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Day 24 of The Candid Odyssey

Luckily, we are alive! We didn't get robbed, we didn't get drowned, and we didn't get attacked by anyone. Our stay in the houseboat was much more peaceful than we expected :) Time to go. Goodbyeing to the houseboat hosts is a bit emotional. Not because we will miss them, but because of the bargaining involved! A bit pricey, but okay. The free Shikara rides compensate for it. Because the morning beauty of Dal Lake is great! The serene water, sunlight reflections, and the view of hundreds of houseboats. Very nice. But as we get onto the roads, the gun truck scenes wipe away those feelings. Our minds get diverted to safety and security. Safety first, mate, safety first. We also need safer and cheaper accommodation today. That's why we are going to get that one first before jumping into any more exploration.

One main problem for us in these mountain areas is the lack of public transportation services. It's not that easy to get a bus or taxi. So, we are going to walk a lot. So is everyone else. It's also interesting because of the bridges that cross the majestic Jhelum River. Rivers are what make Kashmir mountain valleys magnificent. The significance of Chenab and Jhelum rivers of course needs a mention. We will see another one later. As we walk into the city center, we are also aiming for a stay in the City Star Hotel. Guess what, here also, booking issues! Srinagar, you are giving us a lot of trouble in accommodation, it's unacceptable. We are not going to give up this time. That's why we are even getting into a stage in which we help the manager review the hotel's online booking console and fix the issues. And we got it sorted. You have to thank me for the technical expertise, just kidding :) As a token of appreciation, the manager is also dropping us off at the nearest bus stand in his car! Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Because we are going to trust a stranger for a private ride. Anyway, we did. Do you have any negative trust experiences? Has anyone you trusted ever disappointed you? How do you feel about that now? You know, trust is just a game. We take the best shots based on the words and actions of the other person. Many times we win and sometimes we fail. But the more we play, the more we learn about the game, the game of trust. So, keep playing :)

From the city center, we get a bus to a taxi center. From the taxi center, we need to get a shared taxi to Tangmarg. From there, we need to get one more shared taxi to reach our destination, Gulmarg, the meadow of flowers. Yes, yes, a lot of transfers! But as we get used to the shared taxi system, it becomes more interesting. Because it feels like we are helping out people with their commute even though the driver is collecting money. We accommodate as many passengers as possible, even though there is a lot of discomfort. But the beauty of nature will reduce that discomfort. Because we are starting to see big mountains. As we get into the Tangmarg-Gulmarg route, the road gets more interesting. Lots of hairpin bends, sharp curves, and steep inclines. The mountainside of the road is filled with small beautiful flowers. All along the way, totally natural. As we reach Gulmarg, we are welcomed by the lush green meadows. Now it's green, but in the winter it will be all white. You know why. There are lots of activities to do like horse rides, cable car rides (gondolas), ATV rides, paragliding, golf, and many more in the winter like skiing. Sorry to disappoint you, we are not going to do any of this. Instead, we are going to get into the woods and climb up the meadows, without following any trail and all alone. All we have for company is a hen, which has been following us for a long time. No other person is anywhere in our sight. We go up as far as we can, surviving the hidden mud pits and steepness. And then we yell at the mountains. For no reason. When we go beyond boundaries, life gets crazier. Consider love, passion, spiritualism, materialism, substance use, and even media. When we exceed the limits and cross the boundaries, those make us extremely crazy, to stages that we didn't even imagine. Before we get ourselves into that stage, let's descend the mountains and go back to Srinagar. That will be enough for today :)

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