A short ride today, just three or so hours. I was back riding Padam and Vicki was back in the saddle on Nurani. As we rode closer to Pushkar the fields changed from crops to flowers. Tea roses were very popular and the scent filled the air. The traffic began to increase and trucks were jammed with people standing and sitting, most waving enthusiastically at us. Throw in road works as we rode closer, herds of camels, horses, rickshaws, goats, cows and dogs, people on foot and yet our horses hardly batted an eye lid and forward we rode. Padam was not thrilled with the camels but still went by. We got to a very long sandy track and Dinesh took myself and the German lady for a last gallop......as fast as you want he said and he disappeared in a cloud of sand with us following. We rode over the top of a hill and there before us was Pushkar fair in all it's splendor and craziness. Hundreds of camels and horses, vendors and cooking. Tents everywhere and of course garbage. We left our horses and enjoyed sweets and chai with dinettes friends before going to the Navratan Palace hotel just a few minutes from the fair. A very basic hotel of dubious cleanliness but home for two days. There was a large swimming pool that was advertised as having a filter but no one ever ventured into it. After a hot shower and feeling clean, we headed back to the fair to meet for our last ride.....and what a ride. Dinesh led us around the grounds and it was chaos......our horses pranced their way through the throng and it was a nerve wracking ride. We were sad to say goodbye to the horses who were leaving the next morning. That night we met at a local restaurant to celebrate the Austrian ladies birthday and joined by Dinesh we spent a lovely evening indulging in another vegetarian meal. Meat, alcohol or eggs are not allowed in Pushkar........I have to admit that we did finish our whisky in the room !!!
After supper it was time to say a very sad farewell to Dinesh, an amazing host and the Austrian lady who was leaving Pushkar the next day.
It's hard to believe that the riding I had been planning for a year was done and I had ridden a Marwari horse. .....well a couple !!!
I can not speak highly enough of Krishna Ranch and their dedication to the horses and us, truly a life time memory.
The next day we met with the German lady and explored the lake and ghats. Lots of photo opportunities as we wandered the narrow streets noting that the dogs appeared in better health even though they must be vegetarian. We joined the other tourists in the fair to explore. There were Marwari horses of every colour. Many studs were there with their stallions. Most horses appeared well cared for but the odd one made you want to cry. We watched a turban tying competition but it became too busy when the moustache competition was on, so with a glance and some photos of one man with a moustache wrapped around his ears we wandered off. after a few hours the chaos over took us and we took refuge in a garden restaurant before heading put again. Getting ready for supper that night I had my bedroom door open and saw a huge monkey run by, worried he may have grabbed some of my drying clothing and ran out to see him cheekily sitting further down the hallway, thankfully empty handed......it's this stuff that makes me laugh. We had an amazing meal in a gorgeous rooftop restaurant called Sixth Sense and then it was time to say goodbye to the German
lady as she was flying to Goa.
Today we were up at four to pack and grab a taxi to the train station. As we waited for the cab the only sound to be heard was people hurrumping to clear their throats and spit loudly in the street.....I won't miss that part of India which is very common. We got to Ajmer train station with lots of
time to enjoy the cold and urine smell before our train arrived and we jumped on board and found our seats in a berth with a couple from England.
We chatted a while and then spent the next nine hours sleeping and reading. I had to use the washroom as soon as i got on the train, not wanting
to repeat that experience again, vicki and i decided not to eat or drink the entire journey !!!!.........super stinky hole in the floor. On the subject of
pee......the best investment we ever made was that " go girl", we used them all the time and was so quick and easy....and cleaner.
We soon arrived in Agra and negotiated a 60 rupee rickshaw ride to our hotel. We were staying at the Tourist Rest House and were a it dubious as
it was going to cost six dollars each. We were greeted by a tree filled court yard...with monkeys.....and decided that the room, although old
fashioned and tired looking was clean enough to stay a night. We went through our ritual of bed bug spray and hand sanitized on the taps and
toilets and headed out for supper. Our first pick was a no no, and we jumped in another rickshaw and found ourselves at Vedic a modern restaurant
and we ordered tons of food that we had never tried before and it was delicious. Our bellies were aching afterwards but it was worth every bite.
This morning we woke up early and were in line for tickets at the west gate of the taj mahal for six a.m. It was worth going for gates opening as we got lots of photographs before the crowds arrived. It was a truly amazing sight, words can not describe how beautiful this building is. We wandered around Agra a bit before stoping for breakfast to watch camels and cows wandering by. A quick rickshaw trip had us back at our room and now I'm sitting outside watching irate staff chase monkeys off the hotel !!