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The Kirwan Twins Adventures We've finally graduated, so we're setting off for three months to backpack around India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand before entering the "real world."

Sand Troopers

INDIA | Saturday, 21 April 2007 | Views [980] | Comments [1]

By the time we reached Khuri, close to the Pakistan border, we were on the verge of becoming true sand troopers. Khuri is a base for camel safaris. We parked our gear at a mud hut for the first night and dined on Rhajastani cuisine. As the sun fell down and the stars were mounted in the sky, the three of us began one of our gin rummy rounds (For record sake, I'll note Dimity's absurd streak where she repeatedly crushed Bobby and I by hundreds of points at a time.) A little background; although opium is illegal in Rhajasthan, smoking or eating the substance goes hand in hand with hospitality among locals and friends. Although we didn't take advantage of this, our driver certainly did. He strolled over to our competitive little card game and joined in, all smile and laughter. We were interrupted several times by another driver who had consumed a bottle of whisky in one sitting and upon standing almost fell over before weaving his way to the cot near his car. He kept asking Suresh, our driver, to come to bed because he was scared, of what I'm not sure - dung beatles? Fox? Camels? We were pretty happy we didn't have to drive with him the next day.

The next morning we woke near sunrise and climbed onto our camels - Dimity was particularly "excited about having my own camel for two days!" We quickly discovered that they don't make for great pets. Camel flatulence is great for covering up your own (uh-hum) but terrible when riding on one or behind, or sleeping next to a camel. Camel spit and sneezes are also quite unpleasant and slimy, particularly if you catch a glob in the wind. Camel trotting is terribly painful on the chest, and although Lonely Planet does remind women to take along their sports bra, I'm not sure the awkward humpy bumpy ride would have been any smoother had I remembered.

So we set out among the endless shrubs and dunes for about an hour where we arrived at a very large tree and promptly disembarked for the next 5 hrs or so. The heat is too unbearable during the day, but we had a grand time moving with the shade of the tree while lounging on big comfy blankets and eating freshly cooked food by our desert men. Davisingh, the leader of the trio, is a truly incredible person. Although he was born and raised in the bush without a hint of education or exposure to life beyond until his early twenties, he speaks IMPECABLE english with the most hilarious American-imitation accent quoting phrases such as "Oh, I luuaaave it" and "whateverrrr." It was fascinating to talk to him so easily about his life, and even more interesting to show him a map and explain where his state and country were in perspective to England and other places where his tourists have come from. When he was 23 he bought a camel and got involved with the tourist industry. The things he learned, saw and heard from tourists (such as premarital sex, alcohol use, snow, sea) drove him crazy at first. He was utterly confused and decided to meditate in the desert for a month, after which he emerged clear-headed and with a desire to learn. He was the most spectacular local tour guide I have ever met.

So, after a few more hrs in the shade of playing with a group of children (playing meaning trying to keep them from stripping off our jewelry and finally calming them when we jokingly tried taking theirs), we set off to the dunes for sunset. The heat rapidly disappeared and the view was delightful. As the light faded, a spattering of constellations clotted the sky, giving it the illusion of being blurry. We ate more food, sipped Kingfisher beer, and played cards. The moon rises about two and a half hrs after the sunset. Minutes before, Davisingh's friend began tapping a beat on his tin plate setting off drummer-Bobby and then the rest of us. Once a nice little rhythm was established the desert man began to sing an amazing traditional nasal yoddel type song recounting old myths or entertaining stories (none of which we understood). The moon slowly peaked above the dunes and settled into the sea of stars, wiping them out with spotlight brightness.

We nestled into our sleeping bags on the dunes and went to sleep praying that the gigantic dung beatles would steer clear of us. These golf ball-sized bugs enjoy flying into walls and other objects, falling down, and repeating the action. We slept fairly well, tuning out the camels who happily regurgitated their hay and chewed all night long. In the morning we woke up lazily and noticed these strange little tracks covering every inch of sand. About ten feet away a dung beatle crawled stealthily leaving behind the very same tracks.

Peace and sand,


Tags: The Great Outdoors



Emma and Dimity,

So happy to see you're back making blog entries! Even though Bobby is home safe and sound (well, mostly sound; I'm sure his digestive track will continue to mend), I'm looking forward to following your travels through southeast Asia. Good luck!

Dan Frisch

  Dan Frisch Apr 23, 2007 2:24 AM

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