28.05.2010 45 °C
Woke just after dawn to find that our guides had already made us black tea and it was a matter of minutes until our sugary bread was ready. We marveled at the blue sky and serenity whilst the guides loaded up the camels and we set off, taking a shorter route back to Khuri. The guides were trying to hurry us up and the Koreans had to go quickly as they had a guide on each camel with them but as we'd specifically requested to have our own, we were taking our time! We rode across the dunes, saw two small bright green birds and lots of sand! Once back in the village we tipped the drivers then packed our bags and went to settle our bill. There was a bit of confusion because the guy hadn't explained that if we wanted our own camels we'd have to pay for 3 camels rather than the price he'd quoted and asked "do you want the drivers on your camels or on one of their own". Ah well, it still wasn't expensive. About 15 minutes later the Koreans started to leave, it was 10.15 and the buses should be at 10 and 11 so we were going to wait a while but we decided to follow-it's a good job that we did as the 10am one was late and we ran the last 30m down the road and jumped on the bus, we even got seats! We'd padlocked our bags and it's a good job as on two occassions I saw the little kid next to us reach down into the aisle and try to open Sam's bag! On arrival in Jaisalmer we got a room in the Hotel Shree Girira, the cheapest room at 100 rupees with no AC which is the biggest mistake we've made in a long time! We had a wander around the fort which contained lots of little tourist shops in narrow alleys, we had a browse in a couple before finding some steps leading down onto the fort wall so we had a walk around, it didn't have many access points and was really dirty- i don't think many people walk around there! The noteable part of the wall which differentiated it from the other forts were large stone balls balanced on top of the wall. I thought that they might have been to push off onto intruders below but Sam assured me that cannons had been invented when this fort was built. In the afternoon we played in an internet cafe and found out that Dad is on facebook- crazy! We went back to our room to cool off and ended up lying on our bed and going to 'sleep' for the night which involved a lot of sweating, tossing and turning but not much sleeping!
We left our bags in 'left luggage' which was the double room next to ours then went for breakfast in a little cafe with a rooftop restaurant and great views of the fort to kill time before the Jain temples in the fort opened at 11am. We bought tickets outside the temples, took off our shoes and left them with the shoe keeper after a 'kind' offer from a shop owner to leave them safely in his shop - where they would probably be held ransom until we bought something! The first temple was beautifully ornate, decorated with sculptures of gods, animals and other deities and the holy men encouraged us to take photos of the main god and asked us to give him a donation. There were metal boxes with slots that said "donations, do not give tips to holy men" so when the man asked us to put money on the tray on top Sam jokingly asked him where the money on the tray goes and where that in the box goes, the man was honest and said "the money in the box goes to god and the money on the tray goes to me". Fair enough so Sam put money on the tray. There was another temple downstairs (which to the untrained eye would appear to be the same temple) which was similar to the upstairs temple. We returned to the alley outside and waited for the two temples around the corner to open at 11. We sat for 10 minutes on a wall looking at the carvings on the outside of the temple and narrowly missing being pooed on by a pigeon. At 11.01 we entered with the other tourists and explored the warren of temples leading off the main temple, some downstairs, some upstairs and one next door. They all had the same items inside, lots of sandstone and the occassional marble statue of gods with a central area with either a marble or piped-metal god outside of which there was a bell and a donation box. People ring the bell, pray, then put money in the box. Once we'd seen enough (well all of them) we set off in search of a good vantage point for a photo of the whole fort. We first tried a hotel that we could see a minaret inside but we couldn't get up to it as the doors were locked then we saw a mound in the distance, a little further from the fort with a small fort on it so decided to walk there. We stocked up on cold drinks before starting the climb as it was over 45 degrees and walked up through a shanty village with open sewers, rubbish all over the floor and really dark children from being outside all day. We reached the top and the view was beautiful. The golden city with the giant golden fort watching over the city below it. It was too hot in the midday sun so we retreated to a patch of shade under a tree which doubled up as the local rubbish dump so we didn't stay for long. When hunger overcame us we went in search of a restaurant. We met a boy in the street who held out his hand for Sam to shake it and introduced himself as Kevin Costner- the indian costume is very decieving! He recommended a place and it turned out to be really good, with a poster of "London Bridge" on the wall which was actually Tower Bridge. We sat on the cushion clad floor and watched the cricket on TV and had lovely flavoursome curries that weren't too hot. We picked up our bags from the hotel which had been moved down to reception for us and walked through town to the main road and along it to the train station. After queueing for over an hour to check the status of our seats only to be told to come back in half an hour I was fuming. I sat down and cooled off and when I went to join the queue again a nice man showed me that I could check on the computer next to the desks that had no queue- why couldn't the man have told me that before! It wasn't difficult to find the right platform as there were only 2 so we sat and played cards for 2 hours, intermittently being disturbed by a woman who had sat down next to me and was phoning all of her friends then passing the phone to me so that they could all hear me saying "hello" repeatedly down the phone. Once on the train with our bags padlocked to the table we settled down to sleep- hopefully no snorers tonight!