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Jul 7, 2009 - Visit to Sankar Monastery

Today we took a walk in a part of Leh we had never been before and visited the Sankar Monastery. The monastery is sandwiched between houses in a beautiful residential neighborhood of Leh, and as such, does not offer the imposing views of many of the other monasteries - many of which are located on hillsides - we have seen since arriving in Ladakh. As we arrived, the main temple was filled with monks engaged in worship, and so as not to intrude, we limited our visit to the areas of the monastery outside of the temple’s inner sanctum. After...

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Break From the Law

Jul 6, 2009 - Campsite to Lingshed

Left Campsite 06.40 Second pass 11.30 Arrive Lingshed Gompa 12.45 0 rupees Song in my head - Song 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton The next morning, the campsite is still in shadow, and it's so freezing cold I could barely think. Breakfast is a disaster as my Nutella has frozen solid in the night, so I just quickly pack my stuff and start walking to raise some heat and get into the sun. The walking is on good paths through the hills and the two passes are easy, at least coming this way, they would be much tougher if coming from the north. I soon...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 5, 2009 - Photoskar to over SengiLa

Time left 08.50 First pass 10.00 Sengila 15.15 Campsite 16.30 Song in my head - Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel Rupees spent 200 Go to the loo and end up nearly falling in it. For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, some have two holes, but it being dark I didn't know this. So in I trot, when suddenly one of my legs is two feet below the other, and I'm struggling not to fall all the way in. Thankfully this one had no stalagshites and my flipflop stays on, so a quick clean up later and I'm all set, but it was close. I set off, traversing...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 5, 2009 - Visit to Stok

This afternoon we took a cab to the small town of Stok outside of Leh. There we visited both the museum at the royal palace as well as the monastery down the road from the royal palace. The Ladakhi royal family constructed the palace in the early 19th century, and the palace continues to serve as a part time residence for the Ladakhi royal family. Although still recognized as the Ladakhi royal family, the family has no official power or role within Ladakhi society. The palace, perched on a hillside, has some 77 rooms, although only a small...

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Break From the Law

Jul 4, 2009 - Hanupatta to Photoskar

Left Hanupatta 07.50 Sisirla Pass reached 12.15 Arrived Potoskar 14.30 Song in my head - Lola by the Kinks Rupees spent 200. The day starts easy, with a gentle gradient for two or so hours as it follows the valley round, then I branch off the road to cross the river over a wooden bridge and the path becomes narrower, rockier and steeper. After about 45 minutes, come onto a coll, with one stone shelter, then a steep climb to the top. It's windy and I'm grateful for the shelter of the cairn here as I have my lunch of chappatis, cheese and...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 3, 2009 - Fanjila to Hanupatta

Leave Fanjila 07.30 Arrive Hanupatta 10.30 Song in my head - Hung my Head by Johnny Cash Rupees spent 120 Get up and needing to do the necessary, pop to the loo. Most toilets are closed rooms, but this one has lost it's walls and instead has some low plastic tarp, and additionally is on a small hill with no privacy i.e. everyone walking down the road can see what you're doing. The only way to avoid this is to adopt a Haka-like pose, and whilst doing this I look down the rectangular hole, which is not something you can often do as it's...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 2, 2009 - Leh to Franjila

Go to the bus station through the (for once) traffic free streets of central Leh, past cows, dogs and old women going through rubbish tips, past workmen shovelling in pairs (one holding the shaft, the other a cord attached to the base of the head). On getting to the station, find out that there is a bus straight to Franjila, which would save me a days walk on a road from the gompa at Lamayuru. I hesitate, as Lamayuru is regarded as one of the most significant and spectacular sights in Ladakh, but decide I'll see enough on the trek anyway so...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 2, 2009 - Buddhist Festival at the Hemis Monastery

Today we attended the first day of the festival at the monastery at Hemis. The festival, which consists of dance dramas set to music of masked Buddhist characters depicting scenes from Buddhist lore, is considered to be Ladakh’s premier summer festival. This morning we arrived at the monastery shortly before 7 a.m. in order that we could secure a prime viewing spot. Unfortunately, the weather this morning was unlike any I had previously experienced in Ladakh. While we had experienced cold weather at some of the higher altitudes of the...

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Break From the Law

Jul 1, 2009 - Homestay with Ladakhi Family in Hemis

Although we had just finished our trek here the day before, we returned to Hemis here from Leh in the afternoon for the festival at the monastery set to begin here the next day. As Hemis is a small village without much in the way of standard lodgings for tourists, tourists coming to Hemis stay either in tented camps set up for the festival or with Ladakhi families who rent out rooms in their homes to tourists. We stayed at the home of a local painter. The home is well built in traditional Ladakhi style out of mud, straw, wood and stone....

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Break From the Law

Jun 30, 2009 - A lazy few weeks in Leh

Went to the polo ground to watch a match there put on as part of the Leh Festival, a secular event done by the tourist board. Never been to one before and doubt I'll go to the likes of this one ever again; this was a little different to the genteel events I imagine you get in England. For a start, I'm fairly sure Prince Charles never had to dodge cows and dogs that wander onto the pitch, not to mention work his way round a chorten (Buddhist monument) that sits on the edge of the field like the lime tree at Kent Cricket Ground used to. The...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jun 30, 2009 - Trekking the Markha Valley - Day 7 - Shang Sumdo to Hemis

Today marked the final day of our trek. From a walking perspective, it also proved to be by far the least enjoyable of all of the days. For most of our short 3 hour walk today, we merely walked alongside a paved road to Hemis. This made for a very anti-climatic finale today when compared to the previous 6 days of the trek. While it would have been a nice walk on a trail, as the route took us through a winding canyon alongside a river for much of the journey, the paving of the road - while undoubtedly beneficial for the villagers of Shang...

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Break From the Law

Jun 29, 2009 - Trekking the Markha Valley - Day 6 - Nimaling to Shang Sumdo

Last night we spent a freezing cold night camping in the valley at Nimaling (4,720 meters; 15,490 feet). The frigid overnight temperatures - likely exacerbated by my body's reaction to the high elevation at which we were camping - caused me to wake me up repeatedly. Eventually I put on long johns, rain pants, an extra fleece, my waterproof jacket and three pairs of socks. While this helped to alleviate the effect of the chilly night air, this did little to help me sleep soundly again before we had to get up this morning. Shortly after 8...

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Break From the Law

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