Making friends, building sand castles&bruised bums

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5th Sept - Jaisalmer

We all awoke about the same time, and were soon chatting away about anything and everything. We were in carriage, 2A which means there are bunks of 2, in a 4 person section, with a curtain to separate you from the walk way through the train with AC.  With your bed, you got a blanket, pillow and sheets.  The toilet was what I was expecting and what I have been told; a hole in the ground with a tube leading down to the tracks, but there were actual raised foot places, a handle to the side and a tap to wash anything down the hole!  For those of you interested, not as hard to do a number 2 down as I thought it would be :S  The train was all so much nicer than I was expecting, and made that much better, that we were sharing our section with people we'd already met and could chat to.

On one of the stops where we got out to get some water, we got chatting to another girl called Alex, who came and sat with us for a while too.  We also went to say hi to Brad and Eva, who gave us a load of tips for NZ and gave us their contact details so we could defo stay with them.  BRILLIANT train ride :)

When we got into Jaisalmer, numerous people were asking if we want lifts, one of whom completely lied outright and said he was our driving to our hotel.  We soon saw a sign for "Katherine" and made our way over to him.  Yasmin and Kev were staying in the same hotel, so grabbed a lift with us too.  With our huge bags, more of less equating to another person, we huddled three of us with 3 bags into the back of this small 4x4, and Kev (lucky him) got in the front.  The Hotel Royale is lovely; a small courtyard in the middle with a swimming pool with the rooms situated around it.  Our room was really nicely decorated, with a random medieval ceiling, but lots of Indian decoration as well on the walls. 

We chilled out in our bedroom for a bit before heading out for a walk to get some lunch.  We ended up eating in a Lonely Planet recommended place (of course) just around the corner which was completely empty.  We got a rather spicy mushroom paneer, so I barely ate anything!  We attempted to go for a walk but considering this was early afternoon and boiling, this was a stupid idea, so we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a swim.  As soon as I got into the pool I read the sign that said no swimming between 2 and 4: it was 2:30!  We decided to ignore this at about 3:30 when Yasmin and Kev came and joined us.

After a lazy afternoon and getting clean, we arranged to meet Yasmin and Kev at 6:30 to go for a wander and then for dinner.  The whole of Jaisalmer is situated around a fort, of which some people live inside of so it was free to explore some of it.  We attempted to find the Saffron restaurant in a hotel but ended up doing an entire loop of the fort, instead of veering off in one direction towards the restaurant.  So off we went again, this time achieving our goal and sitting on the balcony of the restaurant.  Having had my fair share of curries, and even though I am more open minded to them and not so hateful of them, I thought I would give myself a break and have PASTA!  When I asked what sauce the pasta came in, the waiter simply replied “Italian”!  The other all had Indian, Laura managing to almost polish a whole Thali to herself (what we have been getting quite a lot but to share!).

On the way back to the hotel, we went into the fort for a wander, but soon realised how tired we all were and headed back.  We were back in our rooms sorting bags etc for tomorrow at about 9:30 and reckon I managed an early night at about 10!

Our first day that actually felt like a holiday; it has been a weird concept for the first week being so hot but not having the option of a pool or the beach, so it was really nice to simply just chill and stop this afternoon by the pool.  It is also refreshing to have met some people, even though of course the wife and I are getting on very well!

6th – 7th Sept – Jaisalmer and the camel trip!

We were told we had to check out of our rooms at 9:30 so got up at 8 to sort out our bags for the trip, pack our massive bags and have enough stuff out to keep ourselves entertained until 2.  We had breakfast and we out of our room by 10; Yasmin and Kev were not out of their room until 12 which was annoying as that meant we didn’t really have to rush as more, or get up so early!

Again, we spent the whole morning chilling by the pool which was lovely.  We went for lunch to Om Bar, a recommendation from Yas and Kev, which turned out to be awful.  The first dish we had was too spicy (granted we did forget to ask for no spice) but it was also really tasteless, so we ordered our reliable Paneer butter masala, which literally tasted like water!  After eating very little, we paid and left, disappointed!

We left for our camel safari at 2, cramming 7 of with 2 drivers into a jeep (very cosy), the other 4 being 3 Germans; Mattheus, Liz and Anna.  We had about an hours and a half drive to the location, by the end of which most of us nodded off and all of us were covered in sand!  As soon as we got to a very small hotel in the desert, we were quickly told the plan for the day, evening and morning, then off we went, on the camels!

The camels took us across the sand dunes and desert and we stopped twice for some shade and pictures, the second stop to watch the sunset but annoyingly it was cloudy.  But the clouds did serve good purpose for the ride as none of got burnt and there was also a nice chilling breeze, so it was really refreshing.  Now most people who know me well know that I have a boney bum and find it hard to sit on a bike, or horse for that matter, for a long time.  Well camels are no different!  Even with all the blankets and the padding I was in agony by the time we got back to the hotel and was not walking quite as elegantly as normal.  Even sitting on the massive cushions for dinner was painful.  An amazing, annoyingly painful experience!

After getting back at 7ish and waiting for what seemed forever for dinner with only some weird crisps in front of us to tease our appetite.  Whilst we were waiting for dinner there was some entertainment with music and some traditional Rajasthani dancing and some fire dancing and breathing, which was amazing.  However, it was all ruined by this one German girl at the end, shouting across the whole courtyard in an American accent, “hey guys, you know they’ve finished, don’t you think you want to show your appreciation?  Time to pay up.”  Of course, we all were going to but this just took the mic, and then when no one instantaneously moved, she said it again, at which point I obviously spoke up, cut her off mid sentence and said “ok, we know, we have realised they’ve finished” and other people followed suit, telling her to SHUT UP in as polite manner as possible which she did not deserve.  She later came over to apologise, but didn’t really, and just more or less told us we were boring for not getting involved so we all piped up saying you don’t need to tell people how to behave.  Stupid tourists! Haha

Dinner was eventually served, a random mix of curries and things, of course, everyone begging the question “is it spicy”.  None of them were so I tried them all, little tried, one tiny fork full of each, and found one that I liked, a potato and tomato thingy.  I didn’t even eat the naan which tasted exactly as I would imagine cardboard to taste.  One of them we think was made of the stalks of the tree we watched the sunset under!  After dinner we did get a pudding which was some sort of pistachio thing, really sweet so I gobbled that down.  After some drinking of bright orange fanta and a lot of chatting with Kev, Yas and Mattheus, we meet Neasa and Catharl and headed out on a camel pulling a cart into the wilderness of the desert where we set up camp: literally 7 beds in a row with a mattress and a blanket under the stars of the night.  I have literally never seen so many stars.  The night was so clear and to make it even better, in every direction there were flashes of lightening!  It was AMAZING!  I seemed to find myself in the middle of 2 conversations but soon nodded off and before I knew it, so had everyone else!

During the night, everyone was woken by a stray dog which came incredibly close to our beds, most people thinking it was probably something more dangerous than a dog!  Considering the desert is meant to get really cold at night, I didn’t even use for duvet and was the only one that didn’t!  I just wrapped my scarf around me and that was enough. I think I was first to wake at 6ish, to find that the sun had already risen and that it was too cloudy to have seen anything anyway.  Sooner or later, people began to stir and we were all awake and chatting at 6:30.  After seeing some pretty coloured clouds, we headed back to the hotel for breakfast, a boiled egg, some toast and jam.  We got some chai tea which Laura and I are now in love with.

And soon after, we were back on the road, heading back to our hotel in Jaisalmer.  When we got back, the room they had promised for the afternoon, turns out we could only have for an hour, so we showered off the vast amounts of sand in the shower pool then in we jumped.  Slapped on some sun tan lotion, then got my tan on, minimising the lines like normal and hoping I would fall asleep as usual to forget about the sun!  Or this would have been the plan if it weren’t for the f**king flies.  They were doing all our heads in.  We had lunch around the pool and gave up for the sun about 3 when me and Laura decided to go for a wander.  Upon leaving the hotel and wandering about 100m we both admitted we were knackered, wondered why we were going anywhere, went back and asked for a room.  After being put in a room that had someone’s stuff in, we went into another room, I had a shower and then not feeling so well, fell asleep!  I woke up still not feeling great and put it down to not enough sugar/food.  We chilled for a bit more before heading out at 5:30ish for a walk and some dinner.  However, our walk more or less turned into a small shopping trip in the fort, and we found ourselves buying more things, though easier to get into our bags, a silk scarf each and some pretty things which shall not be named as one is Sarah’s Crimbo pres!  The fort itself is more like a sandcastle; the shapes and colours of it and of course the fact that its made from sandstone make it a child's dream! We went to a traditional Indian Italian for dinner :S sharing a pizza and pasta between the 2 of us, plus 4 fluorescent fantas.  For us both, more Laura this time, it was a nice break from Indian food.  We picked the best restaurant though, because as dark fell we had about 30-40 bats, with a wingspan of about 50cm, flying over us going for their evening dinner as well.  I have never seen so many bats, it was mesmerising to watch.

We got back to the hotel and chilled (for a long time!), waiting for our 11:30 train :( We got a lift to the station then all aboard the 2nd overnight train to Jodphur.
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dad on

Hi Cath Cath
Like your blog and glad you are having a great time.
Did you remember to put one leg across the camel's neck like i told you - it helps a bit.
Was the german girl just a tourist sticking her oar in - well done for shutting her up!
What is a florescent fanta??
Great you're meeting people/contacts.
Keep on having a great time.
All our love. xxx

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