Walking through the desert on my camel steed

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Friday, December 4, 2009

We arrived in Jaisalmer and like all good tourists signed up for our "Royal Maharaja package" (a camel safari into the Great Thar Desert). We decided to opt for the “true desert experience” by taking a safari that began with seeing some sites on a jeep ride out of town.  Jaisalmer, as well as being the jumping off point for camel safaris, was an important point on the camel-train routes between India and Central Asia.  Before Mumbai became the great shipping port, there was great wealth to be found here.  On the way to the camel trek we saw evidence of this in intricately carved Jain temple and in some of the remains of the sandstone villages that are now deserted.

Pulling up to the camel site we saw our guide Isaac and the two camels that were to serve as our valiant steeds for the journey, Johnny Walker and Mr. Rocket Superfast.  Guess which one I rode on?  Yep, Mr. Rocket Superfast (who could resist that name?)  Our guide was amazing and navigated us through the dunes without a map or compass.  He also cooked us some wonderful meals over the campfires.  The camel ride was bumpy and I think Chris found it a bit uncomfortable (especially when they were trotting).  I thought it was a lot of fun and really enjoyed the relaxing rocking which gave me time to think and enjoy the stark beauty of the desert.  We arrived at our night resting place in the dunes just before sunset.  After collecting some fire wood, we climbed up a dune and watched the sun slowly slip down on the horizon.  It was a different sunset then we are used to, the sun did not fall down at the bottom of the horizon, rather it sort of blended into the haze just over the line of the earth.  I am not sure what causes this, but it truly was a different sunset then we were used to.

It was then time for the campfire and to make up some dinner.  Isaac once again surprised us by making some really tasty vegetables, chapatti and rice.  The only things that we were missing for the meal were utensils!  The food was excellent.  While we ate we watched the multitude of stars appear in the night sky.  We spent some time trying to identify the constellations but it is hard when you are in another part of the world to find your reference points.

It was not long after the stars came up that the moon began to rise on the horizon.  It was the night of the full moon so once it began to rise; the sky began to light up.  I don't think I have ever watched a moon rise before and this one was amazing!  Isaac then convinced me that a moonlight camel trek was a wonderful experience so I decided to take him up on it.  Chris stayed at the campsite with our new friend, Jupiter the desert dog.  Isaac and I mounted Mr. Rocket and off we went galloping into the night.  It took me a while to get used to the rhythm of the camel running; I totally thought that I was going to fall off a couple of times.  (When a camel runs it is not like a horse gallop, it is a lot bumpier as they do not jump into the air and always have one front and one back hoof on the ground).  It was a lot of fun though running up and down through the dunes towards the moonlight.  We were out for over an hour and if my butt was not killing me, I could have enjoyed it for much longer.  Isaac was right; a moonlight camel trek was the best.  We then had a campfire where Isaac serenaded us with some camel drivers’ songs.  It was an excellent way to finish the night.

After all that excitement it was time to settle down to bed.  We set out our blankets in the sand and bunked down for the night.  I could not believe how cold it got as the night went on.  My feet were freezing! I was about to get up to find some socks when Jupiter the desert dog, decided to come and visit.  She curled up on my feet and went to sleep.  She was so nice and warm, my feet warmed right up and I was asleep as well.

The sun was rising when I got up in the morning and I walked up the hill to get a glimpse.  The colours of the sky in the desert really are breathtaking.  It was then time for breakfast and off again on the camels.  We trekked along, singing camel songs as we went.  Mr. Rocket even began to listen to my commands and following (at least some of the time).   I even got him to come down with my calls of “jut, jut”, it was cool!  We soon arrived at the drop off point for our tour.  We said “goodbye” to Isaac, Mr. Rocket and Johnny Walker and got in the jeep back to the hotel, dreaming of hot showers and comfy seats!

We had one more day in Jaisalmer before catching our night train to Delhi.  Guess what we did?  Yep, another fort tour.  Anyone who has been to Europe has had their fair share of church tours, anyone who has come to India has taken too many fort tours =)  But seriously, it was interesting to see how the construction and restoration differed between the cities.  That afternoon we boarded our 19 hour train trip back to Delhi!  Arriving in Delhi we had one afternoon in which we did our last minute shopping and got up at 4am to catch our flight to VIETNAM and to see my mom and dad!  YIPEE!
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