Yesterday we drove back from Lamayaru – or at least a village nearby there to Leh. I got to my room at the Nobel House and basically just stayed there. Tsering got me some cough syrup and decongestants and I cocooned for the day. I felt a bit bad doing so as it was a beautiful day but I really needed it. The cold is much, much better today, although I sound rather like “Gravel Gertie”.
And thats a good thing because we left Leh at 8 and arrived at Pangong Lake at 3! Dorjee did a brilliant job but he was a tired puppy at the end – as were we all from the bouncing, jostling and smashing from side to side. In some respects it was easier than the first time – I pretty much had an idea what to expect and there was no blizzard at Chang La Pass this time (but sadly no cute army guys passing out hot tea and momos either)! But the roads were worse (!!!) because of the rain, there was considerably more traffic – long convoys of military vehicles, hordes of motorcycles and hire cars coming and going to Pangong. There was a traffic jam at the pass which the army was kind of sorting – more or less.
The military lorries are horrid as they belch great noxious clouds of black smoke – badly tuned diesel fuel engines perhaps or just that they never seem to get out of second gear. Tsering asked me how I was feeling and I had to say that I had no idea if my slight headache was from the altitude or the fumes! We tried to get passed them as quickly as possible but I have to tell you that passing a great lumbering 10 ton on a road thats really about a couple of feet wider than it is, with a long, long, long drop to your left – is hair raising! We passed the burnt out wrecks of three lorries down in a little valley where 7 or 8 soldiers died after their vehicles were swept off the road in a landslide in April.
We piled out at the hotel – no tents this year and I immediately stretched out for a hour snooze. It isn’t that I’m particularly lazy – really! – but all the jostling around is exhausting and of course I have my camera glued to my eye most of the time so that adds to it. The lying down cuts off the over stimulation so I can then function again.
My window looks directly out onto the lake and so every time I opened my eyes the light was changing beautifully. I’m now sitting on a little sheltered patio, watching the beginning of the end of the day, listening to a tiny brook chuckle off to my left a bit and reflecting on this portion of the trip. It has been marvellous to spend time with Tsering again; we’ve had some pretty intense philosophical discussions and some good giggles but I have to say that I much prefer having a buddy along to share the experiences with! I also haven’t had much opportunity to chat up any other travellers as yet, with the one exception of a nice fellow from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu who is spending the next year or so teaching in this incredibly isolated village. Apparently he used to come trekking in the area and felt that the children needed his help. Another one of those selfless people I keep running into! I sincerely hope the universe isn’t trying to tell me something here?
I did meet a woman at Matho Monastery tho’, who is really interesting in a slightly different way. She is French, lives nearby for months at a time and is working on restoring the thankas, wall paintings and other religious relics at the monastery. She has also gotten quite a number of the local women involved – especially with the fabric cleaning and restoration so her passion is contagious.
On reflection – I think it is the passion all these people have for whatever it is that they are involved in, that appeals to me. It doesn’t matter if they are passionate about growing olives, or making wine, or anything else – those kinds of people draw me like a moth to flame. The Buddhist way says that we should try to find our inner emptiness, our enlightenment lies along that path but I don’t know – for me the brightest light is always the most passionate. Something to think on……
Guess what – no pictures – quel’ surprise!