Notes from Bikaner and Jaisalmer, India

Nobuko shares her current travel notes with us.

7 July 2012  in Bikaner

Arrived in the morning by bus from Pushkar. The night ride was not so hot, but dusty!  I had to cover my face with a scarf to get some sleep. This sleeper did not have a sliding door like the others, only curtains that flapped around with the wind – not great for keeping privacy.

I managed to doze off here and there, but when I woke up, I found men staring at me. Although I have normal oral motor control, I often drool when I sleep. It might be an amusing, but not a pretty thing to watch.

The first guest house near the bus station did not answer the door, so I ended up going to Camel Man, which is about 4 km from the town center. The rickshaw driver agreed on 50 rupees when I got on, but argued that I should pay 100 when we arrived at Camel Man.  Mr. Vijay, the owner of Camel Man, was very kind and paid the driver 100 rupees out of his pocket. It must not be easy to be a rickshaw driver, but I really, REALLY dread dealing with them. But without them, I cannot get around.

Bikaner had been HOT, even hotter than Pushkar with 43 or 44°C ( = about 107 F). I did not do much of anything besides washing clothes and sleeping. I met a couple from Denmark and we agreed to do a camel safari the next day. I was not doing so great with my stomach function.

I wanted to be ready for the safari ride, but inside my medicine pouch, all I had was medicine that had expired in 2010. Come to think of it, I have not replaced any meds in the pouch for four or five years. Stupid! I took it anyway, and am happy to tell you that it worked. Pharmaceutical companies should put more accurate expiration date on their products.

8 July 2012 on a Camel Safari

Off to the safari. We started at 10am and rode for two hours. At noon, we rested under a tree shade while guides whipped out a very good lunch (veggie curry, rice, chapati). We thought we start riding again after lunch, but the guys appeared to be getting ready to take a nap – rolling out carpets and lying down on them.

The three of us killed time by chatting and camel watching. Camels seem to munch on something constantly, always masticating. And they can look like a giant, featherless chicken when seen from behind because of the way they fold their hind legs when they sit down.

At 4:30pm, we started again, but this time through a large farming area where people were setting up sprinklers. We arrived at the camp 6ish after being blessed many times by camels’ farts. The dinner was awesome – rice, chapati, dal, curry (different from one we had for lunch!), etc. The beds were placed outside, and I was so impressed that it was covered by a clean white sheet and even came with a pillow!

I love sleeping outside. Although that night the sky was overcast for the most of the time and we could not see the stars too well, it was still heavenly.

9 July 2012 on a Camel Safari

Woke up 7:30 – by this time it was already getting very warm. After breakfast we headed back. The Danish couple left that afternoon. My bus to Jaisalmer was again the night bus at 10pm. The family at the guest house was friendly and chatty, but all I wanted to do was to laze around and cool off which means, I stayed in my room, being kind of anti-social.

10pm was the bus departure time, but it did not roll into the station until 11:15pm. The sleeper I got this time had sliding doors AND curtains. This made me very happy!

10 July in Jaisalmer

Arrived in Jaisalmer by sleeper at 6:45am (scheduled arrival 5:30am). I was the last one on the bus. It must have arrived on time, but no one woke me up to kick me off the bus and they just let me sleep. A taut from a hotel fished me with “a fan room with a private bathroom for 200 rupees”. I took it, but this place was relentless with its sales pitch, always one of eight men asking me every 30 minutes to join one of their overpriced tours. They even came knocking on my door after I finally retreated to my room!  It is called Shiva Palace. Don’t go there.

Jaisalmer is a small city with a magical fort that made me feel like I was in one of those places talked about in 1001 Arabian nights. People still live inside the fort and that makes this fort a place that is very much alive. I met many many local guys (aka business men), but did not find Aladdin…

Here they sell this legal concoction Baad Lassi, made of curd and pot. Perhaps the tales of riding on a magic carpet and travelling the night sky in the desert were born from people drinking this.

The first evening, I saw one of the most beautiful things. Wind picked up its gusto and blew sand all over the city. I was on a roof top, and saw the whole sight become like a picture seen through a sheer cloth. Breathless moment.