“What we all want in life is to travel, fall in love, and be happy.”
Halfway between Srinagar and Leh we decided to take a 250km detour down to Padum which is situated in the very cold and isolated Tibetan area of Zanskar Valley. First though, we had to traverse Suru Valley which is a lush green area with high snow covered peaks in the distance. The inhabitants are Tibeto-Dard meaning they are of both Chinese and Pakistani (and Afghani) descent. Though the region use to be Buddhist like its neighbor Zanskar, the inhabitants converted to Islam during the 16th century so mosques and headscarfs were in abundance.
“Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road.”
People always ask me where I am going. Not just that day or week, I mean, overall. How long will I be on the road, what countries will I be passing through… It is understandable, I mean, you see a gal on a bike and you figure she has a destination, right? And I do always have a plan, my plan just tends to change dramatically on a monthly (sometimes even daily) basis.
“There are dreamers and there are doers, but what the world needs are dreamers that do.”
Everyday is different. Sometimes I cycle all day, while other days I will only do a few hours in order to spend the rest of the day doing something else. And somedays, I don’t cycle at all. Weather also plays a large role. If it is hot for instance, I do most of my kilometers in the morning, whereas in the mountains it is hard to get motivated at six when it is still below freezing out. That being said, everyday is pretty similar in many ways too, so I have decided to show you what a “typical” day of cycling looks like for me in the Nepali valley.
“A child on a farm looks up at the sky at the passing airplane and dreams of far away places. The man on the airplane looks down at the farm and dreams of home.”
After working in the field with the ladies, we headed back to one of their house’s for tea. The house was absolutely perfect. Downstairs was for the cows, including a week old baby cow who was one of the cutest animals I have ever encountered. Then upstairs consisted of one room with a bed and some cushions on the floor to hang out on. There was no clutter, in fact, besides a few blankets, there was nothing. Up from there (after the most amazing tree stairs I have ever seen) was the kitchen. Outside the second story there was a balcony where some food was kept, and some clothes were hanging to dry. The house was small and cozy, and unlike most houses in the west, this house had character. It truly felt like a home.
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”
Today was the perfect example of why I travel. In the morning, with an English friend I met a few weeks ago in Leh, I headed up into the hills in order to meet six local women who were working in the field. The English gal had met them yesterday as they worked, and had promised to come back and help for the afternoon. We spent the day helping these ladies cut grass and plants that are then dried and stored as food for their cows in the winter. The work was all done by hand, with small machete like knives, and I think my knees and back will feel it tomorrow after spending the day squatting. Though it was hard work, the women laughed and gossiped like girls anywhere, and took many tea breaks in order to make the day more enjoyable. A few of these women were sisters, and the others, (my guess) were relatives of some kind. They were extremely friendly, and though only one spoke a few words of English, we had a great day laughing and working together.
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Old Delhi, a small section of town that use to be marked by elegant mosques and gardens when the Persian Mughal Emperor ruled in the 17th century is now crowded, run-down, and one of the most chaotic places I have ever been. There are no words to describe it, and no way to capture it through the lens. There are thousands of people (predominately Muslim), food stands, shops, and bike rickshaws fighting to fit through the narrow street. Though I was wearing my scarf over my head (in a faux-burka), I obviously stood out being the only white girl in a sea of Muslim men. I decided to take a bike rickshaw down the street in order to explore from a bit more of a distance, and here is a bit of what I saw.