a gathering place for the words, images and momentos of the world of adventures i've adventured, the stories i've wandered through. curriculum bella vita...a resume, of sorts, of the good life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm having a hard time picking a quote of the week...

"You have missed the whole of the world if you have not kayaked."


"You're a little more wifehunt than I think you think you are."


"I've been reading Fifty Shades of Grey and a few things about him remind me of you."


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Favorite Leh

Twenty months in, I have a new favorite spot in all of India...Leh!

Ladakh is a pretty special corner of India, the far extreme North, the mountainously beautiful and surprisingly peaceful part of Jammu and Kashmir. It's largely Buddhist, most closely related in culture, peoples, religion and architecture to Western Tibet.

Leh is the capital town of the region, a small burg of just 10,000 year round inhabitants, swelled with tourists four months out of the year (July-October) and blessed with the infrastructure (and airport) of a significant military base. Just ten years ago, India and Pakistan were fighting over the Kargil Glacier, hardly 100 miles to the west.

You can fly or bus into Leh. Flights from Delhi are convenient, if pricey, and they come with the added cost of immediate acclimation at 11,500 feet. I'd never done anything like that before, and it was more painful than I expected. The first night, especially, was miserable. Headache, loss of appetite, disorientation and insomnia. Almost bad enough to force me to get some non-prescription medication, but it passed before the end of the second day. The two day bus ride up from Manali or Srinigar help significantly with acclimation, but come at the price of a bone-jostling journey.

A 200 rupee taxi takes you to the city center, a wide-laned bazaar with great shops and restaurants. Every other storefront is a map store, outfitters or travel agency catering to visitors. From the small downtown, to the north, a 16th century Buddhist palace sits perched on a cliff. And to the west, a green valley pasture, criss-crossed with cobblestone walking paths and glacier-melt creeks, is speckled with more than a hundred different guesthouses, hotels and family stays. Glacier View Guest House gets a thumbs up, but you can't go wrong just walking the paths, finding one you like and inquiring about availability on the spot.

Leh offers many good day-hike options without even leaving the city: Shanti stupa, the palace, the donkey sanctuary. (The first two are better than the third.) The palace, in particular, is great. You can climb over, under and around the 9-story inward-leaning castle, modeled after more famous counterparts in Lhasa. It's easy to hire a car, too, for a full-day of monastary sightseeing along the Indus River.

Instead of sightseeing, though, I went rafting on my day outside of Leh. 1300 rupees will get you a three-hour raft down an amazing section of the Zanskar River, 45 minute drive from town, as it flows through beautiful canyon walls before dumping into the Indus River. It's pretty good whitewater and a great way to meet fellow travelers. Afterwards, you get a tasty lunch in the raft guides base camp.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Fever

Hurray for the Olympics!
Hurray for the Home Team!

i bought a satellite for these two weeks. and these two weeks only.