"Ladakh", most of backpackers might have heard of this place before while some people might be familiar with the name. However, for those who still don't know this place, I will tell a short story about this place before taking you guys to go on travelling.
What is in Ladakh?
What is interesting in "Ladakh"? As a person who already falls in love with this place, thus, I would answer that Ladakh has "everything" from a exquisitely beautiful scenery along with a huge Himalaya mountain range and the nature that is still pure. It indeed is a paradise of people who love traveling and taking photos. People here is very friendly and they have a simple way of life combine with a strong belief in their religion. Moreover, there are art and culture heritages that are worth to conserve and there are also temples, palaces and ancient historic sites which are all captivating as the World's heritage site for traveling.
There are a lot of reviews about traveling in Ladakh during many periods for you guys to choose and read. In each seasons, the atmosphere in Ladakh would be different, yet still spectacular.
For this review, I will take you guys traveling to Ladakh during the end of winter season. A journey time is during 9-18 April which is overlapped to Songkran holidays in our country.
This trip we have four people altogether. We fly with Air India to Delhi and sleep at Delhi one night before continue our flight to Leh in the next early morning. We arrive at Delhi around noon and after finish checking-in to the hotel and keeping our baggage, we then walk out to take photos along the road, shop and many alleys.
Delhi people seem nicer than I have imagine before, they like to smile and are very friendly to traveler. Moreover, they also like to be a model for traveler to take a photo that some people might call us to take a photo of them themselves. We take about half a day taking photos and greeting people of all age from a kid to the older and it is pretty fun actually.
Although during this time of the year in Ladakh is indeed in the end of winter period, however, the weather like this is still considerably cold for all of us.There are less tourists during the period and most of hotels and shops are still closed. Moreover, since there is the project of adjustable landscape of the city, thus, the road are broken and under construction. Yet, it would take not too long for Leh city to change to a new face, ready to welcome tourists and the development that rapidly come into this city.
Our main accommodation in Leh city is Hotel Tso-Kar. Every places we travel to, we would stay overnight at that place and come back to Leh in the next day during the morning time. The exception is a traveling program to temple and palace which could travel as one day trip. Most of our stuffs will be left at the hotel, we will take only necessary things with us such as toothbrush, soap, one cloth, food and photography equipment.
You could see a google map for illustration, I mark a star in the map as well.
Travelling program includes:
Thiksey monastery, Shey palace and Hemis monastery in the south.
Nubia valley in the north.
Pangong lake in the east.
Alchi and Lamayuru in the west.
As for Hotel Tso-Kar, the service is great and guest rooms are clean with WIFI available in service. Moreover, their breakfast is wonderful which our first meal in Leh is an omelette and honey toast. Honey toast? Well, I might name it too exaggerate as in fact it is just a roasted bread with honey on top. These would be served together with coffee and hot tea. As for other meals, there are tomato soup, stir-fried noodle, stir-fried chicken with sweet bell peppers, fried potato and fried rice, all menus would come with a mild smell and taste. It is like they adjust the taste to especially serve for tourists.
Of course, we do not forget to bring chilli paste and dried food with us which is really helpful in a condition that there is not much menu for us to choose from. In every dinner, we would share our food that we have prepared to the hotel's staff to try our country's food which they seem really like our food, especially canned tuna.
Chapati, a thin flour crepe that was baked in the jar would be the main food for this trip and we indeed do eat a lot which we sometimes are fed up at it.
For the first day here, we still do not have any program to go out. Thus, we would wander around the city to absorb and adjust ourselves with the height atmosphere here. For those who like to take photos in life aspect, I think you might love it here as from my observation, Leh people's face would be clearly different from Arab people. Their faces look like Tibet people more, especially the kids here are pretty cute as they all have bright beautiful eyes with red cheek on their faces.
We continually explore along many alleys until we get through at a wide courtyard. We see a group of teenagers playing cricket, thus, we walk closely to watch them a bit. As I saw them play and it seems pretty fun that I would like to join them. Yet, I am worried about my camera, thus, I could only just sit and watch them play until the game ends and then I take a group photo of them to keep as a good memory.
Hemis Monastery - Thiksey Monastery - Shey Palace
A second day's life in Leh. Today, we will travel around to the monastery and palace which located in the south of Leh city.
Meti, a 23 years old young guy with a little in words, yet like to smile. He has just two times experiences taking the tourists to travel and it is considered as a new rookie, as this would just be his third time riding for a tour. Well, tomorrow we will have to ride up to the Khardungla Pass, the highest point of the route between Leh city and Nubra Valley. Hence, his little experience in riding to the World's highest road this time makes us feel a little worried somehow.
Nonetheless, today we still not go anywhere high yet, thus, we are still light heartened. On the ride, a pleasant rhythm of Indian song gets loud along with our excitement of watching both sides scenery. Each of us grab our own cameras and take photos along the way.
All of the monasteries today that we will travel to are all located on the mountains area. Thus, we have to walk up and it is considerably tired somehow. Moreover, in the condition that has less air makes all of us feel more exhausted, yet I think it is pretty worth as there is a big reward await for us above which definitely is a wide 360 degrees spectacular scenery and when we have seen those wonderful scenery, our tiredness are completely disappeared.
"Nubra Valley", a beautiful valley which is one of highlight attractions that anyone who travel to Leh must not miss out. According to our travelling program, we will stop overnight at the valley for one night and then during the morning time of the next day we will take a visit to Diskit Monastery before head back to Leh.
We make an appointment with Meti same time around 8 o'clock in the morning. Today, Meti also bring one of his relatives with him, his name is called Nicha and he said to us that "I bring my relative with me this time because I don't feel quiet well". Well, during this time, a snow is going to melt which makes the mountains' route wet, hence, a car could skid or be bogged down in anytime on the way and I guess that Meti might be worried about this so he invites Nicha to go with him in case if there is an accident occurs, he would have friend to help resolving problem.
From downtown of Leh city, we cut across the mountains and gradually ride up to the upper level. Some part of the road is wide that we could ride easily, yet some part is pretty narrow that we feel frightened. However, a thrilling ride would always come with a beautiful scenery and we all don't forget to press our cameras' shutters to record these captivating scenery along the way.
A picture of the great Himalayas and Karakoram mountain range with the winding road that seems like no ending way ahead. At that moment while I am looking out from a car's window, one thought is suddenly coming up in my mind, I think this world is exceedingly huge and a little human like us seems to be like just a dust. Moreover, when we compare a period of time that we were born to this earth with a grand mountain range in the front, I find that human is not as great as we think we are, seems like our entire lives are just only a fraction of the timeline. Therefore, all problems that is attacking us now whether it be work, love, debt or whatever, I could put down all of them at that moment and tell myself that human's life is just this. And why we have to worry of many things, we just solve and accept problems when it occurs and that is it. It's like climbing up the mountain, if the route is so steep and not smooth so we just go little by little, it may be slower and tired, yet in a while we will get through it eventually.
Not so long, the dry road that is filled of dust changed to a muddy ground all over. Our car begins to swing and it feels like riding up to a high mountain during rainy season. Now, the road is steep and slippery and on the way we also could see the wreckage of a car that falls down and piles up to be a scarp of iron in below area. There is no any sound from a song and conversation in our car right now, we all hearten enthusiastically for Meti's ride. There are many situations occur during that time, an ambulance car is bogged down that tourists have to get off and help pushing. Our car is also bogged down twice, first time we have got a snow sweeping car that is working around that area help us and second time, we have to get off and push the car by ourselves. Well, to exert ourselves in a place that has less oxygen like this, make us feel pretty exhausted. Finally, we end up waiting for a help from the vehicles that get pass us. All in all, all situations are taken our time for hours totally.
On a tough route and in a critical situation, sometimes there are smiles and good stories hiding in it.
Khardungla Pass, the highest point of a route between Nubra and Leh.
Moreover, it is a stopover point and doing a permit for tourists.
Shyok river, a main green color river that feeds Nubra people for a long time.
We reach Nubra around dusking time and then we go to check-in at our accommodation tonight at Hotel Sten-Del. The atmosphere is great with clean room, and there is a roof-deck, thus, for those who love taking photos of stars, you could go up to take a shot. Yet, the wind blows a little bit hard, hence, you should prepare clothing and equipments for the cold weather in advance.
Sand Dunes, a little desert among the valley with a small rivulet flowing from Shyok river.
Ride from a village area around half an hour, there wuold be a herd of camel riding service provide for traveller.
Good Morning Nubra
The best part of waking up early is that we could have a chance to watch villager's way of life from kids to the older one. We talk and greet with them in local language along with sharing a smile to each other. People that are pretty friendly and love to smile with a small beautiful and peaceful village that is embraced with mountains and spectacular scenery, how many time in life that we could have a chance to experience something like this?
"Jullay", a greeting word in local language which means Hello or Goodbye. This word could use in every situations and whenever we speak out, the thing that we could always receive back is a smile from that person.
A song in local language of farmer is echoing through the valley.
Nubra Valley starts entering into a growing season now.
I have got a little tip for you guys, for those who want to take photos of villagers in their routine lives, you should wake up early and go straight to wait at the water pump as from I have observed everyone from each houses would grab a bucket and queue up for receiving the water. Hence, they will meet up and talk with each other around water pump area during morning time every day.
Pangong Lake ขุนเขา สายน้ำ ผืนฟ้า และดาวล้านดวง
Some places, no matter what we really want to keep all the beauty back with us, yet we are unable to do that anyway. And this word could really explain this place "Pangong Lake"
A route to Pangong.
During the time that we travel here, the water in the lake is still frozen which somehow looks charming in another way. Now we have a lot of time for four of us to separate and walk around to find one's own peaceful corner.
During the waiting to take a photo of the dusking light, I walk to watch a group of tent that located at the foot of mountain. Among all of the tents there, there is one tent that looks very fascinating to me. A fabric of a tent is in brown colour which looks pretty old and worn out. Beside the tent, there are a lot of things placed all around, seem like the owner of this tent is living here for months. Then, I face with one lady who bring a wool to bind up into a thread, I walk toward her and talk to her by using body language. Nonetheless, she did not understand me at all and we just smile to each other. In a while, there is a group of people around 20 persons walking and circling me, some of them shake my hand and touch my body, some asking to watch a photo from my camera, they all talk to each other, smile and point at me, moreover, they looks excited, maybe they think that I am kind of different and odd.
Suddenly, there is one guy in the group, who I think would be the only one that could speak English, starts talking to me. As we talk, I have learned that he and his friends travel from one village that has a distance around the same as we travel from Leh to here. They come to set a tent and stay overnight by the lake around 4-5 days, then they will go back. I ask him to take a group photo of them and he agrees along with call his friends to group up. When I finish taking a photo of them and show photo to them, everyone crowd around and watch, then laugh heartily. After that, we then shake hands and say good bye to each other.
Tonight, we will stay at Pinging Inn, a small hotel by the lake. The weather during the night time at Leh is pretty cold, yet it could not be compared with the cold weather here, it's kind of freezing actually. As we take photos of the star for just only a while, the cold weather makes all of our fingers and toes feel hurt. Nevertheless, I think this torture is kind of worth the scenery that we have watched, the scenery of the sky that is filled up with bright shining millions star above a frozen lake. It is so marvelous more than we could explain into a word or a picture.
Lamayuru - Alchi
Alchi is a city of river and mountain, and it will be our last destination for this trip. From Leh, Meti rides us toward west direction, passes desert and remote mountains. If observe from the map, Leh and Alchi are only 60 kilometers away from each other and the journey would actually take just only around 2 hours. Nonetheless, Meti rides pass Alchi to take us to Lamayuru monastery, one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh first. And after that, we will return back to Alchi and we will pass "Moonland" which has a scenery of purple mountain contrasts with a green turquoise colour of Sindhu river and we could admire this beautiful scenery along the way back. For beautiful places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake or Alchi, I feel that a short journey only one night is indeed pretty little.
Normally, during noon time everyday, we will stop by at local rice and curry cuisine during our way for lunch. Although, all of us is not quite fond of Indian food, yet in order to understand their food culture, hence, as we are here now we have to try their food a bit.
For example this cuisine on the way to Lamayuru, although the vendor gives us a big portion of the food, yet its smell and taste makes us feel weird and could eat only a little. For me, I have tried it and really could not stand it, hence, I would better eat Roti with our chilli paste like usual.
We reach Alchi around 04.00pm and then we go check-in at Hotel Samdupling. And we come to a conclusion that this hotel is the best hotel in this trip. The room is spacious and airy with nice scenery and tasty food, moreover, above all of the things is a great service here. The owner is a generous uncle who like to talk jokes, his name is Mr.Stobdan. He would be the one who comes to welcome and take care us by himself. Moreover, when we order the food, all of us feel surprised as there is "Porridge" including in a menu too. Mr.Stobdan tells us that there are a lot of Asian tourists frequently come to stay here for example Japanese, Thai and Chinese and everyone does love Porridge menu as they all get bored of local food already.
Good Morning Alchi
This morning at Alchi has a pleasant cold weather with a bright sky. I walk up to a hotel's roof-deck to watch the scenery around. I could see Alchi Choskor Monastery which located not far away, thus, I walk to explore the place. During spring season, this place will be filled up with a green colour of poplar's leaves alternate with a pink colour of apricot flowers that bloom all around the valley.
As Mr.Sobdan tells me that this period, Alchi will looks most beautiful and lively of a through year, then I think along and imagine of a beautiful scenery according to Mr.Stobdan's words.
Alchi Choskor Monastery
Around 9 o'clock in the morning, we walk out and find little students gather up together near a village's road. All of us is busy taking photos of those students for quite some time until a school bus is arrived which means it is about time that we have to say goodbye with these little students and this adorable village. On the way back to Leh, we would stop by visiting Likir monastery and a beautiful scenic point that two rivers which are Sanscar river and Sinthu river are connected.
A scenic point of Sanscar river and Sindhu river.
I get back to Leh with a feeling that is completely different from the time that I just arrived here. An exciting feeling that I used to have is gone, It is replaced by a pity feeling as I know in my mind that in a short time I need to leave the place and go back to a real world. Now, I fully understand why they call this place a paradise or a dream land.
During the last night, four of us taking a seat, chatting and sharing our own photos to each other. We talk about our good time here and happily laugh with all the situation that was happened here.
If the camera equipment is the machine that used to record a beautiful places.
Our heart might have a responsibility to record a good feeling and experience that we receive.
We find that a beautiful of Ladakh is not just only the exquisitely beautiful scenery, but the smile of the people and a little friendship from them through our 9 days trip are definitely be another beauty of this place that we could feel it by our hearts.
Thank you everyone that follow our review: