Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kold Krappy Kashmir

from Robinder:

Ok it's not all that bad I guess. But the way our guides pumped this place up was very misleading. They tell us things like when we are visiting India later we will be remembering how beautiful and how much fun we had in Kashmir. This could not be further from the truth. I can see Indian tourists coming here and having a good time, because they live in disgusting cities like Delhi or in very hot climates. But for Glenn and I, who grew up in BC, it was definitely less than breath-taking. At about noon on the second day of our water-trek we were asking our guide, Muneer, to turn around and take us back to the HB asap. It was cold, the first day was spent paddling thru garbage dumps and creeks full of sewage (see pictures), and we were just thinking about how we still had another 3 days before we would be back. We did not want to waste anymore time. I am not sure how, perhaps by full on ignoring us, Muneer kept on with the trek and we did 5 days as originally planned. We hated it so much, we very nearly were going to sneak away in the middle of the night and walk/hitch hike 28 km back to Srinagar. I find it quite funny that we came to Kashmir, to relax, have a good time and we are leaving, more bitter and cynical than ever!

So here briefly is our water trek. We started in the shikara from the houseboat. The majority of the first day was spent getting out of the city of Srinagar, heading downstream. We tried to play criket but on the second pitch Glenn hit it and I ran into a big mud puddle. See picture. We stayed the first night at a Baba's (Muslim priest) place in a small village called Sand Valley. These people have not seen very many tourists and the children hung around Glenn and I staring, with their mouths open. The second day we stayed at another village further downstream. At the village many of the people make a living by digging sand out of the bottom of the river onto large shikara's which they then shovel into trucks. It is very hard work! The third day we checked out Manezbal Lake, which I am sure is very beautiful--in the summer time. The last two days we paddled upstream which was a lot of work. Mostly our guide and the shikara driver paddled, but I joined in a bit as well, and I pulled the shikara by hand too. I think Glenn wouldve helped but he got quite ill on the fourth morning right after breakfast. The fifth day we had to go back through all the garbage and sewage which was even worse because this time it was slower to go upstream. At one point we had to take everything out and lift the shikara by hand and push it up over a damn which was probably 3 feet high.

Today is the end of our first full day after the water trek. We spent it with Muneer, touring around the city. We let our guide take us to a place where they make fine things out of wool, and we plan on buying some Kashmiri tea and spices tonight. The highlight of today though would have to be riding on top of a crowded city bus with a dozen other friendly Kashmiri, holding on for dear life. Glenn and I have decided to skip the mountain trek altogether, because we just want to get the hell out of here. It is all paid for, and we are not getting any money back, but we are just so tired of this place that we cannot wait to leave. I could not imagine staying for 20 days like they had originally suggested. It felt more like we were hostages, rather than tourists.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we will get out of here and head first to Jammu for maybe a night, then Amritsar where we will stay for probably 2 or 3 days. In Amritsar is Sikhs most holy place called the Golden Temple. We will stay in the temple itself for at least one night. It is free to stay and you get dal and apparently thousands of people stay there every night. Glenn and I have not shaved for at least a week, and we don't plan to until we get somewhere warm again.


Blogger Egganor said...

Thanks for the pixs - it makes me appreciate our corner of the world even more. Thanks for the phone call - that was awesome! Have a fun train ride & keep the info coming. Dad made the mistake of asking if "Rob was here" & Mattie spent the next hour moping when I told her that you were not here. Do you guys want to know how the Canucks are doing? XO

2:07 AM  

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