A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10 24th July

Camel Safari in Jaisamler Day 1.

sunny 47 °C

At around 9 we made our way with our friends into the desert on the jeep. This journey took us around an hour, six of us all squeezed into the back of the jeep and fat Ollie with his own seat in the front. We met with our camels which were very placid, mine was called Jezel and Ollie thinks his camels name was Ratatouille.

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My legs instantly weren’t in a very comfortable position on the camel, we didn’t have the use of stirrups and after a while the pain struck in. Especially for Ollie whose face looked like a screwed up gremlin, (the ugliest Gremlin!) After an hour of seeing a lot of scrub land and one dying cow we arrived at a small village with a school. We stopped and decided to go and meet the children which were shouting and waving to us.

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After our brief encounter with the school children in the desert village we headed further out into the unknown until we stopped for 3 hours whilst we ate lunch, chapattis with a watery vegetable curry which was extremely tasty, although a little sandy and incredibly spicy. We drank Chai tea as we all sat together under a tree.

Between 1pm and 5pm the sun is at its highest and is extremely hot. The heat was unbearable and the camels wouldn’t have coped well at this time if they had to carry us, especially Hepzi. Quite amusingly there was a vendor in the middle of the desert selling cold drinks for 30INR (about 50p). Amusing because we were told we wouldn’t be anywhere near civilisation and away from the mediocre camel tours which are in the “touristic areas”, that said, we saw many other groups, still fun though.

For the first night we made our way through the desert dunes and to a camp that had already been set up. The camp was a little straw hut which housed the supplies and five or six camp beds which had blankets and bed mats on them. We ate with our guides and friends; however the guides wouldn’t eat until we had finished all that we wanted. I didn’t like this at all, I wanted them all to eat at the same time, but the leader of the camel drivers wouldn’t allow this as we were his guests.

Ap, Nick, Rob, Pip, Hepzi, Tucker and I then sat separated from the guides and managed to spend the next couple of hours debating (over some cheap brandy and some weed or as the Indians call it, Bhang, which is sold at government shops in certain areas of Rajasthan) who was better, Bear Grylls or Ray Mears, of course I’m a Ray Mears man myself with Bear Grylls being a showman and not a survivalist, who calls them self Bear.... I mean honestly!

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Our guides couldn’t understand why we were talking about politics and TV shows when we were in the middle of the desert, looking at it they may have made a valid point.

Posted by HepzOliver 02:15 Archived in India Comments (0)

Day 9 23rd of July

Into the Thar Desert.

rain 30 °C

We arrived into Jaisalmer at 10 in the morning. The temperature had gone up but at least the air wasn’t as humid and sticky. On the train we were caught by a hotel owner persuading us to stay at his place just outside the fort walls, we didn’t mind as the hotel seemed quite nice. We got in the back of the hotel owners jeep accompanied by 4 Dutch lads and a man from Japan. Once we arrived at the hotel we were persuaded to go on the hotel owners camel safari along with 2 Dutch guys Ab and Rob, the man from Japan whose name is Tucker and an English couple, Pip and Nick. We would spend 3 days and 2 nights in the desert looked after by the camel drivers and their children. We were to leave the hotel the next day at 8.30am and catch the jeep to meet the camels and their drivers.

We had the rest of the day to explore the city’s fort. Jaisalmer we noticed was a lot cleaner than other places we had visited, although the place was still home for thousands of roaming goats, cows and dogs. As we made our way into the fort it began to rain, at this sight the people were very thrilled. So far that year it had only rained twice and before then not for a good couple of years, like we at home are excited about the sun shining the people here are blissful when it rains.

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In the fort we decided that we would pamper ourselves. I really wanted a facial as I had never had one before and for £3 I wasn’t going to say no. Ollie opted for a back massage only except for Ollie that was not the case.
(Ollie) I entered the massage parlour with a little anticipation because although massages aren’t sexual, it felt strange having a little Indian man doing it. He took me down the stairs out of the comfort of the street level shop and into a seedy basement. The basement was packed full of the owners belongings with a bed in the corner of the room, it felt like a set of a dirty porn film (so I’ve been told anyway). He told me to take off my t-shirt which I did and then he asked me to take off my shorts, I insisted that it was just a back massage that I wanted and there would be no need to take off my shorts. As I lay on the bed wearing nothing but my boxer shorts I felt about as relaxed as a man on death row, the massage that I then endured was probably the most violating ordeal I have ever gone through, however it was at the same time extremely funny. I went back to the hotel and scrubbed myself with a wire brush while crouching in the shower basin crying like a rape victim.

On the way out of the fort we needed supplies for the next few days in the desert, they included spare water, toilet paper some loose Indian pant styled top and bottoms for Ollie and some shawls to wrap around our heads to protect us from the sun.

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Posted by HepzOliver 23:44 Archived in India Comments (0)

Day 8 22nd of July

Our last day in Jaipur.

sunny 39 °C

We attempted to walk to the post office today as we needed to send items home that we had bought the day before and items we had brought with us but felt we no longer really needed. As usual we got lost and took a rickshaw to the post office.

We had our item wrapped and sealed which was a fascinating and extremely fast process. When we got to the wrapping desk the guy looked up at us and spent 10 minutes neatly putting things away in his draw before he attended to us much to our amusement. He took a piece of plain white calico and measured up our large bundle of textiles and bits. He then hand sewed the calico together in a fashion that’s so hard to describe but it only took him second to turn the calico into a pillowcase which fit out bundle perfectly. After the pillow case was sewn up holding our items he then stamped the edges of the parcel with a brown wax, we think to stop tampering. So Shirley and Paul in the post expect this strange looking package to hopefully arrive on your door, it should take a month.

For the rest of the day we mostly used the internet. Ollie and Nicola went off to find a shopping mall for a new experience and they came back with big smiles on their faces clutching a McDonald’s burger for me to try.

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In the evening we had dinner again with Nicola and said goodbye to her. At 11.57 we jumped on the midnight train to Jaisalmer that time in Air Conditioned class.

Posted by HepzOliver 23:41 Archived in India Comments (0)

Day 7 21st July

Another day in Jaipur.

sunny 40 °C

Today we booked our train ticket out of Jaipur and on to our next destination, Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is a giant sandcastle with a town attached. Rising high from a hill, 99 enormous bastions hide havelis, some which are crumbling. Jaisalmer is a small town but still like many places an over-populated and crowed place with a poor drainage system which as a result has seen the fort sinking into the hill. At our next destination we wanted to risk going on camel safari close to the Pakistani border. We managed to book a train for the next day although the process of staying in the line and queuing doesn’t apply to the Indian men, luckily Ollie is big and he managed to hold fast or maybe is his temper that keeps the Indians at bay.

We decided today also we would do some shopping and buy a few gifts for people. We really loved the elephant wall hanging we saw the day before and set out to find a cheaper bargain. After bouncing between two shops both across town from each other we managed to get an extremely great price for an elephant wall hanging, thank you Ollie. A good deal made after a lot of phone calls and some hard persuasion.

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In the evening we had dinner with Nicola at the Hotel Pearl Palace, a roof top restaurant covered with greenery, a rarity here and an absolute paradise.

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Posted by HepzOliver 22:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

Day 6

Jaipur

sunny 40 °C

The next morning during breakfast we met Nicola, 26 from SA who was travelling by herself (a brave lady)after 10 minutes of meeting each other we all decided to spend the day sightseeing sharing a rickshaw and guide.

THE ROYAL GAITOR

The site of the royal cenotaphs of past Maharajas and their wives and concubines, one of the Maharajas died in 1997 in Cirencester whilst playing polo.

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GALTA – Temple of the sun god (Otherwise known as the Monkey Temple)

On arrival it’s a steep 200m climb to get to the top, with some great views over the city. We were adopted by a local kid who decided to show us around but of course we expected that he would demand money at the end of the tour, but we didn’t mind as he seemed nice enough. Half way up the steep climb to the Temple there was a snake charmer, which after some persuasion, Ollie put the cobra around his neck for the photo opportunity. We were told the snakes venom glands had been removed.

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Obviously there were also many monkeys waiting to snatch the peanuts we had bought from a local vendor at the bottom of the hill. The monkeys would take the peanuts from our hands, if you tried to stroke them they would get extremely aggresive and go for you. Quite funny. Hepzi also got kissed on the cheek by a local teenager, who afterwards was jumping for joy all the way into the distance. We have been told that westerners are thought of by some as celebrities. We have been asked many times for our picture to be taken with the locals and their children.

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THE AMBER FORT

Situated on rugged hills it takes 10 minutes to walk to the top of the fort. In the early mornings it’s possible to ride an elephant up to the top.

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After a long tour of the city the driver gets a commission to every shop he takes us to from the owner. We let him take us to a “wholesale” textile factory, the colour and fabrics were amazing and we fell in love with a huge elephant wall hanging that was 6000INR along with a white and silver embroidered bed sheet. We decided to think about it as he would not go any lower that 9000INR for the lot the equivalent to around £100. As we started to walk out of the factory he was desperately trying to get us to stay and started lowering his prices. We would sleep on it as this would be a lot of money to part with so soon on the trip.

Posted by HepzOliver 23:30 Archived in India Comments (0)

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