What’s Life Like in a Giant Sandcastle?


Prayer flags inside the Sandcastle

Life in a Giant Sandcastle

Life in a giant sandcastle, wouldn’t that be amazing?

Well, I alluded to the Jaisalmer fort (the giant sandcastle) in both my advice about camel trekking and then my own personal story of camel trekking, and then talked in great length about this ancient fortress in the hazards of being a small town traveler… but this time I thought I’d give a little insight what it’s like to be in this giant sandcastle for a month.

You see, I thought I was coming into this town for a couple of days, but that was almost a traveler’s lifetime ago now. When my friends in town first asked me to stay for Christmas I scoffed at the idea, “that’s 20 days away… too long to stay in a small town”

Life in a Giant Sandcastle

The incredibly ornate carvings throughout the fort… oh and that’s the ‘busy’ square in the background

However, it’s pretty clear now that I will be spending Christmas here, so the obvious question pops up, ‘what changed?’

In a way you could say that this town just sort of grew on me, but it’s not really that. I mean I really did like Jaisalmer from the get-go and if anything, I would say that the longer I stay here the more I itch for water, mountains, or jungle.

But then I look around…

One of the occupational hazards of the travel lifestyle is that very few things ever seem new and fresh anymore. Each country is new in a way, but you can normally relate it to something else, somewhere, sometime. In fact, it’s really one of the challenges for any long-term traveler, trying to keep a fresh perspective and childlike wonder.

And I look around…

This place is just chalked full of ways to make you feel like a child again. I mean first of all, I’m living in what amounts to a giant sandcastle, and really what kid doesn’t want to do that? Everywhere you go has an amazing sight, every restaurant is on a rooftop, every house a work of art. You can just wander around the fort, without ever getting lost, no worries in the world and go from rooftop to rooftop drinking lassis or even going in for a full Indian Thali here or there.

Life in a Giant Sandcastle

Hmmm… You can hop on these things?

Wandering around the street you’re constantly walking around cows and dogs but even that has a small-town charm to it here. Due to the fact that the fort is basically enclosed,  you keep passing the same dogs and cows… and really get to know them. I mean, you can even test your inner peace by slowly climbing onto one of the bulls and seeing if he stays calm. If you come into town I can show you where there’s a calf that thinks he’s a puppy because all of his friends are puppies… it’s priceless.

Then you have the locals. They all try to sell you something, like anywhere in India… but that’s got a different taste to it as well. I have met a few travelers now who have stuck around Jaisalmer for a couple of weeks at least, and each one has their own network of locals that they go and drink Chai with, eat with, and just sit around with…. there’s certainly no shortage of locals that just want to hang out… no strings attached.

There’s even an odd division inside the fort that dates back hundreds of years. On the eastern side of the fort, descended from the warrior cast, sunrises and what they call 100% non-vegetarian or ‘everything possible’ (just don’t ask about the cows). On the western side, descended from the bramins, 100% vegetarian with great sunsets.

Life in a Giant Sandcastle

Sitting with Khan in his restaurant

My typical day here now involves a little reading whilst enjoying my morning coffee on the rooftop of my guesthouse, looking north out over the desert as the city gets going, then practicing some poi for exercise. When I do finally leave my guest house, I wander down the street to drop in and see what my friend Amie is up to, (though she’s normally out working with the locals outside the fort) stop for a little chat and grab a chai with Khan at the restaurant before wandering down to go write in the warrior side of town. There, I take a little lassi whilst sitting out over a suspended balcony and write away for a couple of hours. Finally wandering back to find Amie for sunset yoga and we go for a hindi class.

From time to time we’re invited out to dine with the Bhopa and it’s incredibly refreshing to see how people that live with so little can still have such large smiles on their faces.

Ultimately, I weave through the cows on the way home to come back and work a bit on my site.

Life in a Giant Sandcastle

JJ & Hanif out for a cruise

As travelers we sometimes get so caught up on getting to the next location that we never really settle in and get to know anywhere. Looking out over the old sandstone walls of this ancient fortress, you can’t help but think that this quieter life, this life away from the hustle and the hassle (especially in India) holds many merits that we seem to overlook on our journey towards ‘advancement’ and technological development.

There are definitely some downsides, don’t get me wrong… and in many ways you wonder just how backwards people can be… and honestly, if it weren’t for the great friendship I’ve found out here, I’m not so sure that I could handle it for this long… but that’s a whole different story.

Here’s a little more info about this giant sandcastle. 

Yes… you could say that life in a giant sandcastle is everything that you would dream it to be… in fact, check out what it was like coming back to the giant sandcastle after leaving to go on a camel trek for a couple of days.

So maybe you don’t live in a giant sandcastle, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t look at the world with childlike wonder, I’d love to hear about some of the things that have dropped your jaw and piqued your intrigue and curiosity in the comment box below.

Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

32 Replies to “What’s Life Like in a Giant Sandcastle?”

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    1. This looks so much like spam, but you added a photo… I’m sp confused… Although, it looks like a photo of a child beside a name like Vegas hangover… That is one long and painful hangover. Let’s just say, for the sake of the child, that you not refer to him as a hangover, shall we?!

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    1. Well’ve, happy that’d hear’m that I am blowing away the competition regarding living in a Sandcastle. I’ve heard’t many’s people claim’in be experts’n this particular topic.

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    1. Hahaha… Thanks… I must admit, to begin with, this had all the common elements of spam, and I was just getting ready to think up some sort of elegantly charming response… Of course, when I didn’t have one, I was overwhelmingly happy to see that it came from you guys.

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  6. Marie-Carmen says:

    I, too, am an ant that is 4 and a sand castle expert (man I’m pretty old for an ant!).

    Nahhh, so seriously that sounds pretty cool living in a sand castle for a while! Might have to give that a try if I can survive India! 😀

    1. I had no idea there were other 4 year old ants that have become sandcastle ants… And really, by the time you’ve reached 4 years old as an ant, you’re clearly going to be the elder of the colony and thus should be considered the expert of something… and hey, why not sandcastles?!
      India is great, quite full on, and a little intense but easier than it’s reputation, you’ll survive it 😉

  7. Lol I’m not a spam comment so don’t delete it! I’d like to try living in a sand castle for a couple days but just to experience and say at least I tried it. I don’t know if I could really handle it for a long period of time either. Great sentiment about how travelers sometimes still don’t see everything around them if they are in a place for a long period of time. It’s true!

    1. Hey Samantha,
      So great to have you drop by… Glad to hear that you’re not spam sam, though you’re name does have an eerie resemblance to the word! Ya, living in a sandcastle was fun for awhile, but living there for a very long period of time would be pretty exhausting… and isn’t it crazy how you can be somewhere for so long and still have things left to see there?!

  8. Erin says:

    Dear Sir/Madam, My name is General _________ (<—insert made-up Ugandan-sounding name of your choice, here) and I recently inherited $47,000,000 from a dying uncle that I'd like your help (as a sand castle expert) investing in products to grow your hair long, soft and smelling like unicorn farts!


    But I do feel like a little more of an expert after reading your post. (Or an ant)

    And I'm taking in the "100% vegetarian with great sunsets" side.

    1. Hahaha… Erin, I swear you are the only person that reads my responses to spam… (I’ve discovered that I get more spam when I respond to it by the way, shocking right?!)
      So, do we have anywhere in particular that we would like to be building this sand castle?
      We can make the whole thing 100% vegetarian if you prefer, but we’re still going to have to have a sunset/sunrise side I believe.

      1. Erin says:

        I may or may not have a lot of free time on my hands ;P

        1. hahaha… I love those days… as long as they don’t become a regular thing 😛

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  10. Wow! This could be one particular of the most helpful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Great. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

    1. Sorry… just to get this straight, you’re an expert on living a sandcastle… are you an ant?

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    1. Oh what to do with this… each time i used to read smaller spam which also make clear their motive I DELETE IT, however… that is not happening with this ‘comment’ which I am reading now as I am utterly confused :/

  13. Awesome info! Thanks for making this.

  14. Can you explain this like I’m 4? 😉

    1. Hahaha! Okay. I will get a whole other post up for you shortly. IF internet holds up, it will be within the week. However, my current town seems to try to make every night a romantic one by having blackouts and thus forcing candlelit dinners (don’t worry, I’m not getting sucked in) 😛

  15. Eva says:

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    1. Thanks Eva, and absolutely I can. Is there anything in particular that you would like to know?

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