Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jojowar - a little luxury surprise for all of us!

Nov 15th. Felt like a plane, train and automobile journey today except it was a rickshaw, bus and jeep instead! Very interested in getting to our next location - an overnight stay in Jojowar, a place that very few people in Udaipur had heard of! And don't you think it sounds a wee bit like the name of some wierd township from the Star Wars films, on a galaxy far, far away! (or is that just me?). So what would we encounter I wondered? Especially as Mahendra said to me in confidence a few days ago "Stefanie, i have to apologise in advance for our humble accomodations in Jojowar. I do not know why Intrepid would let tourists stay there as it is in the middle of nowhere and very, very basic indeed". I, of course, (as he knew i would) shared this with the group (ok, ok so it was a bit gossipy, so what!). Therefore, guess who had not just egg, but a whole omelette on her face when we arrived at the most incredible, gorgeous, amazing hotel in the world (after traveling through fantastic countryside in jeeps for what seemed like hours). Talk about 5 star plus!!! This place was like a palace, seriously.. from the entrance courtyard to the stables to the spa treatments available...! With a beautiful swimming pool, giant marble bathrooms, and the fluffiest beds ever!!! I mean really, im supposed to be slumming it on the cheapest tour Intrepid offers!! Wow - seriously - wow!

So of course everyone was quite delighted especially Mahendra who "got me" with his little trick!! Hmmn... lucky i like the guy. He is such a sweetheart and always happy when he can pull one over his unsuspecting charges! Hah! The only wierd thing about this place was the fact it really was in the middle of nowhere.. in the countryside at the back of a tiny village, with no other tourist related elements at all! I mean don't get me wrong, it was lovely to be away from busy, bustling touristy places. Rajasthan is the most visited state in India, and unfortunately because it has so many incredible places, it does become a bit of a circuit for travelers, hence lotsa people... all the time. So Jojowar was a godsend in that respect. Never did get to the bottom of the story on why someone built this amazing place here..oh well, no fear, it was just lovely!

Before we headed out to explore, a bunch of us decided the pool was definitely ripe for some synchronised swimming practice - as you do, i hear you cry! We had quite the laugh messing around and realised those young ladies who do partake of this very punishing sport, should be applauded much louder than they are presently (ok i dont know anything or anyone related to synchronised swimming so enough of that nonsense!!).

After all this fun, Lindsey, Liv and I decided to head out for a walk to the metropolis outside our hotel gate.. yuup, a teeny weeny village where clearly people here do not see tourists very often. It was hilarious and reminded me a bit of visiting some of the out of the way villages when I was in Vietnam. The children mobbed us, running around us, holding our hands, asking us our names and telling us theirs! The excitement! And the adults; they too were very intrigued by us. We were offered free nibbles from a man selling sweets from a stall; the men in the bright, pink fuschia turbans typical of this region of Rajasthan (we christened them "The Gentlemans Club") were more than happy to pose for our photos then asked us to sit with them and have some chai and chat!!! And then there were the school boys.. yup, the ones in the blue shirts. Too funny! One of them, clearly trying to show off to us, decided to impress us with his motorbike riding technique; so he drove up and down the narrow streets shouting excitedly to us "you want to ride my bike"! Of course, he nearly fell off the bike about 10 times, and his friends were all very quick to tell us it wasn't even his; it was his big brothers bike and he wasn't allowed to ride it! Wow -the excitement of it all!

Seriously tho', the children were really beautiful and were so amazed to see their pictures on our digital cameras once we'd taken them! Talk about pushy tho'; there was definitely alot of shoving around to try and get to the front of the photo, but luckily no tears!! To be honest, it was almost a wee bitty overwhelming to be such the centre of attention during our walk; especially when one of the most beautiful women i have ever seen, with amazing nose and ear jewellery and stunningly brightly coloured sari, came towards us with a lethal looking axe that she kept waving above her head and pointing to us! At first we weren't sure what was going on...and we weren't sure if it was going to be good!!! Then we realised she wanted us to take her photo for five rupees! Now she was gorgeous, it was literally pennies she was asking for, and it would have been an amazing pic; especially with the axe BUT there would have been absolute pandemonium if we had started giving money for photos as we were literally surrounded by practically the whole village at this point(that sounds harsh but its really not meant to be! It's all about responsible tourism too!!! Giving money is not the way to go...but sometimes you do feel like a rotter if you don't!) we thanked her very nicely, waved at everyone then decided to retire into the quiet of the hotel, where we were of no interest to anyone - phew!!!!

Had a beautiful dinner by candelight in the courtyard; great food, great company, amazing surroundings! What more could a girl want, who had been traveling round the world staying in many skanky places - yes, you guessed it. A wee bit of luxury!!! And Jojowar was certainly that! Quite surreal but really quite beautiful! Tomorrow we have to head off again; this time to the holy city of Pushkar! Stay tuned!!!


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