I am simply in love with Ladakh especially Leh.
Leh, where the monks are cool and they sell broccoli on the streets. It is not a big town and despite it being a tourist hub, it hasn’t lost its simplicity. The people are genuinely nice and I felt it wasn’t the profits that drives the many travel agencies but purely just the enjoy of sharing Ladakh with others. Okayyyy…maybe that’s too naïve and generous but when you encounter agents that actually don’t overcharge you and refund you money at the end of a tour because there were more people on it, your faith in humanity actually…rises! The past four months, I’ve been dodging from con-man types and watching my back constantly and it was such a relief to let it go.
When we arrived in Leh at 10.00pm, I hadn’t booked ahead. Despite having on-going passengers, the driver drove around looking for a good place for me and in the end, another passenger joined in and when we went to inspect another room, the driver inspected the bathroom while the other guy negotiated the rate! The hotel I stayed in, the owner was AWOL but it was looked after by these 5 guys who just hung around the reception and watched TV. Every time I came back from somewhere we just hung around reception to chat. The shopkeepers in the surrounding markets were really awesome and invited me for tea in their shops.
The next day when I went to the DC office to get my Permit. Despite being a public holiday and busy with pushy local Indian tourists, they actually worked their red tape around me! It’s a small functional office and you get to meet many travelers and swap stories.
From visiting the Leh Palace, mediating at Shanti Stupa and discovering the Sankar monastery to just walking around the main bazaar area, it was truly a blissful 4 days.
I flew back from Leh to Delhi. It was expensive but the other option is a 3-day road trip via Manali or back to Srinagar. I couldn’t do another road trip as much as I loved it!