We arrived to Srinagar airport with no expectations or what so ever. First thing we had to do after getting our luggage was to fill a form with local police officer. Just that they can keep count how many foreigners come to Kashmir in total. We were supposed to have a driver waiting us, but it really didn’t happen. So we took a taxi and head straight to our houseboat called Dandoo Palace.
It was quite a shock when we arrived to the shoreline filled with the local boats. I’m sure they have used the same kind of boats for ages in Srinagar. So we hopped on a boat and the trip began. It did not take more than a minute for the first “business man” to show up next to our boat. Guy was selling us some pipes that you can smoke some cigarettes with, but as we can’t carry any extra weight we had to turn the man down. All in all, the view on the lake is just stunning. You can see the fishermen casting their nets, hawks fishing and the backdrop is snowy mountains, not bad, huh.
At the houseboat we met our hosts and they all seemed really happy and welcoming. They said that they are sorry for not heating the boat in advance, but for us it was ok. We are from Finland, the land of winter, for god’s sake. It was probably minus something inside at first, but as soon as they got the heater going it was pretty decent plus 15 in our place, haha.
In the evening we met a really nice local guy called Ali, or Ali Baba as we call him sometimes. Luckily he was a travel agency owner, so we got a really nice deal from him for our upcoming trip to Gulmarg. He also is building a house boat which no one has ever built in Srinagar. His already past father was a boat builder, so this one is built for his memory. We went to see the carvings they had made on that boat and I have to say that the skills of the carvers working there are just out of this planet. Normally a boat is build in 3 months, but to finish Ali’s boat it is taking 3 years because of all the details in the carvings.
We also went to see the floating market of Srinagar, from these boats you can basically find everything you need from a cell phone to a cheesecake. It really was nice to see the local people doing their thing while our boat slowly passed by them. I just wonder how beautiful the landscape in Srinagar is during the summer. Luckily we got invited to come back in summer and Ali lets us stay for free in his new houseboat.
Next we are off to finally go do some skiing, and to do it in famous Gulmarg. How the snow was and how the skiing in general in this area is, you will here in the next post of mine.