Day 50 - Saturday 1st April
What a noisy town - there was noise and shouting all night ! After a lot of haggling, the fare was agreed for the short trip to the bus station - it was amazing how high the initial rate was quoted at. The journey to Jammu was without incident. The journey took three hours through the green countryside and there was pleasant warming sunshine to enjoy. However I was quickly surrounded by people and had difficulty in protecting my rucksack from the porters. Eventually I escaped and made the long walk up the walkway to the Kashmiri Tourist Office. The effort was well worthwhile as the Office was full of brochures and the staff were extremely helpful. I stayed for over an hour and sorted out train times and acquired an Introduction Card, which amongst other things allowed westreners to purchase alcohol.
There was a bus leaving for Sringar at 3pm but as it was a12 hour journey, there would be an overnight stop enroute. When I arrived at the bus station, I was met by a group of travellers who had stayed at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. After a chat, I joined them in deciding to stay overnight in Jammu and catch the 7am bus so that it would be a daytime journey. We walked to a nearby hotel where for 3 rupees each eight of us could share two rooms with seven beds. We went to the Tourist centre for our evening meal - the restaurant was clean but pricey and the staff were slow. An Indian guy at the Centre asked for information about the borders with Pakistan and offered to take some of us for a tour around Jammu by jeep - unfortunately circumstances prevented us from taking up the offer. Afterwards I went for a walk by myself - the evening was warm, the sky was moonlit and it was enjoyable because I was not hassled by anyone.
In my room my companions were Carolyn- an American who had been working with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia and Janet and Barbara - both Canadians. In the other room were the other four, Diane - an American travelling companion of Carolyn, Dan from Canada, Peter from NZ and Jean-Pierre a Frenchman who despite his limited English was charming.
For some bizarre reason, we were awoken in the middle of the night to complete the hotel's registration forms - goodness knows with all the noise of a city it is difficult enough to sleep - why did they wait so long !
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