Three weeks now since I returned from Ladakh, and the images stay imprinted on my mind and heart…
Did I tell you we stayed in a tent at Pangong?
I last stayed in one when I’d visited Africa in the year 2000. Y2K proved lucky for me! LOL.
Sweetwater Lake was the location in Kenya (lake then too!) and this time it was the Pangong Tso.
(Of course, between these two occasions I stayed in a tent when camping with some friends from school. Old Monks sports club or something, I think. Quite an unusual experience, given that I’m not one of those sporty, adventurous types.)
Pangong was quite chilly when we got there at dusk. And tremendously windy. Our fixed tents were shaking and making scary sounds, especially the rickety basin in the attached washroom that moved each time the wind shook its visible bottom. However, the bed and overall arrangements were excellent. Especially the attendants, food, service and dining room. I think Ladakh reduces your expectations from life and your dependence on luxuries. Commendable, eh, coming from me - the nakhrewali princess herself?!!
Electricity is made available by means of a generator only for 3 hours between 7 and 10 pm. Read, unpack, charge your phones and cameras - finish what you want between these hours or remain in the dark! There’s running cold water in the basin, but no tap for a bath. (Not that the bathroom is really one where you can bathe, it barely has space for the pot and the rickety basin stand.) If you’re really eager, half a bucket of hot water will be delivered to your tent each morning at 7 sharp. Take it or leave it!
When I woke the next dawn, I was a little bleary coz I hadn’t slept well despite the surprisingly unexpected warmth in the tent. Nervousness to blame, the tent being protected only by a zipper that anyone could open from inside or outside. Yet, I was thrilled to watch the sunrise when the Pangong changes all possible colours that can leave you awed. It’s a fantabulous place, awesome like no other. And a few kilometres away from habitation is the spot where the 3 Idiots climax was shot. Bliss!
The trip was almost about to end. And all of us were looking forward to the “Farewell Dinner with Chang” that is advertised by almost every tour operator in their itinerary. We thought Chang was some local celebrity or tribe. No way were we prepared for a mineral water bottle filled with a Limca-like liquid. Apparently, Chhang is a local booze made of fermented rice beer. As you all know, I like to try everything once, and Chhang was no exception.
Wish it was! It is revoltingly sour both in smell and flavor, and tastes rotten. Byuaaakkk!! That one sip, and I bid it adieu for life.
The last day was reserved for leisure and last minute shopping. The market is quite expensive and has little to offer in terms of variety. Though neither mum nor I are your regular female shopping freaks, yet we avidly bought gifts for people back home. No matter where one goes, it’s always nice to get a “I thought of you” present for your loved one. That’s how packets of incense, bags, local garments, postcards, keychains, and Buddhist souvenirs all found their way into our luggage.
The next morning brought mixed feelings. We were about to leave for home, and it was also Mum’s birthday. Life can’t be one long vacation, right? And this being a birthday gift for Maa, was doubly special…
A man with torn pajamas at airport did not figure in our itinerary, nor on the top sightseeing spots in Ladakh. I guess this was Leh’s farewell gift to us. ROFL. Unfortunately, I couldn’t click a picture so you shall be deprived of this extraordinary sight. Hehehe.
Well, enough jokes. What followed was one helluva tiring journey. I travelled no less than 12 hours - 8 in and around flights from Leh to Mumbai, and 4 in the bus from Mumbai to Pune. 3 take-offs and landings (the 2nd flight was a stopover) made my ears go for a toss, and I could not hear clearly for the next 48 hours, no kidding. I did enjoy watching Tum Mile on the flight though, quite an entertaining movie.
Being an organized and planned person, I always like to reach home before the weekend ends, so that the next working day is unhampered and ordinary. And that’s how it turned out for me. Monday was BAU, and life had almost returned to normal. Funny, eh? Time’s the best healer… Moves on as though nothing’s happened…
Sorting and uploading snaps was a herculean task though, coz I had taken well over 800 pictures and did not want to preserve more than 300 – you know how it is, the excitement of the moment, and then the pics lying forgotten 360 days out of 365…
Thank you for reading this, and being a part of my adventure. Ladakh is superrrr… A must visit if you truly are passionate about nature and travelling…
Go get Leh’d !! :-)
Blessed to have been,