GULMARG - A WINTER WONDERLAND
Sunday, June 18, 2017


The Delhi Belly had finally caught up with me at 8,000 ft above sea level! 


And that was truly one of the highlights of this trip. Hehe. So unexpected, I was just eating rice and only rice. The actual culprit in this situation is often a mystery. Haha. But I was convinced it was from the white rice we've eaten that night. Both Nini and I just ate white rice together with sambal ikan bilis packed from home and we've been fighting some kind of Delhi belly right after. Haha. So if you ask;
Will I get Delhi belly?
Short answer; more than likely. Hiks.

Well, India is really like nowhere else on earth. Yes, it is crowded, dusty, noisy and the list goes on but still... my favorite place so far :). InshaAllah, we'll be there again, soon. Hehe. Ladakh calling baby!

And apologies for not continuing my India story, it has been almost 3 years I know. It has become harder and harder to find time to blog nowadays. So so so lazy.

CONT'D from HERE



Our dinner was good as usual. I ate rice with chicken curry cooked with Kashmiri spices and it was da bomb. Bertambah-tambah. Shoo shedap! They also served semiya payasam for dessert which I don't know how it tastes like. To me, it looks like yogurt and yogurt for dessert? Thanks but no thanks. Hiks. It is actually a combination of milk, sugar and vermicelli.

All of us spent the night along the quiet banks of Nageen lake and we were talking to Ajaz about Delhi while watching TV. He said not to worry so much, just take it all with a pinch of salt, and it will be alright. But the thing is, the news on TV suddenly shows travelers were robbed in New Delhi. And Ajaz was laughing so hard, he quickly changed the TV channel. Duh. Haha sooo sakai.

The first thing I noticed while talking to him, was his eyes. Bright hazel brown and they were soo pretty. Then I realised, more often than not, Kashmiris are a beutiful lot. Can't help it so I told him; you've got beautiful eyes. He was smiling and replied; I know that, but yours are fake! Bahahaha. Sooo sarcastic. He was right, but you don't have to state the obvious out loud pleaseee. Haha.


Ajaz, Uncle Nabi, yours truly, Fana, Fana's shuben and Nini

We will be heading to Gulmarg the next morning and we have to say goodbye to Uncle and his family. They were soooo kind to us and we were glad that we stayed 3 nights with them. So, if you decide to visit Kashmir, do note that you'll spend most of your time where you're staying. And hence it is important to get that right. Choose carefully and read reviews because nothing ruins a trip like being ripped off.


Jamia Masjid Srinagar built around a large courtyard

Birds flying around Jamia Masjid Srinagar 




 Jamia Masjid Srinagar 


We thought of going to Jamia Mosque first before heading to Gulmarg as we still got plenty of time. Our driver, Nadeem informed us that it is located at the center of old part of the city and cannot be considered to be very safe especially after Friday prayers because some of the Kashmiri protesters will throw bricks and stones at Indian policemen. 

What I've noticed in Kashmir most of the masjids here have no domes and minarets which always associated with mosques. But you can see the pagoda type structure that resembles of a Buddhist shrine.

So, we entered from the Southern side, which is the main entrance to the mosque. And it seems to have had entrance from North and East as well. 

On entering the main doorway, we can see the huge courtyard with well-maintained lawns and towards the west is the main prayer hall. There is a square pool in front of the praying hall and we spent most of our time there, looking at the birds flying around the mosque. Sooo beautiful.

We spent couple of minutes there and then we left to Gulmarg. To be honest, I was sleeping the whole 60km journey to avoid motion sickness. Hehe. It takes maybe around 1 and half hour to Gulmarg from Srinagar. And when we were about to reach Gulmarg, our driver stopped at one place and told us we should rent out the winter jackets and shoes. At first, we firmly said no, we have our own stuff and we do not plan to rent any. But boy we changed our mind. Haha. Just in split seconds. We were told that the snow is thick up there and we wouldn't want our shoes to get wet. So we just rent the boots and personally I think that is just enough. No need to rent those winter clothes as it will be a waste of money.








Hilltop Hotel, Gulmarg 


We then reached the hotel parking area and and in no time we realised that we have made a right decision. See the snow? Sooo fluffy. Haha. There are rental shops right here too if you wish to rent but probably the earlier one where our driver had stopped would have been a bit cheaper.

We wanted to leave our luggage and have a look at our room first. FYI, Gulmarg has many hotels from budget to luxury. It is all up to you to choose. And we decided to splurge on our last night here in Kashmir so we booked the Hilltop Hotel in advance. Not that expensive though but still above average. Hehe.

And no one really resides here, except for the staff of around 50 hotels which are built here for tourists.

 My room at the Hilltop hotel 





This was my room at the Hilltop Hotel Gulmarg and I like the view from my room the most. The best thing here is the fact that the room is also centrally heated. It can get very cold at night so we NEED this for sure haha.

The location of this hotel is perfect too. Very close to the gondola (cable car) and yes the hotel staff was very cooperative and helpful. Highly recommended.


Farouq, Uncle Nabi's good friend. Persis hero bollywood? Lols


 Gondola ticket

We were told to meet Uncle Nabi's good friend here in Gulmarg. He could arrange for our gondola tickets as this place is often known for tourist trap. And luckily we have Farouq with us, he helped us a lot. At least we know where to go and what to do. It is completely disorganised here and there was such a hugeee crowd.

The cable car follows the ski tracks too. Sooo lovely.


View from the cable car ride


The snow must have covered the roof of the houses 








Pretty winter :)

Cable car coming in...





So the Gulmarg Gondola is Asia's highest cable car project. It takes place in two stages;-
Stage  : From Gulmarg to Kungdoori
Stage  : From Kungdoori to Aparwath

And we chose the former. It was sooo soo good to ride the gondola up and looking across at the giant Himalaya. Well, you can also see the LoC (Line of Control) between India and Pakistan from the Stage 2. So if you wish to locate LoC, go further up.

And can you see we had gotten the perfect weather? There are moment of nervousness because sometimes the gondola stops abruptly for few seconds and it does make strange sounds. Haha. Takoot. But the breathtaking view along the way up distracts us from this silly thoughts. Hehe.


Local tourists

Kungdoori Station

Kungdoori Station


Huge crowd 















Fresh layer of snow

We finally reached the phase 1 and then started the enthralling experience of walking in snowfall for hours. We took some instagram worthy photos too. Haha.

So Gulmarg if you can see is a popular skiing destination. I have skied once in Poland and I don't like it at all. Long story short, I fell few times on the way down and I can't get up! Hahahhaa.  I really have a great admiration to those Kashmiris who can expertly control their body on these dangerously vertical slopes. Sooo envy these people who seem to be enjoying ski from such a high point.


Us! 



  Us again












It looked like a park with huuugeeee crowd at every direction


 



We stayed there for a while at the top and watch them glide down the slopes one by one. The view was sooo incredible and it is such a surreal feelings to be standing at the level of snow-capped mountain. 

And eventually, it takes a lot of effort to breathe as my nose is frozen and numb. It was so so so cold and we really need a shelter to protect ourselves against cold. I feel like passing out at that point of time. Sobs. Then later Farouq brought us to the nearby restaurant which is a little bit buried in thick snow. 







On our way to the restaurant, we passed by several tea stalls. Well it's not much more than just a small table waiting for tourists to come through to rest and revive. Nothing much they can offer; chocolate bars, biscuits, sweet corn, or maybe some hot 2-minute noodles with masala spice and, of course, chai.

I've NEVER tried chai in India because I'm so afraid of getting diarrhea. But chai is not just a cup of tea here. It HAS to be available whenever and wherever you want it. Even in places where there is nothing else but mountains, you will find chai too. Haha. It is a national symbol anyway. Chai and India can never be separated. Lols. 










I really cannot stand anymore being outside in the cold so I requested to sit inside. Haha. This is not even a place for customers to sit but looking at my condition, I need something hot. So what I did, I buy a bottle of mineral water and ask them to boil it. Hahahaha. See the smoke coming out? And then I was just holding the hot bottle with my hands and felt better. Hiks.

Okay now this is a true story. I know someone out there ordered paratha because they were making it inside and they have dropped the food on the WET floor when they were about to serve their customers. Oppsss. So they basically apply that 5 seconds rule here; they took it quickly, put it back on the plate and here you go, lunch is ready! Hahahaha euwwww sangat. 

All of us were just looking at each other and we can only smile. Haha.  











The sledge is made of wooden woods and there is no cushion to support when you sit down

I know that Gulmarg is also famous for human sledging and we were here for that. Hehe can you imagine sledging down from Kungdoori all the way back to Gulmarg. It was an unforgettable experience, my whole butt and legs were so sore after sitting for half an hour in the human sledging. Haha. But there is no harm to try the human sledge to support local community :). It was so fun nonetheless. 
















It is actually quite challenging to put your legs on the sledge. You need to be flexible, else you would feel tremendous pain to your tight and butt! Haha. But the views all the way down were fantastic. We finally able to see closer view from what we've seen from the cable car. 

As we made our way down, the clouds moved in and the wind picked up.  At that point the wind made it clear that fun time was over and photography time was out of the question. Hehe.


 Tired face haha and huggable moment. It was sooo cold in the evening






Our room had a lovely balcony and we were quite fascinated by these mountains. And I remember last time when I was in Murren, Switzerland back in 2012, I wanted to stay at one of the hotels there, looking at the window in the morning and see the mountains catch the light at sunset. Unfortunately, that was just a dream. Everything is expensive in Switzerland and I couldn't afford to pay. Haha.


The culprit

As we returned to the warmth of Hilltop, we then realised all the adrenaline rush got us exhausted and we were hungryyy. Hehe. And this is where it all started. Haha. 




We spent the night by watching TV and just to let you know no matter when you watch TV in India, you will see Shah Rukh Khan. Hahaha. No kidding. Almost every channel. So that night, we watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Rahul and Anjali. Haha. I've seen this movie many times before but all of us were soooo happy to watch it again here in India. Hiks. No translation, no problem. You've remembered almost everything already. Haha. 

And by the middle of the night while watching our King Khan, both Nini and I were running to the toilet, not sure which one should explode first! Bahahaha. It's no fun please. We can't even sleep that night, sobs. Haha. Pity the toilet bowl. We took chi kit teck aun and requested some salt from the hotel staff and put inside the water for us to drink. We know that it will pass eventually but it was nightmare, still. Really can't bare the thought of it now. We were just laying on the bed next to each other and try to compromise who should have gone to the toilet first. Hahaha.  

I hope that you’re never cursed with it, but it’s all part of the travelling experience. Hehe. 


To be continued.


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Noor Rafidah Jacob
Fida Jacob
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Hi everyone! My weakness is pretty things and kindness. Knowledge is of high importance. I believe that everyone has the potential to become the best they can be and that beauty comes within. This is a spot where I'll share with you some of my adventures + my inner thoughts! Oh and don't forget to follow me on instagram! : @fidajacob

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