Dal Lake and rude dirty men and touts
Srinagar Travel Blog› entry 13 of 26 › view all entries
Srinagar was an interesting experience. the army guy who looked super angry tried to get me to go back on the plane before i even set foot on kashmiri concrete. he was like shouting at the stewardess in unknown language and pointing at me - probably something along the lines of "get this white girl out of here." or something. well eventually after pointing at the word srinagar on my ticket he gave up and gruffly pointed for me to wander in front of runways to get to the arrivals hall. then of course i have to go to the foreigner counter - to fill in one of many foreigner forms. Already having filled in the form - accomadation became the thing on Kashmir. The lake is filled with houseboats - which, once, were also filled with tourists - but with over ten years of conflict in the region, the tourist trade has dwindled and competition has become, as I found, very aggressive for the slowly renewing numbers of tourists and their cash.
There was a gauntlet of houseboat owners and taxi drivers/guesthouse/boat owners in one who literally chased me along to where the bus left. I held my ground and insisted I would wait for the bus for 35 rupee rather than the 150-200 rupee they would charge me to not take me to the hotel - but most probabky show me their/their friends houseboat/guesthouse - even tho they say if i dont like i can go to my choice of hotel. I had 15 of them shouting. i told them that i knew it was hard not having many women around but get off and move on. After avoiding yet more supposedly friendly helpers who then became touts in their own right, I managed to get on the bus. However, before the bus had properly stopped at the tourist reception centre, the touts had already climbed onto the bus.
However they weren't outside when I left to do some sight-seeing. Wandered around being told the wrong way until I met some 18 yr old flashy kashmiri boys - obviously rich - ones dad was in local council, others was a businesman with "many western friends". they showed me round lake and bought me lunch - even though they were in ramadan and not supposed to be eating - in honour of their new western woman friend.
Anyway after seeing the lake with my new found friends, I left them to go refresh in the hotel. I then wanted to go see the old town, but ended up in the little boats that are hand rowed round the lake for about 3 hours. It really was stunning, you can see the pictures.
Went back to the hotel - the boys had told me that even tho it was friday night, people didnt really do much except eat with family in the evening. Also, the old town is apprently still a bit dangerous at night with the terrorist activity so I decided to watch some TV in the room with snacks. Ramadan probably isn't the best time to visit a muslim place, most of the restaurants arent open as most of the people here are fasting all day.
In all I enjoyed the beauty of Srinagar, the lake was stunning with the surrounding distant mountain back drop, but I just feel for a white woman this is not so great a place. Would have been better to be with a guy! The society just doesnt respect women in the same way as in the western world unfortunatly.