Wednesday at 3.00pm, a jeep picked us up and dragged our painful asses along this bumpy, bumpy road for about 1.5 hours. Along the way, we made a stop at Bada Bagh (bada=big, bagh = garden). The very friendly caretaker of the place gave us an unasked for tour and told us that it is a cemetery. Well I must say, most gorgeous cemetery that I have ever seen! I even double checked with him if the dead were actually put to rest there, and he confidently says yes.
So imagine my surprise when I come home and google it up only to find that those were cenotaphs, not graves! Lesson learnt; when it comes to history, check your guidebook before believing the guide. I personally felt that the gardens were worth seeing, but because we had to get to the desert before sunset, we sadly had only 20 minutes or so to enjoy the place.
That done with, we continued on the jeep until we reached this clearing by the side of the road, where the camels were chilling on the ground waiting for us. The journey there was actually quite enjoyable despite the bumpiness and the wind trying to snatch you out of the jeep, the scenery really was quite something, with beautiful huge windmills here and there and a remarkably green (monsoon season just got over, so desert plants were in full flourish) desert landscape.
|always a smile on his face...|
We hopped on a camel each, mine was called Pepsi and there was another camel named Tiger as well. By then we'd gotten used to the fact in the place we were in, the names are more often than not not representive of the object after which it is named, and this applies for everything, from camels, to food outlets, to tourist sites, to hotels and guesthouses. Anyway, back to the point, the camel rides. All I can say is, it was an experience, and if you ask me to do it again, I'd politely decline. My moody Pepsi totally one upped the jeep in terms of bumpiness and is a million times slower as well. Really slow, really leisurely, the camels were the boss of us. Plenty of stops for snacking, not for us, but for the camels. On top of that, the Jaisalmer heat really seems lot of worse unprotected on the back of a camel in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the desert. And did I mention the camel ride is for 2 hours?
But don't be fooled by my whining, it was quite fun afterall, although it got slightly boring after a while and I'd be lying if i say that I wasn't relieved when Pepsi finally chucked me off his back at the "non touristy" (as promised) sand dunes. Not another human being in sight, apart from three other tourists also from hotel Renuka who had arrived earlier in the day. The camel guides had started up a fire and were boiling chai for everyone. Chai was delicious as it always was, but after letting it sit for awhile you'd notice that there is sand precipitated at the bottom of the tumbler. In fact, everything we ate during the safari had sand in it, including the dinner that we were served next. Chappati, rice and daal, it was simple but sadly, I didn't find it too appetizing. I don't expect amazingly delicious food because I understand that we were in the middle of the desert afterall, but I don't think it is too much to expect the food (especially since it's as simple as plain daal mixed with chilli powder) to taste reasonably normal. Some of the other members of the party asked for second helpings and made a show of how delicious it is, but I think they were just being hungry and polite because during that night's whispered gossip session, they had their fair share of complaints..
|just look at that GREEN desert!|
It was easily one of the happiest nights of my life. Lying on the sheets spread out on the sand, snacking on lays chips, coccooned in the thick blanket (which some felt was infested with bed bugs) to keep me nice and warm, clear starry sky above me, watching out for shooting stars with some of my favourite people in the world, with the camel guides singing and drumming out rajastani music on the 10litre water bottle they brought along, life couldn't have gotten any more perfect.
|sun's setting behind me|
Well, except for the fact that i was down with bad food poisoning and there were stray dogs running around us and howling like no tomorrow the whole night through. And let's not forget that one of them cuddled up between me and my friend and went to sleep on my legs... But hey, minor details! Besides, the dogs very loyally ran all the way back with us when we left right up to the door of the van, which makes me go 'awww' and absolves them of any annoyances they committed. When it comes to matters as exotic as camel safaris, memory has a fine way of glossing over the bad stuff and sometimes that is not a bad thing.
The next morning, we watched sunrise over the desert. It was actually a lot more beautiful than the picture here can do justice to. After a breakfast of toast with strawberry jam, boiled eggs, musombi (one fruit I never took a liking to, found it too tasteless) and chai, we packed up and got back on our camels for the excruciating ride back.
Now, if i felt that the afternoon heat was bad, the morning heat was much worse. The feeling of being barbequed alive made the 2 hour journey back seem a hell lot longer. But thankfully, instead of a jeep, there was a nice cushioned van waiting for us where the camels dropped us off.
On the way back, we made a stop at a Jain temple in Lodhruva. It was beautiful, but somehow I didn't feel as amazed by it as I did by the Jain temple in Jaisalmer itself (refer previous post). It could have been because we were all dead exhausted by then.
After a nice much-needed nap at the hotel who were generous enough to give me a room for a few hours without expecting payment, it was 3pm and time to get started on that 14hour bus journey to what is supposed to be the most romantic city of India, Udaipur.