Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

August 18, 2017

Leh Srinagar Highway

Filed under: General — admin @ 9:21 am

Leh – Kargil – Manali

After a few days in Leh, I managed to somehow get on a bus to Kargil after a major hassle finding where it went from. It was just luck that I found it. The bus was very full and there was a lot of arguing and fighting about letting people get on. We were packed in like sardines.

momma and baby
Baby and momma on the bus to Kargil

The road went up and down and round and round the high mountains. And of course we had to stop while the road crews were working on the road.

himalayan valley
A Himalayan Valley

Here is the stumpy bus that got us to Kargil – The “Kargil Express” ha ha. More like “Kargil lucky to get there”.

Kargil Express
The Kargil Express

We did make it to Kargil after about six or seven hours. I found a hotel, went for a walk around town and crashed for the night. I found a shared taxi that started off at 5am. So off we went down the valley past the raging torrents of the river.

Shared taxi crew
The shared taxi crew

Here is the driver and people I shared the taxi with. We stopped at Sonamarg for breakfast – Subji and chappatis. Then we continued on until Srinagar where I settled comfortably into my hotel.

A Shikara in the dawn light
A Shikara in the dawn light

This morning I was up at 5:30am for my shikara boat ride. It was way too early. Much too dark for taking photos of birds.

Lakeside homes
Lakeside homes

It was nice and peaceful with calm waters and a quiet pleasant atmosphere.

Houseboats line the shores
Houseboats line the shores

There were thousands of houseboats and about a dozen tourists in town. meh!


And thousands of shikaras and no tourists. They were getting a bit desperate with more than twenty ghats (Wharves) that they were working out of. There was a major case of over-supply going on.

Transport solutions
Transport solutions

This is how you get around in Srinagar.

August 17, 2017

Keylong to Leh

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:13 am

Manali to Leh Highway

We started off from Keylong at 5 in the morning. I found my seat, stowed my luggage and we were on our way. There were some nice spots along the first part of the way, especially around Tingpa. I would stay there instead of Keylong in the future. It is much nicer next to the river.

Workers' camps at new Baratpur
Workers’ camps at new Baratpur

Our first stop was Dacha, where the police checked out passports. We had some breakfast and we were on our way again. After the first pass at Baralacha La, we stopped again at the camp just down from the pass.

Lake at new Baratpur
Lake at new Baratpur

At these camps, tents are set up over summer to feed the travellers. They are called Dhabas and serve food and you can camp there over-night.

Dhabas after Baralacha Pass
Dhabas after Baralacha Pass

Before the last pass there is a big flat area called something like the Meroo Plains. There is no water and a few goat herds were grazing, along with a couple of donkeys scattered here and there.

meroo plains
Meroo Plains

A river valley
A river valley

The road winds up and down the valleys then up the mountains via switch-backs.

Very steep track
Very steep track

I could not believe this goat track on the side of this very steep mountain. Not for me!

Striated layers
Striated layers

The layers of rock were twisted and turned everywhere. There has been immense movement in these mountains.

Traffic Jam
Traffic Jam

We had a traffic jam at one point. We had to wait for about an hour while it got sorted out. Everyone just pushes in and no-one waits there turn. The shared taxis are very aggressive and pushy.

Chaos at a stop
Chaos at a stop

There were lots of traffic along the highway. Cars, shared taxis, mini-vans, motor-bikes, trucks and buses. After the last pass, we winded along through this river valley to Upshi where the last police check point was and we finally got our passports back. Another hour or so and we arrived in Leh in darkness and dazed and confused had to find a hotel to have a well-deserved rest.

August 11, 2017

Manali Leh Highway

Filed under: General — admin @ 2:38 pm

Manali to Keylong.

It took me ages to get a taxi to the bus stand this morning. I had to walk nearly half the way. Luckily the bus was not crowded. I had a whole 3-seater to myself. It started off very misty and foggy but cleared up later on.

Sikh Cowboy
Sikh Cowboy.

As we got higher and higher, the views of the mountains were starting to overwhelm me with their awesomeness. They are really huge and steep.

Misty Mountains
Misty Mountains

Going up towards the Rohtang Pass, the road twisted and turned all the way up. The mountains were jumping out of the clouds.

awesome views
Awesome views

Trucks and buses were passing us by inches. We frequently had to stop and go back and forth to get past each other.

truck driver
Truck Driver.

bus passenger
Bus Passenger

On the other side of the pass, the road turned to dirt and there were broken rocks all over.

passing truck
A passing truck

We stopped at Kokasar for some breakfast so I had a chai and omlette.

Kokasar village
The bridge at Kokasar.

This herd of goats and shop held up traffic. Standard practice.

traffic jam
Traffic Jam.

August 9, 2017

Himalayan Hideaway

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 1:13 pm

Tirthan Valley – Himachal Pradesh

Here are some tourist shots of the Tirthan Valley. This is in the eco-zone of the Great Himalaya National Park. The core zone is 4 kilometers up the valley. You will need to do a hard core trek to get to the core zone and then camp in tents. And it is about 4000 meters high up there.

up the valley
Looking up the valley

The people who live here walk up and down these hills as if it was nothing. I was huffing and puffing and could hardly do a kilometer. The hills are very steep. They are used to it because they have been doing it all their lives.

Up the valley
The River

The river is in full torrent with all the snow and glacier melt from up high.

Raging torrent
Raging torrent

my guest house
My Guest House

This is where I stayed for two nights. Most of the birds I photographed were from the verandah.

clouds rolling in
Clouds rolling in

Both days I was there it was cloudy and raining. The light was pretty atrocious for photography. I would suggest may-june or September – October for this place.

August 5, 2017

Himachal Tourist

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 3:46 pm

From Shimla to Mandi.

This morning I checked out of my guest house in Shimla and walked down the hill to the Old Bus Stand. A good man I met showed me the way, then gave me a lift in his taxi-ride to the new Bus Stand.

shimla hills
Shimla hills

We were travelling along nicely in the express bus when bam! this car runs into the bus. He was a complete idiot overtaking without looking and plowing straight into the rear wheel arch. After a bit of an argument the bus driver and car driver got into a punch up. Then things started getting ugly when a mob turned against the bus driver. I was really scared. Mob violence can flare up so easily.

car crash
The car crashed.

Luckily things calmed down. We waited for the police to turn up. They came eventually and took photos and marked the spots and took down statements. They blamed the car driver of course. It was totally his fault.

raging river
Raging River

The bus got to Mandi eventually, probably a couple of hours late. The river was roaring from all the rain and the snows melting up the hill.

sunken gardens
Sunken Gardens.

After I found a hotel and had a wash, I went for a walk around town. The town square has a sunken garden in the middle, with shops around the perimeter.

market lane
Market lane

The police blocked off the central section and people just promenaded and hung out without all that ugly traffic and beeping horns.

August 3, 2017

Shimla Tourist

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 4:23 pm

Himachal Pradesh

I took the bus brom Chandigarh this morning. We climbed uphill all day, around twisty corners. Finally made it to the New Bus Stand at Shimla, where I was totally confused as to where I was or how to get to my guest house. Finally this nice guy put me on the bus to the old bus stand right in town.

shimla panorama
Panorama shot of Shimla

Then I had to find my hotel, which was another nightmare in itself. Finally after asking dozens of people and ringing up the hotel three times, I found my guest house. In the afternoon I went for a walk up the mall, where there is no traffic. Pure bliss for India.

hill market
Uphill markets.

These markets were set up this track up the hill. It was so steep.

The Mall, Shimla
The Mall

Everyone walks along the mall. It is very civilized. Nice change.

shimal panorama 2
Another panorama.

Looking down the hill from the top of Shimla.

Grey Bushchat
Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus)

I took this photo on my crappy point and shot and asked the local experts what it was. It is a tick. Too funny. It was just hanging out on the wire right next to me.

July 30, 2017

The Rat Temple

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 8:02 am

Deshnok, Rajasthan.

I caught the bus early this morning to Deshnok where the Rat Temple is. The temple is unique in that it is a sanctuary for rats. Locals believe that the Kabas carry the souls of the future charans who inhabit the region.

Rats drink milk
Drinking milk.

The rats get fed milk. They eat better than I do!

Num Num
Eating grains

And lots of grains and ratty food. I could have bought some rat food for ten rupees but I did not want to feed them. One crawled over my foot and I screamed.

On rations
Drinking water

This rat must have been on rations.

Rat sanctum sanctorum
The sanctum sanctorum.

This is where the god lives. If I was a god I would want a better home.

sugar cane drink
Sugar Cane Man

Squeezing sugar cane for a drink. The machine is powered by an old diesel motor that just chugs along.

Man and Oxen
Man and Oxen

A bloke and his oxen. I was going to send him the photo by email but he did not know what email was.

July 22, 2017

More Rajasthan Tourism

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 12:21 pm

A Walk to Jodhpur Fort

Up again early this morning to escape the intense heat. I walked up the hill through the narrow medieval lanes, trying not to hit dead ends.

View of Jodhpur
A view of Jodhpur

I finally hit the road to the top of the hill. The view from there was quite impressive. I do not go much for scenery and stuff like that, but it was pretty awesome.

Jodhpur Fort
The fort from the road

The view of the fort was quite formidable as well. I found the Desert Rock Park and discovered that there are birds in there, so I am going back late this afternoon.

fort passageway
Fort passageway

I paid my entrace fee to the fort and went in. There were lots of historical displays and the fort is kept in pretty good order, so that is good.

Fort walls
Towering walls.

I would hate to have to scale those walls with boiling oil pouring down on me!

Rajasthan Tourist

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 11:09 am

Jaiselmer Fort

This morning I was up at 6am trying to beat the heat. I wandered down the road looking for a cup of chai, then circled the fort at Jaisalmer, just soaking up the atmosphere. I finally found the gate in and wandered around inside the fort.

fort ramparts
The ramparts.

Everything is built in stone.

View from a fort
View from the fort

This is the town from the fort. It is foggy in the distance. Below is the camp of the road workers.

Narrow lanes
Narrow lanes

The lanes inside are very narrow and wind around all over the place.


A gloomy look out through one of the gated passageways.

Below the fort
Outside the fort

The road workers camp from the road circling the fort.

Breaking rocks in the hot sun
Breaking Rocks in the hot sun.

This guy is breaking rocks and making them squarish so they can be used in buildings. Everything here is built in stone.

June 17, 2017

The Trawler Launch

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 10:23 am

Karaikal, Tamil Nadu.

I was going for a ride in my bike towards the beach when I saw this massive boat on the road. So, of course I stopped and had a look at what was going on.

On the Road 928
The trawler on the road.

They got a back-end loader and pushed it down the ramp. The sand ramp. They had to put all bits of timber under the wheels.

Trawler launch 930
Going down the ramp.

The traweler was secured to the wheels carrying it with ropes twisted with logs.

trawler launch 932
side view

Big Propeller 936
Securing ropes.

Here is a shot of the propeller showing how the ropes are attached to the wheels.

going down the ramp 938
Going into the water. 938

The back-end loader pushed the trawler into the water.

stuck on sand 942
Stuck on the sand

Cannot go any further by pushing from behind with the back-hoe.

last push 945
Still stuck on the sand.

But she was still stuck on the sand. They got another trawler and put a line on her to tow her off the sand.

yippee afloat 947
Success, she is afloat.

Everyone yahooing when the trawler is afloat. Game over. Set and match.

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