Turtuk via Diskit
|Turtuk Holiday Where We Stayed
Site of Places to Visit Before They Disappear
This border village in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh once fell within Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Although India reclaimed it after the 1971 war, the government imposed the Protected Area Permit Regime in the area, making it off-limits for foreigners. This, however, ensured that the region s stark beauty remain untouched. Towards the end of 2009 the government lifted its restrictions. Foreign tourists have, since then, been queuing up for Bactrian camel rides and hot water springs. There goes the neighbourhood.
Up to catch minibus to Diskit, they all (3-4) leave by 7:15 we're told and only one other later afternoon. We're anxious to get to Diskit early enough to find a place to dump our stuff and go to Hundour. On the way we spoke with the Japanese couple who stayed in HotSpings GH with us and they're going to Turtuk so we decided why not, we've come this far and it's supposedly just another 4-5 hours more. Got to Diskit 9:30 and bus to Turkut leaves at 2:30...Japanese couple going on to Hundour but after thinking it over and realizing since bus originates here and we want good seats best not try to pick it up in Hundour...may not be any seats available. Later I talked with French fellow who just came down on bus from Turkut, gave us lots of good input and said ride was spectacular, especially since there was no room inside coming back and they rode on top...beautiful blue sky day, got great photos.
So we wait but most of the best seats were taken already (11am) once we discovered which bus was going up! While waiting we went to the internet trying to get in touch with Chow GH about change in plans and also Kristina & Lucas who were planning on meeting us to go Friday to the Hemis Festival (we'll be returning to Leh that day)!
Did get email to K & L but not to Chow. Back in the bus it is confusing which seats are taken and which open so Bon sits in one which is in best place going up - right side behind driver - and I sit in seats on left right by the door. As it turns out after waiting until bus driver starts his engine and people outside scramble in, the seats directly behind driver weren't taken, yeah! After 3 plus hours heading toward Turkut passengers continually are added until the bus is jammed! Literally, crammed so that Bon -on the aisle- is forced over half into my seat. This cramming is equal or even worse than any we've experienced - India, Pakistan, Philippines, you name it - it becomes a major effort for anyone to get out. This causes us to miss the stop we'd intended (some on the bus finally said we MUST get off, as it is as far as we're allowed to go)! After much questioning about (No English here it seems) we head back to where we were supposed to get off as we read about Manama GH and also the home stay the French couple told us about which were supposed to be nearby. Again, some more misleading info (language barrier problem even between Bon and myself!) leading to dead ends.
We had met 2 nice Indian fellows first at the bus station in Leh & then on the bus to Panamik. They were on there way to Turkut to get a 'tent' Hotel, Turtuk Holiday, ready for a group of 23 tourists (mostly Americans - photographers?!) and were the ones who most encouraged us to come to Turtuk. We passed there place by because the LP said their prices were way over our budget but now Bon suggested we stop and at least ask if they might have any suggestions! Atul and Siddharth were glad to see us even after we explained our predicament, extremely welcoming and helpful. They offered us tea (which we refused since we wanted to get settled first), offered a place in one of their tents for the night (which at first we turned down being uncomfortable at the suggestion we pay whatever we felt able), and finally suggested we leave our bags there and head up to a GH in the village by Abdul Aziz. This we did but after the long climb up the path to the 'village' we found no GH though we were thankful that we got up to the village to see the incredible views! Bon and I were experiencing our usual discord when things are not falling in place and I am becoming more and more hungry/tired/irritable and less and less able to focus on the realities, or at least the ones Bonnie perceives. My inability to 'listen' and impeccable ability to interrupt makes the whole situation much more tense.
Without going into morbid detail, we ended up staying as guests of the owner of Turtuk Holiday, Attaullah Khan, who put us in one (#4) of their beautiful, well appointed tents but we failed in all our attempts to locate a restaurant or food of any kind notwithstanding the diligent efforts of a local fellow (I really wish I remembered his name) who personally guided us to several places in the dark after we stopped at his place - the mini-restaurant where there was nothing. He actually ran after us and rescued us from a group of kids trying out their English had accosted Bon. So to bed w/o food and exhausted from a day of 'experiences' traveling the unknown in Ladakh.