"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Just Deserts

It was a day of surreal contrasts.

First a morning spent traversing “the world’s highest motorable road” with snow-chains fixed to our wheels,
then lunch in a restaurant staffed by a silent Buddhist monk,
and now an afternoon crossing the Nubra Valley desert – on camel.

I must be honest:
There was no real need to cross the desert, nor hire these beasts of burden.
But bactrian camels have been used to carry travellers across this part of the ancient Silk Route for more than two thousand years.
It was an opportunity I could not refuse!

With almost touching naiveté, I had imagined this would be similar to riding a horse.
I was mistaken:
For a start, there were no stirrups.
And trying to hang on to the animal with only one hand, whilst the other furiously gripped a camera, made the experience even more interesting.

It is surprisingly difficult to take a photograph whilst sitting astride a camel in motion,
but frankly alarming to be on the poor beast when it finally sits down!

So despite being treated with genuine care and concern by our camel-handlers,
(and sadly,  “our camel-handlers” is an expression I rarely have the opportunity to use)
it was with a slight sense of relief that we returned to a more familiar form of transport.

The beers we shared at the end of the day were, I think, well deserved.

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All bar one of these pictures were taken in the Nubra Valley highland deserts.

5 responses

  1. I see that Robin needed a beer after the adventure! Stunningly beautiful landscape and animals that look like they belong there.

    May 18, 2012 at 12:25 am

    • We both did: if you look carefully, you’ll see mine has already been poured. It’s thirsty work crossing a desert by camel!

      The landscape in Ladakh produces one glorious surprise after another: it’s an amazing place..

      May 18, 2012 at 8:10 am

  2. Toffeeapple

    I would have been very tempted to stay in the vehicle, camels are temperamental beasts.

    May 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    • As we arrived, one of the beasts was vigorously arguing with its neighbour, which was a trifle unsettling.

      Fortunately, the pair chosen for us behaved perfectly!

      May 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

  3. Pingback: Reflections « Neither Use Nor Ornament

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