Intoxicating India (August 13th)

How funny life is. When I was at home in Australia the concept of writing a daily blog seemed perfectly reasonable. I have been way too busy enjoying the present moment and capturing the feeling here to stick to that plan. But just a week after we arrived here’s a bit more of the journey so far…

Delhi seemed so much cleaner than I could remember from precious trips. Literally no rubbish on the ground, and our hotel was lovely. First challenge was lost baggage, but felt positive it would arrive during the night. And it did.

Plans to head to a palace in Shimla and Dhāramasala changed by the universe and weather conditions. Shimla was completely flooded, and all in all impossible to head in that direction. We needed to think fast. An agent in Delhi helped us choose a new route. All felt good with a plan to fly to Kashmir the next day to start our journey.

Arrived Kashmir. Wow what a beautiful feeling to have the lake surrounded with the Himalayas. The feeling of magnificence and power from the mountains evident the moment you arrive. Our driver was a sweet heart, and shared lots on his world.

We arrived at our Houseboat in Kashmir. From the outside this view of the still lake and stunning architecture had a tired but distinct beauty. We spent a night on a houseboat before realizing we would be more settled in a guest room or hotel.

After waking on the houseboat feeling a little foggy we headed out with a driver. The clarity was almost instant. Our driver took us around the lake. It was like being ‘called’ intuitively to a spot that we needed to be in, and as we drove up the hill we knew why. Flying high above the city, a soaring and awe-inspiring spot awaited. The Taj in Kashmir or should I call it pure bliss?

It was like we had died and gone to heaven as they say. Like two giggling schoolgirls we excitedly looked around, sensed that we would sleep very well and settled ourselves in for breakfast. The location was simply exquisite with amazing staff.

This is definitely among one of the most beautiful spaces created I have ever seen. The front desk manager explained it was a German interior designer, the attentions to detail everywhere simply mind blowing. Felt very much at home for at least a night.

Kashmir was winning my approval in a big way, and I could feel a deep sense appreciation for this amazing place. It was quite unlike any part of India I had visited before in the south or around. Probably also the first time in my life I have spent time in the mountains without snow. I consider myself and ocean person, but wonder how it will feel to be away from it for a while?

We cracked open the Pink Moet, and celebrated the beauty of this place. I had a great catch up on apple’s face time (like skype) with my gorgeous husband, and could not believe I was able to show him the live sun setting in the Himalayas as he sat cozy at home by the fire in Albany, WA. Modern Technology is something else – you are never far away!

Woke up to Yoga, the most magical light on the mountains and could not stop taking photos trying to capture the reality all around me with my camera and my mind. Check out these photos and you will kind of understand my feeling of awe for the beauty available to us in this life. As I stood in stillness, in silence and in heaven I felt nothing but gratitude for my life, my experiences and all the amazing people on my path. A feeling and sense of pure LOVE. I will never forget this place or this feeling.

Traditional Kashmiri Dress –img 5483

Kashmir. There are many stories on Jesus in India for a timeframe and many believe he was in Kashmir. Any of you who read the Dan Browns – Davinci code may be familiar with this concept. A man who healed the sick and wore long robes became a familiar story; some say he has a grave in Kashmir. When Russian scientist arrived to excavate the supposed grave the locals were in uproar. The Russians were forbidden to continue their research and so the mystery continues, and the stories go on.

Kashmir also has one of the only ski slopes where you can ski 2 – 3 km in a row. Skiing and adventure sports are very popular along with hiking, hot air ballooning, white water rafting and more. There is a French company who has set up the skiing lifts and so on. I feel excited to return one day for snowboarding!

The people of Kashmir have been through a lot. On the positive, many have also had the opportunity to get out of Kashmir and live in other parts of India during this time.

One of the taxi drivers was telling us he has three wives, and seven children. I asked him if out of the three he had a favorite (now come one you may have wondered too ha ha!). Upon probing – he admitted there was one special one.

I also asked if the women could have three husbands – yes he did laugh – If its good enough for the men then hey – say no more!!

We wished for availability for an extra night at the Taj, but unless we were able to camp in the lounge (which we did consider ha ha) they were fully booked for a while.

We accepted it was time to go, and felt blessed to have had 24 hours to recover from the journey and decided it was time to cross the world’s highest motor crossing from Srinagar to Leh. Wow what an adventure awaits!

Have you even seen a natural scene that simply makes you suck in your breath and almost freeze in the moment? Well as we began the climb through the mountains my eyes were so wide open and in amazement in the beauty all around me. Indescribable, in many ways – but as I am writing blog I will give it a go! The photos will say more than words, but you still have to realize the photo only shows a slice – when this is 360 all around you its just – wow. Feeling blissed and blessed. The beautiful colorful stylish buildings, you could see they were created with so much love and attention to detail.

When you consider the lack of machinery, equipment, and the time it would have taken to build it from start to finish you realize what a true labor of love is. The valleys, the running river rapids, waterfalls, wild life and seemingly untouched beauty resonated with me on every level.

Incredible India. Some armed guards pulled us over along with all traffic and we were all told to wait. Our driver was having big problems trying to get an answer as to how long we would wait. We settled in, took some photos, read for a while, and walked a bit. 2 hours passed – the traffic got longer. Soon we found out there had been a landslide a bit further up, and they were clearing the road. We got excited as after a while we did move on but it was short lived as we stopped again, and again and yes again.

In the end I think we had waited around 3.5 hours, and time was seriously ticking on to make it anywhere before nightfall. Not a bad place to be ‘stuck’ but with no food and water after a while it became a little challenging. I needed the loo – badly (no not Delhi belly yet ha ha). A little bit tricky to empty your bladder in a traffic jam, but yes I can be creative!

The mountain people were so curious about us as we passed the time taking photo and laughing. A few chatted about where we were going, and how we were feeling. After a few more hours of moving and stopping we started to cover some kilometers.

Stopped for refreshments, and honestly think I met the most beautiful little three year old in India. He was just an absolute little gem, with a beaming smile of pure sunshine. The children here are just amazing!

We eventually arrived half way to Kargil at 11pm and had needed several intense hours in the dark driving on the kind of roads with sheer drops at each side of the vehicle. It is a journey for the more adventurous traveller, and so worth it for the experience.

A smart way to cross from Srinigar to Leh would be taking two nights on the way. Not too long in the car and plenty of time to enjoy the pristine scenery all around.

Jo and I had discussed what to do in any begging situations, as so many of these less fortunate souls do not even get the money. It was decided – if you feel it, then give. Some just touch you in a way you know you have to support, but it’s just not possible to give to each and everyone. We decided to try and carry some food, and where possible pass this on as oppose to money as at least they could have something good to eat.

Visions of being involved in setting something up, and giving back was so clear today. I have always wanted to do this, and I know one day it will happen. In the end when you put those things/wishes/hopes/and dreams out there for long enough and with enough power you have attracted them straight back to yourself. I wish for abundance on my path, enough to be able to make a difference and change other people’s lives.

On we go to Ley tomorrow. Possibly up to the highest point in the world that you can stand without oxygen over next days. We also passed through the second coldest place in the world tonight. It can get down to minus 50 in winter. Ouch – that’s cold. I think there will be some fairly awesome things to see on the way. Putting it out there for a special little retreat in Ley please …

For more, see Intoxicating India