(We met them on our way to Pahalgam, Kashmir. I think this scenario serves as a hump/ speedbreaker for the drivers.)
Interesting enough that we got mixed reactions when we went to Kashmir last month. I think that more than the timing and amongst the many whys, it is a straight to the point amazement of wanting to visit (and coming back safe and sound) a place with a reputation of unrest and intimidation in general.
Only a few people knew that we would be visiting Kashmir (i.e. the northernmost part of India). Mainly not to let those especially dear to us to incur unnecessary worries for the kind of risk appetite that we have. Kashmir has fascinated me since 2008 when I first heard about it from an expat-colleague who visited the “paradise on earth”. No photos from the colleague’s stories. But it struck me that his & wife’s visit has been ‘privileged’ and only made possible because they were accompanied by a relative who works for the military. Fast forward. The political unrest has subsided and Kashmir is now safe for tourists. Even few years back. And we thought that the long weekend in light of the Eid Al Adha celebration was the perfect time to visit Kashmir. We trusted that we tested the waters (for whatever minimal means) long enough.
(One of the culture-initiating displays in Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi. It is a replica of act of worshipping the sun.)
There is no direct flight from UAE to Kashmir (i.e. via Srinagar or Jammu airport). We took the 3.5 hours flight from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi and 1.5 hours flight from New Delhi to Srinagar. For most of the people, especially tourists, New Delhi rings like “go and see Taj Majal!”. However, we got a solid direction of exploring Kashmir alone for the first India experience (although some Kashmiris would argue that Kashmir is not part of India; that requires another blog entry). Although Taj Majal is magnificent, however, I always think that I can defer the visit. There is this ‘next time anyway’ notion due to its accessibility from Abu Dhabi by air. However, Kashmir visit is a once in a blue moon element to me.
We traveled to Kashmir during the Eid holidays. I am in agreement when they say that it is ‘the paradise on Earth’. I can’t wait to share this wonderful experience. Here’s the snapshot for now.
I am back in Abu Dhabi from another whirlwind trip in the Philippines. All in all it has been a productive trip since I was able to accomplish the major to dos. Without mention of the serious stuff, we bagged in a handful of experiences:
*Tried the three ziplines in Dahilayan Park in Bukidnon, including the 840 meters ‘superman’ style ziplining. I almost chickened out but I am glad I did it. Even the youngest (little J) and oldest (my parents) tried it with smiles.
*The sweet 16 (a pineapple breed) satisfaction from a harvest in Del Monte’s plantation.
*The serenity, sunrise, sands and volcanoes of Camiguin.
*White water rafting in Cagayan de Oro.
*Back to the rained Southern Luzon from the sunny South of the Philippines, we had to ride a banca to get to a particular bank’s branch for a certain transaction. It was a joyful experience especially to a rain and flood-deprived person like me since I am based in the UAE.
*Days of laughter and tears of joy rolled into one whether it was during the clan’s outing or random chit chat at home.
*Quick meet ups with friends, as well as my inaanaks (godchildren) whom I owe a lot.
*A random beso-beso (cheek to cheek greeting) with my gradeschool teacher who did not fail to recognize me from the crowd, of unexpected time and place, after decades of not seeing each other. Our dear teachers have impressive memories and instincts!
*Of course, the Pinoy food. There is no better place to eat Filipino food but in the Philippines! Did you know that I even tabulated my meals and random eats through my mobile? But my food diary did not sustain it for so long because my chronicling cannot keep up with my eating. Hahaha.
I hope that all of you are also happy and in great shape wherever you are. To my Muslim readers, belated Eid Mubarak. I hope you enjoyed the Eid celebrations.
PS. I apologize to those whom I failed to meet up. I am slowly catching up in this category but we are getting there.
(Yoda! Until now I still do ‘Yoda-speak’. I should mention that there are rare instances when Perdita (one of our cats) gets a little resemblance with him when she is asleep.)
It is the last day of my birth month and there is no better way to conclude it but with a cheerful post — a toy museum experience.