China: Yunnan: #12 Train Ride to Tuan Shan (Part b)

The little yellow train came to a stop at the Shuanglong (Double Dragon) Bridge, only 3km. (a little over 1 mi.) west of Jianshui.  The bridge was built at the confluence of the Lujiang and Tachong Rivers.  These two rivers twist along their separate courses looking like two dragons, hence that bridge’s name.  Below the confluence, the new river is called the Nanpan.

DSC01110 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01110 © DY of jtdytravels

The bridge was originally built with only three arches during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty between 1736 and 1795. However, it had to be increased by another 14 arches during the 1820‘s due to a flood which widened the river.  The bridge is now 148 m. (486 ft.) long and varies in width from 3-5 m. (9-16 ft.)

DSC01112 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01112 © DY of jtdytravels

The central tower of the bridge is quite spectacular, although it would undoubtedly look better on a sunny day when the colours of the tiles would show up. Never mind, when you’re travelling, you get what you get and I was just grateful that it was just misty not pelting down with rain!

DSC01113 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01113 © DY of jtdytravels

We had time to walk over the bridge, but first we had to get past the ‘elephant’ guards!

DSC01114 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01114 © DY of jtdytravels

The rain became a little heavier as we walked onto the bridge. But that red umbrella just gave the touch of colour that lifted the scene with the main tower.

DSC01116 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01116 © DY of jtdytravels

A closer look at the coloured tile roof of the main tower.

DSC01119 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01119 © DY of jtdytravels

There’s another, smaller tower at the far end of the bridge.

DSC01121 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01121 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking down on the bank showed another way to enjoy the view of this bridge! 

DSC01124 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01124 © DY of jtdytravels

 A beautiful reflection on the lee side of the bridge.

DSC01125 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01125 © DY of jtdytravels

The river looked so peaceful as I began to walk back over the bridge towards the train.

DSC01126 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01126 © DY of jtdytravels

And, then, guess who got in the way and clogged the bridge walk?  Yep. Those models and their army of photographers. They were simply taking command of the whole bridge.

DSC01128 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01128 © DY of jtdytravels

Although it was raining lightly this parasol was just for show! However, I noted that the light rain didn’t suit the make-up, costumes or cameras.  Our way was totally blocked, and, if you look at the faces, we weren’t especially welcome walking into their shots! With a little patience from everyone, the photos they wanted were taken, and we made it back across the bridge. 

DSC01127 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01127 © DY of jtdytravels

A bemused local.

DSC01136 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01136 © DY of jtdytravels

 …and another one. I’d much rather photograph these faces than the heavily made up faces of those models. These faces have lived. I’m sure these men have great stories to tell.

DSC01132 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01132 © DY of jtdytravels

Rear view of another fisherman. They’re not real raindrops on the umbrella.

DSC01134 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01134 © DY of jtdytravels

A final look at the lovely reflections of this famous Shuanglong (Double Dragon) Bridge. Then it was back on the train and onwards towards Tuan Shan along a track that was originally laid by the French when they had greater influence in the area than they do now.  Hence, of course, the metre gauge track. 

DSC01140 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01140 © DY of jtdytravels

Our cheery (!) musician regaled us with a piano accordion this time. I did like his hat!

DSC01141 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01141 © DY of jtdytravels

A fellow passenger enjoying lunch!

DSC01142 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01142 © DY of jtdytravels

Our next stop was at an old French inspired station that had seen much better days… but at least there was a toilet… even if it was only a slit in a concrete slab.  When needs must…..

DSC01145 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01145 © DY of jtdytravels

A local used the station as a short cut.

DSC01150 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01150 © DY of jtdytravels

Quite a stern look from this little fellow.  Wonder what’s up with him.

DSC01152 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01152 © DY of jtdytravels

It wasn’t long before we came into the outskirts of a small town.

DSC01156 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC01156 © DY of jtdytravels

And then we were there, at our destination for the day. It was around 11.30 and now we had 90 minutes to walk around the old village before the train returned to Jianshui.

More of that walk anon

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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Russia : Kamchatka : #14 Bystrinsky Museum of Local Lore

It was 28th August, and we were still in Esso and staying at the ‘Uyznoe Guesthouse’.  Esso, with a population of about 1950 (2010 census), is the regional capital of the Bystrinsky area; there aren’t any other choices of places to stay or visit.  Esso is it.

Thankfully a ‘slow’ day was planned as a bit of a rest in the middle of the trip and a morning off for our hardworking driver and crew.  Those suffering from the dreaded head cold didn’t feel up to much physical activity anyway.  After breakfast we walked from the hotel to the Bystrinsky Museum of Local Lore.

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P1120065  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120065 © DY of jtdytravels

The museum was set up to depict the way of life of some local tribes, who, by now, have mostly been assimilated into the wider community.  There was a distinct lack of interpretive information in English, but we got the general idea from the well set up displays.  Our guide spoke in Russian, but her commentary was translated by Gulya.

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P1120074  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120074 © DY of jtdytravels

There were several totem style sculptures in the grounds of the museum.

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P1120067  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120067 © DY of jtdytravels

The main house was a fairly modern style house for this region.  Being such a remote area, only local materials are used.  Buildings such as these are similar to the ones I saw in Siberia a few years ago.  They are made of wood with moss, lichen and hair being stuffed into the cracks between the logs to keep the dwellings basically airtight and warm.  They are really most efficient constructions particularly considering the temperatures falls to -30°C (-22°F), and below, during the long winters.  Everything is made from what could be found in the district.  There’s no building supply store nearby in this remote part of Russia.

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P1120069  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120069 © DY of jtdytravels

The entrance door was beautifully carved and had distinctive hinges.

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P1120071  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120071 © DY of jtdytravels

A simple door handle, made from a branch of a tree.

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P1120108  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120108 © DY of jtdytravels

An interesting wooden door knob.

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P1120095  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120095 © DY of jtdytravels

This was a very interesting older style of traditional house which now houses dioramas of traditional way of life. The interesting roof creates a vortex that keeps snow from settling on the roof.  To get inside, you had to bend low to go through the tunnel entrance.

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P1120101  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120101 © DY of jtdytravels

Inside, were several full size dioramas depicting the traditional way of life.  Animal skins were particularly important for warmth and were extensively used for clothing and inside the houses as bedding, floor rugs, walls and wall hangings.

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P1120100  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120100 © DY of jtdytravels

This lady, all wrapped up in skins and furs, is shown grinding a grain.

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P1120104  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120104 © DY of jtdytravels

A warm fur hat decorated with bead trimming.

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P1120077  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120077 © DY of jtdytravels

Even the backs of the hats were decorated with beads.

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P1120078  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120078 © DY of jtdytravels

Models depicting both the typical facial structure and clothing of the local tribe’s people.

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P1120085  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120085 © DY of jtdytravels

One of the important Kamchatkan wild animals is the Lynx, a good looking big pussy cat!   We had seen brown bears and marmots but there are other wild animals in these forests including Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Hare, Sable, Mink, Wolf, Elk, Reindeer, Snow Sheep, and Otter.  We didn’t see any of those.

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P1120086  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120086 © DY of jtdytravels

Eagles (like this stuffed one) are a most important bird species in Kamchatka, especially the magnificent Steller’s Sea Eagle.  Other birds in the area, although we didn’t see them, are the Golden Eagle and Peregrine, Rock and Willow Ptarmigan, Black-billed capercailye, Long-tailed Hawk, and Owl.  Some birds such as Partridges, Capercailye and Swans stay on the peninsula throughout the year, while others, in particular Geese and Ducks, come to this remote place every spring for nesting.  The coastal cliffs and rocky islands of the Kamchatkan Peninsula are inhabited by Sea Gulls, Cormorants and Puffins.

{Notes from ‘The Animal World of Kamchatka.}

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P1120072  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120072 © DY of jtdytravels

A bridge was being renewed at one side of the museum.  Although a metal sub-structure is used, logs form the base for the road surface.

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P1120111  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120111 © DY of jtdytravels

We walked back to the hotel for a quick lunch before climbing aboard our bus/truck for another rough ride along a track that was again much too narrow for the width of our vehicle.  Our destination was Lake Ikar, perched above the Bystraya River.  There, in this idyllic setting,  we met some Russian fishermen. (He does have pants on – they are just short shorts!)  There didn’t seem to be any fish for their efforts.

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P1120112  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120112 © DY of jtdytravels

Late afternoon reflections in the lake.

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P1120114  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120114 © DY of jtdytravels

Another view of mountains around the lake. Trees had died as a result of earlier volcanic eruptions.  New ones were growing.

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P1120121  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120121 © DY of jtdytravels

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a Bear Museum which was attached to the local library.  The stuffed  four year old brown bear that’s on display there, towered over Demar and Sasha, and they are not small men.

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P1120116  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120116 © DY of jtdytravels

The librarian gave a very good presentation.   I was glad I didn’t miss her talk even though I sat sniffling and snuffling in the corner.  I was not feeling the best but I’m pleased that I saw this ‘guy’ who gave a good indication of the size of the bears ‘out there’. No, I don’t think I want a hug from one of these!

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P1120118  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1120118 © DY of jtdytravels

 Just look at those claws!   And we’ve been walking in their territory!

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After we arrived back to the warmth and comfort of the hotel, there was only ten minutes to get myself organised for dinner.  Just enough time to down a whisky – for medicinal purposes, of course.

After dinner, our driver, Toly, said I should drink a vodka and black pepper to fix my cold.  He put a ¼ of a teaspoon of pepper into a shot glass, poured in some vodka and stirred it vigorously.  I was exhorted to throw it down the hatch in one.  Did it work?  If it did, I’d be hard pressed to tell if it was the vodka and pepper, the whisky or the beer I had with dinner.  Maybe, in combination, a miracle would result.  Only time would tell.

Just to add another bow to my ‘treatment’, I set off to the hot pool for a soak for 20 minutes.  Then to bed and the hope that at least something worked.

David

All Photography Copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

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Burma – Myanmar # 14 Inle Lake Princess Resort

Inle lake Princess Resort is a special place right on the edge of a very peaceful arm of the lake. It was such a delightful place to just ‘be’ that I decided to forgo the next day of exploration in favour of a quiet day in the gardens of the hotel – and I had a massage!  So good.

View from Inle lake Princess Resort (P1100750

(P1100750 © JT of jtdytravels)

After long days of travel, this place offered peace and quiet.  It was somewhere just to have a lazy day!  David had time for a quiet walk with me before he set out on another day of exploring.

Individual cottages by the water (P1100822

(P1100822 © JT of jtdytravels)

Individual cottages are spread out along the waterfront. Ours was the very last cottage meaning that we were about a kilometre from the central area with reception and restaurant. But the walk was delightful with water on both sides of the long peninsular like dyke on which the cottages were built.

Cheerful lady gardeners  (P1020618

(P1020618 © DY of jtdytravels)

Along the way there was always someone to stop and chat to – even in sign language. We stopped to say thank you to these lady gardeners who make the gardens a delight. Their wheelbarrow was a wooden dray they pulled along with them.

The inner pond (P1020598

(P1020598 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Some larger cottages are built over an inner pool that’s filled with waterlilies.

Water lily reflections (P1020973

(P1020973  © DY of jtdytravels)

There was no shortage of water lily reflection photo opportunities.

Beautiful water lilies (P1020978

(P1020978 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Beautiful water lilies are like a magnet to a photographer.

The gardeners keep the lily pond in good condition, using one of the local dug out boats to negotiate the weeds.

The weeds were taken out and added to the field that lay between the hotel and the village.  In this way, arable land is added to the village fields.  A stand of corn was growing in the field while we were there.  All the vegetables we tasted were really very good.

(P1100768

(P1100768  ©   JT  of jtdytravels)

Cattle egrets found the newly added earth and weeds a good place to look for food.

Restaurant deck (P1100752

(P1100752 © JT of jtdytravels)

The deck of the restaurant was bedecked by flowers such bougainvillea in large pots.

Breakfast on the deck (P1100641

(P1100641 © JT of jtdytravels)

The long walk was rewarded by the pleasure of joining others to enjoy a delicious breakfast on the deck.

Watching a leg rower glide silently by (P1100776

(P1100776  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The deck is a great place to watch boats go by and in the early morning the reflections were a delight.  No boats are permitted to use engines in this zone so it’s all very peaceful. This long tail boat was coming in to the hotel dock to pick up guests for a day out on the lake – hence the blue chairs.

A local dugout boat (P1100778

(P1100778  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

No engines, no noise on the local dugout boats – just ‘person power’.

There’s no rush or hurry for those using these boats.

This boat is bringing people who work at the hotel.  They come from the nearby village – no chairs for them.

Wood carved 'statues' (P1020952

(P1020952  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The edge of the deck was decorated with a delightful array of wood carvings – something for which Burmese craftsmen in Mandalay are famous.

Another beautiful wooden carving (P1100784

(P1100784  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Every few metres along the deck there’s another fascinating wood carving.

(P1020958

(P1020958  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

 This wooden lady in a hammock looks as relaxed as I felt.

(P1020986

(P1020986  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The roofs were adorned with beautifully carved end pieces.

(P1100690

(P1100690  ©   JT of jtdytravels)

Back near our cottage, a bridge crosses the lily pond.

(P1100704

(P1100704  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

That bridge leads to the massage rooms. I did enjoy my massage later in the day.

(P1100692

(P1100692  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

In the pond beside our cottage I found this beautiful lily surrounded by air bubbles. Perhaps a frog was nearby.

(P1100724

(P1100724  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

I know there were frogs around. I heard them in the evenings and I found several clusters of eggs.

(P1100739

(P1100739  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Next to our cottage was a rather romantic fairy tale cottage covered in purple /pink Bougainvillaea.

(P1100711

(P1100711  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

And finally – our cottage right at the end of the path.

(P1100628

(P1100628  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The deck with its tranquil view was most welcoming for a rest before that massage.

It was such a wonderful, restful day.

(P1100735

(P1100735  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Birds wandered around and foraged for food below the deck.

(P1100681

(P1100681  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Our cottage had an outdoor shower area, the privacy walls painted with yet more waterlily motifs.

(P1020582

(P1020582    ©   DY of jtdytravels)

The bedroom, bamboo lined of course, was simple but very clean and comfortable.

(P1100608

(P1100608  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Before dinner at night, we enjoyed a wine tasting in the “wine cave”.  A long boat formed the table. The ceiling was painted with murals and the walls were just clay with holes to hold the wine bottles.

(P1100615

(P1100615  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The wine was kept cool in the walls of the “cave”.  A great idea.

(P1100614

(P1100614  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

These marionette puppets were used as decorations in the wine cave.  We’ll talk more of the importance of puppets in Burmese culture later, but these puppets are just decorative because they have golden faces instead of white as in the traditional “working puppets”.

(P1100627

(P1100627  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

And when we’d had a delicious dinner and wandered back to our room, there was the bed ready for us, draped in a mosquito net, even though we hadn’t seen any of those pesky little insects.  Still this is a malaria area so it was good not to take any risks.

And that was my day at the hotel. David’s day of exploring will be covered in the next episode of this armchair travelogue.

Jennie Thomas

for jtdytravels.com

All photographs © JT and DY of jtdytravels

Greenland, Fjord Cruise 15th August 2012

I woke up in the delightful small town of Tasiilaq. Where was I? Greenland. And I was looking forward very much to the planned cruise through the icebergs along a couple of the Fjords.

For some reason, unknown even to me,  I’d had the idea that this cruise would be for just a couple of hours, at the most, in a Zodiac-type boat – shades of the same activity we had done when in the Antarctic.  But no. We were to go out again in the same cruiser that brought us to the hotel – and the cruise would last for eight hours.  One of our group decided she could not manage for so long on a boat, and so there were only the three of us plus the crew of two.

Looking back at the village of Tasiilaq   (P1010120 © DY of jtdytravels)

As we left the dock and looked back I was reminded of the colourful small houses in the north of Norway. These are all ‘flat-pack’ construction kit houses which have to brought in by boat. Similar houses, different colours.

One of the icebergs   (P1010130 © DY of jtdytravels)

On the way up the Fjord,we were entranced by the size and majesty of the icebergs.  This one estimated to be the equivalent of 6 stories high. And that was only a fraction, about a ninth,  of the iceberg that we could see – the rest, and by far the largest section, is under water.

Another iceberg, another shape!   (P1010129 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Up close and personal! (P1010134 © DY of jtdytravels)

And up even closer, they were totally awesome.

Some were really weird and wonderful. (P1010136 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Translucent green beneath pure white (P1010138 © DY of jtdytravels)

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A very stark land/ice scape.   (P1010139 © DY of jtdytravels)

We had much further to go that day so we had to leave those icebergs with the promise of more to come.  Our next destination was totally unpronounceable – the tiny settlement of Qernertivartivit!

Houses in Qernertivartivit   (P1010273 © DY of jtdytravels)

The settlement of Qernertivartivit is a permanent home to only around 100 people. It must be a hard, hard life here – extremely hard!  We spent an hour wandering around the houses and the only small store, owned by the same company which owns the two shops in Tasiilaq.

Part of the settlement   (P1010131 © DY of jtdytravels)

The small houses were strung out a long the rocky shoreline.

Maybe another visitor, exploring the Fjord   (P1010269 © DY of jtdytravels)

We wondered if this sleek yacht belonged to someone in the village but thought maybe not – perhaps another visitor.

One of the locals (P1010274 © DY of jtdytravels)

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A house with a view (P1010278 © DY of jtdytravels)

The sun’s out, the washing’s on the line but there’s still a lot of ice out there in the waters around this small island.

Fish drying (P1010290 © DY of jtdytravels)

Fish hung out to dry – maybe for a winter’s meal or two when the water is frozen over.

A sad sight! (P1010277 © DY of jtdytravels)

They say a picture tells a thousand words – there’s a story to be told about this house. I wonder what happened.

I hoped that people who owned this house hadn’t been burned or injured.  If they did, they would have had to use  the helicopter to be evacuated. There is a helipad marked out on a flat piece of ground at the far end of the village where some supplies are brought in during the winter and for emergency evacuations.

The cemetery at Qernertivartivit (P1010288 © DY of jtdytravels)

And if they had perished in the blaze, or for that matter, when any of the inhabitants dies, they have to be buried in a very rocky cemetery. The ground is so hard and rocky that it is impossible to bury a body under the ground, so rocks and sods of moss are used as a covering. When we visited the cemetery we saw the odd bone exposed.

View from the settlement   (P1010280 © DY of jtdytravels)

From this vantage point we saw across the bogs filled with cotton grass, across the ice filled waters, and look up the fjord to where all the ice was coming from.  There are a couple of glaciers here that empty into the head of the fjord.  The whole area was jam packed with bits of ice, some of the bigger ones we could hear creaking and crashing as they split apart.

An interesting low angle view   (P1010281 © DY of jtdytravels)

This ‘get-down-low’ view across the arctic cotton grass gives a different perspective to the ice flow.

From another view point on the island   (P1010282 © DY of jtdytravels)

No matter where we walked on this small island, the views were spectacular. We would have to make our way through those ice chunks when we returned to the boat to continue the cruise. That, I was looking forward to.

Ice reflections   (P1010284 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Climbing down over the rocks gave me the chance to photograph some of those reflections in the mirror still water.

Thrift  [Armeria maritima] (P1010289 © DY of jtdytravels)

Apart from the great drifts of snowy white cotton grass, there was the odd late summer plant still showing its colours like this pink sea-side Thrift.

All too soon, our hour on the island and in this small settlement was up and we made our way back to the boat for the next part of our fiord cruise – and that will be the subject of the next musings. D

ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT  © DY of jtdytravels

India, Kashmir, Nagin Lake

Nagin Lake looked absolutely stunning in the morning light – perfectly still with perfect reflections.

I did not look forward to leaving this idyllic location to go on the long, all day drive to Gulmarg with D and Mr B.  That, I reasoned, would have involved a lot of loud talking by Mr B., a long and bumpy road trip, a rather long walk or a horse ride and a ride up a gondola that would go too high for me to be able to breathe properly.  And who knew where the ‘loo’ stops would be. That important part of daily planning did not seem to be on Mr B’s list of considerations at all. So I wisely decided to stay on the boat and enjoy the beauty that was right there, all around me. I had the houseboat to myself on a glorious sunny morning; life was indeed good. Not only was the view delightful but there were lots of birds to watch.

A lone heron kept me company.  He stood on one of the mooring ropes, quietly gazing at the view, just as I was doing.

A magnificent eagle, its call like that of a ‘whistling kite’, soared backwards and forwards across the water in front of the house boat.  At times he seemed to be moving and gliding in perfect time with the Mozart piano concerto that I was enjoying through my headphones.

A black and white kingfisher fished from a perch on the next houseboat. It flew high above the water, flapped its wings at a great rate as it hovered before darting straight down into the water for its catch.

A tiny bright blue kingfisher darted back and forth as it skimmed the water for food.

A large group of pigeons cooed from the roof of the next houseboat.

Small ducks dabbled happily in the weeds that are beginning to choke the lake front.

And of course there were a few hawkers that I had to dissuade from trying to sell me their wares.

And out on the lake there were a few ‘shikaras’, perfectly reflected in the still waters.

That was my morning. Perfect.

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And it seemed that it was perfect for others, too.

One or two shikaras glided over the water – and the guests on board seemed to be very relaxed.

This local was off to do a spot of fishing – but he was not in a hurry.

Nothing was moving – the reflections were perfect.

The sun was warm;  the whole scene was soporific;  I began to nod off to sleep.

I had not had a good night’s sleep. This was catch up time.  Not long after we had gone to bed, the mosquitoes flew in – and they would not be caught!  Then, during the night, the light that we had left on in the ‘loo’ area had gone off and not long after that so did all the electricity… and all the outside security lights. It was very, very dark which is not a problem until  nature calls and a visit to the ‘loo’ becomes essential.  Now going to the loo in the middle of a very dark night in a strange place is always a bit of an obstacle course, but this adventure included a couple of steps.  Groping in the dark, I finally found the loo and on lowering myself, as we women have to do, I discovered that the loo seat was no longer attached to anything. It slid around all over the place and ‘bit my bum’- not nice when your need is by now urgent! Getting back to bed was another ‘bumping into things’ adventure.  And just when I finally got to sleep, the dawn ‘call to prayer’ began – very loud and very long.  I know. I know – I was in India. One expects these things. It’s how it is.

Both loos and electricity are interesting facets of houseboat living.  Electricity seemed to be ‘stolen’ from the mains power by many of the houseboats. How? Simple really! One end of a stiff, plastic coated, copper wire is bared and then bent into a hook. This is thrown at the live wire and, when it hooks, hey presto, the house boat has electricity! Of course this isn’t done in front of guests but the evidence is there for all to see. When an inspector comes lurking, the wire is unhooked and hey presto, the lights go out!  No more electricity. We also discovered to our dismay that the loos were not connected to anything at all – except the lake beneath the boat!  We wondered what the e.coli count would be – off the scale perhaps!

I was wakened from my nap for lunch by Majid who had made me a sandwich and yet another cup of tea. As we sat and chatted for awhile, I realised that the house boat lounge where he slept with its carved tables and chairs and tapestries on the wall was a far cry from the home he had left behind in his small hill village, 100 kms away.  He returns home for only four days a month. He’s working on the houseboat to support his wife and three small children as well as his sick brother and his wife and their two children. The family all live together in one small house in a village of about 500 people. The two women grow some vegetables and a little rice for the family’s food. It’s real subsistence, survival living.

As we talked, the local grocery shikara came by.  Majid told me that these men live on their craft – it’s their way of life.

And then, as we chatted, my idyllic day took a turn for the worse –  the peace was shattered. A couple of shikaras arrived with a total of ten new guests, a group of Indian friends. Two were to sleep on our houseboat, and four each on the boats on either side. For some reason, not at all clear to me or to Majid, they all decided to congregate on our boat. Perhaps it was because ours was the middle boat. Without so much as a nod in my direction, they simply took over the front deck and the lounge room and made me feel like I might as well be a fly on the wall. The chatter and laughter was loud – happy, yes – but they certainly made no effort to include me in any way whatsoever.  I retreated to our bedroom. With no good book to read, no internet connection and no human interaction possible, the time went by very slowly. If I was to be on my own during the day, this was just not going to work.  I would have to move and leave the houseboat to the others.

I thought it would be best to move to the Srinagar LaLit Hotel where at least I’d be land based with a garden to walk in. When David came back from his long day out in the countryside, he’d already decided that a move was our best option and had made arrangements with the hotel.  I was sorry to leave the houseboat and Majid but not the least bit sorry to leave the noisy new visitors. We went to the peace and quiet of the Lalit Hotel – and had a very good night’s sleep!

JT   for   “jtdytravels”

Photography    ©   Jt of ‘jtdytravels’

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