Camels of the Middle East, Africa & Central Asia
The unusual title for my blog post is actually the title of one of my favourite films in the long running series of comedic ‘Carry On’ films that became a much loved staple of UK cinema in the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s.
This one had our bawdy crew of iconic innuendo spouting stars such as Phil Silvers, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims & Charles Hawtrey out in the Tunisian desert as part of the French Foreign Legion.
Camels have also played a comedic role in my travels down the years. Their expressions & mannerisms just make me smile and whenever I make the acquaintance of one fleetingly on any trip, it always adds to my enjoyment.
You could say that they play a camel cameo role in my travels.
The ‘ship of the desert’ is of course associated with the Middle East and is a most valuable source of pack labour, meat and milk for the Arabic nations. They also have rich tourist appeal for many like me and are still a common dowry given by a bride’s parents to her groom.
The role of the humble camel in the evolution of the iconic Silk Road cannot be underestimated. Able to carry colossal weights and to travel easily across hazardous terrain for days, the camel was fundamental in carrying silk and spices from the Orient, through Central Asia & the Middle East and onto Europe.
It is not in much doubt that without the camel the Silk Road would never have existed. We therefore owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
We have all also heard the stories of holiday bargain camel rides, only for hapless tourists to be stung for far more money to secure their inglorious dismount from up high. Notorious at Giza apparently!
Happily I have never fallen foul of such a scam, even though I once enjoyed (endured?) such a ride elsewhere in Egypt in the late ’90s.
Here are a few of the ungainly fellas that I have come across down the years.
Krak des Chevaliers, Syria
Turkmenistan – Ashgabat Market
Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan
Wadi Rum, Jordan
And finally, a guest photo from Globetrotter, Lindy Pyrah. Lindy recently gave a talk at Globetrotters Club in London regarding her remarkable journey atop the iron ore of a freight train in Mauritania in Saharan West Africa.
Spellbound as I was about the whole wonderful talk, one photo in particular caught my eye……..
I once visited Butlins on a day trip in my mid-twenties and spent all day playing a game called ‘The Arabian Derby’ where you had to roll balls into a slot to make your camel move in a race against 7 other ‘jockeys’.
I ended up with repetitive strain injury in my wrist and spent a small fortune to win a single small toy gorilla eating a banana!
It was addictive I can tell you!!