Ladakh, Kashmir, and Hong Kong 1997
A Tour of the Former British Colonies
I'm hoping that you will stay and look at some interesting pictures from my trip to Ladakh, Kashmir, and Hong Kong, a special trip that saw both the 50th Anniversary of India's Independence and the British handing over Hong Kong to China!! Sadly, the photos from this trip are oddly out of focus, a result of the film not threading correctly. Or maybe we can blame it on your browser...
LADAKH is in the Indian Himalayan region,
but while politically part of India, is culturally and
geographically quite different.
Most Ladakhis practice Tibetan Buddhism, an interesting synthesis of Buddhism and to a lesser extent, the indigenous Bon religion practiced by Tibetans and Ladakhis before the arrival of Buddhism brought by Padmasambhava in the 8th Century.
Ladakh, as well as Mustang in Nepal, are probably the last two relatively unmolested examples of a living, breathing Tibetan Buddhist culture, as Tibet has been ravaged by the occupying Chinese army since the 1950s (see my Tibet Page for more details).
KASHMIR is also located in the Indian Himalayan region, and like Ladakh, is also politically part of India. And similarly, it is
culturally and geographically quite different. Before the
political unrest that has ravaged Kashmir since about 1989,
Kashmir was a favorite resort and honeymoon area for Indians.
In contrast to Ladakh's starkness and rugged moonscapes, Kashmir is extremely fertile and green, with many lakes and orchards -- what Indians describe as a little "Heaven on Earth". In 1997, despite the political tensions between Pakistan and India, it was possible to still travel to Kashmir relatively safely.
This is of course not the situation anymore. Presidents Clinton and Bush have labeled Kashmir The Most Dangerous Place On Earth, and many countries have issued travel advisories to stay away. My friend Fayaz, who owns the houseboat on Dal Lake where I stayed, writes about the fear that has gripped the Kashmiris: "Everyone is afraid of war. You can see it in their eyes."
|HONG KONG was handed over by the British to China when I visited my cousin and uncle that summer. In outward appearances, obviously, it was business as usual in Hong Kong. However, internally, the voting process has already changed, and change was afoot. And...there seemed to be a distinct lack of demonstrations...|
Hong Kong 1997
Back to Travels Page