http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20140729-indias-hidden-himalayas-of-ladakhWiki Info Ley/Ladakh
I slept so well that I almost overslept, awaking at 5:35 and proceeding to hurriedly dress and head out since we were told that to get a seat on the bus back to Diskit, you have to be at the bus stop before 6. On the way out ahead of Bon so as to attempt a seat, I met Sîddharth and Atul and Attaullah Khan who said they would not accept any $$$ but explained their project here at Turtuk Holiday. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to, go to their website Karmabhoomi...Visit their website Karmabhoomi
! They are attempting to help the local people to be able to adapt to the influx of tourism coming their way without losing their cultural values/heritage hopefully to preserve as much of their present way of life and yet benefit from tourism. It is difficult for me as an outsider to explain what they are attempting but we have definitely seen in many parts of the world the negative impacts of tourism and the destruction of the cultures which ostensibly were the reason for tourists coming to these parts of the world to begin with.
I also want anyone who is interested in visiting this area to disregard everything the Lonely Planet says about Turtuk Holliday...call first, +91-9906993123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at +91-8826747666.
Mention our names and tell them Tim & Bonnie recommended them to you, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Back to our adventure...we waited at the bus stop (Bonnie came up later as well), it was late and by the time it arrived all seats were taken and the 20+ people waiting jammed inside. Bonnie refused to stand crammed (I don't blame her, it was ridiculous), so both of us rode on top. A mite chilly, but after about half an hour most of the standers including 8-10 with us on top, got off. A kind fellow came up and motioned for us to come down and sure enough several people had given up their seats for us! We continued on the KKH-type road all the way to Diskit first listening to a bit of history from none other than Abdul Aziz, the GH fellow we never found last night, missing Hundur completely being tired and sleeping most of the way. Wiki Info Diskit Monasteryl
In Diskit Abdul helped us by explaining to others looking for shared taxi to Leh, and then after another great omelet, chai, and curd, we proceeded to wait (9:30-12:30) for a vehicle to show that would take us all to Leh. By the time this happened there were enough to fill 2 vehicles, ours with seating for 9 took 11. The differences between our bus trip and car trip were quite pronounced. First off, we were much more crowded in the car due to overload with passengers (luckily this lasted only to the pass). Second, the car had nowhere near the suspension that the bus had, consequently we felt ever hole and bump 10 X worse than on the bus. Due to the seating it was quite impossible to take any kind of photos with any expectation of them being good. The major advantage was the time factor, arriving in Leh @ 6pm -5&1/2 hours vs close to 12 by bus. Of course, an avalanche did impact the bus timeframe considerably. Nonetheless, I feel the extra expense of shared taxi was worth it in this instance especially.
Once back to Chow GH, we showered and were served tea, ladakh bread, and homemade apricot jam! Yum! Later we booked our bus to Manali for the 6th and plan on seeing more of Leh before then.
On the way to Hemis Festival Bonnie related the difference between the relationship of people to buses/bus drivers here vs in 'The 'WEST' as follows: In the west when shopping and the bus you must take comes you drop your shopping and catch the bus. Here, if your doing your shopping and the bus comes you finish your shopping while the bus waits for you.
To Hemis Festival (see photos), lots of mini buses going when full, jammed, packed - very typical here! Passing on the way many monk- monasteries which we hope to visit tomorrow. Took an hour on bus (we thought we'd left early) but upon arrival there were hundreds of hired taxis lined up along the road already (again see photos). When we hiked up to the gate to the monastery we bumped into Martin and Marget from our GH. Their adopted son who is working with a high end tour agency, had picked them up and had seats for them at the festival. We were told to get there early because if not you might get stuck not being able to see anything. They invited us to join them and we accepted not knowing the price but with the crowds figuring joining their 'group' was a fortuitous meeting. I learned quite a bit from Martin who'd been a follower of Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinepoche) 19+ years back and whose birthday this festival celebrates. Just less than a km from here is the cave where he became enlightened.
Marget and I it turns out are both 100% German(something in common), however our seating did not allow for much conversation. We watched the first half 'til lunch break at which time the sun became just too hot for us. Plus, the crowds were too, too if you know what I mean. The LP says it is a festival for the locals but I fear by the looks of it the tourists have taken it over!
We saw very few locals, a pity what we tourists do to local customs and traditions. It's like this everywhere now, mobs of tourists and many times it is impossible to know what's real and what's show! Kind of like where I came from and Wisconsin Dells of 40 years ago - now even more I suppose. The Winnebago Indian Ceremonials for those familiar with it were shows. I should have seen it coming since it's no different than what's happening now all over the world. I see elements of 60-70s hippydom but today it's more like these new ones are seeking to be cool, in, not seeking anything but a show. Finding themselves or some answers or truths or discovering their bliss??? I don-t know but I think I'm seeing human zombies caught in some karmic, soullessness. Well off, spoiled clueless youth wandering here and there as opposed to the other 85% of humanity struggling just to find space and food day by day to live on.
I'm to blame as is all of my generation for just sliding into the consumptive, close our eyes, let-it-be mentality. Of course,Buddhism and all the other -isms seem to always point to some 'other' which somehow is guiding life/humanity. I doubt that this will change. Though Buddhism seeks to teach a 'higher' realm/reality which humans might attain, the bottom line is the whole of humanity is not making our earth more enlightened. Our earth is only capable of re-balancing in terms of the physical laws which have controlled it's millennia of life. Humans are but a tiny moment in the earth's existence. To impute more to me is crazy. But still, I think there are some few who are seeking happiness, bliss away from the consumptive life style of the spoiled and clueless. Many of these humans are in the 85% struggling just to survive I suspect. I refer to the books Blessed Unrest and The Next American Revolution I've mentioned before in which people are trying to find community, a sense of relationship. This usually has been found in newly discovered, untouched tribes. I think this is what I've felt when I've participated in Scouting, Peace Corps, AYH/hosteling, even the gardening community. People connecting through a common connection with the earth and it's being. Maybe it's a surrogate family I found to some degree that has filled a void. Today's disjointed, competitive, fragmented, isolated, individualistic emphasis on achievements has made humans less human, more like zombies.
I'm not searching for meaning anymore. It is clear to me from travelling that it is 'the journey', not the destination (meaning) that is my life, quite simply. Why I've taken so long to see what is right in front of me is a puzzle. The Buddha might recognize my struggle to maximize bliss/happiness as an attempt to reach the higher realm. Any effort to 'help' humanity only has meaning in the context of my effort to maximize bliss/happiness for myself if I see myself as part of an eternal, infinite, universal whole. After all, our galaxy is only one of tens of thousands, our solar system only one of billions. Let's not get too carried away/hung up on humanity!!
Met Kristina and Lucas as arranged in front of Wonderland...they were all packed and ready to go to Hemis camping for the next 2-3 days. I explained our plans and they definitely wanted to get together 7:30pm Tuesday eve. after they get back. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking clearly because in all likelihood we will be on our tour to Tso Moriri Lake! Hopefully I can email them our plans and we might be able to change it to Thurs the 5th, at the very least I can try to rectify my error and they won't think we've forgotten them.
Bon got her replacement pants to the tailor for alterations...in the last month both her pairs of pants have gradually worn away. The final straw was on the bus back from Turtuk when the seat just gave out completely on her ,main pair. Luckily, she found ones just like she had in a shop here and just across from the shop was a tailor.
We've had no luck getting at least 3 other people to sign up for a trip to Tso Moriri Lake, our preferred destination. It looks like of we go anywhere it will be to Lake (Pangong) on the 2nd for just an overnight stay. Not very exciting or really much different than what we've already encountered except that 2/3s of this lake is in China. Spent a lot of time on internet, I uploading photos and Bon researching and finally booking our return flight home on the 11th of December out of Sidney! Now it's just a matter of filling in the time/distance between now/here and then/there, ha!
No electricity all night so no hot water for showers. Today we try to get to the palace but 'on our way to the forum' we make the mistake of stopping at the internet just to do 15-30 minutes of chores? ! An hour later I'm hungry and Bon says it'll only be a bit more but 'go ahead' so I head to our favorite restaurant which just happens to be 2 doors away. There I meet up with David, the Czech Rep fellow we ran into yesterday who told us about their project in establishing sister school relationships between India & Nepal & Czech Rep schools via the internet. It's called La Ngonpo or 'blue pass' in Ladakhi...mountain passes used to symbolize the possibility to meet people on the other side of the range. If interested their web address is www.la-ngonpo.org or www.mkc.cz , you can email them: email@example.com . It's all volunteers who go to these schools to set up the relationship contacts every year, many are teachers and from the looks of the group here, most are young people perhaps just out of school.
We spent the better part of the day chasing down tour agencies who might put us in a shared jeep to our second choice trip, Pongong Lake which is a third in Ladakh and rest in Tibet/China. Finally got it together after considerable trotting about so we leave at 7:30am tomorrow for an overnight there with 2 Koreans and a German woman.
We bump into Marget and Satyia Anando (Martin) frequently, being in the same neighborhood you might say. Really enjoy talking with them and hearing stories of their experiences in India...having come here since 19+ years ago! Our hosts at Chow GH, Dechen (wife) and Renchen are very kindly folks, always asking if everything is okay etc. When we came back fron Nubra Valley and they'd let out our room, they put us up in their own room in their home! Also, served us delicious Ladakhi bread with her homemade apricot jam, yum!
Bon was able to book our flight from LA to Missoula Dec 11th also, but being Missoula we arrive at midnight!