Day six of our epic trip, and we're off on the third leg, travelling north to Jaisalmer, on the edge of the desert near Pakistan. It's apparently likely to be even hotter up there, but I'm not convinced that's possible.
On the upside, everyone's feeling better and we ma de good time, arriving in mid afternoon.
We left the car on the outskirts and caught a couple of rickshaws up a very steep hill and through some impossibly narrow gaps, arriving at the offices of the very Indian-
named 'Mr Dessert', who we'd been recommended to by someone who'd visited the region last year. We booked ourselves on his camel safari, leaving at 4pm that day and returning the next morning, with a night sleeping under the stars in the
desert in between. It cost the princely sum of 1000 rupees a head - not bad for a trip which turned out to be laid on just for us [the only white tourists crazy enough to be there in the off-season heat?].
The icing on the cake was finding a decent hotel for the next night, which booked us in at half price owing to the off season and agreed to take care of our bags.
We were driven out to the camels, pausing en route to visit an abandoned village. The story, we were told, was that 100 years ago, the prime minister of the state, who was a very bad man with five wives, visited the village and demanded the mayor's daughter be his sixth wife. The mayor refused to let her go and was given an ultimatum - hand her over in 24 hours or we destroy the village. So the entire population upped sticks and fled overnight, and the place has been abandoned ever since.
Whatever the truth of it, the village was definitely abandoned (apart from the old man at the entrance charging RS10 per head to look round!).
We rode out into the dessert on our camels - stopping to see the sunset and arriving at the campsite at 7pm.
Our guides were great - one of them mentioned to K that he'd had no formal education and learnt his (pretty good) English entirely from 20 years of looking after tourists on this trip.
We had a very tasty meal at the camp - no idea what it was, as we'd been forbidden from using any lights in order to avoid attracting mosquitos, but it was delicious. Our camp beds under the stars were just the thing, and we all passed a good night
apart from being disturbed initally by the local stray dog howling at the moon.
All of the above was in no way spoiled by noticing that in the middle of the dessert, my mobile phone had three signal strength bars - more than it does in many areas of Oxford. Clearly the architects of the dreaming spires just didn't think of the radio waves we'd be trying to get through them 500 years later.