Tag Archive for: Workaway

Every day of our stay in Jaisalmer was a great experience, for the food, for the people and for the chance to discover always something new and exciting in this beautiful city. But the most exciting experience of all was spending the night in the silence of the desert, under a sky full of stars.

We joined a tour organized by the hotel where we did our third Workaway volunteer project, Hotel Fifu, together with two other travelers. The tour also included visiting some of the important landmarks around Jaisalmer.

Historical places around Jaisalmer

We started our tour early, after breakfast at the hotel, when a jeep picked us up from the reception. We drove for some time through the tall dunes covered by vegetation (yes, the Thar Desert is mostly a green desert) arriving at our first stop, the cenotaphs of Bada Bagh. None of the places that we visited that day felt touristy and we were left to explore the areas undisturbed.



Other stops on our route included the Amar Sagar Jain Temple and the abandoned town of Kuldhara, arriving in the end at a local village.


The locals weren’t surprised by our visit, as they probably see tourists quite often around, but their children (their many children) came running to play with us. The most exciting thing to play with was the camera and they happily took a few pictures with it.


The golden dunes

It was shortly before sunset when the villagers finished preparing the necessary things for the trip and we left on camel’s back into the wilderness of the desert.



The camels were owned by our guide from the village and were good taken care of and treated well. The camels are part of the life of the people in the desert, in the same way, goats and cows are. But yes, there are also camels used mainly for tourism, that probably don’t enjoy a good treatment like the ones owned by local families.

We left the village behind and rode for almost one hour through sand dunes and agricultural fields until we could see only sand around us, little vegetation and no people. At this point, the desert looked more like the one we were used with from our previous destinations: Morocco and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula.



Some of our guides cooked dinner and boiled tea for us, while we helped the others prepare the camp for the night. We opted for the tour that included wild camping, which meant sleeping on a simple bed right under the stars. Of course, you can choose a tour with a tent and even entertainment, but we were more excited about experiencing the desert as locals did for centuries.


After witnessing a perfect sunset we could enjoy a delicious dinner while the sky got filled with starts. There was silence and beauty in the darkness that surrounded us.



We woke up the next day partially covered in sand, as the wind blew quite strong during the night and, after the breakfast, we left the guide walk back with the camels to the village while we drove back to the city with the jeep.

We arrived back at the hotel sweaty and dusty but overwhelmed with excitement and happiness for experiencing something so beautiful.

Discover more about Jaisalmer or visit our gallery.

As we planned a longer stay in India, we decided to dedicate some of our time to volunteering in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, choosing as destination the closest city to the wilderness of the desert, Jaisalmer.

We didn’t find just a beautiful city there, but also the silence, which was completely absent in the other places that we visited in India, and some of the most friendly people we met in the country, including our host Fifu, the owner of Fifu Hotel, that made us feel like at home in every single day of our stay.

After helping with the renovation of an old Japanese house in Hadano and learning about permaculture at a family-owned farm in Kathmandu during previous volunteering projects, this time we used less our physical capabilities. I was asked to help with maintaining and updating Fifu’s websites for the hotel and Miriam was responsible for translating them into German.

We found pleasure in being part of this project, as the work was pleasant and we could organize the free time to our liking. We enjoyed morning walks in the city, when the air was less hot, delicious meals and drinks at the hotel and probably one of the best views of the city and its fort from the rooftop terrace.



Fifu has always been careful and attentive, making sure that we had everything we needed, and he even gave us the chance to take part in one of the tours in the desert (read more about it here).



It felt pleasant to be surrounded by such extraordinary and friendly people, the crew and Fifu’s family members. Fifu always had interesting stories to tell, mostly about his love for life in the desert. We never got a chance to feel like guests in his hotel, but more like friends, which made it harder to say goodbye at the end of the 10 days that we spent in Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer was not just another place on our list of visited places, but a destination that we will most likely come back to in the future. Read more about the city here.

What makes India truly special is its incredible diversity. From the seaside to the high Himalayan Mountains the landscape and the people change dramatically, leaving place for an endless number of experiences. But the best of our experiences was the one we had in the Great Thar Desert, the most populous desert in the world.

Trying to choose from different transportation methods that would bring us from Mumbai to Jaisalmer, we decided to fly to the desert, via Jaipur, as the price for the flight felt more convincing than the less expensive, but also extremely long train ride.

We were picked up from the airport and transferred to the reception of the hotel, where we planned to stay for the following 10 days and where we also did our third Workaway project. Read more about it here.

Jaisalmer – a World Heritage Site

The most pleasant thing to notice about “The Golden City” is the respect for traditions and the efforts to preserve the authenticity of the place. As technology and building methods evolved, the local community in Jaisalmer used them to recreate and use easier the same architectural style and motifs inherited from their ancestors, which resulted in extending the inhabited part of the city without creating much contrast between the old and the new.



Located close to the border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer is the gateway to a series of experiences in the desert. We went there for the beautiful city but, obviously, we also wanted to venture out in the desert.

Home to 78000 people, Jaisalmer has a glorious past and a rich history. The name “Golden City” comes from the golden color of its sandstone walls and of the dunes in the surrounding desert.



The main attraction is the fort, the most important remembrance of the city’s glorious history, where nowadays people still live and practice different commercial and touristic activities. Around 4000 people live inside the walls. Unfortunately, the fort wasn’t built to sustain the modern life of its inhabitants and the intense use of water, in the absence of a proper drainage system is damaging the construction, putting it at risk of collapsing. Although local people are aware of this danger, mass tourism continues to add to the damage. Therefore we recommend looking for accommodations outside the fort.


Things to do

The old architecture impresses with its many details and the meticulousness of the workers that built the city. A guided tour could help you understand more of the secrets hidden behind the old walls. Travelers can visit Jain temples, beautiful Havelis and a royal palace, although just losing yourself in the streets of the fortress is already a rewarding experience, which you can end with a traditional meal or a refreshing drink on one of the many terraces in the city, that offer beautiful views of the fort.



Another option is walking to Gadisar Lake, where visitors can rent a boat or just chill on the lakeside.



If the fortress and the city are not enough to satisfy the curious explorer inside of you, there is more to discover outside the city. Book a tour that will bring you to the Bada Bagh (8KM from Jaisalmer) where you can admire beautiful cenotaphs and a great landscape overlooking the nearby river.



Continue your trip to the Amar Sagar Jain Temple (6KM from Jaisalmer) whose design reflects the typical Rajasthan architecture, with an advanced level of details.



20 Km away from Jaisalmer you can visit the village of Kuldhara. Built around the 13th century, it was completely abandoned by the early 19th century, the village being nowadays shrouded in legend and mystery and many say it is haunted.



If you are less interested in history and architecture, but on the look for more adventurous things to do, we warmly recommend exploring the desert, by booking one of the many available tours. If you don’t know which one to choose, maybe you will find inspiration in our article about spending a night out in the desert.

Jaisalmer was the highlight of our journey in India, but just one of the places that make the Thar Desert such an interesting destination. As we wanted to explore more of the desert, at the end of our 10 days stay in the city we took the train towards the “Blue City”, Jodhpur.

More impressions about Jaisalmer you will find in our gallery.

Seven days later after our arrival in Japan, we took the train from Yokohama to Hadano, in the Kanagawa Prefecture, the place where we were planning to start our first, two weeks long Workaway experience.

But before telling you about our experience let us specify a few details that describe what Workaway is. It is a platform for travelers that are willing to offer their contribution to a project in return for accommodation or food (or both). The projects are posted by hosts around the world, offering to travelers also a closer approach to local lifestyle and language practice. You can sign up for an account on Workaway.info and choose between a single or a couple account. After you can search for thousands of projects and find the one that suits you best. Probably the best part of it is that you are not committed to a certain period of time unless previously agreed to with your host. We think it is one of the best ways to travel when trying to combine touristic activities with the local life experience.


“Go straight on the road till the Coca Cola vending machine and on the left-hand side you will find the house” were the instructions from our host that led us to an old Japanese style house, which became our home and workplace for two weeks.

We found two friendly people there, Rio and Carrie, our hosts and our guides to the Japanese lifestyle and delicious cuisine. We believe that beautiful places are made even more beautiful by the people that you find there. And Rio and Carrie were the people that made our experience at their house truly unforgettable. Sleeping on tatami beds, waking up with fresh ground coffee and enjoyable small talk over dinner were just some of the highlights of our stay.


We were given different tasks that continued the work of other “workawayers” from the past. We sanded walls, painted, cut wood and helped with the cleaning and the cooking in the house. At the end of each day we had some time for ourselves and enjoyed hot tea and some internet connection under the kotatsu (a low, wooden table frame covered by a blanket, upon which a tabletop sits and with a heat source underneath… it’ easier to describe it with pictures, as it isn’t common to see such a setup in a regular house :)


In our free days, we went to discover the beautiful places surrounding Mount Fuji, like Hakone and Lake Ashi, we went hiking in the mountains near Hadano and spent lazy afternoons while planning our upcoming trip to the south of Japan. Rio proved to be a good guide and showed us around Hadano and in some of the evenings him and Carrie took us out for dinner, so we could get familiarized with the Japanese food that we haven’t tried yet.


What is worth mentioning about Workaway projects is that you will usually be asked to work 4 to 5 hours a day, so there’s always time for all the other things you want to do: sleep, read, go out etc. What we enjoyed most about our experience was taking a long break after the long travel days in the Russian Federation and after our arrival in Japan but also having the occasion to meet new people and make friends.

Two weeks later we said goodbye to Diversity Hadano and took the bus towards Kyoto and Osaka, famous historical destinations and a paradise for food lovers.