26.01.2014 - 28.02.2014
This was suggested as a stop by the agency and felt the most touristy of the places we had seen so far. Manjeet suggested a camel ride and we signed up for 3-hours to head into the desert and watch the sunset. Turns out I was riding a thoroughbred and 2-times champion of the annual camel races, 'Jimmy', and James had the slightly confused 'Krishna'! Apparently saving himself for next November's racing we slowly paced into the desert, although took this as an opportunity to learn some Hindi phrases that have been well practiced since (thanks to a very patient Suri)!
On a learning curve I also seemed like a willing student to a local toothless elder armed with a Rawanthatha, a 10-stringed instrument, a cross between a violin and a sitar - he played us the traditional folk music of Rajasthan while the sun set behind the sand dunes and then I managed to scare off the rest of the locals with my attempt!
The following day we wandered around the markets and street stalls, and down and round the lake where we had been warned to avoid the flower sellers apparently conning tourists out of hundreds of rupees.
Always looking for a good view, the top of the mountain we had ridden around on the camels was 3000 steps away. Manjeet drove us to the base and climbed half way with us, leaving us to make slow progress up the remaining 1500 steps to the temple at the top. There were spectacular panoramic views over the desert and town and the strong breeze revived us for the journey back down, this time accompanied by a little black dog who warded off the monkeys for us.
We had signed up for a cooking class with Shivani that evening and she invited our hungry selves into her home. While giving us some insight into Indian culture she demonstrated how to make Masala Tea (Chai), Malai Kofta (potato dumplings in curry sauce), Pakoras (with vegetables and pomegranate seeds - amazing!), Chana Masala, Naan, Paratha and Chapatis (which James did an impressive job of preparing), and Dal and absolutely stuffed by the end of a fun evening we were glad our hotel was just down the road!