Leh is 11,500 feet in the Himalaya – that’s 3524 metres above sea level, a really long way up from where I usually habitate. By driving into Ladakh, your body is gradually able to adapt to the thinner air & reduced levels of oxygen. But when you arrive by plane, as I did, your body is almost immediately accosted by the difference. You feel sluggish, almost like you’re in slow motion, fatigued all the time, & just not able to function as you normally would – bit frustrating really.
It’s recommended that for the first 36 hours you drink plenty of fluids & keep relaxed – nothing intensely physical – pretty easy to adhere to having had around 5 hours sleep over the last 2 days. Seeing that I would be in Ladakh for around 3 ½ weeks, I was in no hurry to exert myself physically (not a big difference to back home), & chill out for a couple of days reading, writing, eating & generally getting familiar with my environ.
In a moment of foresight in my travel prep, I’d thought to ask Newton’s Pharmacy in Sydney if they had a homoeopathic altitude sickness preventative remedy. Yes, they had several, in fact. The one they gave me used an extraction from the Coca plant – “same as in chocolate/cocoa?” I’d asked, “no, same as in cocaine” I was informed. Hmmm….hope I don’t get pulled up by Customs dogs sniffing me out. It’s worked a treat regardless… only symptoms I’ve experienced being shortness of breath, the occasional racing heart, which relaxes remarkably quickly after taking a few of my precious Coca drops, some physical fatigue, & a general inability to recall information (like my brain’s asleep) – a bit awkward when chatting with other travellers & having to say “sorry, can’t remember where my itinerary is taking me, basic info about Leh/Ladakh, or even what your name is (again) – so sorry”.