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Published: March 7th 2006
Thats right it's a desert so it's only logical that on our first day it spent the whole morning dark, cloudy and at times even raining!
I was here from the 25th to the 27th of Feb - one day before my flight to Australia. Previously I'd planned to go to two other places in Rajasthan with Forts and then fly out but Jaisalmer, which had come highly reccommended, had an impressive fort and the opportunity of a camel safari so seemed like a better option. I re-routed everything and took the opportunity to travel with Becky and Fiona for a couple of days.
It turned out to be the right choice as my last days in India were with good company (mostly good anyway) and my last real night in India was spent sitting round a fire in the desert singing songs and drinking beer.
The camel safari was interesting but why people would choose to go for more than a day I don't know. Here's my outline of the best and worst of it:
We turned up early in the morning where the previous load of people were just leaving and we were each shown to our camels. Mine a large camel by the name of Moriya was very grumpy but we developed an understanding quickly - I don't bother him too
The Thar Desert
Not completly desolate this is the typical landscape and vegetation of the Thar Desert
much and he'll get me where I need to go without too much fuss.
When they stand up you get a real appreciation for how much bigger than horses they are and how far the ground is below them. Fiona drew the short straw with a camel that was frothing at the mouth and kept coughing up a huge bag of gut out the side of it's mouth and making a very loud bubbling noise through it. The guides said this was how they attract the ladies but I'm dubious... Then again maybe this is where I have been going wrong and should try something similar next time I'm chatting up a lady...
The day is spent taking short rides to small villages that clearly recieve camera touting tourists every day and aren't pleased to see you. This part of the trip really pissed me off. You don't feel welcome in the village at all and there is a strong feeling of resentment (I can't blame them) towards tourists. I felt we were tolerated there only because people buy soft drinks from them at large prices. The kids of the village spend the whole time asking for money
This building on the outskirts of one of the villages (perhaps zoo is a better word..) that we stopped at shows how basic living conditions out here are. Beautiful for a day but prison for a lifetime i think
or trying to take your belongings. The guides explain nothing about the people, which is a shame because there was clearly lots to learn. For a start in one village the women wore masses of highly decorative jewelery including bracelets that go all they way up their arm to their shoulders but talk revolved around business only.
The scenery of the Thar Desert in between the villages was spectacular - I'd seen already from the long bus ride we'd just taken that the desert is a huge expanse of nothingness. We past through miles of nothingness on the camels which was impressive but did get repetative and start to lose its apeal as your arse starts to ache on the back of the camel.
I think everyone was glad when we finally made it to camp on a largish set of sand dunes. Shortly after you stop armies of dung beetles come marching out of the sand towards everyone and freeking the girls out. There is a constant flow of nervous shrieks followed by a beetle hurtling through the air over one of the dunes because on of them made the mistake of scurrying over somebodies foot.
Playing with the beatles
Me, donning one of my newly purchased indian shirts, looking cool...
After watching the beautiful sunset from the top of one of the dunes everyone heads down to the fire where we had our usual meal of chapati and veg curry. It's not long before the camel guides are cracking jokes and singing. Alcohol, in relatively small amounts sadly, also started to flow and others started to join in with their own songs.
The evening went on like this for a while with some, like Becky and Fiona who didn't like some of the other people in the group, choosing to just lie back and watch for shooting stars. By 10 o'clock everyone except me and one of the camel guides (who seemed to never sleep) had gone to bed. I remember watching a couple of times a couple of the camels sneaking up to dip their noses into their bags of food until the camel guide realised and chased after them with a big stick. The dogs didn't seem to sleep either and spent most of their time running around barking at nothing and waking others up from time to time.
Being my last real night in India I stayed up not wanting to end everything the last
Climbing the dunes where we would shorltly set up 'camp' for the night. I use camp in the loosest possible sense as you slept ontop of a blanket on the sand with another blanket on top of you. You couldn't hope for better really.
3 months had given me. I spent a few hours watching the stars and thinking about what I can best describe as things. What was I taking away from India with me? What had I learned? What did I think of the people in the end? What had I enjoyed the most? What was I missing back home? How did I feel about going to Australia and seeing family which I hadn't seen in years or in some cases had never seen? I could'nt have hoped for a better place, out there in the middle of the desert, to finish my trip and it was hours before I finally drifted off.
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