Biggles – The Camels are Coming

image002 I hate to admit it but it seems that recently I have been having a slight return to my childhood. Over the Christmas break I decided to christen my new Kindle with a copy of The Camels are Coming by Capt. W. E. Johns. This was first published on the 7th of September 1932 and was 259 pages long. The first three editions cost 7 shillings and 6 pence.

This book contains 17 short stories concerning Biggles life in 266 squadron and whilst we think of Biggles as a “Boy’s Own” kind of book, some of what is written there is quite adult in its content.

I will admit that the reason I looked for a Biggles book was partly because I want to do something aeroplane-ish in 2012, wargame wise.

I have plans … and I will publish them here shortly.

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I Like Driving

Camels take over the roadway in the Gobi
Camels take over the roadway in the Gobi

I was driving back from Mum’s yesterday afternoon and it occurred to me how much I enjoyed “life on the road”. Well, it was not really like being a long-haul truck driver, although I suspect I have the temperament, if not the ability to stay awake, to be a long-haul driver. I just noticed though, that I enjoyed it, enjoyed travelling the roads, stopping at diners, looking at the countryside through the windscreen and generally just watching the kilometres flow past.

I also liked the look of the trucks and the smell of the bush blowing in through the open window of the car. I wondered if this was related to my travelling in past years, perhaps there is a little gypsy or road warrior in me. Enough to make it difficult to settle in one place but not so much that I would give up trying to settle.

I recalled whilst driving how much I enjoyed travelling around the countryside in Mongolia, or maybe it is just the camels. I do like camels! Perhaps I’m not so much of a road warrior, more just a road sightseer. 😎

New South Wales Under Camel Threat

From the Sydney Morning Herald’s Discovery blog is an article about New South Wales Under Camel Threat.  New South Wales is where I come from. I knew that camels did well in Australia, just never thought that they did this well.

At least when I finally get back to New South Wales after periods in Mongolia and Saudi Arabia I will certainly feel right at home. 🙂

One Hump or Two?

Kendo scolded me for being slack and not updating my blog so frequently seeing as I was in Jeddah rather than Ulaanbaatar. He then asked about the camels. Which ones were nicer (actually, I think he may have been curious about which ones were cuter but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt there).Without a doubt, Kendo, the Mongolian camels (well, really they are Bactrian camels) are, in my generally not-so-humble opinion, a superior camel to the dromedary. Both styles of camel will carry a rider. Both types of camel have a fairly gentle disposition most of the time – there are exceptions to this but I shall save that for a later blog post. Both types of camel exhibit a colour range (that is, they are not all the same colour) and both types of camel have something of the exotic in them.

One thing I like about the Bactrian is that you can tell when it is running on empty as its humps droop.

Remember as a kid, growing up in Australia and drawing pictures on pieces of butcher’s paper from the butcher’s shop for your grandmother? Even though there was a large herd of dromedaries in Australia, when we drew a camel for Nan, we always drew it with two humps. I guess even then, 45 years ago, I must have known I was going to end up in Mongolia. I can remember as a kid thinking that I’d like to see Ulan Bator (as it was spelled then) but again, more on that in another blog later.

And Wal, Kendo lost your email address when his PC went belly-up a while back.

And Kendo, I have been updating a Blogger blog – just seeing how it feels compared to Microsoft’s Live Spaces. It’s at Thomo’s Blogger Hole. Truth is, a blog containing the features of both Blogger and Live Spaces would be wonderful.

Talking about Camel Milk

The Camel Milk I had is called Khoormog. It is produced by fermenting the camel milk. The khoormog has an alcoholic content of around 4%. It is considered a therapeutic drink, good for the digestive system amongst other things.

Whilst the Mongolians may feel that khoormog does not have a strong taste, the Australian certainly found the taste strong, and interesting.

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Camel Milk
My favourite Mongolian Family cooked lunch for me today. Meat, potatoes, the usual. There was, however, the addition of something special – warmed Camel’s Milk.

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Perhaps we shall get some camel milk again – I’ll certainly drink it a second time.

Camel Milk

My favourite Mongolian Family cooked lunch for me today. Meat, potatoes, the usual. There was, however, the addition of something special – warmed Camel’s Milk.

I will freely admit that I have never drunk camel’s milk before. It was OK. It was a different taste to start with (actually, it was a different taste to finish with as well but by the end of the mug I was getting used to the flavour). It had a flavour similar to Airag (the fermented mare’s milk drunk in vast quantities over the summer). However it was smoother and had a creamier flavour than the horse’s milk.

Puujee was telling me (through Tseye – his english and my Mongolian are of a similar standard) that when he was young there was maybe 700,000 camels or so making it pretty easy to get the milk. Now there are many less, maybe around 250,000. The milk is therefore harder to come by. The reason for the drop in the camel herd size seems to be less care for the animals and folks stealing camels for food.

Perhaps we shall get some camel milk again – I’d certainly drink it a second time.