We met outside our hotel at 4:00 to leave for the sleeper train. I stopped by a convenient store for some munchies. I go ta diet Pepsi, and some cookies and chocolate bars. Others got sodas and cookies as well as well as some pringles. We took two local taxis to the train station, which took 45 or so minutes and then we had to walk up and down several flights of stairs to get to our platform. Finally we had arrived, but without ample time to buy dinner to take on the train with us. We all gave our guide, Ajit, 150 Rps ($3 USD) for some dinner and he ran to get us some food, just making the train. The food was quite good, though packaged in a plastic TV-dinner like tray with shrink wrapping. The train left a little before 6. The train was quite insane. It wasn't as packed as I had thought it would be, mostly because many people had arrived during periodic stops. There were 6 of us to a 'room', though it was not quite a room. It was completely open to the public and there were not even dividing sheets like there had been in Thailand. 3 people sat on the lower bunks. We were getting looks from EVERYBODY. There were no other white people on the entire train. The Indians starting going to bed around 8 and 9, but were up much later. Out of respect we decided to set up the beds at 10:30 and by 11:00 all the lights were off. I slept in the middle bunk, with one above me and one under me. There was just enough room for me to sit up if and only if I was slouching very much and sitting Indian style. The bunks were supported by hinges on one side and held up by two metal chain links on the other side. Although one of my links was longer than the other so all of my weight was supported with only one cable. The girl below me didn't like this so we managed to get some duct tape and tape the support chain to the bed. Though this wasn't structural, if the one link failed, the other chain would be in place to take the weight. We all got along great last night, and it's great being among the older travelers, such respect I get. Some girl had broken her camera such that the lens wouldn't close and I was able to fix it. That coupled with the fact that I was able to do a Rubik's cube that some girl brought along impressed the girls. Maybe I'll be able to play that for all it's worth. Hahah. We woke up and managed to occupy ourselves until the train arrived at our final destination, Jaisalmer.
1st Day in Jaisalmer, India
The most obvious thing about this area is that it's in the middle of a desert. As we got off the train there were stray cows everywhere, even in the train station. We arrived at our hotel within the fort and I received my own room, yippee. Since there are 3 guys and we all paid for doubles, we will be rotating who gets the single. We will be staying in this hotel for 3 days (only two nights). Tomorrow is a free day and the day after that we take a camel ride through the Thar Desert. I think we're actually on the camel for 3-4 hours. I have been on a camel before and trust me, they're not comfortable to ride. We met for lunch today on the top of our 'guest house' and after Ajit took us for a walk through the city. Tomorrow I think I'll go into one temple, get an Indian massage, and I'll figure the rest out as it comes. India doesn't really make their own wine so it's very expensive here, which is unfortunate, for me that is. Also, it's quite hard to find liquor and beer, so it's going to be quite different from South East Asia. I am not a liquor person and that is what everybody seems to be buying. The beer is hard to keep cold since there are no refrigerators in our rooms. You probably don't know this but most tour companies provide several levels of trips:
- Basic - no frills, as much public transportation as possible, nothing included
- Standard - higher level of comfort, more private transportation, etc
- Comfort - nice hotels, no public transportation, many activities provided
---END OF POSTING ---