Got up relatively early for our 8:30am bus to Ajmer. We’re definitely going to miss this hotel – it’ll be hard to beat. Very foggy this morning. We got an auto rickshaw to the bus station and got on the bus with little difficulty.
About 2½-3 hours to Ajmer – the driver was pretty reckless and I found myself bracing for impact a few times as he played chicken with oncoming trucks looming out of the fog. Despite going to the bathroom before I left, I was desperate to urinate for most of the journey as well, so it wasn’t the most comfortable trip!
Arriving in Ajmer, we got an auto-rickshaw to the spot where buses left for Pushkar. 11 Rs for both of us. The weather had cleared up beautifully and it was sunny as we left town and crossed Snake Mountain and down a windy road to Pushkar.
The town is absolutely beautiful, a long cluster of white buildings and wide ghats on the lake’s edge. We walked to the Pushkar Palace, and after seeing a couple of rooms decided to splurge a little bit and get a 1200 Rs a night room with a wonderful view of the lake. Unfortunately what the hotel had in location it didn’t have in anything else. It took about 15 minutes for them to check us in – everything else seemed more important. Then we discovered the mattress was thin and rock-hard and resting on a base of uneven wooden slats.
Ignoring these problems for the moment we had lunch at a nearby garden cafe, then strolled through the town. There’s the air of a ‘traveller’s hangout’ about the place which is unfortunate, but once through the one shop-lined lane that was parallel to the lake edge through the town, and after a brief visit to the Temple of Brahma, we found the wide field that was used for the camel market and enjoyed some moments of solitude.
Back near the hotel is a place called the Sunset Cafe, and here we congregated with a large group of travelers who had come to sit on the lake steps and watch the sunrise. A drummer and his bell-shaking companion played, and a slash of pink and red appeared across the sky as the sun set and several locals bathed in the waters of the lake.
After a very average buffet meal (strict vegetarianism in this town) our problems unfortunately began. Not only did we have to complain to get our electricity working, but when we asked for another mattress they tried to palm us off with a single mattress and a folded thin single mattress under our double mattress. Not wishing to sleep on top of this hilly mess, we asked for another room, and despite the room not having a view of the lake, they wanted the same price. Coupled with the surly and sullen service and total lack of a desire to please us, we were mightily pissed off at this point, and threatened to leave the next morning, an idea they made absolutely no effort to dissuade us from.
The night seemed to sum up all that is frustrating about trying to get decent service in India. Normally these things would not have concerned us so much, but it was (in India) an expensive room and a supposedly highly recommended hotel, and we’d had enough.
The beds in the new room were still hard – and too short.