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Published: February 6th 2006
We crossed the land border at Sunauli at the start of December and after a couple of days in Kushinigar (the site where Buddha Gottama died) we headed to Rajasthan. We spent a couple of days in Jaipur. It was certainly not my favourite place. Dusty. Loud. Expensive (relatively). After Jaipur we took the desert train to Bikaner to start a camel safari through to Jodhpur.
Bikaner is a nice little city - a bit of the main trail which goes straight to Jodhpur from Jaipur but with it's own charms: the obligatory Fort with Military Museum, markets and chai-wallahs. Our main reason to come here was to find a tour through the desert. It was easy to organise this...
The camel trip was bumpy, basic and brilliant. We really enjoyed the company of the three guys who took us on the trip: Rama, Krishna and Zirmal. They cooked and made tea for us, taught us Hindi and some local terms too. After a while Sofie was really picking up a lot and I could manage a bit too. We would say: "Ram Ram" to the adults and "Ta Ta" to the children at every opportunity.
normal practice for locals to sit in carts behind the camel but we wanted the full experience and discomfort of sitting up there so to attract the ridicule of the locals. It was fun watching the world from up there: the antelope and birds, desert life and vitality. We came across many Bishnoi villages with round mud houses, and children and peacocks everywhere. Other traffic was fairly limited and we were never truly far from a settlement. In fact traveling by camel along these old trails is just a normal way to get around and camels are bought, traded, cared for like a favourite car. They are also a person's livelihood in many cases as we found out when the brother of one of our guides explained that his camel had died and we got the impression that this was a terrible blow for him. We were sad to say goodbye to the desert as we boarded the train to Jodhpur from a small town where it was very useful for Sofie to be a woman as she skipped past a horde of ticket-buyers in the train station. We're getting used to skipping those queues.
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