I am not a morning person, so waking up at 5:30 to a Chinese breakfast of noodles and rice porridge, then hopping on a double-humped mammal did not enthrall me.
It was also cold in the desert before sunrise and that makes me grumpy too. But the camels shut me up.
After a short bus ride from our hotel, we arrived at the Ming Sha Shan (Singing Sand Dunes). There, I saw my first camel. Rather, I saw my first hundred or so camels, lying quietly in wait for their cargo.
I found the number I was assigned on my camel’s blanket. I climbed onto the saddle, put my feet in the metal stirrups, and suddenly its rear end went way up, followed by the front of its body. Every group of five was led by a camel guide. Ours wore a T-shirt with dress pants and dress shoes.
More tourists began saddling up, and soon a long line of camels stretched across the dunes. As we bounced comfortably through the sand, the sun rose, silhouetting the camel riders in front of me like the climax of a majestic movie.
You’re much higher up on a camel than on a horse. It’s pretty cozy. Their humps can flop over; they’re not rigid. They felt soft and plush. Camels don’t store water there, just fatty tissue. But they sure do poop a lot. All along the 90-minute ride, they kept on pooping.
Stay tuned for part 2: camels in the evening.