13. - 15.01.2014: Jaisalmer - Khuri Camel Ride

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Mon, 13.01.2014: Bikaner −> Jaisalmer, cloudy, 20°C

I didn't sleep well because I have the air conditioning unit above my head and there was a terrible draft of cold air constantly coming from outside. It was switched off but it seems they drilled a hole in the wall that is too big for the unit and didn't bother filling in the cracks. The other problem with it, is that the pigeons use it and the sound of them landing on it sounds like a gun shot going off!

There were also 4 coach loads of teenagers who had arrived last night and they were up early and making a great deal of noise!

Kirsten managed some boiled rice for breakfast and I had some bananas. We were driving to Jaisalmer today and we stopped off for quick photos of Lalgarh Palace and the fort on the way out.

The road was fairly good on the way out but then we hit a bad stretch and got a flat tyre! We got out and took out our bags from the boot to free up the spare tyre and another driver stopped to help Yadav change the tyre.

We spoke to the Spanish couple from the other car who have a Spanish speaking guide with them aswell as a driver. They only have two weeks here and will be finishing their tour in two days. That's the mistake we made - thinking we could survive for months travelling around the country when we should have just done two to three weeks and got out!

The spare tyre didn't have any profile on it and we had another 4 hours to drive! Along the road we came across a herd of cows crossing in front of us. Two of them slipped on the tarmac and went skidding along the road in front of us. Ouch, I bet that hurt!

Yadav took us to a water reservoir to see lots of Demoiselle Cranes, that migrate from Siberia to Northern India every winter.

We also had a quick stop to take a photo of some camels that cost 20 Rs (every photo costs money!) and got to our hotel in Jaisalmer at 6pm. We checked in for two nights but the bathroom was dirty. So they cleaned it whilst we waited but the toilet still hadn't been cleaned properly - India clean!

We went up to the rooftop restaurant for some Minestrone soup which I barely managed to eat and a plate of chips - this seems to be the only thing on the menu that we can eat. Hardly the healthiest but at least it has some substance to it.

Tue, 14.01.2014: Jaisalmer, sunny, 20°C

It was my turn to be ill and I ended up staying in bed most of the day. Kirsten went to the Jaisalmer Fort and to some Haveli's - the rich people's houses. She wasn't gone long and then tried to upload videos etc. but the internet was slow and she didn't get much done.

Wed, 15.01.2014: Jaisalmer −> Khuri, sunny, 20°C

Kirsten went out to Lodurva Jain Temple which is about a 30 minute drive outside of Jaisalmer and got back at 11-50am. We packed our bags and went down to load up the car at 12-50pm. We drove out of Jaisalmer, stopping at Gadsisar Lake for a quick photo and then out into the desert to Khuri.

The plan was to go on a camel safari into the desert, have an evening meal cooked for us, stay overnight (under the stars) and then return on the camels the following morning. The nights were so cold here, getting down close to freezing, that we also had the option of staying overnight in an hotel. But when we arrived at our "hotel" I wished we'd just cancelled the whole thing and stayed in Jaisalmer!

It wasn't a hotel, but more like someone's house with a few thatched huts and rooms in their backyard. We were shown our hut - a very small circular room with just a bed in it. No bathroom, no toilet, not even a chair or table. There was a light switch at least! But then I took a closer look at the bed - the bed bugs were large enough to see with the naked eye! Lots of them! Crawling all over the bed!

I suppose it could have been described as 'rustic' and with the sand dunes in the background, might have been fun for those who are into that kind of thing. But I still wasn't feeling well, I wasn't prepared to use a communal outside toilet, and I didn't fancy sleeping with the bugs. Maybe I'd just lost my sense of adventure today!

So we asked for a different room …. and were given a far better room which was en suite! Simple! This seems to be the system here - fob you off with a lower standard room for the same price but if you ask, they will give you a better one. But you have to ask! Or maybe this is what they do for people like us who have a car and driver, using a voucher system, whereby they charge whatever price they have agreed with the tour company, and will try to save the better rooms for others who might turn up and pay for the higher price rooms!

Well, I certainly felt better with the second room and decided that I would go on the camel ride and hope that I didn't have any emergency along the way. We went out to meet our camels at 3-30pm. Lalo and Kalo, 8 and 12 years old respectively, and both male. The females cost a great deal more - 30,000Rs ($500). The males cost around half that price.

The camels were lying down but are still quite high to swing your leg over to get into the padded saddle - especially when you only have little legs!! Then you have to lean as far back as you can when they get up, otherwise you will be thrown off, as they get up onto their back legs first and you get pitched forward.

There were no stirrups and the camels back is quite wide so it's not exactly a comfortable position to sit in. We took videos of each other getting onto the camels and getting up into a standing position and then were led by the camel owners who walked through the sand dunes holding onto the camel's leash.

No camel race today, that's for sure but it was quite fun. I kept having to move my legs as I was trying to get comfortable but Lalo kept turning her head every time I moved. She was eyeing me as if to say "If you keep squirming I'll throw you off!" Oh boy! You'd have to be a gymnast to be comfortable with your legs splayed out to each side so much! I'll end up walking like John Wayne!

The uncomfortable ride took my mind off my other concerns and the swaying and rocking movement of the camel seemed to help my intestines. (At least I could blame the camel for farting!) It was also very peaceful being led over the dunes and after only 45 minutes we stopped and dismounted - leaning back as far as possible again to prevent being thrown off.

We were alone in the dunes and went for a wander around but then others starting arriving - this was obviously the main spot for the sunset. We decided to leave before the sunset which we would be able to see back at our compound. It also meant we could enjoy the peace and quiet of the desert again on the way back.

We took a different route and it was only 40 minutes to return, making it around 1.5 hours total. Hardly a big adventure out into the desert but we really enjoyed it and Kirsten even gave a big tip to the camel pullers!

Khuri Camel Ride

There were 7 other people staying that evening and we were served an evening meal which was mainly too spicy and hot for us with our stomach problems. So we tried the soup and rice. There was also live entertainment during the meal - a dancer accompanied by a group of drummers and someone playing an accordion type instrument. The dancer was actually very good and when she came over to us, Kirsten thought she was asking for money and gave her 30 Rs. It wasn't until she went to the next table that we realised she wanted us to get up and dance!! Most of the others were dragged out onto the dance floor - a bit embarrassing to watch - so I was glad we'd paid money instead!

It was very cold overnight and there were a lot of dogs barking which kept us awake - so much for a peaceful desert stay!