Thar Desert to Jaisalmer

Trip Start Nov 27, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2010

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So up at around 6:15 this morning and away quite quickly in the Jeep, the idea being that we'd drive out to some sand dunes a few miles away and have breakfast as the sun came up. This turned out to be a really nice experience, the temperature had risen a bit by then and Gemar made a campfire and we had massala tea plus a bit of porridge and warmed banana and after 20 minutes or so, we walked to the top of the sand dunes and watched the sunrise which was really worth getting up early for.

Anyway breakfast over, we headed off in the direction of Jaisalmer, which is in north west India, not a million miles away from the border with Pakistan. On the way we stopped off at a 'bird sanctuary' or basically a big yard with of bird feed where 5,000 - 10,000 migrating cranes arrive each winter from Russia apparently. They were all busy eating but then took me by surprise as they started to fly off and although I grabbed a few pictures, I didn't have the chance to set my camera up properly and so was a bit disappointed with the results.

We headed odd again, now around 70 miles away from Jaisalmer. What was funny was that we stopped for ages at a railway crossing, then again 30 minutes or so later, then again another couple of times, all for the same train, which says something about the average speed of trains in India! An hour or so later we arrived at our hotel in Jaisalmer, said our goodbyes to Gemar and his driver and looked forward to the next leg of the trip after what had been a fantastic adventure our in the Thar Desert with Gemar.

We arrived at the Hotel Pleasant Haveli and were welcomed with a friendly smile and complimentary Masala Chai. I'd avoided chai so far as I thought it would be like really sweet tea which I hate, but the masala bit sounded interesting so I tried some and really liked it.

The hotel was really nice, only 4/5 years old but done in a traditional way and was only about 10 minutes stroll away from the old city but with a great view of it from the lovely roof terrace and dining area.

We wandered through the streets up to the old city, which is located in the fort on top of the hill, this really looks like a fort made out of sandcastles and has views for miles from the top, a really nice place to visit.

Unlike some of the places we'd visited before (especially Jaipur!), the shopkeepers were far less in your face, yes they said hello and were keen to get your business but in a different sort of way that made us actually want to go inside, have a look and say we might come back again once we'd had a look around the place. We also had our first Indian haggling experience which was quite entertaining, the shop assistants seem to lose their grasp of English when you get down to the prices and suddenly hand you a calculator with what they assured me was their 'best price', several minutes later after the calculator had been handed back and to and we had agreed a deal, excellent!

Anyway back to the hotel, Vanessa had said that the shower was cold and me being more of a wimp than her, went downstairs to complain. The manager assured me that they had hot water and so I asked him to pop back up with me to show me for himself, which to be fair he did. Anyway 10 minutes of him saying, "nearly hot" and we were there, turned out they'd been really quiet recently and for some reason that made the water take absolutely ages to run through.

So out for dinner and visions of a nice romantic meal out was spoilt slightly.... by a local Hindu mobile wedding celebration around the town which involved a flatback lorry with India's loudest speakers blaring out all the Bollywood stuff. We beat a retreat to a local rooftop restaurant where it was quieter, only to find that the mobile DJ had moved round the town and was now the other side of the restaurant, so nearly as loud as before. Anyway we did our best to ignore it and eventually it went away, somewhere else.

We left the restaurant and headed back to our nice, peaceful 'Pleasant Havelli' hotel, only to find that the bridegroom lived next door to our hotel and all the celebrations had moved on there! Luckily though, by the time we got back to our room and ready for bed they switched off the speakers and we were able to manage a peaceful night's sleep after all!

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