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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Jammu And Kashmir, India

May 28, 2009 - Valley of the Chortens

Set out at 8.45, the valley narrowing into a gorge, spreading out into a rocky valley filled with ancient white chortens, reaching Skyu where we check out the gompa and rest up for an hour. As we enter the Markha valley proper, chortens stand in silent sentinel in the hills above us, no wildlife save for the occasional choker (partridge), the landscape barren, sandy coloured cliffs rising a km up on either side, pockmarked with holes; some of these are used as meditation caves by yogins. We get to our homestay at Sara and enjoy tea and...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 27, 2009 - The first pass

At Charlie’s invitation, I take a look out of the window and when I do I can't suppress a gasp. It’s snowing, and judging by the depth of snow that’s fallen on the cows beneath our window (about 3 inches), it’s been snowing for quite some time. Nothing brings forth the child in you more than looking out at a landscape unexpectedly transformed into an etching of black and white like this, the slender boughs of the trees bobbing under their newfound weight, the stone walls wearing a thick white cap of ever increasing thickness, the chortens...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 26, 2009 - First day of Markha Valley trek

Get a minivan from Leh to Jiangchan, following the Indus river across a bare plain of dust and cairns before winding south through the hills and back down to the valley beyond. We have an easy trek to Rumbak through the gorge and spend the night at the homestay there, watching a Hindi movie with the family in their lounge/kitchen, rows and rows of brass and copper pots and kettles framing one side

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 21, 2009 - Mountain biking at 18,000 feet

At just after 1pm, all four of us jump into the jeep, and with the pickup behind us carrying the bikes, make our way up to the Khardung La pass, which at 18,380 feet (5602 metres), is the highest motorable pass in the world. As we climb higher and higher, the snow on the mountainside gets deeper and deeper, and Leh gets smaller and smaller, until even the Shanti Stupa, which seemed so imposing when looking up at it, now looks like what it is, a tiny bump on the valley floor. After about an hour and a half, we get to the pass, and the...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 19, 2009 - Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa

After spending over a week gazing at Leh Palace from my mimic grace, I decided it was time to actually have a look around the place and get some exercise. It didn’t take long, walking up through Old Leh, until the palace rose sheer above me. After paying the entrance fee, I pretty much had the place to myself, and a very dark and strange place it was too. The palace is in the process of being restored, so it has the feel of a work in progress, with workmen sawing and hammering, going quiet and staring as you walk by. Most of the rooms are...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 16, 2009 - Leh watching

Having spent the days since the 13th in self-enforced idleness, doing as little as possible bar reading and sleeping (not as easy as one might think), I start to feel more human today and take a walk into town with a bit more jauntiness than previously. As I wait for some momos (a Tibetan dish very similar to Chinese dumplings) in a third floor restaurant on the main bazaar, I look out down below and people watch. There is a wide spectrum, from blonde haired tourists swaddled in North Face jackets to dark skinned men in rags selling...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 15, 2009 - Leh

Met my friend yesterday and bought some trekking socks, and was beginning to think that the two or so weeks I'd spent in Mcleodganj and spared me the worst of the altitude sickness (AMS), so armed with a formidable 'To Do' list, I walked back into town, and it was shut. Again. Not to great a surprise in hindsight as it is election day here in Jammu & Kashmir,so took the opportunity to take some pictures and watch a little street cricket. By the time I get back, my head is throbbing and I climb into bed as more symptoms of AMS hit me; the...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 11, 2009 - Jammu to Leh

Take an auto-rickshaw to the airport and the security is tight. Really tight. It starts when you get to the entrance, which is like the ones at the army bases (you can't even see the airport from the road); machine guns poking over sandbags, men in berets looking through slits in whitewashed concrete walls, all sporting impressive moustaches. We go through the small door in this outer wall (ticket checked) to the next security point (frisked, metal detector and luggage x-rayed), then down a covered walkway (tickets and ID checked), walk...

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Travels of a Kinnie

May 10, 2009 - Mcleodganj to Jammu

Walk down the potholed road to the main square of Mcleodganj, trying to avoid being splashed by the auto-rickshaws, and catch a jeep to the surprisingly well organised bus station at Dharamsala. It's easy to forget in Mcleodganj that you are in India, so strong is the Tibetan influence, and thus it comes as a bit of a shock to be back in the mix. The day (at least at first) is mercifully overcast after the thunderstorm the night before and the bus leaves right in time. Monkeys, as common here as squirrels are in England, line parts of the...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Nov 6, 2008 - Jammu (again)

11-6 Srinagar to Jammu The reverse of a week before except this time when we hike to the bus at 6:15 the streets were eerily deserted, only army personnel. A fellow on his way home said it was a holiday…later we found out it was an unofficial curfew, no one was allowed out! The entire Kashmir valley was shut down except for public transport leaving the area…the separatist Coord Commit(CC) had called for ‘Jamia Masjid Chalo’ according to the newspaper – a march to Jamia Masjid Mosque in old town(where we had encountered the trouble days...

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Oct 28, 2008 - Srinagar

Walked to bus station & altho jeep drivers were constantly tempting us w/ rides for 200 r. we forged ahead to the bus ticket window - ordinary, state run buses - to Srinagar which cost 187 r. ea and left right on time 8 am but w/ only 7 of us on board! We had most of the bus to ourselves the whole way, no new passengers got on until we were w/in 30 km of Srinagar when we were transferred to another bus which was mostly full and took us into town! Great ride of 10 hours several rest/eat stops and a very good driver. Almost immediately out...

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Oct 27, 2008 - Jammu

To bus lvg town at 8 arr in Jammu at 2 walk to Diamond Hotel(LP recom) 300 r. dbl. Eat at Jewel's Fast Food, lots of vegie choices for a chg and just down the street from internet. Bon spends 2 hrs+, very slooow, I cannot get into site or out of Yahoo due to some spyware virus...finally after half hour I log out and quit. But cheap, only 30 r.(50 cents) for 1 1/2 hours, ha! The ordinary bus was only 100 r. to get here thru the countryside, crowded rural roads underconstruction most of the way and lots of traffic.

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