A day in Ladakh when strangers took charge of my journey and took me to places.
2 June, 2016
This day was all about the magic of serendipity. It was about meeting just the right people at the right time who believed in goodness without a tinge of expectation. The night before, I stayed at a nunnery near Thiksey Monastery. It was a soul-stirring experience to see the little nuns at the nunnery who came to this institution in the hope to get the best education and life which their families cannot provide for them. The morning began with bidding goodbye to those kids and then a resident volunteer took me to Thiksey Monastery.
We spent almost an hour walking through a cold desert exploring the mini stupas or chortens on the way, visited Thiksey Monastery and Shey Palace. But the ideal plan for the day ahead for me was to visit Pangong Tso. The private taxis to Pangong Tso from Leh cost around Rs. 8000 and it seemed to be an absurd price to pay when I was on a budget travelling alone.
I decided to relax and drop the plan. I went to Shey palace instead and killed almost two hours exploring every single chamber of that palace. I actually got some great insights about the history of this region. A local told me that Shey Palace was actually a summer palace for the kings of Ladakh till the 17th century when the Dogra kings of Jammu invaded Ladakh and the capital shifted to Stok.
Sitting in that chamber, I heard two boys discussing details about the road to Pangong Tso. In not more than a few words, I corrected them about the time it would take to reach the lake. They came up with more questions thinking I'd been there already. I made them aware of my situation and told them why I can't go there and shared all the information I had. Right before leaving, one of the boys just casually kind of asked the other couple if I could travel with them. I was surprised. I had not processed this possibility in my head yet but all of them seemed quite keen to take me along. We made a deal that I would travel along, navigate, and tell them about all the places we can visit on the way.
That day I didn't just navigate the two couples but also heard the story of how one of the couples had eloped from their hometown in UP and the other came along to support their friends all the way to Ladakh. From Shey Palace, we left for Pangong Tso and visited Druk White Lotus School on the way. To my surprise, not only did I reach Pangong Tso that day but they also drove me back to Leh. There's no limit to the goodness of people if you give them the benefit of doubt sometimes.