Saturday, November 14, 2009

ladies and gents, please welcome : leh and kashmir!!

ahh!!! woooo!! we love you leh and kashmir!
i want to have your baby!!! i'm your biggest fan!!

ok, ok... everyone keep cool. don't get over excited, it's bad for business...
let me tell you all about it and then you can make a calculated wise un-impulssive decision.
i was in manali for 2 days when i made contact with "a" with whom i used to travel and she told
me to get to leh as soon as possible. and so i did...
after 3 days in manali i took the night bus to leh.
there are 2 options for this ride.
A) take the ride straight, 18 hours of driving persuming there are no other cars on the road, no debris or snow falling from the snowy mountains surrounding the road, no harsh weather conditions and perferably the mini bus has no passengers.

B) the the ride with a sleep over in a tent village, bringing the total of on the road time to 30+ hours.
being in a hurry to reach leh, i chose option A.

2 AM. i am driven to a junction and waiting for the mini-van. the mini van arrives, i am seated
next to a french girl who again informs me she get's motion sickness and might throw up on me on the way... (why does this keep happening to me?!?!).
we start going. this ride is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world (second highest motorable road in the world) but i decided it's not going to stop me! and so every 5 minutes i could see a rock to split my head on, a cliff to break my legs from, a puddle of muddy snow to help our mini van slide towards oblivion...
after wrecking my nerves on different kinds of deaths during about 16 hours of driving we
stopped for "30" minutes in the tent site so the driver could drink chai, powder their noses and freshen up in general.
2 hours later we understood something is not quite right. asking the drivers of our mini van and a few other we realized that they have decided to rebel and spend the night in the camp despite
our agreement... can't say i'm angry, that's probably what kept us alive.
well... again we were given 2 choices:
A) sleep in the tent with blankets and a heating oven.
B) sleep in the van.
the place is about 5000 meters high, so it get's very close to freez
ing temperatures at night.
and I, am an idiot, so i didn't think about that before choosing option B since i'm a cheap idiot as well as just a stupid one... paying 2$ for a mattress just seemed like too much to me when i can
have unlimited space in a van instead.
it all came down to one iraeli idiot (me!) and one italien idiot (what's his name?!) shivering in a van that's getting closer and closer to sub zero temperatures as the night progresses.
having all those empty seats around me didn't help at all and after 5 hours of shivering and 15 minutes of crying like a 13 yrs old pregnant girl dawn finally came and the sun saved me from certain death by hypothermia...
a few hours later we were in leh. it took me 20 minutes to find "A", my contact here, and it took her 20 minutes after i found her to convince me to come to an organize
d trip to kashmir.
i was left with 2 days in leh. i had to do something special so i got on this bycycle trip that goes on
the highest motorable road in the world (kardun la pass). and again... i didn't realize how cold 5000+ meters above sea level could be. so i didn't take any gloves with me. and so 2 minutes
after mounting the bike i was off it blowing hot air on my hands so i don't have to cut them off when i'm finished. (it also seemed like a good idea to retain feeling in the fingers holding the breaks when going down a cliff road surrounded by trucks...). the only way to really save my hands was using the amazing heating power of my testicles, i mean really, it's like magic.
your entire body could be freezing but your balls are just the right temperature!
(next time someone you love gets a cold, like grandma, just take those balls and put them on her
temples, you'll see the cold goes away in seconds, i did it twice, i should know).
sunday morning i find myself confronted with "T" the leader of the organize trip and i see this bunch of people and realize i'll have to spend an isolate week with them and i've never seen them before...
a 22 gypsy impersonator, a 23 yrs old crazy "i miss my boy friend" , 59 yrs old " i'm just as hip as you kids" mother, her 24 yrs old "i don't smoke hash, i'm naturally high" daughter my friend "A" with her "how much do you owe me" motto and our guide and his wife. our guide was the type that would turn any sentance into something dirty and sex related (anal, oral, beastial, sci-fi... anything!) his wife was just trying to cope with him by smoking enough drugs and rolling joint's in a frenzy that would honor any amsterdam coffee shop proffesional.
he took her to a trekking honey moon making her wealk miles upon miles, so no wonder she just
wanted to rest and toke up most of the time...
and so, this company with a few othe individuals who might (but probably won't) be mentioned later on set out to phal gam from leh.
we stopped in a town called cargil on the way. nothing, there's absolutely nothing there except
the feeling of being an infidel. which is no fun, trust me...
we stayed one night and moved on to the picturesque town of phal-gam. a town located a little to the east of srinagar, on the banks of a river, garbage on the streets, guest house hustlers hunting for tourists, a guy offering clean shaves using a butter knife sitting on the pavement with a mirror shard... you get the picture.
our guest house was a little off the main streets and so it looked completely different, located on
the banks of a small river, well attended flora, around the clock tea and water...
anyway, it was good.
we had tons of garas between us and got high periodically. one of the hardest questions i had to face when not climbing a mountain or eating inside a tent was "who should bring munchies?!".
i'm a practical guy... so when i'm hungry, i go and get something to eat, but i was stoned out of
my head most of the time, which encouraged me to find other solutions, like harrasing one of the
non smokers to go and bring us some chips using phrases like "wouldn't any one want something to chew on?" (for which i would immediately get a response from our guide "what? like a penis?
hahahaha...) or like going to sleep hungry and cranky...
after our initial week we were offered to prolong the experience and go on a glacier mountain trek. being an adventurous moron i said yes... and so on our 8th day we set out to the glacier trek. first day we went to sleep next to a river. next deay we were pushed awake by "T" who told us the weather is not so good so we better get going early. now...
it may come as a surprise to you... (it certainly was to me...) but glaciers are essentially huge chunks (like... really huge... 5 miles huge) of ice, and as such they need extremely low tempertures to stay just that... huge chunks of ice. i was wearing my short sleeve t-shirt, and had my rain coat tied to my backpack. after crossing 2 rivers and going up one hill a slow drip starte to descend on us, cooling our bodies and making it easier for us to keep walking.
5 minutes later the drip turned into light rain, making our bodies slip from the mud on the boulders and grass on the hill side. 10 minutes later mother nature came at us with all she had!
it was pouring buckets, we were forced to hide wet to our bones (or was it our bone marrows?)
under a tiny rock with a smiling goat herding kid. (probably warmed up by our suffering...)
we used our "hands on testicles" trick until we felt comfortable enough to keep walking...
we moved on... our local guide "RAMZAN" (probably a result of selective breeding between a volcano and an aircraft carrier) who didn't feel the rain or any of our collective suffering just kept repeating the mantra "yesss it is right over hill, not vorry, come, come..." i started suspecting he's trying to kill us and in a desperate move tried to clap my heels together while
whispering "there's no place like home", obviously nothing happened except for me slipping and
grabbing a ledge of ice just in time before sliding off to the half frozen river some 200 meters down. also getting the last dry part of my t-shirt completely wet and seeing the grim reaper on one of the hill tops smiling at me.
finally we arrived at the glacier... which looked - tam tam tam tam tam - just like any other mountain!!! only more slippery... the visibility was shit, we got there and guess what, once we were half way back the weather and visibility actually started to get better. kashmir screwed me over again... we got back, ate the rest of out lunch potatoes and went back to our guest house.
two days later we were on our way to dharamshala.

2 posts in one day!!! yeah!!! try and stop me now fuckers!! (i'm kidding, your not all fuckers, and... mom, dad, if your reading this... your definitely not fuckers, ok? sorry for the language)

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