Holi smoke!

Jaisalmer Travel Blog

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Me and my namesake Phil

The night bus turned out to be another sleepless affair for me.  The bus, which was due at 11pm, turned up about an hour late and Phil and I along with a couple of Dutch girls we had met (Mirna & Suzanna) boarded....well, we tried to board.  The bus was absolutely rammmed - literally, we couldn't even get on the bus.  The boot was full, so we had to carry our back packs on with us and it took about 15 minutes for us to get onto the bus and to our sleeper berths.  People were crammed in everywhere, two to a seat and some on the floor - unbelievable! I found my single berth and it has to be said, they are pretty well designed.  Granted, they are made for titchy Indians, so Phil and about 6'3" couldn't stretch out fully and neither could I.

Jaisalmer sunset
  This was made all the more difficult by the fact that we had our full backpacks in our compartments with us, which was a joke.  I was so uncomfortable!  Add to that the state of the road (well,calling it a 'road' is generous, there were selective parts of tarmac in between the potholes) and I was awake most of the night.  I don't think the others faired much better on the 9 hour journey either.  We arrived, only to be besieged by rampant touts and hotel managers.  They crowded round us like Man United players round a referee - absurd.  We had to literally beat them off so we could get away.  Phil had made a reservation at Golden City Hotel, but we had a look at their grotty rooms and decided INR 350 was too much to pay and went a few yards down the road and paid INR 150 for an equally dingy room.  At least it had a TV! (this would come in useful for watching Liverpool on ESPN later that evening!!)

 

We knew it was Holi the next day, so we wanted to get our camel safari sorted out.

Me, ready for Holi...Ali Baba??
  We were both a bit skeptical about the tours and given some recommendations from travel friends, we opted for only a one night stay out in the desert.  After a few jokers tried too con us with extortionate prices (including our hotel manager!), we agreed INR 850 (£12/$18) each through Ganesh Travel for a one-and-a-half-day tour.  With that sorted, we set about getting ourselves ready for the mighty Holi festival.  Its a north-Indian Hindu celebration of the end of winter and the coming of spring and involves a lot of paint.  So given that we were going to get obliterated, we needed some new garb.  We found a tailor who kitted us out with Ali-Baba outfits which would be perfect and cheap (INR 200 each) and then bought truckloads of paint in every colour imaginable.  Bring it on!  We relaxed for the rest of the day, making battle plans....

 

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, it was ready to take on Jaisalmer.

The locals getting in full swing
  We gave each other a quick smear of colour so that we didn't look too much like fresh meat, but that didn't prevent the young hoons drenching  us 100m from our hotel....this is war!! We got them back with some nifty sprays of pink.  Its all in good humour and everyone greets each other with 'Happy Holi!' as each person smears the others.  The kids get a little mischievous and tended to spray paint-water straight at our faces, which wasn't great, and some of them even tried to extort money from unwitting tourists who turned up in the town seemingly unaware of the ensuing carnage (how??!) - one Japanese guy looked truly scared to death when four youths descended upon him!  We found Suzanna, Mirna and Sarah in the old town and they were well and truly into the spirit of things and looking worse for wear.  The local lads target the foreign girls as they are not allowed to touch the local women openly in public and see it as a free-reign to have a grope at the same time, which annoyed the girls as you can imagine!  We restocked with paint and water and carried on our campaign, loving every minute.  There was a big gathering on one of the squares with a band playing music which seemed to have some importance as everyone was chanting along with them.
The group shout, with our chai making friends
  We took the opportunity to take a break and take it all - what a great day!  After being well and truly douced, we returned at lunchtime, to try and clean ourselves up.  Easier said than done, my friend.  I had a scrubbing brush (which bizarrely I still had from New Zealand, which my friend Helen had bought and not used) which was perfect for the job, although a little harsh on the skin!  Still, there was no way all that paint was coming off and we had to make do with being half clean and having pink dye in our hair - all the rage I'm told.  Tired and hungry, we chilled out for the day, ate a feast at Trio Restaurant and got ourselves prepared for the desert the next day.....

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Me and my namesake Phil
Me and my namesake Phil
Beautiful dusk light on the fort
Beautiful dusk light on the fort
Jaisalmer sunset
Jaisalmer sunset
Me, ready for Holi...Ali Baba??
Me, ready for Holi...Ali Baba??
The locals getting in full swing
The locals getting in full swing
The group shout, with our chai mak…
The group shout, with our chai ma…
Phil, a few minutes into the festi…
Phil, a few minutes into the fest…
Both of us looking pretty well don…
Both of us looking pretty well do…
Happy at the end, and with plenty …
Happy at the end, and with plenty…
Nice view from the fort (of the ci…
Nice view from the fort (of the c…
Phil searching for our room key th…
Phil searching for our room key t…
Fort view at night
Fort view at night
My local in Colchester is called T…
My local in Colchester is called …
Jaisalmer Hotels & Accommodations review
Underhand owner
Cheap and (not so) cheerful option. The owner touts his hotel at the bus stand (while trying to slag the others off!) and offers a really ride to the… read entire review
Jaisalmer
photo by: lrecht