The sun is just rising over the foothills of the Himalayas, I am sitting in the hotel gazebo amongst the apple and apricot trees. The donkeys have finally finished their morning chorus and the magpies are bouncing energetically from tree to tree. Earlier I walked back down to the monastery, sat on a stone wall to catch the first warming rays of the sun and said “Julley” to the other early risers – mostly older women. Although upon reflection they are probably my age; it isn’t an easy life here I think.
No one else in the group is stirring yet and the hotel staff are just starting to. Serene, calm and yet amazingly energizing. Once I got over the tiredness caused by the high altitude I have been full of energy. It is all I can do to stay in bed until 5 a.m.! Mind you on average we have been abed by 10 at the latest, so perhaps not so surprising.
The light here in Ladakh is incredible. i have been fortunate enough to make some incredible photos and I am getting quite comfortable with my new camera. Really tho’, I think it is virtually impossible to take a bad photo as long as you step down the exposure!
Some comments on our group. They have been a very pleasant surprise. Oh I wasn’t expecting anyone difficult, they are all friends of Beverley and I think she is marvellous so it follows that they would be lovely as well but still….
Above from the top: Beverley, Felicity And Angus
There are 8 women and one lone man – with the patience of Job, from all over the world. Beverley (now Italy) and Gillian (now Australia) are originally from New Zealand, Marguerite and Angus (still) are from Australia, Felicity is from Oxford, England, Cecilia (now Oxford) is from Sweden, Patricia (now Italy) from England via Germany, Abby (Toronto) from Montreal and me (Toronto) from Cold Lake and various places in-between! The common element is Beverley who has this enviable ability to collect the most interesting friends wherever she lives. We have pharmacists, veterinarians, journalists, divinity students, pilot/farmers; really the gamut of clever, talented, compassionate world travellers. Dinner conversations are wide and far ranging indeed!
We also have TN from the tour company, who is a delightful Indian gentleman – in the best sense of that word – always helpful and possessed of a wonderful smile.
Our final member and the lynchpin of the group, is Tsering, our Ladakhar guide until we get to Srinagar. I have spoken of him before but he is such a fascinating person that he deserves a little more commentary. I also – finally after innumerable attempts – made a pretty good job of capturing him I think.
Tsering is a Buddhist and I find the way he views the world fascinating; this blend of the pragmatic and the bedrock faith which infuses everything he does. Buddhism seems to be one of the few religions where deep and abiding belief doesn’t translate into any sort of extremism as far as I can tell. Anyway we spent a day travelling together back from Pangong Lake, talking about day to day life as opposed to the sacred and I turned him loose with my camera. Not surprisingly he has a very good eye and could be a much better photographer than I will ever be – all it requires is some decent equipment.