Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Tuesday 1st July

So we are now in Ladakh. It's been a really long day. We arrived in India yesterday at about five in the evening. Delhi airport was a surprise - ultra modern with great signage in English. The flight from Kathmandu seems like it happened last year - I am even having difficulty remembering it! 

While we were waiting for our cases, a young nun asked us if this was the carousel for the Kathmandu flight. Well it turned out she was catching the same flight to Leh as us. She had not arranged accommodation and was planning to stay in an airport hotel. So we invited her to join us at the Hotel Sunrise Blue that Jennifer had booked on line. After Jen had bought an Indian SIM card and airtime, she phoned the hotel to find out why they were not at the airport to pick us up! Well eventually some one came along who asked us if we were waiting for the taxi to the hotel sunrise blue... So we didn't get into the wrong taxi and end up being kidnapped!! Well I wish you could have seen the hotel!! They were quite ok for the nun called Ani Diki to join us and informed us the stay would now  cost 1950 Indian rupees instead of ithevoriginsl 1500 . So they showed us to our room which had an enormous double bed in it and nothing else!! We pointed out that we could not all sleep in the double bed!! Especially as we were now paying extra!!

They ended up bringing a mattress which the nun slept on. We ordered a taxi to take us back to the airport at 3am for our 5.40 flight.

Before we left the airport I explored the possibility of leaving a suitcase at the airport as we had realised that we could only bring back 15 kgs each!! They have a left luggage section but we were not sure if it would cost less of if we would incur higher costs by paying the airline surcharge or the cost of left luggage!? I then had the brilliant idea of asking Mony the chap  where we would be staying in Delhi after Ladakh. Great! So Jen and I reorganized our stuff . After not much sleep - yep you got it - barking dogs and cars hooting in what sounded like the next  room, we were picked up and taken to the airport. The security at Delhi airport is incredible - we were not allowed into the airport building without showing our passports and our tickets!! Hmmmm ... Problem .... Eventually the security official told me to go through another door to the airline counter and ask them to print out my ticket! So finally we were let in and successfully checked in and boarded the plane. Jennifer and I were allowed to check through together - with her large bag and another smaller carry on bag which together weighed 30 kgs!! 

The flight was truly beautiful with amazing views of the snow capped Himalayas. . - 

I am off to bed now -it's 2.50am . I have been sitting a on a bed in the passage wrapped up in the down duvet from our room and listening to the distant sound of someone's chanting echoing across the valley! 

So back to our flight - as we got closer to Ladakh we started getting glimpses of mountain peaks through the layers of beautiful clouds. Slowly we saw more and more mountains and steep valleys covered in glistening strips of snow - a sort of zebra skin effect - we were treated to this spectacular landscape for some time with everyone jostling to taking pictures and videos. As we descended we saw barren brown mountainous landscapes interspersed with low lying green valleys. The pilot skillfully  navigated the plane through the mountains - quite something to be flying lower than what we could see through the windows!   

As we landed everyone burst into applause - reminded me of landing with Trek airways in the seventies!!! It felt like we might run out landing strip !!  Leh airport is small and is surrounded by moon like landscapes! Brown craggy
hills with snow capped mountains in the distance. Jen managed to figure out how to get some kind of prepaid taxi to for us to catch to the hotel. So once again we found ourselves in chaotic hooting traffic with drivers of various two wheeled and four wheeled vehicles vying for space!! 

It was an enormous relief to check into our hotel - our room is on the third floor and has an amazing view to the south of Leh valley with a high stupa to our right and a very steep walk up a steep slope on the left.  We look onto a snow capped brown mountain which is completely free of vegetation. We collapsed onto our beds and slept for a few hours. 

We then headed out to get some lunch and to see what we could find put about the kalachakra initiation. So funny - we had a good lunch and noticed there were second hand books for sale. So Jen found a couple - I started reading one and decided to get it - all rather confusing though - they wanted to 250 Indian rupees and when I pointed out that it cost 200 new they wouldn't budge!!' We walked into the centre only to discover we had missed registration. I managed to find an ATM to draw some bucks them we headed home. I was exhausted - out of breathe and feeling as though I had had enough of seeing how other people live their lives - all I wanted was to get back to living my own life!! 

I was incredulous when I asked Jennifer in the evening how many nights we had been here and she replied none!!! I guess it was getting up so very early, then napping during the day and schlepping into the town centre!!   Anyway not a very happy camper!! Our vroom is on the third floor and I had to rest on the second floor before embarking on the last leg!!! 

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