Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fort Life

Day 403
It was 5:30 in the morning and still dark when I got to Jaiselmer. I had 6 guys trying to get me to go in their tuk tuks or to their hotels. One was particularly annoying and wanted me to go with him for only 5 rupees, whenever someone offers something that cheap you know its not good. He then preceded to say that white people know nothing and that he was just trying to help. He just didn't say what I didn't know anything about. This irritated me very badly and I said that no, I know nothing, that I just have a college education and used to work for a successful investment fund and that I've only spent about 2.5 years traveling in which I've visited 47 countries, yes I know nothing. I had made my hotel decision at this point and told them all that I wouldn't be going with them. I then found a tuk tuk driver that was charging the right price and went wit
h him. In no time I was at Hotel Swastika (its a good luck charm here) and sleeping again.

When I woke up I checked in properly and the got some breakfast while I planned my day.

The narrow streets leading to the Jaiselmer Fort were confusing, but lots of nice people pointed the way for me. There were a lot of souvenir shops and every one wanted me to come and look. I managed to ignore them. One guy approached me and told me that he was from the desert and wanted to chat to work on his English. This is usually a scam, but I still feel the need to be polite. I was able to excuse myself quickly because we were standing near a stray dog that was really bad off, I couldn't stand there an look at it so I told him that and left.

I then headed to the Jain Temples. There are 7 here, but they all have different opening times and there is really no way of seeing them all unless you come back several times. The first temple I saw was Chandraprabhu. A monk was on hand to show me around. He pointed to a carving at a naked woman at one point and said that she had a chest like me. I think I found one dirty monk! The temple was amazing, but I was annoyed when they asked for a donation, I already had to pay to go in and take pictures.

The second temple was called Rikhabdev. It seemed newer than the first one. The carvings were just as wonderful here and there was more light to see them with. The stone here was honey colored, while the other had been white. They asked me for a donation here as well and I said that I had given at the other temple. He said that they were different and I had to give here too, I told him that the temples may be different, but it was the same wallet and it was getting thin.

The temples were closing but I was able to get into one last one, the Parasnath temple. The guy closing up there showed me around. He pointed out dozens of carvings from the karma sutra. I seemed to have found the dirty temple. He also suggested certain pictures that turned out to be the best ones that I had taken all day.

Once I was outside I ran into a German couple that had been invited for a roof top view by a guy who wanted them to change hotels. I went up and the view overt the temples and fort was really quite nice. Afterwards I spent some time wandering the streets and avoiding the shops, I had heard that things were cheaper outside of the fort. When I was done I walked back to my hotel, but not before checking my email.

After showering and resting in my room (the sun steals my energy), I headed out for dinner and a sunset view of the fort. When dinner was done I went to a different internet cafe and spent some time chatting with my parents. Skype isn't on a lot of the computers here and this was the first time I had been able to chat with them in India. On the way back to my hotel I picked up some snacks. I spent the rest of the night reading before falling asleep.

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