Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Jaisalmere- The Serai, Two Days and Three Nights in Luxury
This place is magical. The whole place is lit by candles and lanterns. As you arrive immaculately dressed Indian men great you with warm refresher towels and a drink. The white canvas tents with leather and wood interiors reminds me of old movies about Englishmen going on safari. The weather is balmy and it feels blissful and so foreign to be in a place this opulent.
We meet Trish's friend Cassandra who runs the Serai, at the front steps and she shows us to our room. Much to our surprise and delight we both have our own tent. They are at the furtherest corner of the estate and its a beautiful five minute walk down stone paths to our tents
At the front of our tents there are stone day beds with white cushions and candles on the table. You then walk into the first room, which is a study/lounge room. It has a beautiful wooden and leather writing desk with thick writing paper and leather bound books. Plus your own little jar of cookies. On the other side there are wood and wicker armchairs and huge plush cushions.
The second room is the bedroom. A stone bed head and bedside tables surround a massive king sized bed. With crisp white sheets. The bedside tables have little leather pouches with water, a torch and beautiful lanterns on.
You then walked into the bathroom. This glorious room has to be seen to be believed. The huge stone shower area with raindrop shower head. The crystal decanters filled with shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer. The huge double vanity with square white sinks set into stone bench tops.
Then Cassandra says that the reason she put us in the furthest tents was that there was a surprise out the back. We pulled back the tent door and there was, in an enclosed candlelit courtyard, a heated in-ground plunge pool/spa.
We are here for three opulent nights. They feel so far away from the rest of our trip. But I think I can get into this luxury for a little while.
- Every time you sit down in the hotel. A beautifully dressed, polite Indian man comes and brings you a cool drink and a plate of snacks. These snacks aren't peanuts or crisps but tandoori lamb in bite sized pieces or paneer and mushroom parcels etc. Little tender scrumptious morsels in all shapes and flavours. For dinner we tend to have a thali. With it's little golden bowls of different curries or curd mixtures. My favorite, to my surprise is the mutton, which in India I am told (after I have already fallen in love) is goat. Summing up, the food is as divine as the rest of this place
- The next morning we went into Jaisalmere. This city is on the edge of the desert and about 70kms from the Pakistan border. It's much drier and more affluent looking that the other areas we have been. Almost everyone wears shoes. Whereas in Varanasi very few women did. There are camels and of course cows, goats and dogs everywhere and they look healthier than those we have previously seen. It is also less touristy.
- After dinner and drinks and laughing. Getting back to my tent and jumping into the hot plunge pool before bed ... Need I say more?
- Cassandra took us to the musicians village. Basicaly everyone in this red dirt and stone village, learns to play traditional instruments and sing almost from birth. They are so good at it that they have travelled all over the world to play. There were 2 adults and 10 children who welcomed us into their home. They then played and sang for us for about 45 minutes. It was spine tingling. And the children all raising their voices in song at the same time brought tears of joy to my eyes.
- On our last night the three of us were going to go on a sunset camel ride over the dunes. But the weather had other ideas. A huge storm hit and it rained so heavily that the tents started leaking. Actually leaking sounds like little drips in the corners. In the main tents it was floor were almost ankle deep in water and torrents of rain were falling inside. We helped the staff squeegee the floors, which hey found very amusing. Cassandra said she would be unable to come with us but we should definitely still go because the sunset on the dunes was spectacular. Then it started raining again and the only car available was a topless jeep. Most people may have taken this as a sign that we shouldn't go. We didn't. Trish and I jumped into the jeep with woolen blankets around our shoulder and our driver drove us, in the rain, to the dunes. By the end of the 40 minute journey, we were soaked to the skin but in hysterics that like so many things on this trip, it might be a long hard road, but it's always worth doing.
After we arrived we jumped onto our beautifully dressed camels for a 10 minute walk to the best sunset vantage point. The only problem was, the cloud was so thick there was no sign of the sun. Just as we reached the end of our camel ride we saw 3 pristine white uniformed men walking over the top of the dune. They greeted us, popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and opened a little container with three sorts of snacks. We ate, we laughed and then we drove home completely satisfied. Sure if the weather had been sunny we would have sat on a picnic blanket, and stayed for an hour taking photos of the glorious sunset. But I think standing in the rain with a camel smelling blanket round our shoulders drinking champagne and laughing at the madness with the staff is much more my style.
- Cassandra also treated us to two treatments in the day spa. First we both got a full body 1.5 hour massage, that started with my feet being washed in water full of petals. And ended with me falling asleep in the table and the masseuse gently waking me and telling me I could stay and sleep if I wanted and he would wake me in a hour or two (I didn't stay because I didn't want to miss out on two hours of this place). The second treatment was in Trish's room. They set the three of us girls up on the king sized bed and then we all had a 45 minute reflexology foot massage at the same time, while drinking wine. I felt so nurtured after a day full of camels, rain and massages I could have cried.
- On the second night we arrived at our tents after a long day of shopping, walking and eating to find a gift wrapped in purple paper on our beds. These are apparently given to each guest every night. First night is a wooden camel, that we didn't get cause we were to busy saying hi and playing, the second night it was a beautiful scarf. On the third night Cassandra had picked us out personalized gifts that we had seen and commented on when we had visited the little shop in the hotel. Trish got a CD of music by the musicians from the village we had visited. I got a beautiful soft caramel leather bound notebook. Divine!
Tomorrow we are leaving the Serai and Jaiselmere to head back to Jodhpur for one night and staying in a hotel that is run by a friend of Cassandra's called the RAAS Haveli. Can't wait to get my head into Jodhpur, every place is so different and I want to soak up as much as I can.