solo trip to Ladakh – random thoughts

1. the funniest signs in Ladakh are the road signs dissuading speeding. i didn’t take pictures because i would have been stopping the driver every few hundred metres! but they were hilarious. i can only imagine what a job it must be for the copywriter. anyone want to apply? i did note them down though:

  • “love thy neighbour, but not while driving” in the middle of nowhere, on a kuccha road, leading towards the nubra valley sand dunes, yes i can see that the urge would strike!
  • “be Mr Late than late Mr” clever punning designed to cause accidents as the driver tries to figure out what it says
  • “if married, divorce speed” creative
  • “don’t drive and drunk” a test! if you are sober, you will spot the grammatical error
  • “धीरे चलाओ, प्राकृतिक सौंदर्य का आनंद उठाओ”
    & “lower your gear, curve is near” yes, rhyming works
  • “be gentle on my curves” ok now the writer is fantasising!
  • “if you overtake, you will undertake” really scared now!
  • “darling, i love you, but not so fast” really getting into the groove
  • “traffic jam, yellow tape, parent crying” painted on a rock, an inexplicable haiku
  • “don’t be a gama in the land of the lama” vasco de gama?

2. the people are amazingly friendly and warm, not cynical or judgemental, and hat was refreshing. i was a little apprehensive about going alone as a woman, but i had no problems whatsoever. the people were nice and the family in the Leh guesthouse especially, took really good care of me. their friendly greeting of julley! covers everything from hello to goodbye, good morning to good night. the black tea with herbs was the best thing for winter.

3. the altitude creates a record out of everything : world’s highest tennis court (in Leh), world’s highest airfield (Leh), of course, top 3 highest motorable roads in the world, unfortunately also the world’s highest battlefield. having been to Ladakh during the slowing down of winter, i can’t imagine what the army goes through at Siachen and all over Ladakh. i don’t think anyone can gauge the extremely tough physical conditions & even a small experience made me realise that patrolling everyday in the peak of winters when temperatures drop to as low as -30 is a challenge beyond most of us. am not getting into the political angle of whether the army presence is justified or not, just the fact that they are there, 365 days of the year.

4. some of the things i missed out and will do on the next trip:

  • a trip to Dah-Hanu – towards the Kargil border, this is a tribe of Aryans, different in look from the rest of the Ladakhis
  • any of the treks off Lamayuru & the Luang La further down from Lamayuru- there are several that one can do in summer and definitely would be worth it & the Luang La even beyond lamayuru is supposed to be a beautiful drive
  • if i was into mountain climbing, then climbing Stok Kangri – its 20,000 feet but i think the max altitude for trekking is around 17, 000 feet
  • spending more time even in Leh, just walking around and doing nothing in particular… it’s a lovely environment
  • go back in summer so i can even stay out at night and watch the stars, this time it got a little too cold to manage

5. i am so glad i got to do this trip, after planning it for 4 years and i do intend to go back again in a few years. so… why exactly do people go to Switzerland?! see Ladakh to believe its beauty.

    • Bipolar Disorder
    • August 6th, 2008

    Ladakh is absolutely beautiful, and I stumbled onto your website only because I wanted to know what a gama was. The signs are really bizarre:)

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