8 December 2008
Just 40km to the east of the Pakistan border lies the village of Khuri. Here, travelers come to ride the camels and camp out for a night or two under the stars and amidst the dunes of the Great Thar Desert. On the afternoon of the 8th, we set off for Khuri from Jaisalmer with Ramesh our driver. We had a brief stop in the town to get some lamb which he was promising to cook for us once we reached the village.
After having our welcome refreshments, we were taken outside to where our camels were waiting to take us to the dunes. It took us just under an hour to get there but it seemed to take much longer because it proved to be surprisingly difficult to remain comfortable on a camel. Lawrence of Arabia may have made it look easy but I have new found respect for all those who ride camels on a daily basis because it’s hard work.
We finally got to the top of the dunes and saw some of the other travelers. The sun was setting and the dunes stretched out in front of us, wave upon wave of golden sand. As I got off my camel, the warmth of the soft sand underneath the soles of my feet welcomed me into this desert state and made me think of my favourite book, The Little Prince. And as I stood there taking the view in, I remembered why deserts have always interested me. It was the stark contrast between the calm silence, the openness and the warm breezes as well as the potential for it to be unforgiving with its extreme temperatures, the ever changing terrain and sand storms that make it so intriguing.
At sundown, we made our way back to camp where we had our supper and had a choice of either camping out in the dunes or staying back at the village. Naturally, I decided that we should camp out so we headed off with our guide and another couple from Chile. We all piled onto the back of the cart and headed back into the dunes. As we moved further away, the village lights grew dimmer and the stars started to shine brighter. The air was crisp and cool and there was complete silence save for the occasional faint clanging of the cowbells in the distance. We reached our campsite and set up our tents – which also proved to be quite a feat. Numerous attempts later with no light apart from a weak torchlight, we finally got our tent up and lined it with tons of blankets. Later that night, the temperature dropped to what seemed like near freezing and I discovered that the sand which earlier in the day was so soft against my feet, was surprisingly hard and uncomfortable to sleep on despite the layers of blankets we had piled on. Other than the brief temptation to kick up a fuss, I ended up enjoying the experience of it all.