The instant we arrived in the blue city of Judhpur, we knew we would love it. It was my favorite part of India by far. It’s known as the blue city because it is actually blue! Traditionally, homes painted blue were to signify the Brahmin people. However, as time went on, everyone else got in it! The streets of Jodhpur are narrow and winding, and you can feel the character of the city from all over. However, it’s most famous for the massive fort – Mehrangarh – that over looks the city. We started our adventure here by zip lining! The 6 zips go throughout the fort, and were so much fun. But the best part was our guide, Dheeraj. During most of our time in India, the 10 day Ganesh festival was being celebrated everywhere. But Dheeraj invited us to his neighborhood that evening to witness the celebrations for ourselves. So later that day we headed over, and were greeted by swarms of children. Dheeraj’s mother served us delicious chai, and we spent most of the evening with her and the other women. We ate, danced, and worshipped Ganesh. Every night the neighborhood had different events for the kids, and that night was basically a beauty pageant – and those kids went all out! The celebrations were the highlight of my trip, and I’m forever grateful for Dheeraj and his family’s hospitality.
At the celebrations
The costume contest/beauty pageant
From there we continued through some of Rajasthan, onto Pushkar where we road camels, shopped til we dropped, and had delicious falafel sandwiches on the road. Then to Jodhpur’s sister city, Jaipur. Jaipur was fun, but a lot of our activities were soon forgotten when we hit the first real snag of our trip. We ended our day with a sunset visit to the Hindu Monkey Temple, which was exactly what it sounds like. We walked up hills and down winding roads, with hundreds of monkeys. The temple itself was incredibley old and home to the monkeys and locals who lived in the surrounding villages. On the way back, as I fed some baby monkeys some peanuts I bought from a local, one of the older monkeys got jealous. Long story short, poor Stephanie was in his line of fire. And so off we went, running down the mountain with blood dripping from her arm, leaving a trail of toilet paper (a futile attempt to cover the bite), and a swarm of Indian children. Thankfully we weren’t far, and our rickshaws driver (praise him) sped us off to the hospital where we were treated like royalty. Our driver helped us in every way possible, and we walked out with a well bandaged wound, 5 different medications, a tetanus and a rabies shot, as well as strict instructions and our doctors personal cell phone number…all for free!
Now, we are in Thailand. Bangkok was everything I expected it to be – a big city, and a party scene. We spent most nights on the famous Khao San Road drinking cheap beer and eating street food. I even tried a few fried bugs! It was a nice change from India, though I do miss the chaos and the unexpected. Being surrounded by 711s and other tourists is both comforting and annoying to me at the same time. We did meet back up with Danielle though, and the 3 of us took an overnight bus to Chiang Mai, though not without it’s problems. We got stuck in major traffic on the way to the station, missed the train that we already had tickets for, and were forced to buy completely new tickets for the next train. But, guess what? This train only had first class seats available…we all cringed as we swiped our credit cards, now having paid triple for 1 journey. But we arrived safely, and so far Chiang Mai is lovely! Today we spent the day at one of the many elephant parks. We chose the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, because it is one of two options here that does not encourage or participate in elephant riding. The other option was more expensive, so off we went! We were picked up bright and early and sat on what is essentially benches in the back of a pick up truck for the 2 hour journey to the jungle, most of which on a dirt road up a winding mountain. Upon arrival, we changed clothes and went into the jungle, where 2 large female elephants and one baby were hanging out. One of the elephants was even pregnant! There were more elephants farther in the jungle that was spent time with as well. The males tend to be more aggressive, so they roam free and come back to the base a few times a week for food and for mating. This left us with the females and the babies – no complaints there. All of the elephants besides the ones born there were rescued from an elephant riding camp, and since they can’t return to the wild, roam the large jungle sanctuary and get treated like royalty by tourists like us. They see no cages, and when the babies grow up are free to roam off into the jungle with the males and come and go as they please. After lunch, we bathed them in the river, joined them in a mud bath, and then cooled off in a water fall.
Next up we go north to Pai, Thailand, for about 2 days. This was never part of the plan, just something we recently learned about through the backpacker grapevine. From there the plan is to take a slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos, for a short stopover before flying to Vietnam.
The Mehrangarh Fort, view from out hotels terrace.
Making friends in Jodhpur. We were told to take them home, but I think one international pet is enough!
Our camel taking a rest in Pushkar
“The Palace of the Winds”, Jaipur. Pre-monkey insident.
The Grand Palace, Bangkok
The reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok.
Scorpians, grasshoppers, and mealworms on Khao San Road
Giant beer tower for 3, Khao San Road in a nutshell
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai