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Day 4: Leh

Leh Travel Blog

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Leh, seen from the Shanti stupa.

Nature is not generous up here. The air is powder dry and the rocky slopes all round us are bare and deeply gullied. For the first time in a long while I feel my lungs working, pumping a little harder to pull in the oxygen, for we are at 11,650 feet (3550 m), nearly two and a quarter miles above sea level.

 

Michael Palin - Himalaya

 

I woke up at 3:00 AM with a dry tongue and throat and a pounding headache.

Shanti Stupa.
Fortunately I had put my flashlight by the side of the bed because the electricity wasn't working. I drank lots of water, had another painkiller, a toilet break and dozed off again only to wake up again at 7:00 AM.

 

After doing a bit of luggage reorganizing and a highly necessary shave (Delhi had been too moist for a good shaving) I went out and met some of the others for a small chat. To my surprise Judith and the other two ladies that had been stranded in Delhi arrived at the hotel in a mini-van at 8:00 AM already. They had had an earlier flight after their day of relaxing in a 5 star hotel that was offered to them as compensation for the inconvenience Jet Airways had caused them.

Buddha at the Shanti Stupa.
Fortunately they were doing well and it was good to be reunited with my travel buddy.

Rabi served us toast, fried eggs and honey for breakfast and my hunger seemed to be bigger than normal, probably because my body was hard at work adjusting to the height.

 

After the trekking briefing some of us decided to climb the road to the Shanti Stupa that lay above our hotel. The climb was relatively easy and within 15 minutes we reached the white stupa that was built here in 1985 by the Japanese Fujii Guruji as part of his mission to promote world peace through Buddhism. The big stupa had two levels that could be walked upon and showed various scenes from the Buddha's life, which I gladly explained to the other four while we walked the clockwise kora. The views from the platform on which the stupa was build were marvellous as well, clearly showing the green Leh valley in between the bare and desolate mountains.

 

For the way back we disregarded both the motorway and the 554 step stairs towards Leh and took the shortcut down the hill, arriving at the hotel in little more than 5 minutes.

Ladakhi woman.

Back in the hotel most of the group decided to have lunch in Leh, where we arrived around 14:00 and I treated myself to some spinach paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and tomato soup. After lunch Judith and I explored Leh a bit more, also visiting the Moti market south of the Main Bazar with its narrow hidden streets.

 

At 17:00 hours the group gathered at the Nomadic Way office to be taken to a performance of traditional dances. Some of the group arrived too late because their taxi driver didn't know the way around the outskirts of Leh (!).

Vegetable market at Leh Bazar.
The performance took place on a square just below Leh's palace, which was quite a climb and would prove to be a bit to exhausting for some, among whom poor Judith who hadn't even had the chance to get adjusted to the height yet. As a result of our late arrival we only saw half of the dances, performed in traditional clothing and accompanied by drums and horns. The most remarkable thing about these dances was their incredibly slow pace. It was almost like watching a movie played in slow motion. The accompanying music seemed to be identical for every dance to my untrained ears. Nevertheless it was an entertaining half hour.

 

The group had dinner in the Penguin Restaurant where the momo's and sizzler I had yesterday seemed to have become quite popular among my travel companions. I settled for some momo's and a chicken tika masala myself.

On the way back to the hotel we had two more drivers that didn't seem to know their way around. We had to tell them from memory how to get back to the Mountain Edge. Arriving, we went to bed early again, knackered from another day at 3600 meters.

Devika1985 says:
nou dit wassem dan nog ff voor nu
je bent nu met die trekking bezig dus zal wel ff worden voor je weer wat kunt typen.
als ik terug ben uit praag miss?!?!? Hope so! leuk om te lezen! have fun daar nog he! en doe voorzichtig!!
Posted on: Aug 08, 2008
Devika1985 says:
bij mij was dat echt op een ramp uitgelopen
als ik die bestuurders de weg had moeten zeggen.
toch mooi dat je nog ff wat gezien hebt van het dansgebeuren, ookal kon je niet alles zien.
fijn dat jullie elkaar weer terug hadden gevonden nu jah, niet dat dat niet zou gebeuren maar toch n stuk relaxter gevoel lijkt me
Posted on: Aug 08, 2008
bamiforall says:
Hi,Ed (and Judith)

everything going smoothly as ever on your trips (LOL),hope you'll find a nice new pair of glasses (better then those SHITTY old ones!!).Hope you'll get used to the height soon and have a nice trekking.It's a pitty you can't upload any pictures.

p.s. avoid crowded temples!!!

See you soon
Posted on: Aug 04, 2008
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Leh, seen from the Shanti stupa.
Leh, seen from the Shanti stupa.
Shanti Stupa.
Shanti Stupa.
Buddha at the Shanti Stupa.
Buddha at the Shanti Stupa.
Ladakhi woman.
Ladakhi woman.
Vegetable market at Leh Bazar.
Vegetable market at Leh Bazar.
Keep on spinning ...
Keep on spinning ...
... and turning the prayer wheels …
... and turning the prayer wheels…
Bif prayer wheels at Leh city limi…
Bif prayer wheels at Leh city lim…
View of the snow covered peaks bey…
View of the snow covered peaks be…
Buddha statue at Champa Lhakhang,
Buddha statue at Champa Lhakhang,
Leh palace.
Leh palace.
Traditional dances.
Traditional dances.
Traditional dances.
Traditional dances.
Traditional dances.
Traditional dances.
Bring on the sizzlers !
Bring on the sizzlers !
Leh
photo by: anupa_rk