too dangerous. Check out for my next post to find out whether I made the train and whether I ditched my bike……