It was 9:00am when I got up. After five back to back nights of incomplete rest, I finally got to sleep the whole night. I felt a lot better. The tourism department here, has a travel advisory which asks for Ladakh tourists to take atleast 24hr rest if arrived by road or 48hr rest if arrived by air. This time, I decided to listen.
After having my ladakhi breakfast, I went out to the town centre. I made some slow walk to get used to the altitude. I went to the main bus stand to enquire about my future travel plans and just roamed around the beautiful town, clicking photos. Ladakh was a small town with very few people. I could see a lot of foreign tourists though. These people come here mostly for trekking or social service. In one shop, I met another Israeli guy. Wonder what the whole of Israel is doing here. I told him that I met many people from Israel enroute. He replied, ‘we love India’. What about us?, I wondered. I could see a lot of army vehicles around. The people were fluent in English, but if you speak in English, you will get everything at a foreigner’s price. So better speak in Hindi and get at an Indian price. The only word I learnt in the local language was, ‘jhuley’ which means, hello/hi. The locals were very helpful as they rely a lot on tourism. Ladakh is cut off from the rest of the country for most time of the year. There are two roadways to reach Ladakh. One from the Manali side and the other from the Srinagar side. The Srinagar-Leh road opens from May to November, while the Manali-Leh road opens from June-September. For the rest of the year, the snow that accumulates on the passes renders it unmotorable. But the survey for an all weather tunnel to get to Ladakh is going on and a road is expected by 2015. That means, the route which I have been through, can’t be done for long.
After the walk, I came back and took rest. In the evening, I went out again to do some shopping. This time, I could walk faster and was feeling more comfortable. I was happy that my body was getting used to the conditions here. Here, the nightfall happens only by 8:00pm. So I had a lot of time to roam around. I came back and settled to my bed after a wonderful Ladakhi dinner of soup, roti, butter and veggies along with sweet porridge of broken wheat and papaya like fruit.
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