Sunday, November 27, 2011

India - Ladakh

Portrait of a typical Ladakhi

In Ladah we dipped again in Tibetan atmosphere. People are Buddhists, the mountains are desert and the sun is shining. Leh - the capital of the Ladah is crowded with tourists at this time of year. After September you can get here only by plane. We met travelers from all over, with some even our paths crossed for second time. Tita the Portuguese girl, who kindly hosted us in Cameroon was here and we enjoyed a lot our second encounter in the road. There are many Tibetan refugees. We feel positive energy, peace and tranquility. The guest house, where we stayed became our home with a large international family. We had brothers and sisters from different countries. Some come, some go, but all leave traces in our hearts. Mum cooked for us breakfast and dinner, and we sometimes helped her to fold hundreds of momos for the big family or to pick vegetables from the garden. 

the market in Leh 

Shanti Stupa, Leh 

the streets of Leh, near the mosque 

Shanti Stupa, Leh 

Leh palace and the temple on the hill 

Lech is an enchanting town and days passed quickly wandering around the numerous stupas, Buddhist temples and the beautiful palace, perched on the hills. 

change bureaus and banks remind us that we are in 21st century 
the season of the peaches, small but sweet 
Shanti Stupa
We went Pangong Tso an enormous and beautiful Himalayan lake 4350 m altitude, most of which is in Tibet (China). The lake is 120 km long and the water is a little bit salty - almost like sea. We piched our tent on the shore and slept under the hypnotizing sounds of the small waves. Unfortunately we stayed only one night because the weather turned bad. On the way back on the high pass Chang La (5360 m) it was snowing. 

a tent on the shores of Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake

A local family living at the lake
Kashmiri goats
our home
We decided to make a long trek through the magical Himalayas, so different from those we had seen in Nepal. We packed our bagpacks again with sufficient supplies of food and gas and started for the mountains. We hitched two Muslim trucks to Lamayuru. In the second truck they were preparing beans (rajma) in a pressure cooker on a gas stove. In the middle of the road we stopped, sat on the road behind the truck and made street picknik. We ate beans and rice with hands like real Indians. 

The Srinagari truck that drove us to Lamayuru and treated us with beans 


They left us in Lamayuru and from there we started the 180 km walk through the Hidden valleys of Ladakh and the Marka Valley. Ten days we slept in the tent and cooked our food on the gas stove (there is no wood for fire). On the way there were only few villages that seemed deadly empty and didn't even have a shop. It was good that we carried all the food from Leh.  The first five days passed in walking through beautiful mountain passes and valleys. There were almost no other tourists until we reached Chiling - halfway.  There we had to cross the  Zanskar river and to continue trekking along the Marka River.

We expected that Chiling is a large village with a shop and  to take food for the next five days. But there was only one house that offered noodles and biscuits. We bought a lot of noodles and biscuits, which in the next days turned into our main menu. Here we met Ellisa and Marek - a Spanish girl and a Czech guy, who were also going to Marka valley. We walked together and helped each other to cross the big river with a trolley. There was no bridge. Here the mountain became even more dry and it was terribly hot. Walking at lunch was suicide. There were no trees and the few green places along the river were surrounded by a fence. Once we fouind a shadow, we stopped to cool down. Long days we were walking along the Marka river and very often we had to cross it. Of course, there were almost no bridges and we had to walk in water to the knees or deeper. 

one of the most beautiful places we've camped at

 the trolley over the Zanskar River was fun 

Mount Kangyadze and a small lake
ancient Mani-stones, inscribed with the mantra Om Mani Padme Houm 

The eighth day did not turn out good. First Evgeni decided to take the more extreme path that was carved in the rocks high above the river, and I walked in the valley, where I had had to to cross the river three times. The crossing was not difficult, but Evgeni’s path suddenly finished in the middle of the steep rocks. I shouted at him to go back, but he went on the slippery stones that crumbled and crashed down with a terrible roar. My heart was shrinking watching it. His shoes were completely broken we even had to stick with ducttape because they started falling apart, and his 120-liter bag was full and heavy. Luckily he managed to pass the most dangerous part and the path appeared again. I sat under a rock to take a cool breath in the shade for a few minutes, but when I looked up again – Evgeni was not on the path. I didn’tt see him anywhere in front and my heart started beating fast. I started to shout, but only the echo answered me. I ran up the rocks to look from above. I didn’t see him anywhere, but at least I didn’t see him fallen down either. After some panical searching and shouting I had no choice but to continue. An hour later I saw him alive and well. 
missed each other for a few minutes and he was going fast forward to catch up with me. Happy and relieved we continued walking together with the promise not to separate anymore. Marka valley however had prepared more extreme surprises for us. 

Soon we met Eli and Marek again and went on with them. This time I made a mistake and took a path along the river instead of climbing up on the cliff top. We had to cross the river again but this time it was far more deep and strong. One by one we crossed successfully, walking almost to the waist in water, but our joy was quickly shattered when we saw that  we had to cross it again, even more dangerous and deep. Gena went first, but sank into a hole and fell back into the river and while trying to go out he dropped his shoes. The river took them with such speed that I could not reach them. At least he had sandals with which he continued the next three days. Marek was able to cross from another place and we went after him. Evgeni also crossed successfully soaked to the waist in the water. I managed to do 2 steps, but at the third step the river took me down and I helplessly drifted downstream. I swallowed a lot of water and from thе cold and from the shock I could not breathe. I saw how I am quickly going down and could not do anything. I grabbed the stones for a few seconds, but I realized I could not go out, nor stand up, especially with the backpack. The large waves and the strong tide took me down again. I did not expect that the water is so strong and that it is possible to drown in a waist deep river. I realized that I could not get out, I will die. Marek reacted quickly and was running down handing me his stick. I grabbed it tight, gathered all my strength and with his help I was dragged to the shore. I survived with only a few bruises on the legs. Marek saved my life. What a day - first I experienced the death of Evgeni, then my own. Nothing could scare me now. 

the camp in Niymaling

The way to Mount Kangyadze

mount Kangyadz 6400 мнв

Тук портерите са мулета, а не хора като в Непал

With elisa and Marek on Kongmaru La pass (5150 m) 
mount Kangyadze

The father in Tsavo guesthouse

The next days passed better. We camped in a lovely meadow Niemaling, the base camp of Mount Kangyaze (6400m), but we could not climb it without shoes. We continued through the last  pass Kongmaru La (5150 m), Evgeni with sandals. We came back in Leh with our new friends and we went together at our home in Tsavo. Mom made us breakfast, our room was luckily free and we took our first shower since ten days.