I'm stuck in Leh at the moment...the weather was pretty bad this morning, so they cancelled my flight.
Anyhow...here's the story so far in Leh...
It lives up to its name as the medieval capital of Ladakah (region of India - more people of tibetan origin here than Indian) so its a really friendly place and quite laid back.
The palace here was built in the 17th Century and is pretty a smaller version of the Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet. We arrived at the end of the Ladakah festival, basically a celebration of the different cultures in this region. We got some good seats as they wanted all the westerners right near the front for the best view (pics to follow).
Where we are stayin is a pretty laid back part of town, cafes, and a place called KCs. It shows Tibetan movies everynight and you sit around fires while you wytch it in the open air drinking beer. My lips took a battering coming here, I stupidly had the wndow open and they were really sore for a few days. So drinking was painful... We have a cafe right by our guesthouse owned by a bohemian Sikh (we are sharing four to a room - 1 quid a night!!) which serves really good food and drink....so we pretty much meet up there all the time.
There are loads of tibetan refugee markets here, some with really cool stuff...one even had a skull top and a thigh bone that had been made into a flute! (Pic to follow)
On tuesday we went on a jeep safari to the highest road pass in the world in the Nubru valley, Khardung La - 5359 metres / 18640 feet , it was't half as bad as ascending the second highest but still pretty cool. Again I relieved myself to say I did it....hahahha. To be honets tho cos you have to drink a lot of water here cos of the altitude it just goes riught through you anyway!
We also went over to the valley on the other side, which quickly truns to desert, surrounded by the Himilaya...on the way a army convoy (25 plus lorrys) passsed us, because the roads are single lane, our driver had to do a three point turnonto a crevass and then noticed we had a flat tyre...it was a prett scary!! One of those oh my god times!!! Thought it was over...the drop was huge! (pic to follow)
After living through that we descended towards Diskit and Hunder and visited a pretty cool monastery...I took a really cool pic of a monk, can't wait to post it! Hunder is a far as you can go in India's north, as the bridge next to it borders onto China (Tibet).
After staying the night in a dust stormed valley we again got stuck behin another convoy (they stock up for the winter here), it kinda reminded me of the 'Lost Ark' with the soldiers looking down onto our jeep (sad yes...but can't help it). We stopped for Chai (sweet tea) on a moutnian pass and then got back handy to leh.
There has been a lot of debate on how we were getting back to our camp in Palampur, I really didn't dancy the same crazy 3 day journey back so booked a flight whilst the others mused over the jeep price etc... Their decison has now since been taken away as the pass back to Manali (the second highest) is now snow bound. Soooo we are all flying back to Delhi and then gettin an overnight bus to Dharamsala then bus to camp. I go 1 day before them tho cos of all their faffing and the flight gettting booked up early!
So thats where I'm at today, just killing time till my flight departs at 7am tomorrow.
On a more serious note, the past events and constant near death experiences have made me think of my time here. I've decided to quit the camp, as everyone just seems to moan about the charity we are working for. I'm gonna try and do my everest trip in the next couple of weeks and have contaced STA to try and re-arrange. I'm gonna fit Nepal time that should of been spent at camp and visiting Varanasi (that I will rearrange tho) Sooooo watch this space. Either way, I'm cutting short my career break so will be back around Xmas time. This will mean I won't be as 'in' debt as I would have been (I hope!!!) coming back at the end of Feb.
On a much cooler note, I'm arranging to attend the Dalai Lama's teachings next week, he's been pretty sick recently and his schedule has been cut right back, so really think I have to grab this chance!
Talking of Buddhits, our hotel has a really sweet old woman (cleaner I think) who prays on a mat outside my room every morning. You have to step over her to get to the toilet...was shocked first time I encountered her, but used to it now haha. She chants away while she sits up and then lies stomach down on the floor, repeating it over and over...
Anyhow thats all for now...I'll be in Mcleod Ganj on monday morning (have to register to see Dalai lama,) so will upload all my pics and wids then.