I am a man of variable mobility.
My lack of physical, or mental, exercise would challenge any personal trainer!
Aware of how little energy I expend, I try to control what I eat:
a difficult task when Dalila, my cook, spends several creative hours every morning in our kitchen; her production-line of tasty temptations.
Because of this, except when playing host, I neither take lunch, nor miss it.
But travelling makes me hungry: on holiday, everything and anything goes!
After our visit to Likir Monastery, thoughts of food began to float into my mind, though it was difficult to see where we would find it.
We appeared to be travelling through the proverbial middle of nowhere.
Norvo, our driver, knew better.
He left the main road and began following a narrow track up into an isolated mountain village.
The car stopped outside the gates of the smartest building around.
We were obviously expected.
The owner excitedly welcomed us then, rather disconcertingly, led the way upstairs to a dazzling and somewhat over-exotic double-bedroom.
Robin and I were not quite sure what to do.
Reasonably confident this was just a lunch-stop, and that a long drive was planned for the afternoon, we used the bathroom’s pristine facilities then sat and waited. Perhaps our meal was to be served on the small bedside tables?
After a few minutes, our beaming host reappeared and asked if we would like to come down.
He proudly ushered us into the very splendid dinning room pictured above.
There were no chairs. Instead, colourful mattresses, bolsters and cushions lay along three sides of the room.
The gorgeously enamelled table-tops were at knee-height.
Variable mobility or not, we would eat while seated only inches from the floor.
The meal was extremely generous and delicious. And, although being entirely meat-free, proved of great interest to the household kitten.
Having used the bedroom facilities once more, we thanked the owner and left.
The last time I landed in the Himalayas was a trifle disconcerting.
Instead of snow-capped mountains, we were greeted by vast acres of flat green tea estates.
Arriving in Ladakh was very different.
As the captain’s voice issued reassuringly formal instructions to his crew, I glanced at the windows to see gigantic mountains peaks pass unnervingly close-by. It was like a scene from “Lost Horizon“.
The pilot managed these daunting challenges with great skill and made a smooth landing.
We emerged from the plane into a frozen landscape of browns, greys, and whites; totally unlike tropical Kerala.
We had reached an environment apparently devoid of greenery and warmth.
This was Leh airport, at over 10,500 ft above sea-level, the world’s highest, “open-all-year” commercial airport.
Having collected our luggage from the smallest baggage carousel I have ever seen, we were met and taken to our hotel.
Check-in, passport formalities, hot Tibetan tea and a chance to rest followed:
Our definitive driver was booked to arrive at three in the afternoon.
He would introduce us to Leh, and some of its intriguing photo-opportunities.
Pictures taken in Leh, Ladakh.