(excerpt from my never/maybe?? to be released book)
So this story takes place about 10 days into my India trip with my friend Alex. It had been 10 days of crazy adventures travelling the ‘Golder Triangle’ tourist route in North India, all while with a heavily injured leg. I had experienced being the most sick I’ve ever been in my life, 14 hour train rides, 47 degree heat and at this stage I was exhausted and looking forward to leave New Delhi to go down south to Goa.
I had heard it was a lot more of a tourist place, with big psychedellic trance festivals, beach parties, nice surf etc…
On our last day in Delhi we struck up a conversation with a random man on the street. This happens quite a lot on India, so I was used to it by now. He was just asking us why we were in India, where we have been and where we were going so we made a bit of small talk with him and I mentioned I was flying to Goa next.
“Okay, but you can’t go to Goa now, everything is closed.” he said.
“It’s monsoon season.” he replied. “A lot of Goa is closed for the season. Really the only people that go there at this time are honeymooners that go there to stay in their hotel all day.”
I didn’t believe him at first so I checked on my phone, and yep, sure enough the weather was forecast for storms every day constantly for the next 7 days.
I was shocked and not too happy. We talked to him for a bit longer and he convinced up to go to his friend’s travel agency down the road. This is another thing that happens a lot in India, everyone will try and sell you something or get commision by bringing you to a shop. But we decided to follow him , he seemed like a friendly-enough person.
In the travel agency the man talked to us about the best places in India we could visit, one of them being Kashmir, up near the Himalayan mountains up at the very north on India. There was beautiful scenery, the weather was about 25 degrees colder (that was the main thing which convinced me) we could get accomodation on a houseboat and basically relax around there for a few days. This seemed like the perfect option so Alex and I booked the whole package of flights and accomodation on the spot with cash…
So we arrived in Kashmir the following day, and it was a hell of a lot different from Delhi. It felt like we had basically stepped into a new country entirely. The weather had dropped significantly, there was a nice cool mountain breeze and everything seemed a lot calmer and nicer. (Aside from the fact that there was military police at every corner due to the current political unrest situation.)
We got to the lake and went to the houseboat. The first thing I noticed was the houseboat was not next to the land, it was in the middle of the water and the only way to get there was for one of the workers to take up there on a little homemade wooden canoe. This did not fare too well with me because I like to be able to come and go frequently, I wanted to be able to walk around and explore the town whenever, not be stuck on a little boat.
But anyway, we took the canoe onto the houseboat where we were to stay for the next couple days and met up with Muneer. So let me tell you a thing or two about Muneer. He was basically the equivalent as Mr Crabs from Spongebob. This man was CONSTANTLY trying to sell us things, drugs, services, whatever you could think of. Basically he saw us foreigners as dollar signs.
I was only on the boat for a couple hours before I started to get very bored and restless. There was no internet, and nothing to do onboard except talk to Alex who had purchased some of Muneer’s marijuana and wasn’t being too interesting at this stage.
4 hours in, I was pacing the room and comparing the place to a prison, there was no way I could spend 4 nights sitting on this houseboat doing nothing. I was in India, I wanted to be out exploring or doing something.
So Muneer came by to bring us dinner, and I talked to him about our options, what activies we could do. Instantly I saw Muneer’s eyes light up; he had been waiting for this moment, it was time for him to make some more money.
He took no delay in telling up about the different hiking options available that we could go on, and after dinner he quickly got us on to the canoe and to his friend’s travel agency.
So from there we booked to do a hike. It was going to be 4 days and 3 nights, there was a cook, a sherpa and 2 donkeys coming with us to climb the second tallest mountain in India.
Now I’ve heard the term used in Australia, “that’s a trek” when referring to something which takes a bit of effort/time.
But let me tell you… THIS was a trek.
TO BE CONTINUED..?