Biking to Tikse

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June 14th 2008
Published: June 14th 2008
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For the next 2 weeks, my job is to explore the area and learn about Ladakh. This is a lot of fun, and yesterday, I was sent out on a mountain bike down to the Tikse monastry. Needless to say, it was an indian bike with little issues, and a little on the short side for my long legs. But it was a lovely morning, already hot, with not a cloud in the sky. I happily rode down the hill all the way to Tiske. I was having a wonderful time looking around this really arid and beautiful part of the world feeling like I was dreaming. I went past the old Shey palace, which used to be the capital of Ladakh, and was many times greeted by friendly people on the street. I finally reached the monastery. Waw! It is a huge monastery, of course on a hill, and it really looks like a little Potala. I walked around, in the hot sun and I could hear the sound of the monks reciting their prayers. I finally reached the place where they were and was invited to sit inside, was offered the traditional butter tea and listened to more mantras and the monks playing their instruments in this somewhat organized chaos of drums and seashell and bells and trompets... It is hard to describe but it felt timeless and surreal to be there and I could have stayed for hours. But I knew it would be a long ride back to Leh... So I finished the visit, talked to a very funny and friendly monk (too bad I could hardly understand what he was telling me but it must have been funny as he was laughing all the time, so I did too...), and saw the 3 story-high statue of Buddha, very impressive. I very memorable visit.

By then it was about 2 pm, and extremely hot. The first bit was flat but then I started climbing and realized that this was only my 3rd day at 3500m and I could feel it in my legs... I was sweating and cooking but everybody was smiling at me, waiving, encouraging me to keep going!!! I finally made it back to Leh and had many cups of tea and water, and felt very happy and relaxed. Lopsang, the local contact here told me that Chemrey, my next place to see is only twice the distance... So I should be OK to go next time. I decided to think about it and take at least a day off first, or maybe wait for a cloudy day!

I spent the rest of the day reading about the very interesting history of Ladakh. It is really a privilege to be right here while reading about the history... It helps to imagine how things happened. So I decided to visit the old palace this morning. Waw. A real labyrinth, really not much to see but still interesting. Then I walked in Old Leh, and eventually ended up drinking tea with my new Ladakhi friends. In a couple days I should go on the trek for a week or so, before I come back here again, waiting for the clients to show up.


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