I heard the sound of people waking up down below. So I also got up and climbed down the radder.
Salam was gone. He said he was getting off the train at somewhere between Delhi and Jaisalmer so the train must have stopped at the station while I was sleeping.
It's already bright outside and I could see a desolated landscape through the window .
Linda asked me if I knew any good place to stay in Jaisalmer. I said I had no idea. Then she said a hotel called Renuka seemed to be popular among tourists so she wants to check it.
The train arrived at Jaisalmer Station at 1 pm, an hour behind schedule.
There was a man from Renuka at the station. He seemed to be looking for tourists to invite to the hotel, so we told him that we wanted to stay at Renuka then he let us get on his car.
The car started to move and I obserbed the town through the window.
It indeed looked like a desert town. Almost every building was built with stones in sand-like colour. The sky was very clear and blue so the scenery was basically consist of 2 colours: blue and yellow. The atmosphere looked much more relaxing than Delhi's. The sunshine was pretty strong and the temperature felt much higher than Delhi.
We arrived at Renuka in 5 munutes or so. The hotel was small and didn't look so fancy. But it had some clean atmosphere and the staff was friendly and somewhat sophisticated. I could somehow understand why this hotel is popular.
A staff showed me a room upstairs. It cost 250 rupees (about 5 dollars) and it had no shower and toilet. Since it was cheap I thought it's acceptable so I took the room.
When I went down to the front desk, Linda came out of a room at the ground floor. She said she also took the room.
"Can I see your room?"
I asked and entered the room that she took. It looked kind of similar to mine but it had toilet and shower. The price was not so different from mine. I caught the staff again and asked.
"Do you have a room with toilet?"
"No vacancy of that kind of room right now. But there's another hotel nearby and you can take a room with toilet and shower for 450 rupees."
So he suggested me to go to another hotel. Maybe they own two hotels? I wasn't sure but decided to check it.
The hotel that the staff told me was about 50 meters away from Renuka. It was called Latan Palace. I asked the man at the front desk to show me a room and it looked pretty good so I paid 450 rupees and took it.
After putting down my backpack, I went back to Renuka and had lunch with Linda at the rooftop restaurant.
Jaisalmer seemed to be a small town. The town was surrounded by walls and according to my map, it was only 1 km or so even if you walked from end to end. Renuka was in the northwest part of the town and there was a big fort in the south part of the town. We could see this fort from the rooftop of Renuka.
Since we both didn't have any plan, we decided to walk to the fort. Linda said she sprained her foot yesterday so couldn't walk fast. We walked slowly and seeing around a Jaina temple and souvenir shops in the fort. But still it took only an hour or so to finish seeing.
When we left Renuka, one of the staff told us that there is a hill outside of the town where we can see sunset. So we went through the main gate of the town and headed to the hill.
The outside of the town was even more quiet and there were shacks along the roads and several kids were playing. We arrived at the bottom of the hill in 10 minutes or so.
When we started going up the hill, a lot of kids came out of the shacks that were constructed along the slope. A lot of tourists who want to see the sunset must go up this road everyday. That's probably why there were so many shacks here.
They begged for something from us. Some kid asked 10 rupees. Some kid asked chocolate. Since I had a chocolate in my waist pouch, I tried to give it to a little boy who was walking at my side. Then an older boy who was watching behind snatched the chocolate and ran away. The little boy looked sad. I said sorry to him and kept going up the slope with him. When we reached the top, we were surrounded by nearly 10 kids.
(Seeing the town of Jaisalmer and its fort from the hill)
There was a man who plays an ethnic instrumental at the top. The man spoke English so we talked. He said he lives in a nearby tent. His wife had passed away and he had 4 kids.
"Not many people play this instrument anymore." He said.
"But in some town, a Japanese man tried to learn this and became a very good player."
I asked him if I could take a picture of him. Then he called his 4 kids and let me take a picture. I thought he might ask some money for it but he didn't.
When I looked at Linda, she was surrounded by little girls. It seemed she bought a small accessory from one of them, and probably to show the gratitude, the girl draw a small dot on Linda's forehead with a marking pen.
The sun started to set. The staff at Renuka was right. The sunset was beautiful. And as if to accompany the scene, the man started to play the instrument. We were kind of busy dealing the kids and not exactly in a state to admire the beauty, but still the sun setting beyond the town of Jaisalmer left an eduring image in my head.
When we were about to leave the hill, the man played the instrument talked to me.
"Come to my tent. We can have chai together. I play music for you."
It was an interesting offer. But I wasn't sure if we should accept it. I looked at Linda.
"But it's getting dark..." she said.
She was right. The sun had dissapered and night was beginning. Although the man said his tent was nearby but we didn't know exactly where that was. And if we spent some time at his tent, it would be completely dark when we leave. It was only 10 to 15 minutes walk but we never knew what would happen in foreign land. I didn't think the man was a bad person. But I wasn't sure if following a man at night in a place we still don't know much about was a good idea.
I declined his offer. I gave him 25 rupees for playing music and said goodbye. He seemed to look a little sad when he received the money.
After we came back to the town, we promised to meet up at 8:30 pm and have dinner together. It was still before 7 so after taking a little rest in the room, I went to a nearby pharmacy and bought a sore throat remedy and an ointment for Linda's foot. Then I walked around the town seaching for nice restaurant.
At some point, all the lights gone off and the streets became dark. Looked like a blackout. But people were acting normal as if it happens all the time. The lights came back shortly after that.
When I went to Renuka Linda was talking with a staff at the front desk. I asked her what she was talking about. She said she was joining "Camel Safari".
"Camel Safari? What's that?"
I asked Linda then the staff looked at me and said.
"Oh you should join too."
According to him, the Camel Safari was kind of a tour. You ride a camel and travel to a sand dune then camp there. I thought it's very interesting. I was thinking to visit a small village called Khuhri which was about 2 hours away by bus tomorrow but this Camel Safari sounded more interesting. Especially I liked the idea of camping in the desert.
He said a group of three other tourists had already applied to join the tour. I said I will join too, almost by reflex.
However after applying the tour, I started to feel not so sure about my decision. Since I came to Jaisalmer, I had been moving with Linda all the time so I thought it might be a good idea to move alone tomorrow for a change. It was kind of ironic considering how I was feeling sad not having traveler companion at the rooftop restaurant in Delhi.
And there was another and probably the main reason. It was about my English skill. I was with Linda almost whole day today but I often felt my lack of ability to express my feeling in English. I imagined joining a group of five people and spend 2 days together would put me into that kind of situation even more. I wasn't confident. And I thought it could be a bit stressful.
I was inclining to cancel the tour. But I put my desicion on hold for now and went out to have dinner with Linda.
I took Linda to a restaurant that I found earlier. I ordered a spinach curry, naan and a cup of coffee. The price was 165 rupees.
There were no customers except us. Unlike Delhi that was noisy even at night time, it was quiet. In the still atmosphere, we talked about our lives, travel and India.
"Are you buddhist?"
Linda asked me at some point. I was not sure how to answer it. The majority of Japanese are considered as Buddhist. When we hold a funeral, we do it according to Buddhism ritual. A lot of houses have a Buddhist altar dedicated to deceased family members. But it was more like a custom, not exactly a religious faith. It's not like we chant Buddhism mantra everyday. In fact I had never done such things in my life and that's a typical stance of Japanese. But it was a bit difficult to explain so I just answered "Well, I think I am."
"I thought so. Because you look calm and stable." She said.
I didn't think I was stable at all and I thought my calmness was just my natural character which had nothing to do with Buddhism. But still I didn't know how to explain it correctly.
When conversation went into complicated matter, I felt my lack of English skill again and it was frustrating a little bit. But I tried to talk about myself as best as I could. I said 9 years had passed since my last oversea trip and I want to know what I really want and where my heart is now. I might have felt a bit embarrassed talking about such things in Japan. But when you were on travel, it felt very natural to talk about.
"I tried a lot of things to fullfill my life in Germany." Linda said.
"I tried to learn piano, I tried to learn dance. But... what I always wanted to do since childhood was traveling. So I saved money as working and went on a long journey."
We kept talking. It was a nice talk.
My English still didn't come out smoothly but after the dinner, I found myself thinking positively about Camel Safari.
'Don't think too much. Just let it be...'
My inner voice was saying and I decided to follow it.