Leh is both lively and fun to walk around. ex-Marine and I were thrilled to have one last day in Leh despite car traffic, dust and pollution. Who knows? Perhaps there will be something amusing taking place while walking the streets and browsing the stores. Breakfast and lots of chit-chat with a family from Belgium staying at the Deskit Villa. Parents traveling with their three sons in Ladakh on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, a few of them suffering from various degrees of altitude sickness. Believe it or not, the father was the sickest.
We were going to walk into downtown Leh on the shortcut and extended an invitation to them. Belgium family had just arrived the other day and hadn’t learned the tricks of getting around yet. They too were setting out for the center to visit Skywalker Travels’ office to make touring arrangements through Ladakh. TIP: It’s very feasible to arrive in Ladakh with only sketchy arrangements, wait to see how you acclimatize and then confirm or change them.
The seven of us set out. Walking slowly past little Sankar Gompa (our direction “marker”), turning here, turning there, spinning the giant prayer wheel, and coming eventually out on the main road. There were many families washing clothes today in the rushing stream next to the road…View image, and we all stopped to take photographs.
Two blocks further along the main bazaar street were two colorfully turbaned snake charmers…View image. It appears that Leh is really coming to life. The tourist season goes into high gear during July and August. I didn’t care if the two cobras had been defanged or sedated. There was no way Travels With Sheila was either going to come any closer or let the man drape the big python around my neck. Forget it! Watched from the distance, dropped money into their basket that wasn’t enough according to the snake charmer and continued walking. Doesn’t it become depressing that whatever a person gives is never enough?….
Attempting to e-mail, one Internet place had to go get fuel for its generator since the power in Leh was off again. Walked out of there and went into another Internet cafe that stayed online for exactly 10 minutes before their server went down. Do not count on any electrical power through Ladakh. There are constant outages.
A little more shopping. A little more browsing before beginning the walk back toward the Deskit Villa. We finally discovered a local supermarket with those delicious “GOTCHA” candy bars and plentiful snacks that included potato chips called “BINGO”…View image.
Back at the Deskit Villa to repack before dinner tonight. Tomorrow, we sadly begin the long journey home during which I plan on drinking copious amounts of wine, eating meat products and “re-toxifying” this body. Three weeks of eating vegetarian without alcoholic beverages is not for us….