Day 1 – Delhi to Jaisalmer
Phew! What can I say about this road trip?
Exhausting, yes. But damn, was it fun.
So, we set out for the trip around 6:30 in the morning, if I remember correctly. Early into the trip, we missed a turn because we were arguing who the best character of F.R.I.E.N.D.S was, and on which points HIMYM is better than F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and google maps, then rerouted us (or royally fu*ked us) through a village. Not village but fields, to be exact.
So, there we were, driving on kuccha roads, and our car got stuck in mud pits on several occasions, and we hitched a ride on a bullock cart as well, till we reached the highway. This all happened during the first hour of our trip. Crazy scenes man.
What happened just as we entered Jaisalmer?
So, after a 15-hour long drive which included two stops – one for breakfast and the other for lunch- we reached Jaisalmer. We had checked a few Oyo rooms for our stay, and intended to pay them a visit.
But then something happened. Just as we entered Jaisalmer, a man clad in kurta-pyjama started following us on his bike. Soon he overtook us, parked his bike on the road and signalled us to stop. We thought we had committed some kind of mistake.
We stopped our car; he came to our window and……… he was a travel agent. And that’s how the travel agents in Jaisalmer approach you, apparently. You will find plenty of them. So, don’t panic if you find someone following your car.
What was the deal offered?
The man took us to a Hotel called Grand Hyatt (no, not that big chain hotel), showed us the rooms there. The hotel rooms were good. Then he showed us some photographs of a Desert Camp in Sam. Then we were offered a deal for around Rs. 2500 for each person which had –
1. One-night stay in that Hotel.
2. Breakfast for the next day in hotel buffet.
3. A guided tour of the city.
4. Activities in Sam Sand dunes which included Desert Safari in Thar and a Camel ride.
5. Stay in a Desert Camp in Sam which included folk dance performances, dinner and breakfast for the next day.
Just like everyone, we were a little skeptical about the deal lest we should be taken for a ride. We had a tight budget and really didn’t want our money to go to waste.
The man, then took us to another hotel called Deoki Niwas Palace, which had a pool and better ambience. Obviously, a stay in that hotel drove up the price of the deal. So, we took the man’s number, and decided to check out the stay we had booked through Oyo.
Now, when you do that, these travel agents try to pressurize you into giving them the deposit by citing various reasons like the deal will get booked and all, don’t fall for it. Nothing like that is going to happen. That’s one of the benefits of traveling in an off-season.
However, the Oyo we had booked, some hotel called Desert View, left us disappointed. A very long group discussion ensued, with cuss words and insults peppered in here and there. After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that the deal we were offered was good. We were going to take it, but not just like that, we were going to negotiate the hell out of it.
Thankfully, we had a master and very besharam (this trait is important for the task) negotiator in our group. After a long negotiating process with the agent, we were able to bring the deal price down to Rs.1900 per person. We thought it was reasonable and we took it. At least, we didn’t need to worry about things after taking the deal.