The sun was beating down already when we arrived in the Golden City of Jaisalmer. Everywhere was the colour of sand and the blue of the sky waved with the heat. The military presence in Jaisalmer is not only noticable, but unsettling too. Handsome turbaned and moustachioed men, rifle in tow, patrol the railway and town because of the proximity of neighbouring Pakistan.
After a quick breakfast, our tour guide from camel safari company Trotters (www.trotterscamelsafarijaisalmer.com/) picked us up and brought us to the main town.
We’d planned to spend a night in the desert in Jaisalmer and our tour guides, Rodney and DelBoy (!) packed us into the back of a Jeep and drove us an hour and half into the desert. On reaching a small village, we left the Jeep behind and mounted camels for the rest of the journey.
The ride wasn’t the most comfortable and my camel Charlie was most impatient. Claire’s camel Lalu, kept stopping to eat but Charlie was having none of it and kept ramming into him. I was terrified Claire would be thrown off!
Finally, around 5:30 pm, we arrived at the dunes where we’d be spending the rest of the night. Climbing those golden waves of sand and looking over the desert was incredible. The camels grazed and us interns simply stared at our surroundings watching the wind skim the sand and cause ripples in the dunes. 30 km from where we stood, Pakistan stood and stared back.
After dinner cooked on an open fire, us three and some other girls from Europe chilled under the cover of the stars trying to avoid the dung beetles. Our guide, (the one who’d asked us to call him DelBoy) offered to tell us our fortune. Unbelieving, but intrigued he worked his magic on us. I didn’t want my future told but Ciara got told her family was well, she would be rich but she had an empty heart. Whatever that means.
Before long, we retreated to our beds. Our beds consisted of a duvet to lie on and a blanket. We woke covered in sand; our mouths, ears, nails and clothes were saturated with the stuff. I had never wanted a shower more.
Refreshed after some good chai, spiced with more ginger in jaisalmer than the South, and breakfast biscuits, jam and toast, fruit and porridge, we trekked to the Khutba Ruins. The ruins had been a base for the Rajasthani royals during wartime. Peacocks called and women in their bright uniforms, dupattas draped across their faces, metal jugs balanced atop their heads, watched over the goats and fields as we wandered the ruins and took photos.
Eventually we reached the hotel and took a much needed shower. Jaisalmer refuses to be rid of that easily though and pockets of grainy gold sand keeps trickling from my bag, the creases in my shirts and beneath my nails.
As afore mentioned, us three girls and Indian public transport don’t really seem to get along. Currently, we’re sat in unreserved non AC sleeper class, surrounded by angry men who’s seats we’ve nabbed and me and Ciara have just screamed because a cockroach landed on the book she was reading. We did book tickets for 2AC sleeper coach but here, that doesn’t really matter. Just going to have to chalk it up to experience.
Our good samaritan this time is called Rohan. He’s warding off the angry passengers, pleading our case to the ticket inspector and has given up his seat too. Unfortunately, he leaves at Jaipur. We don’t disembark till Delhi. That’s still 13 hours away. Needless to say, I won’t be sleeping tonight.
For some reason, me and Ciara have opted to sample a train meal. I’ll let you know if that’s a decision we’ll come to regret.
Namaste for now!
- The Palace on Wheels Jaisalmer (indiaintour.wordpress.com)
- Jaisalmer, golden forts and golden deserts (mpandkt.wordpress.com)
- Experience the Spirit of Rajasthan in the Desert Festival and Jaisalmer Hotels (discoverhotelsindia.wordpress.com)
- Restless in Jaisalmer…Indian Diaries VI (maverickbird.com)