Leh Ladakh

When I first shared my boarding pass on social media, a lot of my friends couldn’t believe my choice of vacation destination. They initially thought that I was flying to India for work, but I clarified that I am actually on holiday. I must admit that India wasn’t my first choice either, and I also did not know what to expect for the trip. I packed my luggages with zero expectations but a heart ready for adventure.

We arrived at Delhi Airport and went for a quick meal in the city, before heading back to the airport for a domestic flight.

This is my first time to India and I have never heard of Leh Ladakh, but after a quick research before my trip, I learnt that Ladakh is actually quite close to the Himalayas and most of it is situated on an altitude of 3000m and therefore, is not covered by my travel insurance.

During the trip, I realized that there was a strong military presence and my guide explained to me that Ladakh used to be a disputed region between India, Pakistan and China. There were a few landmarks and schools that used to be under Pakistan but are now run by the Indian army.

We were given a strict itinerary and sleep schedule to follow. We were told that this helps us to acclimatize, especially when we flew in directly from Delhi (low altitude) to Leh (high altitude). The places that we were heading to, are of even higher altitudes (4000 to 5000m and above).

Hence we spent the first 2 nights in the city, exploring local monasteries and markets. I came here with zero expectations, so I just followed through whatever was planned. Some monasteries required a lot of climbing up slopes and stairs, which I honestly wasn’t prepared for, so we had to pause every now and then to catch our breaths. It took extra effort because the weather was chilly and breezes were cold.

As we explored out of the city area, most of what you see in Ladakh are just mountains and deserts and long roads. The drive from one place to another can take 4 to 6 hours, sometimes even longer if weather is bad or when there is a risk of landslide or falling rocks.

I won’t say that my guide is the best and knows everything, because there were some places where he didn’t really explain the history or significance and we had to find out on the internet by ourselves, but I highly recommend him just due to the fact that he is an excellent driver. Some roads are literally just beside the edge of cliffs, and I am glad we made it back thanks to his good driving skills.

We took this on Khardung La, which is one of the world’s highest motorable road at 5400m. It is the same height as Everest base camp. The air here is very thin and it was ultra exhausting to climb up to the peak. You can’t see the wind from the photo but it was so cold we were chilled to the bone.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was when we went to Pangong Lake. I never knew nature could be so beautiful. The scenery was majestic.

The only thing here was that the altitude was 4200m and temperature at night dropped to about 10 degrees celcius. I thought I could manage but I overestimated myself. Woke up the next day with a really bad headache and feeling very nauseous. Was sent to the village hospital and prescribed pills for high altitude sickness, before I was allowed to continue the rest of the trip.

I must admit that we underestimated the climate and altitude. My jacket was evidently insufficient for the cold weather, some nights I ended up wearing 2 shirts so I could have an additional layer.

Perhaps due to the fact that I came here with zero expectations, the trip definitely turned out much better than I thought. It was a great adventure with amazing scenery, and I survived Leh Ladakh.