Ladakh is far and remote, like very far and very remote, especially when leaving from Myanmar. For those not familiar with the region, it’s not only the most beautiful place in India and in the whole world but it’s also a glacial desert, located at the far North East of India, in the region of Jammu and Kashmir, perched high in the Himalayas at a minimum of 3000 m. of altitude (up to more than 5 000m) and surrounded by Pakistan and China. With rough winters and plenty of snows, roads are closed up to 8 months a year and its resemblance (cultural and landscape) with Tibet has gained the region the nickname of Little Tibet.
So yes, leaving Yangon, capital of Myanmar in a tropical 30 degrees Celsius to reach Leh, capital of Ladakh, India in a cold -5 degrees. Concretely, leaving Yangon, the whole trip means; taxi ride to the airport, flight to Bangkok with a 7 hours waiting time, flight to Kuala Lumpur, overnight stop, flight to Delhi, 8 hours waiting time and overnight layover until flight to Leh with a final 30 min taxi. You must imagine how hard I wished not to get sick before this 3 days and 2 nights journeys but since I’ve been fine all along in Myanmar I thought I’d be fine till the end…big mistake! I got sick, just before leaving, just in time to make my stomach a living hell for the whole trip which still turned out to feature the most beautiful flight of my life.
Delhi to Ladakh means you have to go over the Himalayas, see the change in scenery and the white mountains appear gradually, the desert hills, the vast plains and it also means that you get to talk culture, globalization, permaculture, international collaboration and much more with incredibly nice Ladahki people.
First impressions? I am breathless and not because of the altitude, because everything is so beautiful, everything is what I expected and much more. It’s cold, I wanted cold, clean, dry, nice cold. The mountains are everywhere, white, omnipresent. There is no snow except on the mountains, it’s the desert. It’s a cold desert. I instantly feel good, instantly feel at the right place, at the right time.
Taking a cab to get to the NGO, I get inside, still in awe, still in silence and looking at the mountains going by. The driver puts some music on, it’s the Tibetan mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, the exact same arrangement that you can hear at the Tibetan restaurant Shambala on St-Denis street in Montreal. Not just the same mantra with a different music, the same music, the exact same thing. It took me there, on St-Denis, with my plate of momos, dreaming of that one day when I would be in Ladakh, that one day when I would be in front of momos at 3500m. Looking at the mountains going by, listening at the mantra, the music, I realised I was finally there, and how glad I was!
Oh and by the way, I was not feeling sick at all anymore at this time. Nice little relief before altitude sickness kicked in later that day!