Day 07 - Pahalgam, Pahalgam, Pahalgam!

Trip Start Sep 02, 2011
Trip End Nov 25, 2011

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Flag of India  , Kashmir,
Thursday, September 8, 2011

We had stuffed our luggage and were being transported out of the village when suddenly we realized we had yet to visit Mohsin's school. Or suffer his wrath. Walking back fully packed took a while so we were hoping to see at least a waterslide or mini zoo. We got neither, but were glad not to disappoint him. They were just having presentations and for the highlight you’ll have to see the accompanying video.

We had to walk towards the main road now because our original transport had been all: "I’m too old for kids." On the way we were as always invited for tea by a good friend of Moin. In this case the mayor of the village. Later that day we arrive at the main road where a car is waiting for us, some hardier stuffing ensued and we were on the road again, towards Pahalgam.

It’s not long before we crawl through a busy city. Traffic grinds down to a halt and all you can hear is the honking of horns. But between all this honking there are no signs of anger. In fact more often than not a 'vehicular confrontation’ will end with what has to be the Indian equivalent of “What are you up to you cheeky rascal?”. After which both parties will start laughing, get out and share some tea. Okay not sure about the tea.

We’re dropped in the city to do some hat-shopping and snoop around for a while. The appropriate ‘hats-only’ shop is found on an otherwise empty roof without any signage. It’s quite elitist. Snooped some more and went back to the car that crawled us to the bus/jeep terminal.

Finding the right jeep for you is a matter of listening to the drivers. They will, every once in a while, call out the name of their destination three times in a row. Whether this is a for clarity or just a universal speech impediment is not clear since it also happens in regular conversation:

AVERAGE DUDE:  Where are you going?

DRIVER:                Pahalgam, Pahalgam, Pahalgam.

We cramped into our jeep with our luggage living large up top and start the journey to Pahalgam, Pahalgam, Pahalgam. The road runs along a river of glacier water that we followed upstream all the way into town.

The car stops at our hotel, the illustriously named ‘Brown Palace’. Entering this brown cavern we see it’s not at all as bad as it sounds. The man that started this place tried to give it a wooden theme, decorating the common rooms with bark he stripped from trees and other woody stuff. Perhaps something like ‘Wooden Palace’ would sound more appealing. But as it stands we pretty much have the place to ourselves and the rooms and service are great so we’re not complaining.
Last thing to do was a modest 3 hour walk around the area. We had some food in fly city before taking a bus halfway up a mountain and walk down again by a different route. It was raining most of the time, which is impossible since it never rains in Kashmir (so sayeth Moin). So it probably didn’t rain after all. Back to Brown Palace.

On a side note, was one of the dwarfs in The Hobbit called Moin?
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