Not a huge amount has happened of late on the climbing front, hence the lack of posts as this is, ostensibly, my blogs’ raison d’etre. I have however been indulging in my other great passion, namely travelling to/bragging to other countries about my fortune to have, in the words of the great Cecil Rhodes (i think you can officially be called ‘great’ if you have a country named after you), “won first prize in the lottery of life” by being born English.
This time round i was in a country that knows only too well what it is like not to have ‘won’ the said “lottery of life”……..India. A beguiling country lorded over by men such as old Cecil for nearly 100 years in an era known as the ‘Raj’ until their independence in 1947 – you’ve heard of Gandhi right?!? Anyway this Raj era can be briefly summed up through the medium of dance, in this instance please note that an aggressive dance denotes a time of great suffering and a happy flowing dance suggests a time of great prosperity……….the Raj-era falls into this category.
Brief introductory points aside our main reason for going (our being myself and Lockwoods own Jim Higgins) was for a wander about in the Himalayas with the hope of some good old Victorian ‘peak bagging’. Rather than bore you with the “i did this”/”then we did that” stuff i’m going to just pick up on some completely unadulterated, gen-you-ine snippets of diary entry that i made as we went along. Starting wiiiiitttthhhhhhhhh………………….(by the way all the stuff in italics is stuff i’m writing nnnnnnnNOW to clarify points that you wouldn’t get unless you were there).
Delhi to Leh:
Friday 18th June –
Arrived India 11am – HOT
Flights from Delhi to Daksum (where?!?) Rs11,000 + chauffer round city from Neeraj, seeing Lotus Temple, India Gate, Houses of Parliament, Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple – all courtesy of Naz (he’s FUCKING dodgy by the way).
Saturday 19th June –
Flew from Delhi to SRINAGAR (yeah that’s in bastard KASHMIR) 11.15am arr.12.50pm – KASHMIR!!! (see!!). All things sorted by dude called Rammy the local Kashmiri ‘fixer’. Srinagar is pretty intimidating. India v Pakistan ODI cricket match. India won – phew! Kingfisher Airlines – WOW!! Saw a real Kingfisher too. Staying on houseboat called ‘Peace of Mind’ – pissed myself when i saw it. Luxury. Genuinely.
Sunday 20th June –
5 shot in protests over death of another boy in rioting the week before in what the local papers have called ‘Bloody Sunday’ – MUMMY!!!. Srinagar – the Indian Venice??
Monday 21st June –
Theory: 7.30am bus to Kargil from Srinagar arriving sometime around 5pm. Practice: Nightmare bus. No food until Dras (dhal and chappatti – tasty mind!) 12 hours after setting off. Arrived Kargil around midnight. 16 hours on the road. Delays caused by landslides. Made eye contact with a man shitting in a ditch.
Tuesday 22nd June –
Left Kargil 5.30am and arrived Leh by 6pm. Spent the night on a guys floor for Rs50 (about 35p).
So there we have the first few days in India. How the hoot did we end up in Kashmir?!? Well, a friendly man at New Delhi train station took us under his wing as we looked for the official booking office to source a way of getting from Delhi up to Leh. It’s worth noting there are several ‘official’ travel booking offices in Delhi, and indeed India, but only one of them is actually ‘Official’, the others merely saying they are as there’s no laws to say they can’t. Alas this ‘helpful’ chap told us that the building whose shade we were sheltering in was NOT the official booking office (inspite of the traveller’s Bible – Lonely Planet – saying so) and that he knew exactly where the real one was. “If you remember one thing in India, then remember – ‘trust no one’!” he said as we waved him goodbye from our rickshaw on our way to his mates’ ‘tourist information’ shop (you’ve heard of Naz right??).