With the rat temple behind us our driver picked up the main road for our 4 hour drive along a motorway to Jaisalmer where we thought we would have lunch in a motorway cafe along the way. Over 100 Kms along a road that in no way could be called a motorway we eventually found a restaurant (Red Rock) with toilets and food where we had a well deserved lunch at 3 in the after noon.
After lunch I took up the gauntlet again to drive the 208 Kms to Jaisalmer reckoning on two and a half to three hours motorway driving to get there Ha Ha. After 3 hours of driving some of the most treacherous roads I've encountered with no road signs, roadworks everywhere in the pitch black, cars, vans with no lights, camel drawn carts and cows sitting in the middle of the road we were still 30 Kms from our hotel and I gladly handed the keys back to Shakir our driver. At about 7.15 we pulled up outside our home for the next three days ( The Sandcastle Hotel) and after settling in our rooms headed for the roof for a well earned Kingfisher beer followed by a home cooked meal overlooking The Golden Fort.
Next day we took two Tuk Tuk up to the entrance to the fort for 50 INR per Tuk Tuk. The walk from the entrance is very steep but once up to the level there are shops and cafes to rest and enjoy a lassie and watch the world go by.
While John & June rested their feet Denise, Kay and I spent 300 INR to explore the Jain Temple in the fort which is a totally different religion to Hindu with only 24 Gods and temples distinguishable by the excellent carved sandstone and marble temples and figurines
After the temple and splitting a swift beer we made our way back to the Hotel where I was confronted with another problem of number of nights booked and numbers for a Desert Camel Safari. After some firm words we came to an agreement over the room and I cancelled the Desert Safari booked via Abdul without upsetting the hotel proprietor too much.
Our next outing took us into the Desert to see an abandoned village called Kuldhera which really was what it said on the tin " An abandoned village" nothing to see but yes you guessed it an abandoned village.
Back to the hotel with a booze stop on the way for wine for the girls and then we walked back to the fort to see the proprietor of "Trotters Independent Camel Safaris" recommended by my friend Gitte who had worked for them via work-away in the past. unfortunately " Del Boy passed away recently but the Plonker "Rodney" AKA Jamal, was there running the show. We booked on to the next day overnight Desert Camel Safari at a cost of 1,995 INR Each which consisted of pick up from our hotel at 13.15 and transport by Jeep to our Camels followed by a Camel ride to an oasis in the desert. After a short stop on to the overnight camp to enjoy food and drink and see the sunset. In the evening we make our own entertainment and sleep on raised wooden beds in sleeping bags under the stars. Next morning see sunrise, camel ride to locals village breakfast followed by return to hotel - watch this space to see how it goes.
The last act of the day was to sit on the rooftop of The Jaisal Italy Restaurant at Gate 1 of the fort with a drink and admire the view of the Fort and digest the events of the day.
The morning spent in preparation and in my case trepidation until 1.15 pm and the arrival of the jeep to ferry us to our, only mode of transport the camels. On the way we stopped to pick up two Canadian girls who were to be fellow victims, oops travelers, for the Desert Camel Safari.
After an hour long ride we were definitely in a barren place but not how I envisaged the desert complete with electricity pylons and wind generators around us? We were met by two camel men with six camels, I offered to be the one to walk but they wouldn't have it and so off we set for one and one half hours of thigh aching, ball breaking fun. At one stage I thought I had grown an extra pair of tonsils. I think I upset the main man with my verbal at his beloved Drago ( that was the name of my Camel) Lucifer would have been more apt.
Anyway, to a hole surrounded by sand with a jeep and sun beds set out, we had arrived and if getting on a camel is bad, getting off is worse, so me and Drago agreed to go our separate ways on the way back. Whilst I collapsed on a bed the three guides started to prepare the meal and we all did what we wanted sitting around watching the sun go down. Later when it was dark we all sat around the campfire eating home fire cooked food which considering the conditions was very good. After dinner we were treated to renditions of Indian country music accompanied by one of the guys drumming on a water bottle. A final cup of chai to open the bowels before bedtime and we were in bed outside under the stars by 8.30 pm listening to the guides chatter whilst preparing and eating their food. The sky was so clear it was fabulous and we had two heavy quilts on us which was needed as it gets very very cold in the Desert at night.
Next morning I was woken to the sound of a gunshot right beside me, or rather the guide who didn't like me, breaking the firewood for breakfast at 7 am. I ate only a banana but the others said the food was good.
After clearing the site and saddling up the camels the only other member of the group that wasn't crazy on Camel rides ( Kay) joined me in the jeep back via a local village where we met the elders and gave away all our pens the the adorable children. We met up with Denise and the two Canadians and an hour later were dropped off at the hotel. None the worse for wear.
As this was our last day in Jaisalmer, after a quick shower we headed out for a look at the lake and of course a shopping opportunity for kay & Denise.
then back in the car and into the market place to see Pat Won Ki Haveli and Kotharti Haveli from the outside and another opportunity for purchases I even bought myself a T Shirt.
While June and John enjoyed a late lunch I headed off to a local barber for a haircut, the cheapest I have ever had at 99 INR plus tip = 150 INR (€2.00) seriously !!!
After the girls had a wash and blow dry they headed off for one final spending spree joined by June, while John went back to hotel in a Tuk Tuk and I took off to explore the back streets around the fort in the old town on my own.
Afterwards we all met up on the roof for our final nights meal cooked by our favourite chef Balee, followed by catch up on the blog and a bed under a ceiling instead of the stars.
Morning of the l sat day and after settling the incredibly reasonable bill for four nights we said our goodbyes and the journey will continue.
Next stop Jodhpur...