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Down and Out in Udaipur City

Mark is out for the count upon our arrival to Mountain Ridge guesthouse in the hill country outside Udaipur, India

The overnight trainride from Delhi was a cinch, but unfortunately for Mark, he did not fair out so well. It wasn’t the fact it was his first all-nighter on a train that gave him such a nightmarish ride that I solemnly heard about the following morning, but it was from something he had recently eaten. Now, I have to hand it to Mark, I mean, he wasn’t afraid to eat anything as he practically ate almost everything that was put infront of him. I, on the other hand, did not put my full-hearted faith in Indian food, and was therefore very scrupulous about every morsel and did not eat anything remotely suspicious. My draconian diet would eventually give way to something more reasonable, which would later present me with a meager nuisance, but I can proudly say I was not the first one to join the club I’ve facetiously coined as “Trainsquatting.” I’ll just leave it at that.

Upon our arrival to the Udaipur train station I phoned Mohammed, a rickshaw driver recommended by the owners of Mountain Ridge Guesthouse – the awesome, relaxing place I chose to hang our hats for several days in the hill country outside Udaipur. As for Mohammed, we’d soon realize he was super friendly and helpful, and ended up employing him on various excursions throughout town without the worry of getting overcharged since it was kind of a trek to-and-from the guesthouse. Beginning with the view of the Mountain Ridge Guesthouse from afar on our way there that very first morning in Udaipur, I knew that my “travel homework” had paid off for it was a gold mine of serenity and solace surrounded by fertile meadows and panoramic landscapes.

Mountain Ridge Guesthouse, Udaipur-India

Road leading up to Mountain Ridge

Our room at Mountain Ridge guesthouse

View from our balcony table

Our balcony view

Mark and I profoundly enjoyed our stay at Mountain Ridge Guesthouse, not only because of the peace and comfort it provided, but also because of the generous people and other fellow travelers that made our stay great. Mountain Ridge is owned by an Englishman by the name of Piers and he recruited a handful of Nepalese from the town of Bandipur to help him run the guesthouse. They were all super friendly and helpful, and I especially had a grand time talking and hanging out with them at the guesthouse. Piers was unfortunately unavailable at the time of our stay because he is currently building a similar guesthouse in Bandipur, Nepal, and from what I learned and experienced on account of Nepalese crew that I met at Mountain Ridge, I’m very much considering visiting Bandipur in the near future and stay at Piers’ new guesthouse in order to obtain a firsthand experience of the friendly and generous Nepalese culture and people in their homeland.

Mountain Ridge Guesthouse and friends

A Flute Serenade

Learning about Indian spices

Our new Nepalese friends & Mohammed in the stripe shirt

With the help of our Mountain Ridge friends we were able to set off on various fun excursions, the first of which was a horseback trek through the Udaipurian Outback where we passed through a multitude of small towns and had a chance to see life out in the hill country. Riding horses is one of my absolute favorite things to do and so I was in heaven. Along our trek I tried to imagine myself living and growing up in the Indian hill country among the relatively poor villages we passed through, and it was extremely tough to imagine myself in their shoes as I attempted to distinguish the almost interminable distance between my life and experience with theirs.

Horseback through Indian villages

Village buildings

Mark & I on horseback

On horseback

Udaipurian outback

Indian village family

The second excursion was a hiking trek to the various outlying villages from Mountain Ridge called Sisarma, Nai, Koriat, and Burja.

Udaipur Hill Country Route Map

Udaipur country cities map

Although Mark and I were super tired upon commencing our trek, I was somehow a bit recharged when I returned. I again attempted to picture myself living my life in these villages that we passed through, and I ascertained it to be much easier than before while I began noticing myself finally assimilating to the Indian hill country.

Trekking through Indian villages

Say what?

Stopping to chat with over 50 pounds on her head

This bus was hauling!!!

Streets of Sisarma village

Hindu village temple shrine

Beautiful village woman waiting outside local shrine

And just a 20-minute hike away from Mountain Ridge, Mark and I were able to see the Udaipur city landscape from above – a magnificent sight to see.

Udaipur and Lake Piccola

Gazing into Udaipur City from atop a high peak

Our third excursion was to Monsoon Palace which overlooked all the valleys surrounding Udaipur, and it was here that Mark and I goofed around a bit with no regret while enjoying the stunning views.

Monsoon Palace

View of Udaipur from atop Monsoon Palace

Not smart.

Atop Monsoon Palace

Don't mess with the wildlife

Our final excursions were to Udaipur City and it was here where Mark and I trekked through various random neighborhoods and bazaars. Many of these shots below were taken when I had chance to roam around the city alone while Mark rested at a cafe.

Trekking through Udaipur

Indian child pumping water, Udaipur-India

Udaipur street vendor - For some reason this is one of my favorite photos of the trip

Udaipur Market Outlet

Follow the signs

Do-it-yourself lemon soda

Udaipur lake shoreline

Washing in unclean water

They wanted their picture taken

Inner-city Udaipur

Udaipurian apprentice

A real man's iron - there will be no wrinkles for this guy anytime soon.

Flipping hot cakes

Udaipur "Farmer's Market"

Indian child choosing potatoes

However, before I trekked through Udaipur City alone, Mark and I were walking through a random neighborhood in the middle of Udaipur, where only God knew exactly where we were at that time as we passed by a rather arbitrary silver shop and turned the corner. It was then that I said, “Wait a second, Mark. Let’s go back to that silver shop.” Not before long we’d meet Tahira, our soon to be “travel angel.” Tahira, a turkish-german, who spoke absolutely perfect english, greeted us while she was also perusing for quality silver. Mark then sat next to her and they just started chatting away. There was an immediate connection.

Mark, and Tahira - our "travel angel"

It’s kind of difficult to explain how these sort of things happen, but they both just started talking like they knew each other for years. Amid their conversation one thing lead to another and we soon discovered that she was supposed to be on our same night-train the following day; however, she quickly explained that it was cancelled.

“What!” I exclaimed.

After describing the situation and assuring us that it was indeed cancelled, we were truly indebted to her for relaying this information as we’d probably would have been dropped off at the train station with our stuff awaiting a train that would never arrive and then having to gut it out in Udaipur another day disrupting the entire flow of the trip and being forced to cancel reservations and later make travel concessions in Goa. She was indeed our “travel angel” as her news gave us a window of opportnunity of a day and a half to find a way to our next destination: Ahmedabad.

Although we said our goodbyes to Tahira at the silver shop, to make this even more interesting, Mark and I went our separate ways through Udaipur and he happened to coincidentally meet up with her again at our rendezvous point: Cafe Edelweiss. It was quite a surprise to see them both talking together when I returned and I couldn’t help but emphatically say, “What a small world!”

Cafe Edelweiss - Udaipur, India

Udaipur would be a place I’d definitely return to if given the chance to visit India again; it was quite an enchanting place. The city and countryside had a cool vibe and I found the people here to be the most friendliest out of all the places we visited. It was surely sad to say goodbye to the Udaipurian sun…

Sunset horizon

…and say hello a living nightmare we’d soon encounter.

Sweet dreams from Udaipur and onto a bus nightmare

2 comments on “Down and Out in Udaipur City

  1. cassandrajamesass
    September 1, 2011

    I LOVE this blog and the pics. The pictures of the indian lady carrying the stuf fon her head and the little girl in traditional indian clothes ( the sari), are SO TYPICAL of old school india.

    Your pictures depict the tru enature of what being Indian in India is about. I hope You guys, especially MArk, remains friends with the angel..
    Another great read paulie


  2. hanacavana
    September 2, 2011

    I love the “travel angel” part in this blog. I love this story. While traveling, I always meet so many wonderful people from all around the world. I don’t think it’s not a mere coincidence. I reckon we are supposed to meet for some reason whether it’s to learn or just have fun in the moment. That is why I love traveling and making new acquaintances. I’m also happy that I have known this awesome person who writes this amazing blog.

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This entry was posted on September 1, 2011 by in India and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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