Sunday 28.01.2018: Ahmedabad to Bhuj : warm 28ºC
We were lucky to to be able to have breakfast "late" (means at the hotel. We went to a meditation lesson in a nice studio. Then we drove to a polio immunisation booth for national immunization day. We were met by members of the West Ahmedabad Rotary Club who showed us their physiotherapy facilities. It was very interesting to see and hear what they do. We drove to The Ahmedabad One Mall to have a quick, very quick lunch. We actually took like 2 hours to have lunch (hamburger, hummus/falafel/chicken wrap. We were already pretty late for the wedding which we were supposed to be with, but we took of, all very happy, dressed for this wedding, and then ... we had a flat tyre! So we all decided to exchange the already started wedding for a shopping afternoon at the same mall where we had lunch. We all took auto-rickshaws who did a race up to the mall. We ladies did some shopping for folkloric clothes (not Alice nor Julia). Our van came to pick us up at the mall and he drove us to the house of Arpit where we could have our hands done with henna. Later we were invited to a beautiful by Mr Arpit where also the student exchange was organized by the Rotary International Ahmedabad Metro. Then we went to Divya and Bhanu for a good tea and coffee, waiting for the bus to come. At 11 pm we boarded the bus, waited for about half and hour and then -because of some problem- it was decided that we would get another bus. At 0:30am the "new" bus arrived and we settled ourselves the best we could with the pillows and blankets. Finally, we took off at 0:45am.
A stop at §§ where we had hot tea/coffee and we arrived in Tent City at 9:30am.
Monday 29.01.2018: Bhuj - Great Rann of Kutch/Dhordo Rann of Kurtch Tent City: warm, hot in the midday
It was getting warmer and we were able to have a good breakfast. Then we were free to do any activity or just relax. Alice had a foot massage (3000 rup) and Ines a 3/4 h back massage. Julia went for a short bike ride (1/2 hour free of charge, after 100 rupees per ?) then to her tent to try to update the so-called blog. Our tents have a bathroom, but to take a shower you need to fill the bucket with water and then with the little bucket provided you are supposed to pour the water over you! Ines, not knowing how to do this, she sat on the big bucket and had both taps open on top other. It is really not easy with the many things we are doing! A shower closed the activity factor for today. We tried and had the "high tee" at 4 pm before boarding the buses that would bring us to the White Desert. The Great Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India. It is about 7500 km2 in area and is reputed to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world. In India's summer monsoon, the flat desert of salty clay and mudflats, which average 15 meters above sea level, fills with standing water. In very wet years, the wetland extends from the Gulf of Kutch on the west through to the Gulf of Cambay on the east. They struggle not to get caught in the sand. This was the first part of the shuttle, we changed the buses for camel driven carts. A last bit by foot and we reached the ends of a previous salt lake. After February the desert becomes flooded through the whole area, so they only can operate during the dry season. After lunch and siesta we took the shuttle bus to the border of the White Desert, then we were carried by dromedary (on a carriage behind them). Lots of funny pictures were taken. Alice went for a bicycle tour to watch the sunset at the border of our tent city and talk to the guardians. Julia finally bought a pair 0f paints. Dinner and after that a show with typical music and funny dances. The good surprise was that the wellness therapist came to settle exactly in front of Alice and Julia, so Julia had a feet reflexology done for only 1000 rupees (Alice paid 3000 rupees at the official wellness centre in the afternoon). Ines had also go her hand designed with henna, so a very successful evening.
Tuesday 30.01.2018: Tent City - Bhuj: warm
Most of our group went this morning to the White Desert and witnessed a beautiful sunrise. Françoise, Alice, Fernanda, Julia, Raymond and Antonio skipped this event. At 5:30 they called for early tea/coffee. Breakfast and then drive to Bhuj where we settled for the night at the Hotel Re.gen.ta Resort by Royal Orchid Hotels (lovely hotel and superb rooms). At 1 pm lunch at TEN11 Lounge. Visit of Bhuj: Pragmahel Palace where some of us climbed up the tower giving very good views over the city. After this our guide took us to the impressive Aina Mahal Palace museum with its 27-mirror sleeping room. Back to the hotel where we dropped Gil and pick up Melanie. We went to the Hilaraximi Memorial Craftpark. We went there to see some craft art and then were surprised to see a spectacular light show. Back home we had dinner at the hotel restaurant on the other side of the reception entrance "Sunset Point" where we finally were able to get some "European" food. To our surprise some of it was still so spicy hot that we couldn't eat it!
Wednesday 31.01.2018: Bhuj to Ahmedabad:
We left Bhuj at 9 am. A very important military person was visiting the restaurant in our hotel and was guarded by a few soldiers ready to shoot. We stopped for tea/coffee and restrooms after a ride of 2h50. Lunch with the youth group at the Ambika Niwas Palace. Visit and shopping at the Traditional Textiles Society of Gujarat. Drive to Hotel Ramada Ahmedabad. After a short refreshing break we gathered on the nice terrace on the 11th floor for mojitos and snacks. Mojito background story: we made a bet with Fernanda/António while in the bus, to guess at what time we would arrive at our hotel. Julia won and Alice bought us all delicious mojitos. And we were happy to be able to eat "normal" food, i.e. not spicy. We had bruschetta, pizza, toasts with noodles (yes!) and others.