Jaminargar- “warning unsuitable for Vegetarians”- had best Tandoori chicken in a long time (8mths), hmmm could go on for a long time about the spices, texture and flavours that can only be obtained by carefully marinating the chicken for days and the lovely huge chunks coated in spices and cooked in a Tandori oven, but I won’t as it will only make you jealous of our food adventures.
Made a late(10am) start to the day and our planned adventure to the nearby Marine park was thwarted by a bus that failed to show up for over 2 hours, had to change plans as it takes over 2hrs to get there and we needed to at the beach/reef for low tide at 11am! Instead we went back to Parks office in downtown Jaminargar and changed our permit for next day.
Grabbed a tuktuk to nearby bird sanctuary (10kms), turned out to be a very quite place no one else but us there, lovely pathways and shady walkways through flooded fields and lakes. Its on the main bird highway of Asia and everything from Bee Eaters to Flamingos stop here for some rest and fast food, saw some very odd snake birds with huge long necks that are all twisted! Even saw a tiny crocodile which is not supposed to be here and our photographer friends back at the hotel refused to believe it until they saw the photos! (they apparently wade in the water to get photos). 1,000 of birds in huge flocks swooped like starlings drawing huge patterns in the sky, dancing and weaving and making an incredible swishing noise as they flew past us. Sunset was the now familiar ball of fire that almost sizzled as it dipped into the lake.
The weather this time of year is perfect for a night time tuktuk ride and tired and hungry we bumped our way back to home base and after a yummy Masala Dosa (its a kind of crispy thin crusty pancake with a delicious lumpy mashed potatoes, onions, lentils and spices filling & a pair of sauces one spicy one coconut to dip it in) then we fell into our comfy bed.
Woke to the Muslim prayer calls around 5.30am, fell asleep.. woke again 6.30am with Hindu music, soft singing and string instrument, that did the trick, after a quick breaky we hopped the 8am bus 40km down the road, then switched to a tuktuk-truck (no seats) painfully bumpy 10km’s with many locals hanging of the sides, the last 10kms to the marine park has no transport, stuck our thumbs out and got a ride with an oil engineer, he was only going 1km but instructed his driver to take us in the air-conditioned 4×4 all the way to the park! By now we had worked out that the Marine Park was not alone and was surrounded on 3 sides by huge oil refineries about 5-10kms in each direction, most of India’s oil comes ashore here and it is not the remote tropical coral reef we had envisioned!
Still we were finally on a beach again and it was low tide..60 plus school kids were on the beach and all waved and wanted there photos taken, ack is that the ocean out there… bloody heck its like miles away ! we crossed the sandy flats and on to shallow rocky reef that went out for at least 2.5km of ankle-deep water before you were at the main reef! not much more than a few fish and a heron to report, no real reef was seen and having been on such gorgeous coral reefs on Bali we were somewhat disappointed.
It was now 12pm ish and the tide was turning fast, worried about just how fast it would race across the 2.5kms of shallow reef we almost ran back until we felt safe. We did stop as we found a colony of our ancestors, mud skippers or fish that walk on land! about 20 or so fish were popping in and out of holes and wandering up on the hard sand where they appeared to roll and play, sometimes running after each other on their small fin like legs.
Had oranges, juice and cookies for lunch then wandered back to the road to look for a way out of the Park. Lucky us the school kids were all still there and just boarding their bus! after some photos and laughter we jumped aboard for a free ride, the bus was probably a 16 seater but heck 60 kids and 4 teachers and 2 hitch hikers all found a spot to sit, many on the floor and 50% were asleep in a few minutes all piled up like sleeping puppies. They were headed to the very modern mall set up for all the oil workers so we tagged along and it felt just like Canada with tons of food and modern appliances on display, best was the selection of dark chocolate! We bought the kids two huge bags of candy for the road and said goodbye! jumped a passing luxury private bus back to Jamnigar and felt like although the Park was kinda not what we expected it all turned out very well and we just hope the oil companies notice the tiny marine park next door!
Next day we made another stop at the Vodaphone store as the internet was dead again! this time it was a paper work problem, Canadian passports have no official address for the owners in them, we gave the Hotel for our address and when asked for a person as a local reference I read the name badge off of the guy serving me!
Jumped the 2pm bus to Bhuj, nice bus semi private and very comfy for once, arrived at 8pm checked into a nice guest house that showed no sign of the 2003 major earthquake that killed 30,000 people…
Its a great place and we were surprised that at least half a dozen other wandering foreigners had found there way here also.
Bhuj is a lively town with an old district and nice vege market with many old damaged buildings from the quake even after 10 years!
12th Feb we went by 4×4 with 3 other’s into the far north of the Kutch district and peered across the Rann of Kutch at Pakistan. The Rann is a huge salt lake which used to be the mighty Indus river until another earthquake around 1863 changed the course of the river which is now across the border in Pakistan! Visited a few villages but we are still looking for the Kutch women and there traditional attire of gold and colourful clothing. Had supper at a street stand with our new friends and chatted about past adventures theres and ours in India and Nepal, topped the day of with a very chocolatey ice cream and had that lovely buzz of travel bliss.