It was a really tough decision, but I finally decided that I could be of more help to my friends in Ladakh by not staying. I was able to get a flight to Delhi with surprisingly little trouble (and a lot of help from a kind friend in England.) It will take a long time to restore Ladakh to any semblance of normalcy, and I hope that any readers who are in a position to help will do so. The Indian Red Cross is one of several organizations working on flood relief there. Please contact them if you can help. I donated as much as I could when I left. I’ll have to get all new kitchen stuff, blankets, etc. when I go back up there next year, but I couldn’t just store the things when so many people were in such desperate need. Many people lost everything they had.
On a more uplifting note, these photos were taken a few weeks ago, before the flood, in Nubra Valley. I visited there with some young friends (Stephen, Wallace and Aliena from United World College in Singapore) just for a quick overnight trip, but I am really looking forward to going back next year and staying a bit longer. It’s a wonderful place. You have to cross the highest driving pass in the world to get to it, and it’s quite isolated, on the Northern side of the Himalayas from the rest of Ladakh. I never really thought about camels being at such altitudes (must be around 10,000 feet elevation), but there they are, including some wild ones. You can take a camel safari, but since the area where the sand dunes is located hardly covers more than a few square miles, you’d be fairly hard-pressed to go for more than a couple of hours at most. Still, it was quite enjoyable. I was a bit worried about my knee, which had been bothering me, but I was quite surprised to discover that since it was unnecessary to grip with the knees as on a horse (these were Bactrian camels that have two humps—little danger of falling off at the slow pace we were going), that letting my legs swing freely actually reduced my knee pain by a lot.
Aliena and Stephen on safari.
Disket Gompa seen from the dunes.
Wallace and Stephen at Kardongla, which is more than 18,500 feet. It is traditional for the Tibetans and Ladakhis (who are essentially Tibetan) to hang prayer flags in such places.
The road from Leh to Nubra Valley is a treacherous one, indeed. We were very happy to have a really careful driver.