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Old 16th July 2010, 14:06   #16
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Great beginning.

BTW I dont think one needs an SUV for Ladakh. Recently Leh-Ladakh travelogues are pouring in. Some one on SUV or bike or by train/flight. Everything has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Some great pics there. Lots of them actually. The write up is also well written and informative.

I liked the sun setting pic. (or sunrise?). Good to see you mingling around with the army guys. Was the rifle heavy?
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Old 16th July 2010, 14:41   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deky View Post
Great going so far. Very informative coupled with very nice pics. Actually one doesnt mind paying Rs 5/- to pee till the toilets are neat and clean. Hope they were neat.

On a lighter note hope that Jawaan did not loose his job for letting you carry his SLR. They are not suppose to part with their weapons at any cost.

Regards
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Great beginning.

BTW I dont think one needs an SUV for Ladakh. Recently Leh-Ladakh travelogues are pouring in. Some one on SUV or bike or by train/flight. Everything has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Some great pics there. Lots of them actually. The write up is also well written and informative.

I liked the sun setting pic. (or sunrise?). Good to see you mingling around with the army guys. Was the rifle heavy?

@ deky = The loo wasn't worth the 'dinero' at all but then ladies need privacy, and they were made to pay for it.

I am trying to make it as informative as possible, for many to know and learn, thanks for the compliments.

The 'jawan' was helpful and asked his folks if they can see the other way while I clicked . He had been in service for sixteen years and soon planned to open a private security firm, so wish him all the luck he needs.

@ TaureanBull = Thanks again for the compliment, yes, the SLR weighed 4.5 kg to precise.

Honestly, even I am surprised to see so many threads for Leh and means of transport, great going.
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Old 16th July 2010, 15:34   #18
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Originally Posted by horabonny View Post
I am trying to make it as informative as possible, for many to know and learn
Yes, you are on the correct path ... keep it very detailed and informative ... let TeamBHP threads like this become the Bible for Leh/Ladkah travel information ... so that ... by the time I actually plan my itinerary ... my trip would be as simple as taking a fast local from Borivali to Virar at 2pm on a sunday.
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Old 17th July 2010, 13:08   #19
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After dropping the elder gentleman (Ladakhi), the two kashmiri's got down at another junction. It was about 11th June 2300 hrs. We made Issah (the driver ) make a phone call to the guest house, where the foreigners were to check in and arrange another room for two. Where we stopped, the guest house owner arrived to direct us to the place torch in hand.

We got down and in minutes, I realised the temp was zero or subzero. Although we weren't scanty dressed but the shivering wouldn't stop. Quickly we checked the room on first floor (ground floor was his residence ) which was neat and clean. double beds, attached wash room, geyser about 80 litres, all's great, except the biting cold. I asked the elderly owner for charges and he said 600 INR. Not bad for the room, I said to myself. But then bargaining gets a bit difficult with lower jaw trembling due to the shivering. Done.We moved in. We had about 3 blankets each, coupled with additional Korean blanket provided but the bloody cold wouldn't budge. The kind owner then provided us with hot water bottle's to keep in feet and sleep finally dawned on us.That was one journey of my lifetime.

The 'not so religious' people change their status to 'religious' while driving through those passes.


Upper Karzoo was the village in Leh where we slept, I learnt this in the morning. Magnificent house with nice backyard and all vegetables grown right there. Couple of buffalo's to supply milk and your own poultry. Egg or leg, the choice is yours. 'Dream House' can I call it. Tinkling of those bells around the cattle's neck reminded me of my vacations (2006) in Switzerland.

Breakfast (paid for separately) I asked for, was supplied in the tiny lobby on the first floor. The English chic's with us were still in bed, perhaps awake, but too lazy to get out of bed. I could hear one of them sneezing with cold. At about 1030 hrs we moved out to see how far were we from the main market.


A nice walk towards the main market, on the way we came across this magnificent animal whom i asked " Hey, was your dad a wolf by any chance , just asking, can i click a picture of yours ?". ref.IMG_0537


Next turn, and we see this meswak tree with this board reading about Guru Nanak visiting Leh and planting this meswak plant here.
Datun sahib - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ref. IMG_0539


Small bakeries in this lane smell so good. We soon realised, we were about 12-15 minutes walk, away from the main market, good for me, not for her. I told you 'we' were a pampered lot. The lady insisted, we look for a nicer place near the market as walking back to the guest house in the evening's with no street lights and stray dogs, like we saw, wouldn't be a very good idea.Four year's of my married life has taught me not to argue with the lady, if it ain't that important. My second dream, staying in that nature dream house was 'shattered'. Do we really need to marry ? yes we do. Let's carry on.

Two hotels on the main road we (she) fancied, hotel Lingzi and right next door, hotel Ga-ldan continental (http://www.indianholiday.com/hotels-in-india/hotels-in-kashmir/four-star-hotels/hotel-ga-ldan-continental-leh-ladakh.html). The former didn't have a room for 5 nights in a row, so we decided to get the best price on this one. Due to unpredictable weather this season (2010) the Manali road failed to reopen till we were in Leh. I assume many would have read of the snowfall near Spiti and the Borivili tourist group got stuck and the sad demise of an American cyclist as well.Coming back to hotel Ga-ldan, because of this, the tourist's had not started coming in large nos. from the Manali route. Rooms were vacant. Deal closed at 1000 INR EP(European Plan).

Rest of the day we just looked around, after shifting luggage from the guest house to the new hotel. Quick lunch at a nearby place and back to bed in the hotel now. We needed to acclimatize (Altitude sickness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) before starting of with any activity. Moreover, we called Issah (the driver) and finalised next days local sigh seeing with the 2 ladies accompanying.


First stop Hemis Monastrey (Hemis Monastery - Hemis Buddhist Monastery Ladakh - Hemis Gompa Leh Ladakh - Hemis Monastery India).
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Old 17th July 2010, 19:18   #20
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We spent some time at the Hemis Monastery. For a lay person, these places mean nothing much, except that it's a Buddhist temple. Unless one goes deep into studying about these monasteries, and know the rich history behind them. I guess this religion has deeper roots outside India than within India.

It had started Drizzling and it was time we moved to Thicksey Moanstery, not before lunch at Karu village. On Manali road, this is also the exit point that takes you towards Pangong Tso (tso=lake).

Tandoori Parathas at a punjabi dhaba were a treat accompanied with ginger tea. We came back to this place while returning from Pangong Tso after a couple of days. Thicksey Monastery wasn't very far from this place.
ref. Thiksey Gompa - Thiksey Monastery Ladakh - Thikse Gompa Leh - Thiksey Monastery Ladakh India Views from the top were stunning and the camera didn't stop. After this we continued towards Shey Palace and then back towards Leh.

'Magnetic hill' was another place we stopped. Magnetic Hill (India) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia On another thread this has been discussed enough. Followed by this was the gurudwara Pather Sahib.

Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, Leh - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.
Gurdwara Pathar Sahib - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


There is a lot of contrast in the two sides of this state. One which we left to make this journey and Ladakhi side. The vegetation is different, so are the landscapes, as well as the people. We needed to get ILP (inner line permit) from the DC's office. This is also possible to get done via travel agents shop 150 INR, but I needed a first hand experience at the Deputy commissioners office (I had all the time in the world). Trust me I wasn't dissappointed, I just asked inside as what all I am supposed to do for the permit. Photo ID's for both me and wife were with me. A friendly lady asked me to take the form and get it photocopied, fill them up and bring back with copies of photo ID's as well. I asked " but where's the Photocopy machine ?" Later she got the documents copied on their machine inside the office.
In short they went out of the way to help a tourist who didn't know anything. I was asked to get the signature of the commissioner in the adjoining building. It was 1630 hrs and the commissioner was about to leave when he saw me coming in and didnt leave before signing my documents. "Now you can visit Nubra Valley tomorrow", she said.

Attitude is what I am talking about, right from the top to bottom is same. There were no touts loitering around. Absolutely no money without recipts exchanged.

'Julley' is the traditional greeting, if you want to greet a ladakhi and repeat the same to wish good bye, just like 'Ciao' works with Italians. Spaniards would say it just to say bye.

Another thing noticeable was that the prices for tourist taxis for various places have been fixed and they work as per those prices. The travel agents have a 20pc cut, if you go through them, the prices stay unchanged. If you can get hold of a driver directly ,depending on you skills upto 20 pc can be negotiated. Now eg. price to Nubra valley is say 6800 INR with one night stay (accom. not incuded), this is exactly what they want. That's the reason one can find notice boards outside the travel agents asking for people to join on a particular trip so that the price per head goes down and the driver gets full amount as well the agent his cut. This in other places of India is unheard of. So we put up a board asking for people for Nubra on a particular date and we were joined by a french couple, for this journey. So the price for the Nubra Valley trip worked out to 1500 INR per head as I knew the driver from Srinagar. French couple paid 20 pc extra. Had we manged to get more people, the price could have got even better. For the lake Pangong, we managed to be 6 people altogether.

Pretty honest people, these ladakhi's are, also they don't like to bargain and that must be the reason you won't find many ladakhi's running tourist shops. with a population of hundred and seventeen thousand only (OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF DISTRICT LEH (LADAKH)) most of them prefer getting a government job or army postings.

Next stop Nubra Valley. We started with the French couple as company. His was a Nikon and mine Canon. We had a great time discussing camera features with whatever English he (Olivier) knew (my French wasn't as good as his English and he didn't speak Spanish). This couple told me that they had been in Leh for a fortnight now. With limited 'English' and first time in India, he and wife were trekking to a location for five consecutive days, and had survived on dry fruits and Maggie noodles. All the equipment had been hired locally except the 2 second camping tents, brought from 'home'. By the way, all this stuff is also available to us at this site, which is a French company and famous world over.(Decathlon: Sports & Sporting Goods, Equipment & Supplies Online - India). We shall continue after some photographs.
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Old 17th July 2010, 19:57   #21
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Apologies as this set of ten pictures was supposed to continue from where we left Hemis Monastery, rest later.
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Old 17th July 2010, 20:32   #22
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@ Bonny : Wonderful pics again. I am not sure if you mentioned the model of cannon Camera and Lens you used. Can you throw some light on that?

Is there no heating arrangement in the hotels? Like Bukhari/room heater/kero heater etc?
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Old 17th July 2010, 21:36   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
@ Bonny : Wonderful pics again. I am not sure if you mentioned the model of cannon Camera and Lens you used. Can you throw some light on that?

Is there no heating arrangement in the hotels? Like Bukhari/room heater/kero heater etc?
Hi,
Yes I did, it's a Canon 450 D with 18-55 and 75-300 mm lens. U/V filter and polarising filter used at times with a tripod.

Heaters by far have been banned by the state due to shortage of power. Load shedding is common. Kerosene heaters generate more smoke than heat, the guy said. But he was willing to provide a electric heater for 300 per day and whenever electricity permits, didn't make much sense to me and any ways, we were cold in guest house as it was further outside the town close to fields. The hotel wasn't that cold and again hot water bottles were a boon.

Last edited by horabonny : 17th July 2010 at 21:37.
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Old 18th July 2010, 22:52   #24
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Hey Bonny,

Really nice TL you got here. The pics are really awesome. Congrats on completing this once in a lifetime journey. Am hoping to do it one day in the near future.
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Old 18th July 2010, 23:16   #25
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Hey Bonny,
What great pics man. I have one question which might sound silly but would still ask. Maybe mods or other bhpians would be having an answer to it

Just wanted to know if there is a way to get details of the photo like exposure-value, shutter speed etc.

Since the pics are great, wanted to know the settings on which these pics are shot.
Some photography sites like flickr actually show the camera-settings at which the photo was taken.

I don't think all this info will be there when pics are uploaded to t-bhp server, so is it possible to have such info too. I am sure everyone will get to learn a lot from it rather than just enjoying the scenery.

-My just one cent
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Old 18th July 2010, 23:49   #26
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@mguliani : This entirely depends on the author's choice to write these details. BTW there is nothing known as a "set piece" setting. The details you requested will vary from place to place, lighting condition, object, distance, equipment etc etc.

These details are recorded by the camera and can be seen in the properties of the particular pic. In my Sony Cybershot, I could not see this info in camera but could see in the properties in the PC. In my latest D90, I can see at both the places.

IMO, Writing these details might be a pretty cumbersome job. Nevertheless, this information can be provided. The idea is welcome.
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Old 19th July 2010, 01:45   #27
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Horabony,

Your writings give a different perspective, some of them I have not seen even after doing a Leh trip recently. Your snaps too have more people perspective that makes it more interesting.

Bring them on..... looking forward to travel with you on this T Log.

=======
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Old 19th July 2010, 12:32   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sami316 View Post
Hey Bonny,

Really nice TL you got here. The pics are really awesome. Congrats on completing this once in a lifetime journey. Am hoping to do it one day in the near future.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mguliani View Post
Hey Bonny,
What great pics man. I have one question which might sound silly but would still ask. Maybe mods or other bhpians would be having an answer to it

Just wanted to know if there is a way to get details of the photo like exposure-value, shutter speed etc.

Since the pics are great, wanted to know the settings on which these pics are shot.
Some photography sites like flickr actually show the camera-settings at which the photo was taken.

I don't think all this info will be there when pics are uploaded to t-bhp server, so is it possible to have such info too. I am sure everyone will get to learn a lot from it rather than just enjoying the scenery.

-My just one cent
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
@mguliani : This entirely depends on the author's choice to write these details. BTW there is nothing known as a "set piece" setting. The details you requested will vary from place to place, lighting condition, object, distance, equipment etc etc.

These details are recorded by the camera and can be seen in the properties of the particular pic. In my Sony Cybershot, I could not see this info in camera but could see in the properties in the PC. In my latest D90, I can see at both the places.

IMO, Writing these details might be a pretty cumbersome job. Nevertheless, this information can be provided. The idea is welcome.

Hey guy's, I sincerely need to thank you all for going through this TL. I shall try to answer the questions :

@ sami316 : Trust me buddy, plan it well, with as many days as possible in hand, you won't regret it. Given a chance, I would go back there, again .

@ mguliani : Thanks bud. A few chosen pictures, I would upload at Panoramio - Photos of the World and you can view them searching photos from the user : horabonny. I understand, the details of the photo (all that you need) are given there, but I can still confirm about this and get back to you.
Selected photos (conforming to their (sites) standards) are uploaded from this website on 'Google Earth' for the world to see. You might find a few photos I clicked at Golden Temple, Amritsar and from Thunersee (Thun Lake, Interlaken, Switzerland/ Tenerife, Canary Islands,Spain) at the given site.

@ TaureanBull : You are right, It would be time consuming getting the details for each photo, hope Panoramio - Photos of the World takes care of this, as their website collects this data from the Photo.

Last edited by horabonny : 19th July 2010 at 12:40.
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Old 19th July 2010, 12:38   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Horabony,

Your writings give a different perspective, some of them I have not seen even after doing a Leh trip recently. Your snaps too have more people perspective that makes it more interesting.

Bring them on..... looking forward to travel with you on this T Log.

=======
Thank you ramkya1, I feel honoured by your comments. Your travelogue has been an inspiration to me. I shall keep posting, hope my work permits me to do so at regular intervals. Please feel free to comment /criticize wherever required. Members comments would make the information conform to the t-bhp standards.
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Old 19th July 2010, 15:36   #30
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There are a few picture's taken from the Shey Palace, and later from the Sindhu river followed by Magnetic hill and Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and outside the Leh Army Museum. On the way, Issah showed me the school from outside, where 'The Three Idiots' was shot. The school has shot to fame,to the extent, that now the functioning of school has been affected badly due the no. of people visiting it's premises.

The next day 14th June, Nubra trip was cancelled due to heavy snowing at Khardung La. Unpredictable weather was spoiling the fun out of tourists as well as the businesses for the local traders. Rain at Leh was also pushing the mercury south wards. At 1100 hrs the temperature recorded was 8 degrees C. Wife declined my offer to separate the blankets from her and move out. It was me, left all by myself with my camera and Leh town. More than happy to have my freedom back, for some time, I moved quickly, out of the hotel. Rain had managed to stop, but the weather was cloudy, with negligible drizzle.

"Let's see Shanti Stupa and the Leh Palace ", I said to myself. Ref(Shanti Stupa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Armed with essentials in my back pack, I started walking, left from the hotel towards Village Changspa. Karzoo and Changspa are the two quiet suburbs, Mainly occupied by the westerners and occasional Indians, who prefer the quiet and calm. Europeans, tend to stay weeks (or multiples of them thereafter) at a holiday site, hence cheaper/no frill clean accommodation is a boon. Good quality rooms as low as 200 INR without attached toilets, are easily available in the village. These are kept warm with wooden insulation on the roof. The road passing from this village towards Shanti Stupa is dotted with European styled eateries. I could hear music (Spanish/French/Italian/English) to my ears and see beer flowing freely on the tables with thunderous laughters from tanned skins (the sun is really harsh at this altitude, suncream of high factor recommended). I could recall scene's from by lanes off 'La Ramblas' in Barcelona here. Occasional buildings seemed to be renovated into posh looks, done off lately. As always, few European seemed to have married local girls/boys. This enables them to go away in winters 'back home' with the Ladakhi spouse's to promote Leh as a favourable destination and come back in summers with loads of countrymen, and run the houses as hotels. for the local Ladakhi's, it's a win win situation, except for a few relationships, which may go wrong. Nothing new about it. (One cannot buy property in the state of J&K unless he/she is a native.)

Israelis also form a big chunk of these tourist's. It has come to light that Israel has a mandatory military training/service for 2 years at least for all
nationals/sexes. At the end of this service, with loads of saved 'Moolah' in pocket, Leh/Manali/Goa are mouth watering and cheap destinations for hordes of them, who come running and form biker groups, at times, being nuisance to the locals as well. They tend to stay for longer periods, due to easy visa conditions. The government seems to have taken strict posture (visa restrictions) against a few of them, it seems.

At one turn of this village, after walking about one and half kilometre, I saw steps going up the mountain. The road to right went uphill around the mountain right at the top to Stupa. I, like a Russian couple, who followed me, chose to climb the steps, and thoroughly enjoyed the climb, view and the wind, taking occasional breaks to sip water. Arrival at the top, welcomed me with some exceptional views and the camera went berserk. I spent about 60 minutes at the top. A professor of school of tourism, with couple of students were on a project, interviewing tourists about tourism in Kashmir and chose me as one of their subjects. Few questions recorded on their Panasonic 'Mini dv' camcorder was followed by shorthand notes and they decided to let me go.

The teen aged youth seems to have picked up on fashion from the satellites, which beam it right into their bedrooms through the dish antenna's at the roof. skinny jeans, Fitted jackets with Chinese Aviator glasses and scarves hanging around the neck. Hair cuts seemed to have come straight from the streets of Bangkok. Loads of teenagers were visible with fashion similar to that of streets in Bangkok. The wrinkled natives selling dried Apricot and more, with meditation wheel in one hand, on streets shows the big contrast within the generations.

Labourers are also a shortage, as a major chunk of population falls in the 'middle class' category Leh does not boast of many millionaires. Cobblers (big business, round the year), most of them seemed to have migrated from other states and cheaper labour from the state of Bihar is brought in truck loads, who clean the snow at the major mountain Passes, to keep the traffic flowing (as is evident in few pictures).

With Shanti Stupa captured, I chose to walk back by road and through the village, right to the centre of the town, where the palace was visible but my legs failed to support my intent. Tired I walked back to have the late evening tea with the now 'quite bored' wife back at the hotel. The irony that with no power, TV went off, and in absence of many guests, the hotel manager though nice man, didn't want the generator set to burn fuel. (cost cutting)

Hopefully with no more snow at Khardung La, we shall start tomorrow morning for Nubra Vally.
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