I’ve postponed writing this blog for far too long and sadly, the longer I’ve delayed, the more I’ve forgotten.
It feels like it’s been forever since I went to India… and even though it’s becoming increasingly harder to recall exactly what happened, I will try my absolute best because I’ve been dying to write about it since going there.
It’s unfortunate that I didn’t bring my journal from India to jog my memory because I’m pretty sure I wrote something on this and I love reading back on my journal writings because it gives me the gift of re-living that moment ~ something that pictures and videos don’t have the ability to do. I also just realised that I’ve lost all of the videos I took in Jodhpur (*cries* I was really looking forward to re-watching and sharing my videos with you).
When I think about Rajasthan my eyes light up ~ I have extremely fond memories of Rajasthan being a place which perfectly captured the essence of India’s culture. Although I only went to Jodhpur (the blue city) and Jaipur (the pink city) for a short period, I got so much out of the place. The cities aren’t huge so you can see a lot even if you are time restricted.
*Warning – this is a long blog but if you don’t have time and just want my tips – see below)
PANDA TIPS (yes I’m changing the name ~ it sounds more cute🐼😉)
And YES you can CLICK on the tip to go straight to that part of the story!
- when you catch a flight in India, be prepared for a female and male queue at the airport. The female queue usually takes much longer.
- be mentally prepared to wait for a long time for Ola or Uber if you’re being picked up from any station. Also be prepared for them to cancel if they can’t find you.
- if you like drinking, make sure you find out what time the closest bottle shop closes. Many bottle shops in India close early.
- be mentally prepared for the lack of personal space sometimes in India. Many Indians will touch you without asking.
- be prepared to take lots of pictures with locals, especially if you look like a tourist. Indians love taking pictures with tourists! Don’t be surprised to see yourself on their Instagram page the next day.
- if you are a Caucasian tourist, chances are you will be asked to feature in a Bollywood film. I met so many travelers who were hired for this. I strongly recommend to do it if you get the opportunity – what a once in a lifetime experience.
- Never book more than one night in advance in hostels (maybe unless it’s peak season, then book 2 nights). You have absolutely no idea how the next day will unfold.
Jodhpur was probably one of my FAVOURITE places in India during my trip. It consisted of lots of adventures, beautiful sites, sunsets, views and heartwarming people. The best part ~ there was so much culture.
I can’t remember exactly why I chose Jodhpur first but it may have been because I wanted to stay at the Madpackers Hostel again and Jaipur was closer to my next destination. My fellow English traveler friend who I met in Delhi was also there so we agreed to meet up and explore together.
The plane journey to Jodhpur…
The journey to Jodhpur itself was quite easy (as it is always with a plane). The only thing which startled me is that the queues were MASSIVE and if you’re a female, be prepared to wait longer than men ~ women need to go through a private room where a woman will frisk search you.
Tip #1 when you catch a flight in India, be prepared for a female and male queue at the airport. The female queue usually takes much longer.
Plane ride to Jodhpur
I was seated next to an Indian couple who were going for a small getaway (I think, it could have been their honeymoon). I think they were newlyweds and you could see how much they loved each other. Somehow the husband started talking to me – maybe because I looked like a foreigner. After chatting for about a minute or two, I introduced myself to his wife. The flight was pretty short so we didn’t get much time to talk but they were lovely. I remember them telling me that I felt like a daughter to them even though I was around the same age as them (lol). They were maybe a few years older.
Lovely couple I met on the plane
After we landed and got our luggage, I went outside to order an Ola (India’s Uber equivalent), waiting for long a while (a common occurrence in India). I managed to bump into the couple I met on the plane.
Couple: “Is everything OK?”
Me: “Yeah everything is fine. I am just waiting for my Ola.”
Couple: “You can come with us if you like.”
Me: “That’s OK, he’s almost here.”
They said goodbye and left me…alone…
My Ola was nowhere near.
I ended up waiting for ages but eventually got to the hostel.
Tip #2 be mentally prepared to wait for a long time for Ola or Uber if you’re being picked up from any station. Also be prepared for them to cancel if they can’t find you. Many drivers cannot speak English so it’s often difficult to communicate with them.
When my driver was near my destination, I wasn’t sure if we were in the right place because I couldn’t see the hostel… at first, but when I closely scanned the area I saw a small little sign saying “Madpackers”
I paid my driver and took my massive luggage trolley out, practically carrying the bumpy and holey road before finally getting to the hostel. When I finally got to the entrance, I was warmly welcomed by a large flight of stairs.
Great!!!! (insert sarcastic tone – for those of you who don’t remember one of my earlier blogs about India, my MASSIVE luggage case and my backpack was probably over 20kgs (maybe 25kg) so going up any stairs was the last thing I wanted to do.
There was a lift but I wasn’t sure if it was working and where the reception was so it made more sense to use the stairs (sort of).
I probably walked up four or five flights of stairs and was exhausted by the time I got to reception. My god it was such a beautiful place ~ if it wasn’t a hostel you could probably mistake the place for a penthouse apartment ❤️ Everything was so new, clean and luxurious. They had a massive lounge area with a TV, coffee table and probably the longest couch I’ve ever seen. The kitchen next to the lounge area was also huge. Wow!
I sat down and gave the receptionist my booking details. Before he gave me my keys, I asked him if I could book a private room the following night. I was desperate for a good night’s sleep.
Reception: “It’s really expensive!”
Me: “I don’t care, I just need a good night’s sleep. Can I pay for everything now?”
Reception: “Why don’t you just pay for the private room tomorrow?”
Me: “I just want to get the payment out of the way”
I paid with my credit card and was shown to my room. It was really nice, modern and clean. I locked my things away and had a shower. When I got out, there was another girl in the room.
Me: “Hello. What’s your name?”
It was so long ago I forgot her name but let’s just call her Alicia ~ she was an Asian-German traveling by herself but she was waiting to meet someone at the hostel.
I was pretty hungry by this point and was set on eating somewhere that a local recommended to me (thanks Raj).
Me: “I’m going to go get something to eat soon. Would you like to join? My local friend recommended a place.”
Alicia: “Sure but I can we wait until I meet up with Marty?”
Our Ola dropped us somewhere random ~ it didn’t look like there were any restaurants on the street at all.
Tuk Tuk ride to the restaurant
We walked around a little bit until we found the place but had to walk up at least 6 flights of stairs to get to the rooftop.
Ok I didn’t enjoy the walk up but it was worth it ~ you literally got a whole view of Jodhpur city and the design of the restaurant made me feel like I was in Aladdin. Of course we were going to check out the view.
Alicia: “The city doesn’t look very blue”
She was right ~ there were more white buildings than blue buildings from where we stood. We ordered our food, enjoyed our dinner and the view during sunset. There was only one other group there which also made the setting really nice.
The awesome restaurant
And then there were fireworks…during the sunset (it was still very bright at the time).
Marty: “There’s probably a wedding going on. I’ve seen other weddings here where they have fireworks.”
So random – only in India.
We made our way back to the hostel together but Marty and Alicia went to get booze straight away while I went to meet Matthew. It wasn’t long after we reunited that we ventured to find booze too because of the early closing time of bottle shops in Jodhpur.
Tip #3 if you like drinking, make sure you find out what time the closest bottle shop closes. Many bottle shops in India close early.
On our journey, many guys were so impressed with Matthew’s tattoos and couldn’t stop checking him out. A guy even touched his arm. Put it this way, I was extremely happy that he was getting all the attention instead of me.
Tip #4 be mentally prepared for the lack of personal space sometimes in India. Many Indians will touch you without asking.
The bottle shop was more like a garage. I bought two beers and we made our way back (yes I was behaving).
The rest of the night wasn’t anything overly exciting. It just consisted of drinking but was definitely a fun night (but not as fun as Madpackers Delhi sadly).
Matthew, myself, Alicia and Marty agreed to site see together the next day.
Day 2 – The real adventure
This day was about as jam packed as it gets when you’re traveling. But I will sum it up as much as possible.
After waking up, I remember the hostel putting on an excellent breakfast – toast, fruit, cereal and a traditional Indian dish. I went to the balcony to enjoy the sun and interrupted a guy who was writing his journal.
After breakfast, we all got ready to head out. Marty and Matthew already explored Jodhpur the day before but were happy to take me and Alicia on a tour.
We walked to the clock tower where the city center was, strolled passed many street vendors , ate the best samosa Marty had in India and visited The Stepwell ~ a major attraction in Jodhpur.
Journey to the Clock Tower
I had no idea what to expect but couldn’t believe what I saw when we arrived. It was stunning. There was a big square-shaped hole with water at the bottom and stairs coming from all directions. There was practically no safety measures in place. I mean, you could seriously fall into the water. Some of the steps were very wet and slippery (another tourist almost fell down).
The AMAZING Stepwell
Myself, Marty and Alicia went further down to take pictures but Matthew refused to go down even one case of stairs.
Matthew: “I’ll wait here for you. I’m scared of heights.”
Next stop – through the blue city!
We walked through different buildings, trying to find the blue buildings…but no matter where we walked, we couldn’t seem to find them. At least we managed to find cute puppies along the way!
We ended up hiking up a hill to a spot where you could see the whole city. On the way there, many kids and people waved or said hello to us. There were so many locals just going about their normal life. It was beautiful. Some people even let me take pictures of them.
It was glaring hot by the time we got to the top. We barely stayed for 10 minutes before making our way down.
View from the top and dying in the heat…
Going down was surprisingly one of my favorite parts. We stumbled into a mainly blue but colorful area where kids were playing cricket. Matthew decided to join in and I decided to take a picture with some of the kids (one of my favourite pictures in India).
My favourite part
When I was traveling I became a bit stingy (apart from the private room lol). We were basically only going to check out the fort if we could get in for free.
While we waited at the entrance for Alicia to go to the toilet, I remember a someone asked to take a picture with me. Once I agreed to take one…slowly…one by one, each member of this family joined in on taking a picture with me. By the end, I think I ended up taking about 8 pictures with this family 😂
Family picture time
Tip #5 be prepared to take lots of pictures with locals, especially if you look like a tourist. Indians love taking pictures with tourists! Don’t be surprised to see yourself on their Instagram page the next day.
It was so hot that the water in my bottle tasted like boiled water (gross).
Our group split when we realised we couldn’t get in without paying for a ticket ~ I think Marty and Alicia decided to go through while Matthew and I tried to sneakily find a different way in. We went up a big flight of stairs…only to find some small shop and another security guard (damn it!). There was no way of sneaking in so we just ended up enjoying the view of the entrance from above.
Funnily enough, there was a group of people setting up a Bollywood film. We stayed for a bit to see if anything interesting would take place but there was not much happening.
Around the Fort
After, we went to explore the outside of the Fort and ended up bumping into two guys from the hostel. They were dressed up as western soldiers for the Bollywood film that was going on inside. They looked like they were dying from the heat.
Tip #6 if you are a Caucasian tourist, chances are you will be asked to feature in a Bollywood film. I met so many travelers who were hired for this. I strongly recommend to do it if you get the opportunity – what a once in a lifetime experience.
Guy 1: “A lot of it is just standing around and waiting.”
All I can say is, I’m sad but happy I didn’t get to experience what they were doing.
Somehow we ended up in some ‘backstage area’ where there were a whole bunch of props everywhere.
Bollywood backstage. There was lots of fake pieces and fruit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t edible.
Once our amusement was over, we decided to check out the zip lining we contemplated doing. I’d never done it before so I was quite interested… But when we found out how much it cost, we had second thoughts.
Matthew (to the staff): “Can we go through to check out the area?”
Staff: “Yeah sure.”
We walked through a door to have a look at the first zip line but weren’t overly impressed…leading to our decision not to zip line.
It seemed that the zip lining took place mostly outside and around the Fort. We ended up walking along the outside of the Fort (I think we were along some fence or something)…until we reached a gate. It wasn’t locked or attended. There was nobody around.
Now if you put an open gate in front of me, of course I’m going to walk through.
Even though we didn’t get to see the inside, the outside was pretty amazing too. There were awesome views from where we were and absolutely nobody else was around.
Our random adventure around the Fort
At one point, we hit a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Moment’ – there were two pathways.
Path 1 was a ramp to continue along the direction we were headed and Path 2 continued at a higher level, probably about 2 meters above where the ramp led…but it kinda looked like it led to nowhere.
The second option meant that we had to do a bit of very basic climbing. Of course we were going to go for the more challenging route…but it ended up being an epic fail ~ we reached a dead end and could either try to ninja our way down (risky) or go back to the ramp like normal civilized human beings.
Sadly, we weren’t brave enough to take the shortcut…but this meant that we had to climb all the way back to the ramp (lol).
I don’t know how but we eventually made it back to the bollywood set we were at before.
Next stop – Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
We decided to walk all the way to the park, getting approached by a few tuk tuk drivers along the way who were trying to get a sale from us but we respectfully declined to save a few bucks. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the park but it was really nice and relaxing. The best parts was the view of the Fort from the park, puppies and being in tranquility…oh and getting yelled at by security (lol) ~ we met some Japanese guys and stumbled upon another Bollywood film-set with a wooden watch tower. I couldn’t resist. I had to climb up and everybody followed even though we weren’t supposed to.
The awesome garden
After ~ we met with Marty and Alicia, visited some property with a mini weed farm (yes marijuana), played with some adorable dogs and then went home…of course to drink.
Yes it’s weeeeed
I had to get my stuff from the dorm room and move to my new shiny private room but it was so strange ~ dorm room was completely empty…like EVERYONE had checked out.
I went to reception to get my new keys and asked:
“How many people are staying in the dorm room tonight?”
Reception: “Just two others”
Me: “Oh… so there’s no point in getting a private room. Is there any way to get a refund and downgrade back to the dorm?”
He called his boss, but no luck ~ the answer was a solid no.
Reception: “That’s why I told you to just pay for one night yesterday.”
Me: “I know…”
Tip #7 Never book more than one night in advance in hostels (maybe unless it’s peak season, then book 2 nights). You have absolutely no idea how the next day will unfold.
He gave me the key and showed me to my room
WOW! This place was incredible. It was like a 5-star hotel room.
After seeing the quality of the room, I was happy with the price I paid. You would have to pay probably $500 for a room like that in Australia and I only paid $80.
Since I paid for it, I was determined to make sure I used it and got the sleep that I longed for. The plan was to have a drink and go to bed early because I had to wake up at 4am to catch my train. That was the plan anyway… until I got merry with beer.
I got a little bit carried away and didn’t go to bed until midnight… chatting to different travelers from India and around the world. At least I managed to score a free chapati cooking lesson and try some home cooked food from a local.
Last night in Jodhpur ~ learning to make Chapati
So much for making the most of my private room ~ I figured, since I was only ending up using it for 4 hours, I offered to let Matthew use my room after I left (of course he accepted. The only price he had to pay was waking up at 4 to get the keys from me).
The next morning
It was still dark. I was so tired but managed to quickly get ready.
Matthew was already waiting for me in the living room to get the key.
We said our goodbyes and I tried to order an Uber…but nothing was available.
F*** ~ was I going to miss my train?!
Matthew: “Calm down. Let me try.”
As luck would have it, he found a car instantly.
*Phew but WTF!?*
There was barely any traffic so I ended up getting to the station really early (maybe an hour or longer ~ mother f****, I could have slept for a bit longer). Surprisingly, the train station was really busy. I had a chai, bought some water and waited until my train finally came. Luckily, I pre-researched which carriage I needed to get on via https://etrain.info/in (you can also download Trainman App) so I knew exactly where to go.
I did not expect the carriage to look so…uh…run down (I read that 3AC class was considered an ‘expensive’ class). It was only lit up by these horrible fluorescent lights and the air conditioning barely worked. The fans on the wall didn’t help much more either and the train was packed.
Everyone looked at me and my big luggage case. I was embarrassed, there was no room for it. I had no choice but to put it above in the overhead compartment.
It was too heavy for a little person like me to lift up. Thankfully, the people around me helped me put it up.
Finally… I made it and was on my way to Jaipur ~ the pink city.
If you’re planning to go to India, make sure you go to Rajasthan and Jodhpur (before Jaipur). Two days (well more like 1.5 days) was actually a perfect mount of time. Thank you so much for the recommendation Surbhi! It was exactly what I was looking for ~ what an amazing two days!