Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bikaner and a Camel Safari, sore arses galore!

Weds 14th Nov

We were awoken by Yash like 5mins before we arrived in Bikaner so there was mass panic as we tried to pack and get ready before jumping off at the station. We also went to the wrong door which meant even more panic but luckily we got off before it left! It was 5.30am and they were still having full-on firework displays for Diwali which went on until 10am and some even throughout the day! Poor Hayley had been ill the whole night so she literally just spent the day in bed so that she was ready for the safari later this afternoon. 

We got to the hotel which was absolutely amazing - a proper mughal/middle eastern fort-type place which had some awesome decor in the rooms. We had two rooms to freshen up in and had an all you can eat buffet for breakfast. Then we went for a walk around Bikaner old town, where we saw some Havelis (Intricately carved Indian mansions), walked through a market and went to a small temple. Because of Diwali everything was pretty much shut so we then just went back to the hotel for lunch and to wait until 2pm when we were leaving for the safari (also later as it was Diwali so our ride was cut by about 2 hours - couldn't imagine riding for any longer than we did though so it was a god-send!)

We took two jeeps to the place where we were starting the camel safari. Once we got there we were all surprised by the size of these things! I knew camels were big but Christ! Luckily they lie down for you to get on and the saddles were slightly comfier than I expected. We had one camel per person with a leader who helped them along.

I knew from the first 5mins I had gotten the dodgy camel, Mandu – as always! He either had an itch or he just REALLY didn’t like me, as he kept kicking and scratching himself every 10 secs which meant I almost fell off every time as the saddle lurched to the side. I couldn’t relax until about half hour to an hour into the journey which is when he calmed down a little. I was at the back too and me and Ali’s leaders kept taking a wizz so we were always trotting our camels to catch up – does nothing for the already bruised butt! It actually wasn’t too bad until about 2hours in and then your back starts to hurt and your bum starts to ache. It was so so hot and the scenery was quite amazing – although because we cut our journey short we couldn’t go right into the desert so it was more like sandy fields with some trees and a few dunes.

Where we camped had a massive dune though so it felt more desert-y. We got to our camp literally just in time for sunset so we climbed the dune (feck my life, we had to have about 10 stops to catch our breath and also had tons of thistles imbed themselves into our feet and clothes) But it was worthwhile, some poor helper managed to carry up a teapot, mugs a table and some stools bless him, so we sat there having ginger masala chai on a sand dune at sunset – bliss!

We then went down to camp as it started to get dark, we were told we could either sleep under the stars on the beds or in the tents. We all chose the beds (other than Paul) as the tents probably wouldn’t offer much more warmth any way.

We then sat around on stools with a couple of gas lanterns, drinking beer, chatting and playing a bit of sand Pictionary. It started to get really cold so me and Laura went to change in one of the tents into our layers – feckin’ hilarious! We had only one tiny torch to light our way and Laura mistook my makeup case as a mousetrap  - u had to be there! Then the zipper got caught on our tent so we couldn’t get out, I dread to think what everyone at camp thought we were doing as we were in fits of giggles trying to get it undone. Thankfully we managed...but broke the tent in the process. Good start!

Then the chef had cooked us dinner so we were sat around a massive table in the desert, eating cabbage curry, Dahl, roast potatoes, rice and some weird aubergine curry. Considering it had been cooked and prepared on a gas stove in the desert it was pretty tasty. We had sugared fruit for dessert which was disgusting but I had some chocolate and biscuits so we were ok.

Then some men had cut down some firewood and started to make a campfire. Meanwhile me and Laura needed the loo and so decided to brave the dark wilderness to go. Again we had one torch, and we horrified the guys back at the camp may see so we went behind a bush – hilarious again, peeing in the dark with thistles stuck all over us!

Then as it was the second night of Diwali the men had brought fireworks with them, so we set off a few – it was scary as not even our tour guide knew what some of them were or how to light them, some even went off in people’s faces almost, but thankfully no-one was hurt!

Then the whiskey and rum came out to keep us warm, and once that was out, that was that and we were all on a path to self destruction. We checked out the stars, talked to Yash about his life (he has some amazing stories – even had a pet leopard for 3 yrs when he was younger!) and then the boys decided they wanted to climb the dune again to see the stars away from the light of the fire. Initially we didn’t want to go up because of all the thistles, but we eventually relented and Laura made herself some plastic bag shoes – even though it didn’t help one bit – and we grabbed some stools and legged it up.

Once up there the night sky was amazing and Ali took some awesome pictures. Then things started to turn a little crazy and we decided to take photo’s making up words like F**k, India, F**k Off etc against the night sky. Yash and a couple of others came up too and freaked us out by just standing there in the dark, getting closer and closer and me and Laura thought we were hallucinating that there was someone there. There was – but when the torch was switched on there were also 5 more! Scared the crap out of us! We stayed up there pratting around and chatting until around 1am, when everyone but the boys decided to climb down and brace ourselves for a cold, sleepless night. My god was it cold! I had around 5 layers on plus blankets and I just couldn’t get warm, my feet were frozen right up until 8 in the morning! The guys came down pissed around half hr after us and were shouting things like ‘I just saw a tiger’ etc which they found hilariously funny :-S

Then it was a frozen night until sunrise!

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