Bahrain: 11th February 2011
So, we continue. Museum? Done that! Fort? Check! What’s next, the market?
No, the Camel Farm! Started as a hobby by an uncle of the present King, and remaining in the ownership of the Bahraini Royal Family, that’s something to see, even if all you really do there is wander around inspecting (and, of course, photographing) the camels.
Most people have mixed feelings about the camel. At first glance, you would never call it beautiful. Someone once called it ‘a horse designed by a committee’, which I thought was a very good description. All the unattractive-looking features have a function, and, like the VW Beetle or the C-130 Hercules, that functionality grows on you, and develops a kind of beauty of its own.
There’s no camel-riding here; most people’s experience of it is a ten-minute lurch along the beach or around the Pyramids on a flea-bitten beast that’s seen better days. But, several years ago, we’d had a proper camel ride; three hours in the Wadi Rum, accompanied by two lads who really knew, and cared for their animals.
On that ride, we’d passed a group of ‘happy campers’ digging their LandCruiser out of a sand dune.
‘You’ll never see a camel stuck like that!’ said one of the boys ‘Because, a creature which knows the hundredth name of God has sense enough to go around that which he can’t go over!’
But, back to Bahrain, and the magnificent beasts at the farm. These aren’t working animals, said the guide. They’re just kept because the Royal Family like having them around. But, she had a word of warning. If you get too close, and the camel doesn’t like you, it will spit.
‘And, nobody who’s been spat on by a camel is getting on MY bus!’