"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Night And Day

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Initially, arriving back at our guest-house, we failed to notice there was no electric power.
But as the darkness grew ever denser, it became very apparent.
Not only were we unable to read, the temperature had begun to plummet.

There was little to do other than listen to our anxious host attempting to start his petrol-powered generator.
Once light was regained, he invited us to join his family in “the kitchen”: a large, gloriously warm room, heated by a wood-stove.

Suddenly, we were en famille with four generations of Ladakhis:
the owner’s grandmother with her beads and prayer-wheel, oblivious to our presence and perpetually focused on another world;
his mother supervising the cooking; his wife serving us hot and delicious food;
the host himself, along with his brother, joining us for supper;
the youngest generation, fluent in English and busy on the internet.
All of us, seated on mats and cushions.
The room warm and welcoming, but without even a single chair.

When the meal finished, a gas-stove was taken up to our bedroom.
The generator continued to give lighting for almost another hour – but there was only ice-cold water for washing.
We disconnected the stove’s gas cylinder, turned off the light switches, then buried ourselves under several layers of thick blankets..
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At seven o’clock the next morning we were awoken with a large pot of hot Tibetan tea: an infusion of tea-leaves, butter, sugar and salt.
Thirty minutes later, a single bucket of hot water arrived.
Though the bathroom was so desperately cold that we could only stand on its freezing floor if wearing shoes, it was finally our chance to wash!

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After shamefully hasty ablutions, and having dressed as quickly as possible, the warm kitchen again awaited us,
along with an amazing breakfast of freshly cooked, hot pitta breads, butter, local apricot jam and steaming cups of coffee.
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Pictures taken in the Namra Guesthouse, Tingmosgang, Ladakh.

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2 responses

  1. That is the ultimate gift of travel – to be welcomed into the native’s home and live as they do!

    I’m wondering how cold it is there. Once, I was in Iceland in February, and though the temperature ranged right around freezing, the cold somehow felt deeper and more intense. I attributed it to being north of the Arctic circle, and wonder if high altitude would be similar.

    May 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    • Yes, spending time with the local people is a great privilege.

      The temperatures vary considerably. When in direct sunlight, other than when travelling over the highest mountain passes, I felt gloriously warm. But at night, or if the day was cloudy, it was bitter!

      During daylight hours, wind-chill can make a massive difference

      May 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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