Dining under a swarm of bats in Jaisalmer fort
Jaisalmer Travel Blog› entry 17 of 26 › view all entries
The 22 hour train journey to Jaisalmer went really smoothly. We were in the air conditioned sleeper carriage, with three bunks on each side of our carriage. I settled down pretty early and had a long rest, and a decent enough amount of sleep. We get pillows and sheets in this class so pretty comfortable. We still had until about 3pm in the day on the train so just chatted with the part of the group in the carriage - about their lives and jobs. An australian girl was a nurse in an aboriginal community, another new zealand lady told of her husband, kids and grandkids and about travelling the past ten years with her husband, and we talked about general plans for our travels and lives in the near future.
As we arrived in Jaisalmer it was immediately obvious we had reached the desert. the air was hot but dry - so it was pleasent to be in and didnt make you sweat too much. We climbed into jeeps to the hotel, which was inside the towns large lived-in Fort. The rooms were lovely - high up in the fort overlooking the surrounding town and desert landscape. Our was yellow with lavender woodwork on the shutters and old fashioned shutter doors, with wall hangings.
Then the group was lead round by Pradeep, our tour leader, to explore the town. The vibe here was way more relaxed than Delhi, obviously, and also for India in general. The small lazy streets are full of shops and services aimed at toursits, but there is not the desperation to sell I have seen a lot elsewhere. I get the impression this town lives well off of the tourist trade and is more homely for us to be in. We walked around looking outside the fort at the surrounding town as well and then made our way to the roof top restaurant for a tasty indian dinner watching the sunset. As the sun dipped and the twinkle of lights in the town began to spread, the Fort was also lit up the sides with giant beams of light, which attracted moths, i expect, and therefore a swarm of bats whioch reflected the light and were flying on the winds above us for the duration of the evening.
After dinner some of us took a walk in the town and we went to see where the havelis were. These are amazingly ornate stately houses with many rooms - almost palaces although smallish. One of them let us in to look around and it used to belong to a president. There were portraits of queen victoria and other early 20th century English royalty and postcards surrounded a doorway - apparently from english royalty and government officials!
We wandered on to another haveli which we could see form the outside and it was wonderfully ornately carved sandstone - pictures attached. Then we went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
The next day was free for us to look around. We all met for breakfast on the roof top - then some of us went to explore the Jain temples.
Then we met up with some other members of the group for a cold drink and wandered to the Haveli we didn't get into last night.
We wandered accross town in the increasngly unbearable heat to a local restaurant serving Thalis - the usual lunch of choice for indians which includes a chapati, poppadom, rice and then small portions of three curries. They went round and refilled the curries as we ate them and it was nice to eat with lcoal people rather than in touristy restaurants.
After that the heat was a bit much so we went to the hotel to rest.
I also enjoyed talking with Hans, the older German man. He revealed an interesting history which involved his father being a prisoner of war in Siberia as he grew up in East Germany - before his mother fled with him and his brother to the west just before the wall went up to meet their father after 8 years of imprisonment. Then he studied in Frankfurt and became a Colonel in the army - and apparently owned some sort of company after that but has been travelling the past few years constantly and aims to do this for the next few. His daughters are at the Humboldt so we have chatted a bit in German and that. Very interesting guy!
After that it was bed for me - and the next day we only had until 3pm before the camel safari started - so i have so far spent 3 hours in the internet cafe sorting this blog and its pics! After this a delicious Thali awaits me and then the camel safari - which I will blog later this week.