Trekking North India

Hello Friends and Family, and welcome to my India blog. This is where you will be able to find info on me and what's going down with me while I trek across the North of India and the Indian Himalayas. Although I probably won't be able to update this site very often, I hope to do so at least a couple of times during my trip.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Environmental Studies and Communication grad, public servant slut, music lover, intermittent DJ, avid cyclist, intrepid Earth enthusiast, and life warrior.

Friday, September 15, 2006

First Warm-Up Trek; Manali, the Rohtang Pass, and the Road to Rawaling; Second Trek Near Rape; The Road From Rawaling to Leh

We made it to Leh!

We arrived yesterday afternoon after an incredible drive through the semi-desert and desert ranges of this side of the Himalayas. We're actually staying about 7km from Leh in a town called Spituk which is right on the Indus River. Sarju's friend Spalgun (who we met briefly in Delhi) has family out here, so we're staying with them in a traditional Ladakhi home under the shadow of the Spituk monestary. The monestary itself is perched on top of a rock formation about 2-300 ft high. Quite a sight!

The landscape here is absolutely stunning. Spituk is a little oasis amidst the plains of the Indus Valley and the snow capped mountains that close it in. Tall poplar trees and willows are the only trees that can manage at this altitude and have been planted everywhere. Farmers fields also abound due to irrigation. It's really quite beautiful. All this at around 4,000m above sea level!

Today was the last day of the Ladakh Festival, which lasts from Sept.1-15. Ladahk is one of the three general regions in Jammu & Kashmir. What's the festival all about? It's a festival for tourists! It actually has no other purpose other than to attract us and our money during what is the "off season" of tourism in this part of India.

Still, it was really neat to partake in! The closing ceremony was today, with traditional dress, dancing and singing. For the last dance of the of ceremony, the tourists were encouraged by the locals to take part! And of coarse, I had to take part! ;) I was kinda nervous being watched by thousands of people and being one of a handful of tourists who had the courage to join in, but I had a blast! Near the end of the dance this camera guy was focusing on me and some of the other tourists that had followed my lead into the fray. When the dance was over he interviewed me, asking where I was from, how I liked the festival etc. So look out for my head on camera! I may be on some Indian tourism promo material sometime in the future!... if it ever makes its way to Canada. ;)

I can't summarize what the title of this entry indicates cause I've gotta meet up with peeps in about 5 minutes. However, in general, the title sums up the major events (in order of occurence) we've experienced during the past week or so.

One thing I'm having trouble getting used to: the toilets! As beautiful as our traditional Ladakhi lodging is, our bathrooom consists of a 1x3 foot rectangular hole in a room filled with dirt! The traditional style? Pull your pants down just above your knees, squat, eject, use your hand and a bucket of water to get rid of the chunks, use soap to wash, rinse, wash your hands, use shovel to put sand over your business in the hole! Insanity! And I haven't quite refined my skills to the point where it's really all that efficient, so sometimes a little wipe with some toilet paper after to finish the job helps.

Anyway, gotta go!

Much love everyone! Thinking about you all.


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