22 AND 23 PICTURE ALBUM
Sunday, February 22 and Monday, February 23
Steve: On Sunday morning we planned a well-deserved morning
of catch-up at the Rang Mahal hotel. We took advantage of the time to swim,
read and write postcards. We've also all been feeling a little marginal. To
date, we've all been pretty healthy but now the combination of new foods and
some long days is probably catching up with us. Utpal said that he frequently
sees people start to have problems after 10-12 days, so we may be falling
into the same pattern. Nothing too bad, but we definitely want to keep things
We left early afternoon for the 45-kilometer drive to Khuri, home of several
desert camps that are popular with visitors to Jaisalmer. The Thar desert
is very beautiful, but winter is just about the only time to be here - during
summer the days routinely get up to 48 degrees Celsius (that's 118 Fahrenheit!).
We're here at a perfect time of year, with the daytime temperature in the
Our camel camp is called "Singh", which means lion in Hindi. It's
basically 8 huts all surrounding a courtyard with a fire pit in the middle.
The huts contain stone "beds" covered with blankets and squat toilets
(no running water). They have grass roofs, frequented by several small birds
with nests right over the beds - in fact, this morning a bird egg dropped
right down onto one of our beds (it was unharmed, and David and Katie carefully
replaced it). Khuri is way out in the middle of the desert, and staying
here is all part of the "real desert" experience!
As has been the case everywhere, the people at Singh showed us wonderful
hospitality. They quickly put together an Indian lunch (standard mix of lentils,
rice, and roti bread, plus some desert vegetables that we hadn't tried before)
which we devoured quickly - by now it was 3:00 and we were very hungry. We
then got ourselves prepared for our afternoon/evening camel safari.
been on camels yesterday, we pretty much knew what to expect. David and Katie
were very excited - they really enjoyed their ride from yesterday. My main
requirement was a saddle with stirrups (I guess that's what they're called
on a camel) that are longer than yesterday's - riding a camel with your knees
up to your armpits is particularly uncomfortable. Fortunately, one of the
saddles fit well, making
for a much better ride today.
We headed out and initially across desert scrub land, toward the village
of Khuri where a surprising 4,000 people live. The residents either farm,
or run the camel camps. It's a very simple life, and the people seem to have
little contact outside the confines of their desert villages. The villages
are also located only 70 kilometers from the border with Pakistan, so they
can't venture too far
we entered an area containing spectacular sand dunes. We have seen pictures
of desert dunes, but have never had the opportunity to explore them in person
(the dunes we are most familiar with, those on Cape Cod, are off-limits for
walking). Here, the formations made by the winds, and especially the ripples
in the sand, are really beautiful. The best
part of the camel ride was making our way through these dunes, past various
desert plants (and several desert deer that we saw speeding across our path).
We climbed the dunes and rode along a ridge with endless views of the desert
in all directions. Eventually, we got off the camels after
reaching a perfect spot for viewing the sunset. Interestingly, even the camels
seemed to know that it was time for a rest - they all immediately sat down
when we reached this spot!
With sunset an hour away, we all enjoyed walking across the dunes by foot.
The sand is very fine - probably the most granular sand we've seen. David
and Katie loved racing up and down the hills of sand, and creating mini avalanches
along the dunes. I also tried to take some photos that portray the beauty
of this area.
The sunset this evening was spectacular. The clouds that hung at the horizon
and obscured yesterday's sunset were gone, and we were treated to a brilliantly
colored sky surrounding the sun's bright orange ball. Following the sunset,
we enjoyed riding our camels again back through the dunes on our way back.
back at the Singh Resort, we were treated to dinner and a performance of traditional
Indian music all under a beautiful star-filled sky. The musicians were a group
of local men and boys, and we enjoyed listening to a collection of songs that
are part of the day-to-day life of these villagers. Many were dedicated toward
specific Hindu gods, and others were simple welcoming songs for us. Uptal
commented that often it's better to listen to music as performed
by locals instead of professional musicians, and he's right. After dinner,
we had fun joining the boys who were dancing to several of the livelier selections
- it was quite a scene!
Considering the stone beds and the loud serenading by mules, dogs and a variety
of other unidentified animals, we all slept remarkably well! Must have been
all that dancing
On Monday morning, David and Katie took another camel ride to the dunes (their
3rd ride in 3 days!). Paula stayed back to rest while Uptal and I accompanied
our camel-trekkers on foot. It was pleasant to visit the dunes again, this
time in the cool air of the early morning.
Finally, it was time to leave Khuri and head back to Jaisalmer in preparation
for our night train to Jodhpur. From Jodhpur, we'll fly to Delhi, then to
Bangkok, and finally to Hanoi. This will be one of our tougher travel sequences
of the entire trip, so we're hoping all goes well
In Jaisalmer, we spent most of the afternoon relaxing and resting. Katie
and I made another visit into the bazaar while David and Paula slept at the
hotel where we had reserved a room for the day.
By the end of tomorrow, we should find ourselves back at the Bangkok airport.