|So I was writing a nice long blog post about what we've been up to the past few days, and once I'd finshed and was reading it over, the whole town lost power (a rather regular occurance) and I lost the whole thing. As unfortunate as it was, I'll try and recreate it now before I forget what I wrote. Part of it was ironically about how things operate so differently here - like the lack of power! Or how today when we wanted to take out some money we had to go to the only bank in the area and wait in line for about half an hour just to use the ATM. But a nice thing about Leh is how trusting and friendly the people are! The other day I wanted to buy this ring, but didn't have enough money so I told the man to hold it for me and I'd come back later. He just gave me the ring, trusting that I would come back later and pay him (which I did of course).
In other news we found out today that the Dalai Lama is in town! He is "delivering teachings in Zanskar and Leh". We have not seen him, but we did drive by his local summer residence today. Ladakh is a very Tibeten region, as a lot of teibets fled to here after the failed uprising against China.
We have been busy touring aroubd Leh and some surrounding towns the past two days. Yesterday we hiked to the Leh Palace, which looks exactly like what you'd expect a 17th century mud building to look like. lol. It was also really dark and creepy - we had to bring a flashlight to make our way around the tiny mud hallways. After that we continued our hike up to the Namgyal Gompa (a Gompa is a Buddhist place or prayer and place for safe-keeping of important documents so that they an be preserved for future generations). This was by far our hardest and highest hike - up a dirk mountainside (no steps this time!). The view from up there was worth it though! When we got to the top we met some Spanish-speaking Isreali and Spanish guys who thought that we were crazy for climbing up all that way on foot, and offered that we go back down with them in their taxi. We accepted, and ended up spending the rest of the day sight-seeing with them around Leh, and then shared a taxi with Miquel (the one from Spain) today to go visit the neighbouring towns. It was nice to meet some new people! Since it's really just been the two of us.
Today we visited four smaller towns close to Leh. Our first stop was the Hemis monestary, about an hour away, and in the middle of nowhere (even by Ladakhi standards). We took the Manali-Leh highway to get there (the road we would have taken if we had come by bus instead of flying), and boy are we glad we flew! Miquel and our Isreali friends all came by bus, and it sounds terrible (though they insisted the pain was worth the scenery you get to see). You are crammed into a minibus, doubled up on seats (if you are lucky). If not you may have to stand, or even sit on top of the roof. The drive is 20-hours, on tiny, bumpy, windy roads - with an average of one accident per day. Needless to say - we are really happy with our decision to pay a bit more and skip that part of the journay!
Next we visited the Tikse monestary, where we were lucky enough to see Buddhist monks performing a prayer ceremony. It was something really unique to see, but we found it really weird that they were surrounded by tourist snapping photos - and wondered how they felt about that. The monestary also had a really impressive 3-story Buddhist statue. After we visited two more palaces in Shey and Stok. The best part about al the places we visited were the views, as they are all built nestled into mountain tops.
On our day of driving today we discovered that Ladakh has the most hilarious road safety signs ever! Some gems include: "I am curvaceous, be slow" "Better to be Mr. Late than Late Mr." and "Safe Driving on road fetches tea at home"
Tomorrow we're going white-water rafting! It's our big splurge - costing us an exorbitant $30 for transporation, all our gear, 3 hours of rafting and lunch. haha. We'll let you know how it goes!