Sunday, August 3, 2008
Jaisalmer was great. It is a city within a fort. There are a lot of forts in India - all of the architecturally impressive and beautiful - but they are mostly non-functional and are merely tourism sites. Jaisalmer is a living fort - there are homes and shops and all kinds of activity within its walls. It has narrow streets and alleyways, and is surrounded by a wall with interesting holes that I assume were for soldiers to shoot people through. It is called the "golden city" because of the color of the sandstone.
Unfortunately, the fort can only hold so many people, and the tourist traffic overwhelms it. If I had been staying any longer, I probably would have stayed outside the fort and taken rickshaws to see it. But I didn't have enough time for that, since I had only 24 hours to find a hotel, find and do a camel safari, book a train to Delhi for the next day, see and tour the fort, do some shopping and find something to eat. Luckily, eating was the least of my problems, since the heat effectively eliminated my appetite.
I managed to do it all, but just barely. I did most of my touring of the fort the morning after arrival, when it was cooler. Afternoons were like death on a stick. I just walked around, enjoying the beauty of it. Since it was such close quarters, there was constant recruitment by shop owners to come into their stores, and one guy near my hotel became really rude and aggressive when I passed his shop many times without entering (as if insulting me would make me more likely to go in?). I eventually became turned off by all of the touting, and decided not to do any shopping, until I met Bobby Heena.