Breaking the Cycle in Ladakh

Sep 12

#9:
Phe to Padum

Published at 05:37
Dispatch created from email
11th September 2018


Day 9


Phe to Padum - 43km


Total distance - 594km





Having reached Phe in good time, I am now spending the 11th and 12th
exploring the Zanskar Valley a little.


The region is so cut off from the world, with one very rugged road in to
the region, that was only completed in 1974 and inaugurated in 1978.


I visited two monasteries today, the first, Tungri is a small, all
woman monastery, 14km from Phe. Situated high above the plain (3700m),
the 12 nuns and 20 student nuns certainly have great views from their
‘office windows’.


Jigmet and I met an 85 year old nun who was a real character. She wore
dark sunglasses to shield her light sensitive eyes, which I suspect is
glaucoma, her teeth were mostly rotted to her gums, her face deeply
creased and her shoulders humped over, but she had an incredible spirit.
After giving us tea and biscuits, she was very happy for us to take
photos. It was great to have Jigmet able to speak her language. She then
took us to see her room, giving the pink prayer wheel a spin on the way
(the prayer wheel I’ve seen are usually red or blue). She sat beside the
window and read from her prayer book. It was a very intimate experience
that, from my observations, you wouldn’t get from a larger monastery.


I cycled on to Karsha monastery, the biggest and most powerful in the
region. It is set spectacularly in the side of a mountain, the
whitewashed buildings staggered down the slope, built into the cliffs.
It was quite a climb, very steep nearing the monastery for tired legs.
But the effort was worth it, this monastery sitting at almost 3800m. The
main prayer room was packed with all sorts of ceremonial and Buddhist
effects, walls of prayer books, banners, sculptures, candles and lamps -
something significant everywhere I looked.


From there it was a steep descent to cross the Zanskar River and 13km on
to Padum, the capital of the region and the only place to have an
internet cafe (that works at a very slow drip, if at all).


The plan for Day 10 (after I try to send this blog), is to cycle back to
Phe on the other side of the river, visiting two more monasteries on the
way. We aim to meet the GHE team at around 5pm, then on the 13th we’ll
be installing two more innovation centres there and to Skyagrm village a
few kilometres away, where I will also give presentations. From the 14th
- 18th we’ll be hiking and electrifying Ralakung village and back to Leh
late on the 19th.
Having tried for more than an hour to send a 200kb image without
success, I have to go, so you will have to wait until the 20th to see
some of the stunning images I have taken...

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