Thiksey & Hemis
Chang La & Pangong
Previous night had been at the Premier Inn on Bath Road next to LHR so
spent the day using our geriatric bus passes to go to Windsor
before returning to hotel to take car to Quality Parking next door.
Quick transfer to airport and smooth check in. Quiet overnight flight
with reasonable amount of sleep.
Delhi very hot but not too humid, Soon out of IGI and into car where
cold towels and water welcome. Road much improved from last visit. Kids
hawking Airfix (allegedly) Airbuses at every set of lights. Quick check
in at The Claridges. Decided tea on lawn might be stylish but bit of a
rip-off as consisted of one cup not a pot, nice oaty biscuits though.
Pleasant dinner in Pickwicks. The Claridges, Delhi. A very stylish hotel with marvellous service.
Ordered breakfast pack to eat in room at 0515, out at 0600 for car and
quick drive to IGI. Good flight to Leh where met by local guide who
took us to hotel and arranged for Shakti guides to come to meet us.
Lunch, collapse under umbrella on lawn, dinner, early night - hard work
this altitude acclimatisation. Michael had asked for blankets so he
could sleep in chair if altitude caused sleeplessness which it did.
(High altitude can cause sleep problems as lungs work less effectively
when you're lying down. Sleeping in a sitting position can help.) Grand Dragon Hotel, Leh. A
pleasant, fairly modern hotel in a quiet location near the centre of
Leh. Breakfast was ordinary but lunch and dinner were excellent. Staff
were exceptionally pleasant and helpful. Leh's electricity is
unreliable, the hotel's own generator usually cut in, but not always -
claustrophobes might want to avoid the lift.
Very hot morning so declined walk into Leh and took car. Walked through
part of Old Town (not a lot to see) on way to steep and slightly rough
climb to Palace which was interesting and gave excellent views over Leh
and Indus valley. Then to Sankar Gompa which was pleasantly quiet. Back
to hotel for lunch and rest at insistence of guides. Later up to Shanti
Stupa (built by Japanese) which had traffic jam outside at end of
steep, narrow road but wasn’t too busy at Stupa. Interesting and
excellent views over Leh. Back for dinner where waiters had sussed our
liking for fresh naan.
0600 start with breakfast pack in car to go to Thiksey to see monks at
devotions. Spent some time in there listening, watching and thinking.
Had some butter tea (Eleanor braver than Michael). Got grandson a tee
shirt from reasonable gift shop (good job it was big as it shrunk a
lot). Then on to Chattnyanling Nunnery which is also a guest house,
went to sit with (mainly old) nuns at prayers. On to Hemis Monastery,
very evocative in narrow valley with clouds glowering. Clouds suddenly
won and produce sharp, very cold squall with hail. Back to hotel for
lunch and enforced rest (bit like Listen With Mother time when we were
tiny). Into Leh to have a nose round markets and shops (those in
alleyways less touristy and more interesting. Bank with Leh’s ATMs was
pointed out to us. ATMs always have long queue and often run out of
cash. Car stuck in bad traffic jam and would be some time, guides
mortified by this and wanted to get taxi but we were quite enjoying
watching Leh go about its business so said we would rather wait.