Bikaner land of Kings and Camels
Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
27Trip End Apr 30, 2006
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After 4 1/2 bumpy hours we arrived in the work-a-day city of Bikaner, where we stayed at a guest house with a really friendly owner and arranged our camel trek.
Eight of us set out on the camel trek accompanied by 2 camel carts, our 6 camels and cameliers. My camel was called Raju, he was tall and golden coloured. He seemed to be the moody one and kept trying to bite the bum of the camel in front. I think he thought all the other camels were after his bum too, as whenever there were camels behind us he kept looking around suspiciously to see what the others were up to.
I was pleased that my camelier was the most authentic looking, with his turban and dhoti (ghandi nappy). Although he only broke his taciturn demeanour towards me by laughing when I got off and walked away bow legged.
It was wonderful to ride the camel and not half as painful as I'd imagined. The rocking motion and warm furry belly against my ankles was quite reassuring. Each day we rode for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon with a chai break for us and a water break for the camels.
It was wonderful to see the rural villages with their desert architecture. The women make their homes from sand and cow dung and the organic forms rise up from the earth. Often a curved wall extends from the hut to encircle a few cows and sometimes a camel. Inside the houses, shelves are carved from the mud and the walls are decorated with tiny mirrors. The exterior is often painted rust red and decorated with patterns in white.
We camped at a different place each night and had fresh curry and chapatis (a type of unleavened bread). The cameliers did the cooking and collected dried camel droppings to make a circular fire. They poured the chapati mixture onto the embers and covered it with glowing droppings to slowly bake. After it was cooked they brushed off the ash and we ate it, it was delicious! After my poo prodding in Sri Lanka I hadn't imagined I'd be poo eating in India!
We walked through endless dusty yellow sand and scrubby trees. We didn't really see any proper drifting sand dunes, but I really enjoyed the tranquility and fresher air.