|We have now settled into life in Ladakh and found a comfortable guest house with views across the mountains and a wonderful vegetable garden.The first week has been spent acclimatising, drinking tea and meeting people. It is summer here in Leh and normally temperatures range from 20-24 celsius but this week it has been in the 30's making acclimatisation even more difficult. Ladakh is a desert with only around 100mm of rain per year, the air is very dry and you can drink a litre of water and still feel thirsty. This combined with breathlessness and occasional nose bleeds has made for a new experience for both of us. It takes around 7 days for the body to acclimatise fully and we are both now over these symptoms.
One of the people we have met is a man called Tashi, he is a Tibetan refugee living at the refugee site at Choglamsar just outside of Leh. He gave us a guided tour of the site and we met with his family and many other refugees; we have posted some photos on the website and will post some more when we can get a better connection.
On Saturday we undertook our first trek with a couple we have met from Belgium. We took the bus from Leh to Likir going over some very high passes, this time it was all of us who were hiding under the seat as our bus reversed to allow a lorry to pass, the rear wheels of the bus sent showers of rock down the 100ft drop to the Indus river below. The trek took three days and we had a fantastic time, we trekked from village to village carrying our own packs and navigating using a very basic map and taking local directions. The experience was made all the better by staying with local families who made us very welcome and for a small fee (optional) gave us dinner bed and breakfast. The conditions were very basic bathing in water from the stream (glacial melt water) and using earth closets for toilets. Their hospitality was so generous and nothing was too much trouble. The first night we stopped near the Buddhist Monastery on the mountainside at Likir. We were greeted by a girl running down the hill to invite us to her house and although none of us had a common language we had great fun trying to communicate.
We have been back in Leh for two days and we leave early tomorrow morning for our next trek, again with our friends from Belgium. This time the trek is for 8 days and goes from a town called Rumtse to Tso Mori. We have hired a guide and a pony man (complete with ponies) so we will only have to carry our day sacks. Many of the trekking routes have been disrupted over the last couple of weeks because of flooding caused by the winter snows melting more rapidly than usual due to the high temperatures, the rivers have died down now and will not affect the area we are going to.
We are having a great time and have also met a couple from England who we knew from the numerous visits to outdoor shop across the UK. We had dinner with them the other evening and they have invited us on a trek with them although we think they are a little bit too fit for our liking.
We will return to Leh on the 14th July and will be in touch again after then.