Thursday, 7 June 2007

A Simple Introduction to Ladakh

Ladakh is a land of contrasts. On one hand you are surrounded by stark, barren mountains for miles around and on the other you are treated to colour in all its glory in the monasteries that seem to dot every few kilometers.

As a people, Ladakhis are extremely polite and hospitable, often to the point of being servile. This works to their disadvantage when it comes to the rude, arrogant tourists who swarm the place every second month. All said and done, I thought they made some wonderfully warm strangers, and I think they're like that with everyone, regardless of whether you're a tourist or a local.

What strikes you about Ladakh and the journey there is that most often you find yourself in what seems like the middle of nowhere. But there is nearly always something that is arrestingly beautiful about these vast and numerous nowheres, and chances are that you will look around you with your mouth agape and an awe-stricken look on your face.

It is easy to lose yourself in a land like Ladakh. The more you see of it, the more aware of yourself you become. To live there is a constant challenge. Everything the Ladakhis do seems foreign to us because at the best of times, we cannot imagine living in the conditions they do. To visit Ladakh is to set yourself a physical, emotional and mental challenge at the end of which you feel a strong, heady sense of accomplishment.

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