We reached Leh not long after and after a bit of searching around with our co-operative driver ( much to our surprise, given his impatient behavior throughout the drive from Manali ), we settled in on the Zaltak Guest House ( #9622998182, 9797507201 ). It’s a nice bungalow property with spacious/warm rooms and good breakfast on offer. The garden lawn in front of the bungalow is full of colorful flowers and affords a decent morning sit-out, especially if it’s sunny. This is where you are served breakfast as well. An apple orchard lies just outside ! The main market area is a little over a kilometer from this place, which means you can walk down if you choose to. A quiet neighborhood for the most part.
Mobile Data is quite a rarity even in Leh, so we used the hotel wi-fi as much as we could here, which is not that great either. About mobile networks, either your postpaid connection or BSNL works in these parts ( don’t bank on any ), so be ready to get cut off from technology and enjoy the company of your friends and environs the good old way !
The rains started yet again as we bid adieu to our driver for good ! We settled in our cozy rooms for the evening but decided to venture out later in search for a grand dinner fare, given that our food was mostly basic for the last 2 days.
We were ready soon and walked down to the Leh market which seems like a center point for tourists and locals alike. Shops selling Pashmina shawls and all things woolen to keep you comfortable are quite a few, so are all the eating choices on offer. ATMs and anything else of use that you may find it hard to find somewhere else, can all be found here. Basically, if you are in Leh and have some time to kill or if you are looking for some decent food/shopping options, this is the place for you. There are 2 cobble stoned streets running perpendicular to each other, around which are a plethora of shops.
At this point in the evening, all we were looking for was a descent place for our dinner. We asked around for a place famed for it’s Kashmiri food, and were guided towards a restaurant named after Wazwan. I found the food oily, spicy and the chicken a bit hard for my taste, so I will not recommend the place at all. However, I have read good reviews about this place online, so I leave it on you guys to try it out if you so wish. We didn’t go there again for sure. There’s a similarly named ‘Wazwan Planet’ around 2 kms from the main market, which is more famous.
There’s plenty of online literature about famous restaurants in Leh, so take your pick.
Done with dinner and a little bit of loitering around thereafter, we settled down in our guest house even as the cold started to pick up. Winter wasn’t far behind. With a buffer day ahead of us before we would venture out of Leh, we decided to do a little bit of Leh-seeing on the next day, while at the same time deciding about our onward travel vehicle/driver. Point to be noted: Outside cabs and self-drive vehicles are not allowed in Ladakh, and you have to move around with local vehicles only, or your own. Rules may change from time to time so it’s best to do a check before you go, but this one rule seems highly unlikely to be tweaked.
Next day started off with some morning photography in the lawn gardens of our guest house and then in the apple orchard outside, followed by a decent breakfast spread during which we talked about and chalked out our plans for the day.