Trip Start Aug 20, 2007
Trip End Feb 19, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, September 27, 2007

From Shimla, we returned to Delhi to begin our two week tour of Rajasthan: Delhi - Mandawa - Bikaner - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi.
  There is never a dull moment travelling by road in India. Pedestrians must give way to cycle rickshaws who in turn give way to auto rickshaws. Auto rickshaws must give way to camel carts who in turn must give way to taxis. Taxis must give way to lorries who are in turn subservient to buses. The holy cow gives way to no-one. Arriving late in Mandawa, we settled into our haveli. (An ancient merchant mansion with courtyards and frescoed walls.) After a long journey through desert scrub and a visit to a Hindu temple where thousands of rats ran freely,  we arrived in the the golden city of Jaisalmer. Being my Birthday, we decided to spend a few extra rupees and opted for the luxury of spending the night in Jaisalmer's magical fort, which rises above the city like a sandcastle. The following day, we set off into the great Thar Desert by camel. My camel was called Michael Jackson - though he seemed to find it difficult to moonwalk his way across the sand. Despite being the runt of the pack. Ruth's was called King Kong. Apart from the occasional murky frog filled lakes to bathe in, there was little relief from the intense heat. Our beds were the sand dunes and ceiling - the stars. On the first night, Ruth woke in the early hours screaming and flapping her arms wildly. A dung beetle had fallen down her top. After much persuading and pampering by our guide, she finally agreed to spend a second night under the stars.
  From Jaisalmer, we headed to the blue city of Jodhpur. When we arrived,  the city went crazy with fireworks exploding throughout the night. How did they know it was Ruth's birthday? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that India had just won the World 20/20 cricket series? From Jodhpur we headed South to the lakeside city of Udaipur. (Ref: James Bond - Octopussy). From our rooftop restaurant we had wonderful views of whitewashed palaces and marbled temples with naked men wandering unashamedly between. 
    Before arriving at Agra, we decided to visit the Kaeolado National Park. My parents had visited this wetland paradise several years earlier and the wildlife in their photos looked incredible. However, as we cycled around the park, there was very little to see as failed monsoon rainfall over the past two years had dried up the park completely.
  The Taj Mahal did not fail to impress. Having found a secluded spot in the grounds of the Taj, we opened our sketchbooks and began to draw this mighty monument of love. (Sketching is such a great way of committing a place to memory). After two weeks and over 3,000km, we returned to Delhi to begin part two of our world adventure - Nepal.
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