After a most ordinary nights sleep we jumped on the train on our way to Kastrup, Copenhagen. Only 30 minutes delayed which for you guys who know how the train works in Sweden is nothing, Checked in our luggage and spend the rest of the waiting time to having a couple of beers and whoop whoop, suddenly we were on the plane towards India.
The condition on the plane was ok but what we thought would be an easy transfer in Dehli was something completely different. First we got scammed by a taxi driver which may not be a big deal for us but it still sucks then you know someone ripped you off. After that we ended up in a terminal which they were extending with 80 new gates. The building dust was everywhere and I promise you all, coming from cold Nordic air to this inferno with pollution and smog just took all the energy from us. However one hour later we were finally on the plane towards Srinagar in Kashmir and believe it or not, our really really cheap low price flight had higher standards than our SAS flight from Copenhagen. We were flying on higher altitude, faster and the staff was prettier, I don’t complain and the flight was like a dream compared with the airport we just left.
The first I see once we get closer to the airport in Srinagar is anti aircraft guns, barb wires and a regiment of soldier however after some minor paperwork we were welcomed to the zone which Sweden’s state department warn you about and all insurance companies has on their exception list. Staff from our hotel met us on the airport and on the way to the hotel we got some information about the region, like there is somewhere around 1500 soldiers in the village which only contains a couple of hotels and houses, and a high altitude warfare school, suddenly it feels like this might be an odd tourist resort to go to but it still feels so right to be here!
“Skis to India? How did you think now”
-check in counter at Kastrup
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
With big expectations after the heavy snowfall during the night I strapped my snowboard and dropped in but what a…
The sun is shining and we are pretty long south so its really warm, even if it snowed the whole night the snow becomes wet and heavy. The good part with this is that the different layers melt together but the boring part beside that its really heavy to ride in is that the snow gets so heavy that the risk for block avalanches rises big time. To ski on the sun side during the afternoon is out of the question and I actually had a experience earlier today which I never had before while snowboarding;
On my way to turn down into a tiny canyon I had to do a sharp turn and then straight line through the canyon, this sharp turn throw up alot of snow and that snow chased me down the canyon and normally thats not a problem. However this time it was like someone added a couple of kg cement on my board and it just went to heavy to turn around, however then we snow stopped I stopped and it was digging hard time to be able to get free so i could continue to ride. I am really glad it happen while I was riding in the forest where the snow kind a binds to the tree and it was no real danger for me, imaging this in the high zone where you get much bigger block of snow, you are screwed!
We also tried the community service today, in classic indian style we took the bus and since the bus was full we were referred to sit on the roof. We were sitting on the roof, people were hanging on the side of the bus and it was chaotic and just like in the movies. It was crazy but at the same time really fun to say that we done it and we can check it from my bucket list.
In Srinigar it was another riot today. We starts to get used to burning cars, stone throwing people and really didn’t care much but at least it wasn’t a tourist who started it this time. Instead it was two youngsters who were members in the kashmir independence guerrilla who open fired towards soldiers. They returned fire of course and it ended with two dead 17 year old guerrilla members and a full scale riot about police brutality.
“It doesn’t matter what you do here, everything is an adventure”
-Martin on the bus