Thursday, August 6, 2009

5th and 6th August - Jaisalmer

Tuesday we had a free day so a few of us went to the nearby buddhist temple to check it out... it was a steaming hot day again but i'm getting more and more used to the temperature. The temple itself was absolutely boiling inside so needless to say, I stayed for as long as I could last and then headed for the relative sanctuary of the baking sun.... much cooler than the temple....

From Delhi and Jaisalmer


From Delhi and Jaisalmer


From Delhi and Jaisalmer


From Delhi and Jaisalmer


From Delhi and Jaisalmer


We were relatively easy prey for the waiting stall holders who all beckoned us in to their outlets with promises of cheap prices, good materials and even a shortcut to the hotel which was a novel way of getting tourists into a shop. I did succumb though and ended up buying a Indian style cotton shirt and long trousers for the camel ride the next day... I also got a free useless piece of material that doubled as a bottle holder apparently, which was nice.

Afterward, I took advantage of my troll like aversion to sunlight and spent about 3 hours at the internet cafe uploading photos, avoiding the midday sun. It costs a bloody fortune to upload anything in India... grrr....

That night we went out for dinner just outside the fort of Jaisalmer to a really nice restaurant. Halfway through the meal though, a power cut. The first of my visit to India and what we've now been told is a regular occurrence. It was the Brother and Sister Festival on Tuesday and there always is a power cut when there's a festival on I was told be the locals.

I had an interesting time trying to get my mobile phone credit topped up after this. I went to about ten different kiosks... to call them shops would have been exaggerating a little. It's amazing, as soon as you look interested in something and you ask someone if they do something, they say "Come to my shop" and you say, "Ok, so you do top up credit for mobile phones in your carpet shop right?" and they reply, "My shop Sir"....

You go in and there are lots of carpets... when you pull out your phone and say RPS 500 please they say, "No mobile phone... very nice carpets, you want...." Err... no thanks matey and i'll also have the ten minutes back you just stole from my life....

I finally did get it sorted though... I felt a little like Sylvester Stallone in the film Rocky when he runs through the streets of Philadelphia and a crowd follows him.... I had asked so many people about mobile phone credit that a crowd had built up around this slightly quirky but inherently entertaining English guy.... I went from shop to shop and they followed... I finally arrived at the right place and everyone in my entourage held their breath as I pulled my phone out of my pocket... they gasped as I presented it to the shop keeper.... It was like I was some sort of Pariah giving a sacred scroll to a holy man....

On my way back to the hotel, it struck me that the people of Jaisalmer really do remember everything and everyone... as I passed places I had merely stuck my head in and then walked out again previously the day before, the shop owners greeted me "Ahh Mr England.... Freddie Flintoff" came the cries.... I then came to the entrance to my hotel and popped my head into the material shop next door. I'd asked for a bag to be made to cover my backpack so i can lock it when I go to airports... They managed to make it in 5 hours for 4 pounds to an immaculate standard... amazing...

The next morning was free time so I went to the post office with Milania and Allen. We stopped off for some chai on the way back and then got into a conversation with a guy called Mr Bong who sells Govt Authorised Marijuana cookies to tourists... hilarious...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


That afternoon was our camel ride into the Thar desert. It was an amazing experience. I don't remember ever being on a camel and it was certainly an entertaining ride. My camel was called Kalu and had an attitude problem. Of course, why wouldn't he... I have just this sort of luck with animals I meet or ride while on these sorts of trips... In Jaisalmer that morning i'd had an "enormous amount of luck" according to a local shop keeper by skimming the top of a pile of cow shit... I didn't feel lucky, I felt smelly... The offending cow was standing a couple of metres away with a look on its face as if to say.... "Oh yeah... that's the power I wield in this place... tourist".

Anyway, back to Kalu... he got angry when he led the pack. He got angry when he didn't lead the pack. He hated everything... When the guide let go of his rope, he tried to make a break for it... In spite of this, the two hour ride through the desert was great. It was so peaceful and still. A staggering contrast to the cities and towns we'd stayed in. The sun was hot but the cool breeze that swept through the desert was a welcome relief. Also, the trousers and shirt i'd bought were so needed...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


We eventually got to the camp and we were literally sleeping on top of a sand dune. There was nothing for miles to see. I went to explore and sat down on my own in a bunker between two dunes. I listed to some classical music and watched the sun set.. It was so relaxing.

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


That night we had a locally cooked meal by the guides. It was spicy and really tasty. We listened to a bit of music and fell asleep under the stars. We did have a visitor to our camp however, a dog who decided she wanted to guard us overnight... and my what a guard dog it was.. ferocious some would say...

From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


The next morning we rode back to our jeeps and saw wild peacocks as well as land monitors (lizards) crossing our path. We also passed a local village where the women were carrying water from the lake on their heads. We had a race on the camels for the last 20 metres or so and that was exhilarating.

From
From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur


From Jodhpur and Udaipur

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