Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
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.
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.
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.
The second excursion was a hiking trek to the various outlying villages from Mountain Ridge called Sisarma, Nai, Koriat, and Burja.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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…
…and say hello a living nightmare we’d soon encounter.