A more leisurely start today. We leave at 9:00 after our buffet breaky. We soon settle into our travelling regime, a little sightseeing of the landscape, a bit of Rajasthani music and a few naps. Along the way we see the first major signs of road carnage. The first is a bus on its side which is being cleared up. No sign of people so perhaps the accident was yesterday. The second is an upturned truck and the third is three dead cows. We are surprised that we haven’t seen more the way they just wander across the roads. We drive on after negotiating these hazards. However after a while the minibus stops. We are in a queue at a railway crossing. This could take awhile we are told. So we get out to stretch our legs. Very soon however the train is heard coming. Then it is on us, or so it seems, as the passenger train rushes by. Quick movement is now needed as we rebound the bus. In the next town we stop to buy local sweets which we try. Not long later Shailendra spots a traditional rural house with a thatched roof. He sends Sureesh, our driver, in to ask if they would allow us a quick look. They agree so in we go. There are two women and their kids here. The kitchen is in the round thatched roof building. They also have a family room, family photos adorning the walls. They sleep here in bad weather but otherwise the outdoor beds are used. The husbands are out farming. After awhile we head off, leaving them some sweets to eat. We continue on and reach Jodhpur about lunch time. Our hotel is another Heritage Hotel, Devi Bhawan. We sit in the outdoor lobby area, listening to the fountain while our room keys are sorted. We are in room 8 which is across the beautiful garden and upstairs. It is quite a large room with chairs, TV, large bed and quite a large bathroom area. Once our bags arrive we go back to the restaurant and have a snacky lunch of grilled sandwiches. We are free to rest until later in the afternoon so we take a nap followed by a swim in the lovely pool. The water is really clean, but cool and after a while refreshing. We shower and change in time to go into the main old market area at 5:30. Shailendra shows us around to orientate ourselves then he drops us at a spice shop. Karen and Tina buy Marsala tea supplies, saffron and a few other items. We head back to explore the market area. There are fruit and veg stalls, kitchen stores, material stores, clothing stores, show stalls and many more spice stores. We even spot some school supply stores. Using the clock tower as a reference point we make our way to the restaurant Shailendra has selected, Indique. (It is even recommended in Lonely Planet.) we head up the stairs to the top level. This surely has the best view available of any restaurant and we have the massive fort, Meherangarh as a backdrop for photos. We order drinks and wait for our food which is delicious we discover. I try a local mutton curry and Karen has spinach cottage cheese dish. Breads and rice are added to this. Once the main courses are finished it isn’t long before some birthday magic for Graeme happens. Shailendra has ordered a delicious chocolate cake. On it’s arrival we duly sing Happy Birthday. The waiters cut and serve the cake and we also have some lovely large serves of vanilla ice cream. Rum is ordered and consumed by the others. We pay and make our way downstairs then through the mostly deserted market area to where Sureesh had arrived with the minibus to pick us up. More rum appears, the blue disco lights go on and the party continues as we drive off. We are soon back at our hotel and in our rooms asleep.
Friday October 25th
After rising about 7:30 we have buffet breakfast in the restaurant before checking out. Our first stop is the massive Meherangarh Fort. We park, pay photography fees and are issued with audio guides. We are on our own to move at a pace of our choosing while we visit the 33 designated points and many other photo spots where the blue buildings can be seen. The information is very well delivered and this is certainly well looked after. At the end we take a detour to the impressive maharajahs palace for a photo stop. Next we head to our lunch spot, On the Rocks for a snacky lunch in peaceful surroundings. We depart Jodhpur and head to our next destination Khairwa we will stay at a renovated fort Dera Khairwa. At first the road is good but we soon hit many sections under construction/diversion. Eventually we take a back road which leads to the village of Khairwa. This is a village of about 7000. Our accommodation is all white and is a fort that is being restored and modernised. We are greeted with a welcome drink then shown to our room 105 which is one level up. The bedroom also has chairs and a table. there is a separate bag room and once again a large bathroom. We can see a lovely pool below. We meet below in the courtyard and set off on an orientation walk of the village. There are two large temples, one Jain which is very lavishly decorated and the other more modest one is Hindu. We are greeted by children and the owners of many of the small businesses which are open. There are tailors, textile decorators, cobblers, small general stores and even a deejay. This town is very clean and the residents seem slightly better off than Sawarda, the other village we visited earlier in the trip. As we conclude our tour we run into several flocks of goat and sheep being brought in after a day of grazing. After our return to Dera Kairwa we have time for a swim in the lovely pool. As it is still quite hot it is great to cool off. We shower and change for drinks and dinner. Drinks are on the upper balcony. We start dinner there too with soup then adjourn to the dining room where we have a lovely buffet of chicken and several veggie dishes. Dessert is rice noodle pudding and semolina slice. We go back out to the balcony to chat and drink for quite awhile. Rum is again featuring with Shailendra, Graeme, Rex and Ross. We end up heading to our rooms about 10:45. However we are soon disturbed. Apparently there is a pre wedding procession with a groom happening in the village. The staff from our hotel take us down. We are welcomed into the throng of well-wishers. Soon we have become the centre of attention. They want to take our photo with the groom on his white horse. The band is extremely noisy and the crowd boisterous but it is a lot of fun. We make our way back to our rooms after about twenty minutes. An amazing end to the day!