Fredrik leaved Gulmarg today so we caught the moment and skipped skiing and took a ride into Srinigar instead. One reason was to leave Fredrik at the airport but maybe mostly because we wanted to see the capitol of Kashmir. Well, thats not exactly true because Srinigar is the capitol only during summer, during winter the capitol is Jammu and dont ask me why they have a setup like that. The size of the population in Srinigar is like Stockholm, 1.5 million but that is the only resemblance. The city is located in the Kashmir valley and no matter which direction you look at you will see huge mountains around the city. In the city center you have a big lake which is partly filled with house boats which makes the city looks like a part of Venice with the canals. Even if everything is floating they have built gardens, have some stores and they have pretty much everything they need, just a few paddles away.
We rented a taxi boat which just drove us around and let us look at the city, with a shining sun and around 20 degrees I must say it was really relaxing to hear the boat travel through the water, hear the birds and just enjoy the sun. The most surprising was the water quality though, the water looked really clean and even if i wouldn’t take a swim here it it looked clean even if they were throwing their garbage just everywhere, according to our guide the water is good enough to drink but nah, I wouldn’t do that for all gold in the world.
Walking around in the city my first thought is how dirty everything is, they throw they garbage right where they are and then it gets to much garbage on the street they pour some gasoline and light it on fire. Cows and goats are walking around in the city and everywhere you see both heavy armed police and soldiers with machine guns and armed cards. In other words you will get the feeling that its a bit uneasy area. As we were in the city we decided to go the pharmacy and stash up, pain killers, cough drops, antibiotics…you name it and we could buy everything, so nice to not have to go to a doctor to get a prescription first.
On our way home to Gulmarg our driver asked if we wanted to stop for a cup of tea. Well why not and it ended that we got invited to a cup of tea at a friends house to the driver. You could really feel that this is not a tourist area because we stirred up quite a fuss. The whole mountain village stopped and everybody wanted to say hello to us and the kids were kind a both scared and curious about us, after some time one the kids decided to be brave enough to pinch us, just to verify that we were real. Alot of tea, cookies and with new friends we said good bye and continued towards Gulmarg, the sun had started to go down and it was dark but it was when we saw it.
On the small road halway up the mountain after an 180 degrees curve our driver hit the breaks hard and we see a huge cat sitting on the middle of the road, with a huge long fluffy tail. Unfortunately the cat got just as scared as us and he took a majestic jump over the snow walls and into the dark surroundings. I never ever thought I would see a snow leapord in the wild and I don’t think I ever will forget the image of those gigantic paws, the long tail and majestic posture.
“Sri-Lanka, aint that dangerous?”
-Max talking about where to go next