On December 22 we left for Gujarat on a plane at 9:30pm. We got to Gujarat at midnight. In Gujarat we arrived at Ahmedabad and spent the night there. In the morning we got room service!
We left from Ahmedabad and went to Dhagendrha. We stayed at a house there that gave tours of the desert in jeeps. We checked into our hotel and then went to explore the town. In the town we met a group of kids that wanted to have their pictures taken. We took their picture. Then we kept walking. Then we met some men that owned a grain shop. They gave us some tea. One of them played a flute for us. My dad tried but he couldn't play the flute.
We then got invited to come to two temples. One was a Shiva temple and one was a Krishna temple. They both had smaller statues of Hanuman.
After walking farther we met a man who brought us to a small Muslim shrine in the courtyard of a school. Two of teh man's friends came and said that he was a Haji (a person who made a pilgrimage to Mecca). Then one of his friends bought us all a Thumbs Up (an Indian soda like Coke).
We passed a store where they were dying and selling kite string. The owners of the shop let us take pictures of them dyeing the string. When we left they gave us 5 small kites and 2 spools of string. We also bought bigger kites from a different store.
The next day we went on a jeep drive in the desert.
We woke up at 6:00 in the morning, got ready, and ate breakfast. WE left in the jeep at 7:30. It was cold driving in the open air jeep. On the road we saw 2 dead dogs. In the desert we saw wild asses, cranes, blue bull flamingos! Yeah, I must be hallucinating, you think. I also saw water! and we saw my brother, who is in the same category. We saw them driving around in the jeep.
We first saw the asses. Not that kind. They are like donkeys. They were brown with a white belly.
Then we saw a bluebull. They looked like cows but smaller and a little different. They were bluish-grey-black or beige or blue-brown.
Then we saw flamingos. They looked like the ones at the zoo you've all seen. They were not as pink though. They were all light pink or white.
The desert: every year the desert floods in the monsoon (rainy season). The desert is so close to the sea there is salty ground water so that water also comes up in the rainy season. So in the monsoon, the whole desert floods with brackish water. The water is 1-2.5 feet deep. In this time of year prawns come in from the sea (that is what the flamingos eat). Every year fishermen also fish the prawns. There is some water left every year. The flamingos live in until more water comes again.
The same day we also switched the place we were staying. We moved from a town to khoombas right across the street from teh desert. On the way we saw the salt storage. They had piles taller than me of salt. Then we went to the place they were producing salt. They had wells that they pumped water from into pans. In the pans they let the water evaporate so its just salt then they sent the salt on trucks to the huge piles of salt.
In the morning we went bird watching. We didn't get any good pictures but we saw many birds.
On Christmas when we were driving to Bhuj (which is a place named after a knife-axe) our tire completely busted. And our driver started yelling all kinds of Gujarati swear words. It was a very bad blow out. We drove all day long. We then checked into a hotel right across from Aina Mahal, a stone fort. My brother, Mom, and Dad left to explore the town a little but I stayed behind in the room.
In Bhuj we drove 90 km to the White Desert. It was all mud, salt, and water. We saw two guys that trekked out into the desert and got stuck in the mud. There were camel rides but we didn't get to go on one. It was too bad but I knew we would get to go on one in Rajasthan. On our way back a bunch of teenagers swarmed us to take pictures and were pulling me like a tug-of-war rope. We finally escaped but the ground around us was liquified. Later, when we went to Dholavira, we saw a much better salt desert with no crowds or mud. Instead of looking like mud and salt soup, the ground looked like dry cornflakes (frosted flakes, of course!). We found a dead flamingo with so much salt on it it wasn't rotten. It was like a salt-mummy. We tried to take its beak (well, my Dad tried to take its beak) but broke it. I found a bone that I got out of the salt intact.
In Bhuj we also went to a museum (Aina Mahal, which means Mirror Palace in Hindi). The palace was turned into a museum. Most of the walls had mirrors on them. In the museum we saw weapons and armour. In the same room as the armour there was a huge collection of herbs and leaves stuck on the wall. In one corridor the whole wall was covered in green and purple glass panels. In the museum there were a bunch of instruments, the king liked music adn hired musicians to play for him. We also saw the armoury of the king. It had a suit of chain mail, swords, shields, spears, muskets, knives, bows, and a thing that I don't know its name with two blades.
The next day we went to Kala Dunga, a big hill. From the top we could see all the way to Dholavira with binoculars. Then we went to the White Desert that I talked about above. The whole thing was covered with salt. We wanted to get a camel ride but didn't have the time. Under the salt was mud so you had to watch your step. We got swarmed by teenager students. They kept grabbing up to take pictures adn playing tug'o'war with us to get our pictures. They took pictures with us for at least half an hour. The solid ground near us got trampled adn mushy. We were almost trapped. IT WAS HORRID!
We left Bhuj at 6:30am to get to Dholavira. Dholavira is the oldest city in the world! The buildings there outdate the pyramids and are about the same age as Stonehenge. The city had a castle, a bailey, multiple water tanks, an upper town, a middle town, a lower town and even a defensive wall. I have a picture of a map that I'll show below.
After Dholavira we went to Ahmedabad.
On the way to Dholavira we saw the white desert I talked about. It was just like the other one except for no mud, crowds, footprints, or other craziness. It was 10 times better than the other one.