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Published: August 26th 2007
Im currently sitting in an internet cafe about 100m from the stunning Golden Temple of Amritsar. I have been in India over a week now and this is the first chance I have had to do anything on my blog.
I can certainly say I did not get the best impression of India when arriving in Dehli on the 16th August. Dehli is overcrowded, busy, dirty and everyone there is simply after your money and nothing else. We were being scammed within 10 minutes of getting there when a taxi driver let us ring our booked hostel who said they had no record of our reservation. The taxi driver then took us to what he said was the main tourist office in Dehli but it blatantly wasnt. They proceeded to sell us overpriced trips out of Dehli. We refused and made our way to a "trusted" travel office (Central Tourism and Travel) who didnt scam us but we ended up paying for a pricey trip to Kashmir where we then bought a trek and the accomodation and transport for the rest of India.
I thought we were ripped off but we have been treated well and one of the tour operator managers nvited us to a Kashmiri engagement party. The bride is painted up with henna then dressed in expensive fabrics and literally has gifts thrown over her while the women of the family sing (for like 4 hours)!!!
Kashmir is beautiful and is only ruined by the guards who occupy it, although they dont cause trouble and seem nice, there is no real need for them it seems. We stayed on a houseboat in Lake Nageen in Srinigar. The houseboats are from British rule as the British we not allowed by the maharaja to live on the land in Kashmir, so they lived on the water! Crafty Brits! I went on a nice boat tour around lake Nageen where there is a floating vegetable market, lotus gardens and man made islands all on one lake.
In Kashmir I also trekked for 4 days up the himalayan foothills. According to our enigmatic guide, Shafi, we were 5000m high at one point. Not being the leanest of men this absolutely killed me but the views were ultimately worth it. There was a lake at 3500m which was stunning and it held many brown and rainbow trout which were introduced during the British rule.
Travelling is hard in India especially on the road as they are very busy. It seems you have to blow your horn and you will somehow get there quicker. It took 10 hours in a jeep yesterday to travel from Srinigar to Jammu (about 300km).
That is basically everything thats happened so far. I am later going to see the closing of the border between Pakistan and India which should be good. I hope to upload some pictures for you all soon. Till next time.
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