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Old 14th October 2008, 12:11   #16
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Default Day 2 Part 1, Rise and Shine

Day 2 of our trip was where the having a blast part really started. Well to be honest day 1, the first day was actually just reaching there.
We did not aim to get up early since plan was simple.
We had negotiated a deal with the Shahi palace people. Instead of 1700/pp safari, we will go to the dune on our own. So we will skip the monuments tour, just do the Camel ride and sleeping and beer on dunes part.
So we had to pay 2600 for 2 people instead of 3400.
So that meant we could afford to get up late.
The plan for the day was to first visit an online friend(or rather moderator) from indiamike forum, who owns the hotel desert moon(presently some construction is going on there), have a cup of tea, and then come back to Shahi palace, and start around 4pm for the desert

First top was the terrace, where we had breakfast. Expensive, and very slow service, but we were too lazy to go out and hunt for food joints.
During the morning we discovered an amazing thing. Many of the hotel staff spoke english, and some could manage enough german, french, spanish, Korean etc., to strike a rudimentary conversation.
Many young kids actually spoke english with an accent without understanding what they are saying.
For example, a guy told us, try to look nice at safari and making gestures of covering up head and all.
Finally after confusion we figured out he was telling us wear a hat and sunglasses and long sleeves otherwise you will get sun burnt.
We switched to Hindi after that, lest the whole trip becomes a comedy of errors.
The day view of the fort was not as impressive as night view though\
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Thats the safari calling us
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After that we lazed at the hotel a bit
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Then it was time to get ready.
Took directions from Aishah(the mod), and proceeded towards desert moon. Got lost on the way, and spied some windmills on the horizon, one more activity for the day then.

At desert moon we had tea with biscuits, and did some "discussions" about indiamike forum and members(I am notorious there, seriously).
Desert moon, like most Jaisalmer hotels is very tastefully decorated
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Vyas Chattri is right next to it, its also called sunset point
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The hotel, the best part is ample parking place. Well now we have one more option to consider for the "next time!"
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After saying bye bye to Aishah, went on a little drive, so see the stock market doom(atleast for me). Suzlon shares are down 60%+ from what I got them for, and ironically, only 40% of the windmills were turning. The winds of depression have also reached here!
Took a couple of pics, and went back to the hotel
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--- END of Day 2 Part 1 ----- Coming up next. The Desert SAFARI!
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Old 14th October 2008, 12:19   #17
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post

After reaching Shahi palace, we checked in.
The room was lovely

Attachment 59258
The View from terrace was mind blowing.
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Finally it was time to retire, it would be a long day tomorrow


Nice to see your account at last, was waiting for it.

Guess you stayed in the same room as we did, looks like it. The view from the terrace is really phenomenal!!!!
Where did you park, parking is a problem there or have they sorted it out?

I clicked the fort on a rare thunderstorm with lightning. It was raining cats and dogs there after 8 years, whs so surreal !!!!!!!

Attaching the picture.

Awaiting more pictures from you.

Yes, meny of them came to Ahmedabad, Alliance Francaise to learn French, one of the owner's nephews speaks fluently. My youngest son ( learns french in his school) had a gret time with him.

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Last edited by ramkya1 : 14th October 2008 at 12:28.
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Old 14th October 2008, 12:54   #18
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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Damn! I was supposed to be in this travelogue...
Angoor khatte hain?

@tsk: Sorry forgot to tell you about Jodhpur. There is a bye pass from Industrial area before Jodhpur that takes towards right hand and puts you on Bikaner - Jodhpur road. From there gettng the Pkoharan/Jaisalmer road is easier.

BUT hey then it would not have been an experience asking all sorts of people i Jodhpur about directions. Helpful lot they are though.
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Old 14th October 2008, 16:29   #19
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Yup, Jodhpur was indeed an experience, with everybody telling us a different route.
Ironically, the song playing at that time was Hotel California. "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave"
We spent close to an hour exploring the narrow bylanes of Jodhpur
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Old 14th October 2008, 16:43   #20
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Default Desert Safari!! The Going

After seeing Suzlon windmills, we were back in the hotel at around 3pm. The guy there asked us if we could carry beer and ice in the trunk, well we were only too happy to oblige
The plan was simple.
We drive to a village called Verna(no relation to Hyundai), and ride the camels there.
I told him I can tolerate a camel ride for 10-15 minutes max. He told me not to worry, as he will bring the elephant behind us.
On the way we stopped at fossil park, and hunted for sea shells. Found some too.
This place has millions of years old fossils from the age when Jaisalmer was a sea and Indian plate had not mated with the Eurasian plate, before the Himalayas.
Surprisingly there are no markings, and no heritage site information. Our guide for the moment, swaroop, who is incidently also one of the owners relatives at Shahi palace told us that many such sites abound the desert.
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After the fossil park, it was a short drive to the Verna village
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The Village
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At the Village we met kids and a few teenagers. They were the camel guys, and would take us into the desert. Jeeps and the Safari would take the Beer/Food etc., for us.
All of them spoke english. And they did not learn at school.
The Village was very backward, with a school but no teacher. So kids there are not able to study, and pick up the language from foreigners.
Since their english was a little broken, they were more than happy to chat up with us. They told us that they rarely get Indian tourists because Indians prefer the resort swiss tents etc., at Khuri and Sam.
There were two groups there, one of 15 people and our smaller group of around 9 people including two of us.
We would be on dunes around half a km apart.
The other 7 people of our group were from IIM, 2 Indian students and rest foreign exchange students who had taken a long break and were on a "world tour of India", in their own words
I bid adeau to the Safari, and explained to Swarup about how to engage 4WD and about 30 sec turbo idling. To my surprise he was aware of turbo idle, and told me that they have to do the same for one of their jeeps which has a turbo engine fitted.
As for 4WD, he will engage once on the dirt track, but it won't really be needed till quiet some time.
Soon we are on our camels, thats my camel, and in the background is wifey
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Soon the camels are moving, and its really bumpy and nauseating. My wife is enjoying herself, but I am not, partially thanks to the back breaking ride on a Jet Ski hanging on for my dear life at Goa.
I decide to walk till we get to the jeep parking area
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Soon I spy her. Far better to ride than a camel. My wife wants to be on the camel all the way, so I bid them adeau for now as the group ambles along towards the desert

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Old 14th October 2008, 17:07   #21
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Default Desert Safari!! The Going (Cont..)

Getting in the Safari after the back breaking camel ride is wonderful
Swarup gets in by my side. Soon all the jeep drivers are hovering around her, looking in amazement at push button 4WD. They have not seen something like this, and one guy rightly comments thats its like the headlight level adjuster on newer cars.
One of the crew wants to ride in the back seat, and he tells his jeep driver to go alone.

So we start, in 4H on the dirt trail. Its easy, and probably with some difficultly and careful driving even a 2WD will be able to do it, but easy peasy does not last forever, and soon I see the jeeps climbing a sandy track, wheels spinning, I slow down to let them get far away, and then rev at speed through the section, to the top of the dune.
Its exciting, and I decide this would be a good place for pictures.
So I leave the accelerator, and she stops, a rather to abruptly, thanks to the sand. Hmm, looks its going to be a little workout to get her out!

But at time its more important to take lots of pictures.
Its so exciting. So we park there and wait for the camels to come!
All the eye can see is MRF NDMS tracks and sand
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She looks at home
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So who's the ship of the desert
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Soon all the camels arrive, and we wait for them to clear the track.
This dune is not where we will stay, that one is bigger, and far away.

So when the camels go, we get in, and in 4H, I try to extract her.
For the first time, I feel "Not enough torque".
More effort generates a wheelspin.
So its time for 4L.
I leave the clutch at idle, and she shakes herself loose of of the sand, and trottes on, I shift to 3rd in 4L and this seems to be the perfect gear, all the torque, and enough momemtum.

Do some more dirt track driving, and some heavy sand rushing, and we are at the big dunes.
Swaroop takes me up the wrong path(where the jeeps also do not go), and soon I am facing an incline stuck in sand.
The jeep driver says, no worry, to get out its downhill, and its easy.
So we get out, and decide to take pictures till sunset, and then bring her up the regular way.
The Dunes look surreal, and sun is about to set. All we can see is sand.
Decide to explore the dunes
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The sun is setting
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The Jeeps start coming with the goods(mattresses food etc.,)
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The Camels are being sent away, they will feed on fodder and vegetation in the night, and come back fresh for the day
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The Sun finally sets
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Camel Tracks
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Old 14th October 2008, 17:28   #22
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Default On the Dunes!!

After the sunset, its time to bring the camel of the day. Even the jeep crew is eager to do so. First, they are very excited about such a vehicle doing this route. One of the guy tells me that Tata brought similar looking and one tatamobile looking vehicle to the dunes a few days back. It was a large group and they tried to go up and down on the dunes and failed miserably.
So maybe Tata does vehicle testing over here?

But for now its test time for me. First step is extraction. Well thats easy, she just shakes herself out without effort, aided by gravity.
Reversing on the track is difficult, and we have to reverse a good way. There are bushes here and there, and I can feel them scratching the sides sometimes. The scratches feel as if they are on my own skin.
Wifey gets out to guide me and soon we are back on the main "dirt" trail.
After that its route chart time.
We have to just follow the jeep tracks.
Easy in theory, but the problem is sand. Tonnes of sand, and uphill, then a slight dip with lots of sand and then out on to a hard part of the dune.
Uphill is okay, if you get stuck, you reverse out, no issues, thanks to pull of the gravity.
But the dip... Well thats another story, get stuck there, and it would require a tank to pull out the behemoth.
So after planning the route, I decide on 4H, and keeping rpm around 2500-3000.
This means, a little high speed driving.
The jeep guys clear everybody away from the path, and vroom I go.
The path is twisty, and the tail is stepping out, but I keep the pedal pressed, and am doing steady 2500-3000rpm, she slows down at the dip, and then literally shoots out of it, and I park her a few meters away from the "stuff" jeep.

She sure looks pretty on the dunes, with sunset glow lighting up the side, and moon rising above her
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When the sun sets, can Venus be far behind?
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Soon she is unloaded, and so are the jeeps. At night we will just have the camel guys, with jeep crew coming only in morning. Today, for company there will also be a white safari.
So off goes the Jeep, bidding adeau to the alien
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I decide to do some star trail photography, but unfortunately the moon plays spoilsport
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So we decide to shoot her instead. We both scout angles, with wifey giving her creative input to the angles, and I setting up the tripod, to the amusement of the camel guys.
Meanwhile the foreigners are singing some weird songs, and drinking beer, and throwing butts on the dunes
The Safari looks pretty with bright orange lights!
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We decide to experiment with some "Light Painting"
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Moon lights up the safari, its soo surreal!
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We sleep on the dunes, and its getting cold.
Around 2am we are woken to loud shouts. Our brothers from far off lands are drunk and howling.
The moon is setting
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Wife decides to sleep inside the safari, she is feeling cold, I decide to take more pictures.
Thanks to my dazed state I do not realized that lens has fogged up, and take wonderful shots, only to discover they have been ruined.
Well, here is one of them
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Finally its time to sleep again. The other group has settled down, and dew is falling, making the bedding moist.
But I am too tired to notice, and its good night

TO BE CONT... (The morning)
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Old 14th October 2008, 18:12   #23
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O so this was the one which samurai had plans of coming for!! He seriously missed something
Nice pictures and great that your testing your vehicle to its limit.
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Old 15th October 2008, 00:18   #24
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This is a dilemma thread! Is it a travelogue or a 4x4 thread?!! The pearlwhite paint comes to its own in the night shots.
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Old 15th October 2008, 10:35   #25
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Great pics, nice to see the Safari in its elements. But wait, this is only one of the elements, right!

Good going
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Old 15th October 2008, 11:59   #26
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Default Good morning

At around 6:30am, I am awake. I look around and see the sky in a hue of colors as the sun is about to rise.
I am wondering what woke me up.
Well its the cold, and the dew which has soaked up everything. Thankfully all electronics are tucked away in the bag, but the outside of the bag is wet.
I adjust the quilt and fall asleep again. Too tired to take pictures or even care about sunrises.
In our book, early morning is 8am, and at 6:30am its still late night, time to sleep again.
But the sun does not think so, and soon everything is bright and getting warm(thankfully).
I shakemyself out of bed, and walk towards the car.
Wife is still sleeping.
Go towards the fire camp, and see that the IIM chaps are still sleeping too,
Only activity is the camel guys making tea.
Near that I see lots of butts, and 3-4 half empty beer bottles. Apparently in their drunken revelery, the other group has wasted 4 beer bottles, drinking them half and then throwing away. Crazy!
Around there is litter. One camel guy is already cleaning up. I ask them what about littler, they tell me that they burn cardboard etc., and take all plastic back with them as camels can eat rubbish and get sick.
One of them will stay behind when camp leaves at 9am, and clean up the entire area. Mind you its going to be hot then.
He tells me that their job is that the dunes should be totally clean before the next group comes in evening.
I ask him how will he find litter on dunes since that group was loitering all over, and littering. He says he will follow footsteps.
<rant mode>
At that moment, I really pity the poor chap, and silently curse the foreigners.
In their own country they would have had to pay exorbitant fines for such littering, over here they think they can dirty the pristine surroundings because there is nobody to keep them in check!</rant mode ends>

I whip out the camera, as tea is getting ready, and wake up wifey too.
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The Camels have come back after grazing, and are fresh
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They pose nicely for the camera, even lending a few smiles
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I decide to go and chat with a camel.
I ask him how's he doing, he tells me he is fine, but he does not like us riding him, we are too heavy, keep on drinking beer and getting fat.
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I assure him, I am here just to pet him and pose for a picture, I will ride the safari, so if he can pose with me and let him pet me?
He replies, well okay, but since you won't ride on my back, can I kiss you. After that he makes a pout.
I say no way buddy, keep your tongue away
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So as a compromise he tells me that he will just pose, no petting.
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After that I go to another camel. Mr Camel is getting cleaned. He tells me to get lost. can't I see his grooming is going on? A guy got to have some privacy
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Then I go to another one. He also shoes me away "Get lost, go watch Nat Geo or something. Lots of camels there".
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Finally an old veteran takes pity on me, and agrees for a pose
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After that I think enough of camels, time to shoot the Safari
Wifey has reversed her, and parked her facing the exit
If you note carefully she is on a hard patch, and right after that where you see tracks loose sand starts. You need to get moving before you hit sand, otherwise it gets sticky
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Is this what you call a "Camel Safari"?
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All ready to go!
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Old 15th October 2008, 12:06   #27
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Very beautiful writeup, and as they say, pictures say more than a thousand words! awesome photography.Should send the pics to TATA, to show them that you indeed are reclaiming your life.. the way it should be! Cheers!
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Old 15th October 2008, 12:08   #28
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Default Good morning.. Cont..

The camp gets ready to leave. Wife decides to take the 40 minute camel ride on her camel, a 7 year old girl called "Neki".
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The camp is moving out, and its just me and her
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One shot before we leave for the next village!
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After that its drive time(details in the offroad thread) to the village. The jeep guys are in front, They say camels will take an hour, and we will go to the village and wait for them there.
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The drive is awesome(as in the 4x4 thread)
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And we are soon at the village waiting for the camels
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Three kids come and start talking to me. They are speaking Rajasthani and I can only make out rupee and photo. Jeep driver tells me they say "Take photo, give 1 rupee"
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I give them duracells(80% spent), but since they put in torches, they will last a long time, as much as new Nippo etc., cells.
I also give them empty bottles. Villagers are literally crazy for bottles because its very useful for storing water.
Its a really backward village, and people walk from 1km - 5 kms till the newly constructed water tank. Even animals drink from same source.
There is a school here, but no teacher as usual
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Meanwhile, camels are nowhere to be seen!
The jeep drivers are also getting a little nervous, where are the camels! They are over 20 minutes late

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Old 15th October 2008, 12:20   #29
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Finally we see something running. ITs a camel, with one of the IIM exchange chaps, who is galloping his camel like a horse!
The camel guys are running behind him, and for a moment the taxi guys cant react as the camel almost gallops past them towards the village.
But soon they recover and run to intercept the Camel!
Rest of the camels are coming back too, most of them on a mild trot.

The Camel guys are pointing, and look sad and dejected, and are again and again pointing towards the gallop guy and shaking their heads while talking in Rajasthani. The oldest of the camel guys is the one most upset.

Wife also comes, and we leave for the hotel, in our safari. As usual,the ice box goes in the back, and a local chap Hookam hitches a ride till next village.
After he gets down, I ask my wife, what happened, why the delay.
She tells me this story.

Normally during morning ride, they make the camels trot and do mild gallop.
The way they do is say "hmmmm. Chamliya hmmmm chamliya" and the camels pick up speed. If you want to slow them down you pull the rains.
They camel guys have explained this to everybody.

Meanwhile this foreign guy is telling his group of 3 guys and 3 gals, that you guys are slow pokes, and even the camel guys don't know a thing. and I will teach them about speed.

So he goes chamliya loudly, and then starts hitting the camel side with the rope.
The young camel panics a bit, and camel guys are literally pleading "mat maro isko, apne aap jayga" and even say the same thing in broken English.
But this guys not listening, and his camel bolts and goes in the different direction,
soon cries of Heeeellllp Helllllp are rebounding in the air, as the camel runs away.
One of the camel guy gives a chase, and gets him back. 10-15 minutes are wasted then.

After he comes back he is none the wiser, and wants to be a leader of the pack.
Again he goes in a different direction.

After all these fiascos' and poor camel getting beaten up, they finally manage to reach the village.
After listening to this I am really wondering, that how did this bufoons end up in IIM-A.
Tomorrow they will be galloping the economy like this, and going of in a direction they do not know.

After that its a sedate ride to the hotel, and its a long day ahead!

--- END of "Good Morning"
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Old 16th October 2008, 12:02   #30
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Default Jaisalmer... The city and the monuments

It was almost noon when we reached the hotel.
First step was to have something to eat. Morning breakfast on the desert sand was just some toast with jam, so a proper meal was needed.
Ordered some stuff, cost us almost 400rs, and it was horrendous. Moreover they tool 57 minutes to bring our food, and that too with lot of cursing and abusing.
It appeared there was just one cook, and the head waiter was more interested in asking other "How are you doing" "Is it nice" than making sure the food comes on time.
After bathing, eating etc., it was past noon, and then we slept. The city could wait.
It was 4 when we finally got out, and decided to see patwon ki Haveli, followed by the Royal Centophahs(Samadhi).
At the Haveli guides started hounding us. 50rs only. We did not relent. So it was 30rs. Well that sounded like a deal.
So we got in, with our camera ticket(In Jaisalmer there is 50rs camera ticket everywhere) and the person tickets.
The guide started telling us about the Haveli, and also started telling us stories and folklore, which was more interesting that the history.
For example the Indian Macbeth.
5 Peers from Pakistan came to Jaisalmer when the Rule of Rajputs was here. The king told them to get lost, they cannot stay in fort.
So they made 5 prophecies.
1. All you have will be lost(Predictable, ain't they)
2. Where you ride elephants, donkeys will roam(Well we saw a few donkeys)
3. On the streets in your fort. "Bhura Sahib"(White man) will roam, and no matter how much you want, you will not be able to stop them(Very true, Jaisalmer is full of foreigners!)
4. I forgot this one
5. The entire world will end(Well we are waiting)
Anyways, here is the Haveli
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More interiors
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Our guide was pretty anti american, with full propaganda and politics thrown in!
How American students came to the deserted village and tried to steal gold.
How Rahul Bajaj, who bought this haveli for 1.2L sold it to americans for 1.2 crores, and how they were planning to dismantle it and take it to america, but IG intervened and declared this national monument.
I asked him, how do you transport a Haveli. He told us that no cement is used here. Its sandstone, and its assembled like lego. You can dismantle it, and take it anywhere.
More pics of Haveli
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View of fort from top
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After lots of stories, it was time to see another haveli from outside.
It was through the Gali's
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The Haveli looked nice in evening light
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So thats all for the Haveli's now it was time to visit the Samadhi's and catch sunset there... Cont..
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