After having spent 3 ½ weeks in Ladakh, I’ll take away some wonderful memories. It’s seems like a little-visited, almost untouched part of India, especially from an Australian POV. But here’s a few tips from a not-so-seasoned Ladakhi traveller that may come in handy if you decide to go:
- Tibetan Buddhist culture is endemic in this Indian region, with Hindu & Islam worship barely noticeable amidst the countless stupas, monasteries, & prayer flags. Don’t go thinking you’ll convert anyone here to Christianity.
- You’d best be prepared to go vegetarian for the duration of a stay here – nearly all hotels serve only vege options (part of the Tibetan Buddhist culture). Thankfully, they have the not-so-hot tourist option.
- Don’t always count on having access to a clean, sit-down (not that you would) toilet. Stinky, festering, hole-in-the-ground squat toilets are the norm outside of Leh. Be advised to take your own scarf to wrap around your head when using these facilities, in conjunction with some smelling salts & lots of hand sanitiser.
- Forget about any consistency as far as electricity supply (an almost completely random event except if you have access to a generator), internet access (fluctuates & can be down for days on end), hot water (always dependent on electricity, but even then you only get it 50% of the time if you’re lucky), shower facility (get someone to show you how to use the bucket washing device – & then let me know).
- Play it safe – if it’s not cooked & you can’t peel it, just don’t eat it. Why end up with intestinal chaos if you don’t need to go there? Don’t play the “I’ve got a cast iron stomache” ego boast – you’ll regret it. Can’t wait to dig into a big salad on return to Sydney.
- Bring clothes for every season – freezing one minute, boiling hot the next.
- There’s dust everywhere. Bring along a scarf or mouth/nose guard to protect your face – even the locals do it. And expect that your nasal passages & sinuses will fail to work efficiently during your stay here. Trust me, you’ll be blowing out sand dunes every eve.
Will definitely be coming back to Ladakh…..