Continuing my story from the previous post….
With Oxygen in my lungs, I was raring to go. It was another drive of 6-7 hours back to Leh and on the way back we did ATV rides and also visited the Druk White Lotus School, more popularly known as the Rancho school. While the school existed before the movie and has also received the BBC most beautiful school award, the travellers relate it better as Rancho school. There is no ticket charged, for a 20 minute tour of the school, but I fail to understand why is there even a tour? We were asked not to click the students or interact with them, but I wonder how many people actually follow these instructions? We are invading the privacy of these kids and for what? One wall that still reeks, 3 idiots?
The next day was very interesting with the first half visiting famous Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, then rafting in the Zanskar river and finally visiting Hall of fame to honour our armed forces. The hall of fame and especially the section dedicated to Siachen is a reminder of how our armed forces brave any extreme to honour our country. That day we too braved the waves and whirlpools in the Zanskar to the point where Indus and the Zanskar river meet. I was rafting after 15 long years and there were butterflies in my stomach. When we actually got down to it, it was fun :). I think the most interesting part was riding back to the camp after rafting on top of an SUV. More of an adventure than I had while rafting.
Every day that I stayed in Ladakh was an adventure, the day after rafting it was time to visit the Nubra Valley. 150 kms from Leh and at 10,000 feet lies the Nubra valley, which is the original silk route of India with double hump camels and white sands this place can only be reached crossing the highest motorable pass, ie the Khardungla pass. Staying here for a long time does compromise your lungs. You breath heavy and might even feel dizzy. Luckily I didn’t experience any of this and yes, in August this is the only place where you will see snow in Ladakh. Nubra valley is lower than Leh and is known for its white sands. We stayed overnight in Larjeh resort, overlooking the mountains, the valley and the stars in the clear sky.
There electricity in this Nubra Valley and even Pangong only from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm. So do remember to charge your phones and other devices.
On a trail to get to the organic garden in the resort we bumped into it’s owner, Rexin Tundmuk. Fate would have it, he led us to his own private monastery or as he would like to call it a temple. This was a 350-years-old! The Tibetan transcripts in it age a few 1000 years. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Will talk more about it later.
Next up was the famous camel ride in Hunder. My camel ‘nono’, yes that was his name, was a young lad and while he did startle me while getting up and sitting down, he was most well behaved. Riding these camels, who are surprisingly very comfortable with two humps to support my seat, staring at the white sands, and mountains beyond. I could well imagine how it must have been to travel for days through these valleys for trade.
On my way back met I bumped into this kid, Chiknuk, in Hunder who happily posed for pictures for us. I guess they get many visitors who love to click them. He made for a really wonderful subject. I checked with his dad before clicking him. I feel very awkward clicking people without their permission.
This was my last day in Ladakh and it meant taking back something to remember the trip by, something with a local fare. So it was time to head to Leh main market. I shopped till I dropped. Some of the best things to pick up are dry fruits(way cheaper), Brass Buddha idols, Prayer wheels, prayer flags, by products of apricot, local dresses and crafts , meditation bowls of all kinds, silver ornaments and more knick knacks.
It was final adieu to this wondrous land and as for my solo trip, it was a unique experience. Did I enjoy it? Yes, absolutely however, I also had a self realisation that I love travelling with friends or family more. While I have done many trips without my hubby and my kids, I have been with my close friends and when you are person who likes to talk and share her experiences, you miss it. Also, I had sleeping issues, I was always on guard alone in the hotel not so much for security but more for the fact that I had breathing trouble and my mind kept playing stories in my head. The world is experienced differently when you travel alone but I feel knowing someone is around if I need them makes me a more relaxed traveller. I am not worried that putting this across will make me sound like a weak person but it’s a personal choice and if you know me well you would know that I am never worried about speaking my mind and being honest. I always believe it is a braver choice to do what the world is not doing or propogating. I will go on more solo trips for sure but I know in my heart that I prefer to travel with someone :). For me sharing a beautiful sunset with someone adds to it’s beauty more.