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rglongpre’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 23 Jan 2008

Location: Kichan and Jodhpur

MapWe got off later this morning so we were able to enjoy another walk in the desert before leaving for our dayís adventures. First stop was Kichan, a desert village where Demoiselle Cranes come during the winter as part of their migration from the north of India. Our driver didnít know we were supposed to go there nor did he know where it was so we got him to turn back and find out so that we would get to have this part of our planned tour. Eventually after many stops and chats with various locals, we finally arrived at Kichan and got to photograph the birds. The effort was worth it as the birds are definitely interesting and beautiful in comparison with North American cranes.

Once we were finished with this stop, we headed towards Jodhpur our next scheduled stop. We, to be honest, our guide got turned around a number of times and we ended up driving much more than needed. At one point I had to stop him as it was obvious we were going to take a turn that would have taken us further from our destination. We ended up driving down the narrowest of roads, often trails and often under construction.

Road construction! Well, it was amazing to see men and women working with hoes and metal pans gathering rocks and dirt to fill in the shoulders of the road. While they worked, their small children were beside them watching. So many children are not going to school in India. Many of the children we saw not in school are acting as shepherds, begging at locations where foreigners are likely to appear or doing nothing. Literally, it seems that as soon as the car stops for a photo, children come running and occasionally an adult woman or two will join them. We even have students walking by begging from us as though being a student is a good enough reason for us to give them some money.

Further along the way, we saw a tall rock hill, really a small mountain in the flat desert land. As we were passing our driver noted that the hill had a small temple on the top. We saw steps going all the way up the hill so we had the driver stop so that we could go to the top and check out the temple as well as the view from the top. Probably more than anything, we wanted to get out of the car and move, get some exercise. The temple was there, but it was almost a nothing as a temple. Still, the climb did take some effort and the view was great. We had only travelled about 300 metres when I noticed another kind of antelope which meant more photos. We then got back in the car and finished the drive to Jodhpur.

Once in the city, the driver again got turned around and it took a bit longer before he finally found our hotel, a beautiful small hotel called Ratan Vilas. We enjoyed a small late lunch before heading out for our first tour of the city. Our guide was not as pleasant as the guide we had in Jaisalmer - we got spoiled. He was an older man who did his job while maintaining a disinterested distance from us. I donít think he likes foreigners enough or wants to find out about them, or likes what he is doing. Perhaps he saw that we werenít likely to be buying a lot of stuff after we told him we didn't want to visit "shops", that we wouldn't be good for sales commissions. That aside, he did know his stuff. He did answer all questions we asked him and did point out some interesting things. He even helped us buy street food, pakoras and samosas; two hot snacks that turned out to be very tasty and spicy.

The walking tour through the Clock Tower Market area was interesting, more for what we saw as we walked than for what he showed us. The textiles, the bright colours of cloth with many local ladies checking out the prices and material were absolutely stunning. I got a number of photos taken of the shopping chaos that was surrounding us. At the end of the tour, we got a horse and carriage ride back to the hotel. The ride was nothing fancy, just another form of local transportation rather than a "tourist" feature. Back the hotel, we had a plain meal beside a fire inside the inner courtyard of the hotel. Another day done!