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Tamarra’s Travel Diary

Friday, 20 Jul 2007

Location: Leh (Tea House Trek), India

MapWelcome to what they call the BABY trek in Ladakh! It is called the Tea House trek because you trek from Teahouse to tea house as far as the baby trek, HA! I thought it was two hours on a gravel trail so I wore my sandals! BIG MISATAKE!! I was suppose to go with the Israeli ladies but they decided to stay for a festival. I decided to set off on my own! After a two hour bus ride I arrived at the junction to Leiki. I walked the 1 1/2 hours in with a group of young Israeli's. I said goodbye at one guesthouse and moved to another. There I met three guys two Swiss and one German (Robbin). The next day we had planned to trek together. We had one of the world's worst dinner's ever. Rawish dough ball and a tiny bowl of very salty spinach stuff! YUCK!! HOwever the big golden Buddha and the terrific monastery and incredible night sky made up for the bad food! In the morning it was grey, overcast and cool. This is not what I call ideal hiking weather. So I decided to stay and see what happened with the weather in the afternoon. My new travel buddies set off! Around noon it started to clear but I wasn't sure about setting out on my own. I asked the guest house owner how much it would cost me to stay with no food!!! She said if I didn't like her food I could leave! I guess that made my decision for me! So off I set on a five hour walk through the mountains to a town called Yangthang. I of course got lost on the first step out the door walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction before I met someone who turned me around and sent me back where I started. Then I thought I was going in the right direction when I lost the trail. At this point I decided I needed to head out towards the road. Down the valley, over the river, through the shrubs, (a few scratches later) and I was on the main road. If I took the road the entire way it would be 5 hours and 20 kms! I stayed to the road then veered off at certain short cuts, one small uncertain moment when I met granny in an old house that looked like a monastery. She offered me chai then sent me in the right direction! The walk was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. I trekked through the mountains, over one pass of 3900m, slid down hills, walked through the valley all on my own . I only got a little lost once more passing the town in the valley and ended up scrambling up the side of a mountain using both hands and feet!! I felt FULL POWER as the Indian's say!! I was relieved to arrive in town and reunite with my friends. I spent the night in a basic guesthouse run by two monks and a older woman. Day 3: We decided to do a small 3hr side trek to see Rizong Monastery. Most of the monks and students were away but the walk was through the valley along a freezing beautiful river. After we stopped for chai and an hour rest before continuing on to Hemis over another pass of 3900m. It was 1 hour 15mins up and 30 mins down. We stayed in a most excellent guesthouse with a woman and her daughter. She cooked up a storm of delicious food! We met wonderful people and had a nice eveing of chats. Day 4: Had a great breakfast and we were off. We were walking over two major passes. Most of the day was uphill. We met a small group of Danish who were in Leh to run a marathon. I walked with the two fastest of the group. Yeah me for being in such good shape. One small wrong turn by the Danish and again I find myself in my semi broken sandals (Hanging on by a thread on both feet) scrambling up a mountain side. We saw a donkey slip from the trail and it took four people all the strength they had to stop it from sliding all they way down the mountain. Luckily my feet stayed on the trail! Over the two passes that are completely barren and incredilbe. The down into these tiny valley towns that are so green and lush. We stopped for chai (I am in India and a minimum requirement of about 6 chai's a day is expected!!) Then we continued on to the next town where I took my first shower in 5 days!! It was a cold bucket shower but still incredible. Then had yet another chai and decided to catch the bus the 5km to the next village. We were told there was a 4pm bus. So we sat at the side of the road waiting. Then we were told because of some special prayers the last few days teh bus hasn't come till after 8pm. That's when we caught a dump truck up the hill instead!! That was fun! In Tia there are no guesthouses and it took us a long time to find someone willing to take two stray's in, even though I was clean and showered!! Finally an older lady invited us up for chai where she served us and four village kids chai and sweets, like all good grandma's do!!! She invited us to stay the night. Tia is a tiny mountain town. We were a bit of a freak show for the locals who warmed to us and were happy to have their pictures taken. We brushed our teeth in the stream outside and used the toilet that was more like a stable with a hole in the ground and sand floor. Pretty bad, but incredilbe!!! Granny fed us really well and sent us away the next day with some Tibetan bread for snack along the road!! Day 5: Five hour walk over a pass of 4000m. It was a long haul but a good one! At Khalse we caught a taxi to the junction of the next town we wanted to see. We ended up walking yet another five kms to Alchi where we spent the night. The next morning I explored the 1000 year old monastery and then hitched two rides back to Leh! I have now rested up for two days and tomorrow I leave on a four day trek to a mountain called Stok Krangri 6120m. I hope to go to the top. The highest mountain I will have climbed! I am both excited and nervous! I will write when I return. The day after I leave at 5am on a two day bus trip for Shrinigar in Kashmir for my last days in India. My plane leaves India on August 3rd! Boo HOO! I am heading home. slowly!!! Love, T