7/3/13 - 7/18/13
Colin's 2nd blog...
Just like you've read about or seen on TV and movies...
KASHMIR--one of the most beautiful places on earth.
And such nice people.
Okay, as westerners, we've all heard about the dangers and conflict over Kashmir. So, we
were a little nervous to head there BUT we had heard from lots of other travelers and Kashmiris that it was safe and a great place to go. And considering I had heard about the wonders of Kashmir since a child, we just had to go. So, we drove the motorcycle for 12 hours after leaving the Golden Temple in Amritsar and finally arrived in Kashmir. No problems on the road other than being amazed at how many army men and trucks and forts there were. I mean, Pakistan would be very hard pressed to enter that area!!! Amazing really, never seen anything like it.
Educational note: Google maps shows Kashmir as "Jammu and Kashmir" --a part of India. All of the Kashmiris bluntly claimed that Kashmir is its own country. Pakistan claims that it is theirs and China of-course says they own it.
Well, the currency is India Rupees, the television is all Indian there are more Indian soldiers than you could imagine. I'd say its a part of India.
We stayed on a houseboat on Dal Lake and it was delightful. Then we changed to a guesthouse right off off the lake to save money and that was very nice too.
We did 4 days trekking (hiking) and camping in the Himalayas.
1 guide, 1 chef/fisherman, 1 "pony-man", 2 ponies, and lots of gear.
It was the first time Kristin and I have ever hiked and camped where we didn't have to carry anything! And, we had a personal chef. How luxurious!
Kashmir is a mostly muslim area so it feels a bit different from the rest of India. Women are usually totally covered, some in full burkas, and the men are more edgy and reserved. Once we met people though they were very, very nice. I was initially a little nervous to say I was American but was completely surprised at how many people's faces lit up and they were delighted to be with us. TV and the news makes us westerners a bit jaded I think. People are people. Arabs and muslims are not Taliban or Al Qaeda by and large, of-course.
Anyway, enjoy the photos. Kristin is a wonderful camerawoman. Sometimes I kid her, that she is like a young japanese tourist girl, clicking photos at every chance
Love to all of you.
Colin and Kristin
PS. we head toward Nepal in about a month and will be helping at the orphange a few weeks after we get there. Very much looking forward to that.
the Golden Temple in Amritsar... a Sikh temple... beautiful
changing of the guards at the Indian/ Pakistan border... interesting
Colin getting searched before entering... he looks pretty dangerous I guess
this look cracks me up... guess it's to protect the beard in transit? you see it a lot.
on the road to Kashmir... wow... what a beautiful but LONG journey that was. After 12 hours on the bike... I couldn't feel my legs and my whole body vibrated for hours afterwards. Luckily, we didn't have to get back on the bike for a few days and could just chill on the houseboat. Ahhh....
houseboat life. Dal Lake in Kashmir has over 1400 houseboats for rent and provide a relaxing vacation on the lake. Pretty nice.
the guesthouse owner... great man
we met some friends in Kashmir and went to the temple, the botanical gardens and a few other attractions together. fun group
Turban man .... Colin traded a German guy for this shirt. It originally said "Cashville", but he scratched the "C" off to say Ashville to remind us of home. It's spelled wrong, but does the trick
Ali-mama (uncle Ali) was our guide up the mountain for 4 days, as well as our chef. He's been leading treks in these mountains for over 40 years... and he kicked our butts up the mountain. Funny and good hearted man
Our gypsy porter man
6 hour hike... straight up... exhausting... but beautiful views. my legs were burning!!
chai on the way up... i love that wood stove made of clay... may have to make one in the backyard of our house when we return
Gypsy houses... people only live out here 3 months out of the year, because it's too cold to be here the other times of the year. Not a bad place to live though.
sweet gypsy girls bathing in the waterfall
our campsite the first night
Colin getting hit up for gifts/ candy for the gypsy kids. They normally ask for school pens or taffy/ candy. We carry extra pens just for that reason.
this one section had been burned by a fire
Where we spend our 2nd and 3rd nights... beautiful Gangebal Lake
fishing for trout... Kashmiri style with a string and hook
Colin x 25... ha ha... fun with panoramic
little but tasty
always taking photos
flowers for my beloved
view from the tent... not too bad... 18,000 foot mountain ... Harmukh Mountain... beautiful
not a bad view there mountain goat
a broken back and 2 brain surgeries won't keep Colin from climbing
a little poi by the lake
swimming in the glacier water... brrrr...
pony-man teaching us "magic tricks"
on the way down... we went "off trail" and made our own path. Lot's of fun and at times skiing down pine straw and dirt piles at the steep points.
the village at the bottom. 2 grown heterosexual men holding hands... I love it. You see this all throughout India. Men are very affectionate with each other... a product of suppressed interaction with women I assume.
i love this man ... so cute, quirky and friendly. I think he would have fit in my pack to take home with us.
on the road again... heading toward Leh
army men everywhere... I've honestly never seen so many men with guns in my life... they are everywhere in Kashmir
Our initial plan was to sell the bike after our adventures to and from Leh... but as we approach Leh and our time here is coming to an end... we are reconsidering. Attachment issues to our bike I guess. Thinking we may keep it and drive through Nepal as well. We'll see...anything's possible.