As the apartment and villa rental season in Camps Bay is approaching, I realise that my overseas holidays for the rest of the Cape Town summer is basically non-existent. So dreaming about past trips is all I have time for right now. Here is a brief summery of our trip to Kashmir and the Himalayas.
On our arrival in Kashmir, Caroline and I giggled at the size of the airport but our chuckles were soon forgotten when the interrogation and security searches began. We breathed a sign of relieve when we stepped into Mohamed ‘s yellow Tata. Srinagar is like any Indian city, busy, hot, noisy and chaotic.
We took a colourful shikara across the lake to our house boat where every square millimetre was adorned with bling or red velvet. Hajji, Mohamed’s father and their scary looking toothless butler welcomed us with sweet, pink chai.
The view from the house boat was picturesque, the large lake stretched before us with house boats in vivid colours and the serene Himalayas in the background.
You could buy anything from the small gondola-type boats passing by. They even managed to source two Cobra beers, the price for this illegal commodity could feed a Kashmiri household for a couple of months.
The next morning another member of Mohamed’s family came to fetch us and we drove recklessly up the winding, dusty roads with the latest Bollywood music blaring from the cassette player. A hoot will announce a brightly decorated truck on the narrow road. Expert, dodgy driving saved us from, what seemed like a fatal accident time after time.
Our welcome party at the top of the mountain was a tired looking donkey and a shepherd with limited English. We set off for our hike up the Himalayas with equal parts of trepidation and excitement. On the way we met weather beaten shepherds and their life stock, shy nomads with inquisitive children and altitude. The latter left us with a dull headache.
Exhausted, we arrived at our camp as the sun disappeared. What the camp lacked in basic necessities, the savage beauty made up for. Snow-capped mountains, green pastures and pine trees. After a gourmet meal of chicken curry and chapattis, we huddled around the camp fire. The bitter cold made we wear the smelly donkey blanket with pride.
The next couple of days were spent hiking, napping and nursing our altitude hangovers.
We descended the mountain with a mixture of sadness and relief.