Published: January 21st 2013January 6th 2013
Through our guesthouse in Jodhpur, we booked what we thought was a "tourist" class bus for the 5 hour journey to Jaisalmer. The bus didn't look too great, but we had assigned seats that reclined so we were happy about that and were on our way at 6:30 AM.
The bus made multiple stops and picked up passengers along the way. Everyone but us was Indian on that bus. About 2-3 hours in, the bus was completely packed with people stepping on each other in the aisles. I had the aisle seat, and leaned over a bit to lay closer to Helen. Immediately there was someone that sat down on the 4 inches of space that were created. Then another guy sat on my seat's handrest.
By this point in our trip we already knew that Indian people had no concept of personal space and they clamor for every inch of space they see. That's why people stand so close to one another when on a line -- so no one can cut in. I'm not sure if it's a product of overpopulation, and if it's just a cultural thing; but in all the places we've traveled, we never came across such aggressive personal space eaters.
The last hour or so of the bus ride I shared my seat with 2 other guys. I looked around the bus and others had the same fate. I knew not to move over any further off my seat, because that space would immediately be filled in.
We arrived in Jaisalmer at about 11, and immediately the touts came. Two guys boarded our bus and told us that our ticket included an extra 40 rupee charge to be given a ride from the bus station to town center, and so they'll take us. We weren't sure they were legit, but Helen had to go to the bathroom badly, so we went with them and asked them to stop at a bathroom.
Surprise, surprise -- they did stop at a bathroom at some hotel, and they tried to sell us a room there. We told them we already had a reservation (we did) that was paid for (it wasn't), and thanked them for the ride. They left us alone, and presumably went back to the bus stop to look for the next set of tourists getting off. We grabbed lunch in that area and found out we don't like Rajasthani Thalis -- the options on the thali all seemed too liquidy. We then asked a rickshaw to take us to our hotel in the Jaisalmer Fort.
We walked around the fort for a bit -- and it was stunning! The place really does look like a sand castle. The problem however was the commercialism. Every turn we made there were people hawking things. It was difficult to find a moment of peace to enjoy the surroundings.
We booked an ayurvedic massage for that evening, and walked around a bit. I shaved my face and beard at some creepy guys little shop. After I was completely bald, people in town started referring to me as "full moon." I got a lot of "full moon, full power, 24 hour." I never heard "full moon" before, but apparently in this town that's what many people call shaved heads. We bought a couple of beers and watched sunset from a rooftop restaurant.
After our massage we went out to eat and then walked back to our place inside the fort. Walking in the fort at night was pretty cool -- narrow cobblestone alleyways, no hawkers, families living out their normal evenings (people live in the fort), and plenty of cows hogging the space in the alleyways. We really liked Jaisalmer.