The wanderlust hits me when I least expect it, a random Monday afternoon at work when I have a pile of excel or budgets to go through or a great event to plan. I’ve realized I was born with the travel bug, I feed off the wanderlust. It makes me who I am, happy, free spirited, excited. The idea of seeing a different place, meeting new people, eating different food and just simply sleeping under the stars… traveling is a way of life.
While I have never traveled alone yet and it’s on the cards, I’ve always enjoyed traveling with like-minded people. My friends and I decided to finally make that Ladakh trip happen last year in June. I still remember having come back from Canada and Hong Kong just about April end, pretty broke but supremely happy. The question was could we afford Ladakh? The best thing about travel is you make your own rules and luxury of travel is the biggest luxury in it’s self. A crisp 17 day plan coupled with cute guest houses, a SUV, close buddies, tight budgets and happy hearts, we were all set to go. After all, the land of high passes was calling us and I believe, when the time’s right, things happen.
Nothing prepares you for Ladakh. Sprawling mountains, that lush green, blue waters, the sight of the snow just melting…it’s overwhelming to say the least. Especially when you come from a fast paced city life of Mumbai where your life is literally taken over by car horns and taxes and a never ending commute to nothing but your office!
Our stories of adventure began right on the Zodjila Pass where Anees realized the brakes of our car weren’t functioning! The roads on the pass weren’t only like a giant roller coaster but also had fresh snow just melting off the mountain, making it even more treacherous than ever. I never thought I’d shout out to a herd of mountain sheep and their shepherd to move all along the way. “ Hat Jao” ( move along, move aside in Hindi) was our slogan for the day and Anees, I have to say one of the most fantastic driver’s I’ve seen.
We stopped at the Kargil War memorial, via Drass (2nd coldest inhabited village in the world!) The place is surreal, human value if often underestimated. In memory of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the India Pakistan War. Makes you realize there are people out there fighting for you, on behalf of you and yet sometimes you’re so caught up in your life then you forget to appreciate things you’ve been given.
Being an adventure enthusiast, I love river rafting and the chance to raft in the Indus and the Zanskar rivers, two of the largest within the country was not to be missed. Not even when the temperature was about 2 degrees. The splash of water in your face, the adrenaline rush, the team spirit, you either push real hard or you drown. It’s moments like these that make you realize that the power within you both mentally and physically is beyond any book or therapist. What better way to wrap the day than with yummy Maggi noodles with hot coffee brewed on a campsite, with a fire burning low. ?
Mother Nature, ah she’s the queen…don’t ever question that. People in Leh & Ladakh have a great understanding of their surroundings. The mountains are scary but they’re also home, the cold can be bitingly brutal but also oddly comforting, bonfires make for great conversations and the food well it’s home cooked to touch your soul. Anees never dreamt of the city, for him his mountains got him the solace he needed. He never found the need for traffic signals or to honk unless really needed. What a lovely life, indeed.
Leh & Ladakh, lured us. From the biting cold in Tsomoriri, to the serene calm of the Pangong Lake. Reaching the Khardungla Pass and barely being able to breathe the pure air to seeing monks chant at the Hemis monastery. The occasional rainfall, those drops on your face or the puppies you met on the road eager to lap you up for the biscuits you gave them. Stories from people who lost family in war to people who find solace in simplicity as a way of life.
I long to go back to my warm nutella pancakes in the small cafes of Leh and the early morning chai with the mountains as my view. Feeling the snowfall with my bare hands and the long drives with endless music.
I feel blessed to have experienced this.Once is never enough. Here’s to travels, discoveries, love, good food and the unexplainable feeling of simply being HAPPY.
Check out my blog on : http://thetravelbunny000.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/lured-by-ladakh/