Today we left the beauty of the Blue City and headed to the Golden City, Jaisalmer. Our last stop in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is a fort city literally in the middle of nowhere in the desert. Here, we are hoping for yet another impressive fort and a camel ride in the desert.
Having been unable to secure train tickets into Jaisalmer, we headed towards the local bus station. Getting good at this, in a matter of minutes we had managed to locate our ticket window, purchase our tickets, secure our luggage onto the roof and buy breakfast. Not bad!
The bus ride started a bit weird: the bus left the station without any fanfare (not even a warning honk) and with a bus half-empty. After a few stops around the city, the bus was full and we were on our way.
The bus ride felt even hotter this time: I swear that the desert just keeps getting hotter and hotter. The landscape was much of the same at first, but it soon got dryer. There were camels resting in the shade of trees, sand dunes looming in the distance. The houses also changed: it looked like a walled circle enclave of round buildings surrounding a house. It was quite different, and it made us feel as though we were even further away from “civilization”.
After just over 6 hours the fort city appeared over the horizon. A few minutes later, and a tuk tuk ride later, it was time to find a room.
It was my turn to go find a room this time, so I picked a direction and looked at every hotel along the way. Most of the hotels we fine, but some felt either really bare bone, too expensive or had really pushy staff trying to sell me on a camel ride. Eventually I found a decent room at a decent price – and one with a kitchen we could use too!
Jaisalmer is yet another fortress city, but this one is different from the others as it is a “living city”. The fortress towers over the walled city – it looked as though it mushroomed up from nothing. Sadly, it’s falling apart and can no longer support the people living within it. From our hotel, we can see garbage littering the base of the wall, as though everyone inside is just dumping their trash overboard. It’s depressing and sad.
The area where we are located may be right beside the fort, but is seedy, like a dirty frontier town that doesn’t know if it should crumble or overcome. There are more open sewers than usual, mixed in with destroyed buildings and a surprisingly large amount of pigs and cows. I can’t put my finger of what the town reminds me of, but it’s really a downer after charming Jodhpur.
We decide to go for dinner at a lovely restaurant overlooking an ornate, luxurious havali (a private residence). We need meat, and we need it bad, and this restaurant serves it. The restaurant turns out to be in a part of town that is livelier – maybe there could be something charming just around the corner to win us over? We toy with the idea of moving to this part of town tomorrow and finding a new hostel – part of us though also want to just move on to a new city entirely.
In the end though, once back at our guesthouse, sitting on the roof under a blanket of stars, we realize just how quiet this part of town is. Yes, it might not be pretty, but there is something to it.
We’ll wait and see how tonight go, and take it from there.