Day 4 Thursday 5 July. Srinagar- Hayan 42km

Diarrhoea comes in a scale of 1-10. You can only claim 5 or above if it involves vomiting at the same time. I scored 8 last night. end it was just water.

Today we started cycling. Up hill. At dawn I was shaking and could hardly pack my panniers and get them on my bike. As a parting gesture I vomited heartily onto the shore of the lake while I crouched to keep my balance. “Ah good morning Mr Brendon, what are you looking at?” “Last night’s dinner” I replied as I spat the last of the acrid residue into the water.

The guidebooks, travel advice and even my Indian work colleague Joga, advise it is not safe between Srinagar and Kargil. certainly don’t camp. Srinagar has a high military presence but the “terrorists” live in the surrounding mountains is the general consensus. As we headed north from Srinagar at 6.00am the roads were quiet and it began to rain. We slowly climbed the Sindh Valley following the Sindh River toward Sonamarg. We have no daily planned destination and no expectations so just take things as they come. It has taken away the pressure of sticking to a schedule or itinerary and we are in good spirits. We will take what comes and test our skills and sinews against the challenges ahead.

It’s steady but not excessively steep as we settle into a rhythm. The valley is green with barley, pasture and small hamlets grouped along the way. We pass the small towns of Ganderbal, Mangen and Kangan. The traffic is busy with hordes of Indian pilgrims on their Hindu Yatra to Amarnath Cave piled in jeeps, buses and cars. The pilgrimage occurs for one month at this time of year. Lucky us. They honk continuously then wave and call out “hello” as they pass us left sucking in their dust and fumes. By lunch time we stopped in a dabah (tea house) for chai. We struck up the usual conversation with the local young men then asked if we could camp out the back in the field. “Yes sure be our guests, you will be safe and if you would like something just call me.” Out the back was the old river bed full of gravel and another family in a shelter made of cotton and plastic sheeting. They were curious and let their cow wander close to us so they had an excuse to come near and check us out. We put up the tent and had chai cooked on our stove for dinner. The Sindh River roared behind us and the rocky mountains surrounded us dotted with mud and stone homes clinging high on impossibly steep terrain. So we spent our first night on the road camping somewhere between Kangan and Hayan