Published: July 27th 2012July 14th 2012
We had only booked 4 nights in the guesthouse and so were supposed to be leaving Leh today but we loved it so much we decided we wanted more time here. We searched for the cheapest flight out of Leh - to save us a few days and an even more terrifying bus journey and then arranged another 4 nights staying with Yoda.
We took the long walk through the town and up the many steps to a Buddhist monument called Shanti Stupa. We were still suffering from the altitude so again took our time. The stupa was built by Japanese monks in 1991 to promote world peace. Didn't really work, but it looks lovely, and again the views of Leh were incredible. In the evening we went to book a Tibetan cooking class and then went for a nice meal. We went to a rooftop restaurant and even though there was a power cut and had to give us candles for a while, it was nice and the food was amazing. Graeme was happy with his favourite palak paneer (spinach and cheese curry).
We had planned to do a yoga class the next day, at the place where
we did the meditation, after they assured us it was fine for beginners, but again had to spend a while emailing and calling the Indian railway people. After missing the yoga we forgot about the trains for a while and enjoyed the sun. We found a lovely rooftop cafe and relaxed. We were looking forward to our cooking class in the evening but sadly it was cancelled when we turned up. So we went to eat Tibetan food cooked by somebody else instead. The small restaurant was run by a couple of little old Tibetan ladies and it was really homely. We tried momos (little stuffed Tibetan dumpling things) for the first time and were blown away. Nikki had potato and cheese and Graeme had spinach and cheese. The old lady serving was lovely too.
Next day we were up early for a full day retreat to a Buddhist camp just outside of Leh. We crammed in a jeep with far too many other people, but luckily it wasn't far away. After removing our shoes we walked into a big hall full of Buddhist students from the centre, as well as a few other tourists. The main monk talked
to us while we sat crossed-legged and listened to their morning prayers and chants. Graeme felt sorry for the man sat next to him as he instantly smelled his feet again. After an introduction to Buddhism, the children from the school at the centre performed some songs and read passages to us. The centre also helps to educate blind people and a blind man got up and sang and played a flute. He moved his head like Stevie Wonder. After the perfomances, tourists were invited to perform (which we politely declined) and presented with traditional Buddhist scarves by the main monk. After a lovely (and free) lunch we were given a tour around the campus.
On our final day in Leh we hired a jeep to take us out of Leh to some of the villages and temples close by. The altitude still affected us but the views and temples were worth the slow climbs. Later on we finally got registered to book a train, online to find only Indian debit cards were accepted now. Nikki's card had also been blocked so we had to make a few calls to sort this out, which luckily didn't take too long.
We said goodbye to Yoda and his dog, had one last nice meal in Leh that night and found out we'd have to get to the aiport 4 hours early as the Dalai Lama was arriving in Leh at the same time we were flying out. He must be gutted he missed us.
There are more photos below