Published: January 3rd 2009December 30th 2008
This is the fort of Jasialmer - so beautiful in the local sandstone which all the houses are made of as it is so cheap here.
Okay, so our train was meant to leave Delhi at 530pm. We rocked up a bit early after some really bad peak hour traffic to find that it had been delayed till about 730pm. So we pulled up our backpacks and sat down for a while. We decided to go over to the platform at about 7pm'ish, and it was absolutely jam packed with people, their bags as well as wheelbarrows full of cargo - you name it, they had it.
We were entertained by some local kids who were on the way back from Guides, and I was asked for my autograph for the first time! I've also been asked by lots of locals to have pictures taken with them, so obviously my celebrity is spreading slowly yet surely. When the train finally came at around 8pm, it turned up on the wrong platform and all chaos broke loose. Everyone scrambled to the train and most of us got slpit up from our group. We at least knew that we had to be on carriage B1, but we found carriage, B2, then B3, and then A33. Hmm, no B1. We started to get worried that the train was going
Rach and I with our traditional Rajasthan henna
to leave without us on it as we'd lost most people in the mad rush to get on, and we'd be one of those people running after the train and jumping on it while it was moving (locals were doing this heaps!). Thankfully we found our tour guide and turned out that B3 was our B1, so we jumped on and had another half hour before we left!
We arrived in Jaisalmer at just after 4pm the next day, so a long night on the train - we had sleepers, but I hardly slept at all - and grabbed some tuk tuks into the town. The town is a big fort on top of a hill and is really lovely. We stayed in an old Havali - basically a fancy mansion/palace which has been turned into a hotel. It had great views of the surrounds and was a blissful population of only 58,000 people! We wondered thru the twisting streets with markets (oohhhhh so cheap here, its fab! I'm in shopping heaven! - sorry James) and had dinner on the rooftop restaurant of the hotel.
The next day we did a walking tour of just outside the fort,
Watching the desert sunset - oh soooo peaceful, no horns blaring or dogs barking - just quiet.
checking out the old markets and the havalis with beautiful latticed windows and balconies. The fort itself has been around since about 1150, and the architecture is quite beautiful. Rach and I then did some shopping and got some Rajasthan-style henna, and then found a bottle shop for New Years Eve. Not much was happening in town, so we holed up on our rooftop and partyed on top of the fort and even had some fireworks! Very cool.
On new years day we headed out on a camel safari into the desert which consisted of a two hour ride on some camels into the Thar Desert. That's the longest I've been on a camel before, and my butt sure felt like it. We watched the sun set over the dunes and then settled in for some traditional food and folk dancing. The camel drivers were actually more entertaining than the hired entertainers, and entirely WAY too enthusiastic with their music and dancing - forcing us to join in whether we liked it or not. We ended up camping underneath the stars - beds were made up so we didn't sleep on the sand (it did get very cold at
These were our beds where we slept for the night - it got fricken cold, but thanks to my new pashmina and my sleeping bag, I actually had the best night sleep I've had in India so far! Go figure.
night, but is beautiful mid-20s during the day), and we fell asleep watching shooting stars.