August 22, 2010 George Foster

The India Diaries: Part the Second

So by now you’ll know that we’re in Leh (what gave it away, right??). Leh is the capital of a region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir called Ladakh covering a little (by Indian standard of course!!) pocket of dry, arid land in the north-east corner of the state bordered by the disputed territories of Kashmir to the west and Tibet to the east. It’s at roughly 3,500m above sea level (around two thirds as high as Europe’s highest point) and, to be frank, is the most beautiful place i’ve ever seen – sorry Tuolomne. Actually maybe i was a little bit rash there, Tuolomne is after all INCREDIBLE but maybe, just maybe Leh pips it on the people front too. I’ll let the diary explain………

Tuesday 22nd June –
Guesthouse called Otsal – very friendly and cheap. Rs125 each a night!

Wednesday 23rd June –
Wander round Leh – incredible place. The most beautiful i’ve ever seen. England v Slovenia 7.30pm local time – qualified in 2nd behind USA?!?

Thursday 24th June-
Walked up into Old Leh – Leh Palace and Gonpa’s (Buddhist monastaries) + Leh fort: total cost Rs140!! BARGAIN. Amazing places; 3-storey high statue of Buddha in Leh Fort. Leh Palace felt like i hadn’t changed a bit since it was last used. I’ve been to Warwick castle, the Viking exhibition in York, all round Edinburgh and Stirling castles plus many others and Leh Palace is the only place where i’ve felt a true historical connection as if i would open a door and walk into a scene from the 12th century. Slovakia v Italy – Greatest game of football i’ve ever. Jim got respect for his Aku boots from a street re-soler, does it get much better than that?!?

Friday 25th June –
Leh is getting busy! Lots of Israeli’s mooching about in ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirts….define irony anyone? Brazil v Portugal – Worst game of football ever (see Thursday 24th June). Walk up to see Shanti Stupa – not bad!!

(Nothing much happened on Saturday)

Sunday 27th June –
England v Germany 7.30pm local time – oh dear! German ‘fans’ (they’re notoriously shite by the way) did the old ‘towels on deckchairs’ stunt by reserving all the tables at the big screen so no-one else could get a look in. They’re such c*nts.

Monday 28th June –
S.K. (Stok Kangri 6,137m) Acclimatisation Test 11am up to 4,000m = very easy. GOOD!! If Carlsberg did bars then the ‘Elements’ bar in Leh would surely be one of the best bars in the world…….

Yep in case you were wondering – ‘why Leh?’ – the reason we were up there, and pretty much the reason we were in India at all, was to climb a “trekking peak” (you’ll find out the reason for speech marks shortly) called – you guessed it – Stok Kangri in the aptly named Stok range that form part of the western expanses of the mighty Himalayas. We could just about make out Stok Kangri from the window of our room and for those of you who don’t know, it looks something like this………it’s the one in the middle at the back. Or, more realistically, like this (see below).

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