Archive | November, 2012

Leh

4 Nov

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Leh

Leh – people

People here are generally nice. They speak Hindi or Ladakhi language. I realized I understood so little Hindi, sadly. I almost always have to stop them and ask them to politely repeat in English whatever they said in Hindi. Most times they are able to converse in English. And then they would say you look Indian so and ‘kaha se ap?’ which I gather would mean where are you from… Rarely I hear, ‘ ap ke nam se?’ I remember the formal ‘ Tum hare nam se? And mera nam se’ from movies I think. I heard from a friend that the Ladakhi language and Hindi is not similar. And you know some people don’t really know where Singapore actually is. Oh well, it’s a small little island near Malaysia, is what we would say. Some people have the impression that Singaporeans are rich.

I really like the way the Ladakhi ladies dress here with the shalwar khamis, a matching cardigan for the cold and their tupeda over their shoulders. Muslim girls have a tudung and then the tupeda over their tudung. There are girls in their modern outfit but few. Older Ladakhi women wear the typical Ladakhi dress over their clothes which is usually a long black or brown dress with many pleats at the waist.

Men are dressed similar to men around the world with their shirts and jeans; leather jackets or a vest for the cold. Older men also dress in their typical Ladakhi dress which is similar to womans’.

People stare at us for reasons unknown to me. Perhaps it’s my coat or the way I look or my tudung?

People are polite when you enter their shops with a ‘ha ji? Which means yes’ or sometimes ‘julay!’ which means hello or goodbye.

People are of mainly 2 religions here; Buddhist and Muslims. There are people of other religions too. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell them apart.

The people of Leh look Indian, Chinese, Tibetan and mixed. The Indians here are mostly fair and they are quite good looking.

According to husband, the Muslims he met in Jama’ masjid during the Friday prayers were of all type – as mentioned above.

Leh – Friday prayer

There was an azaan at 12.45am and another at 1.50pm. The khutbah was at 1pm in Hindi. Prayers finished at 2.15pm but people all around him was praying the sunnah prayers so he was stuck. We suspect they are of mazhab Hanafi. According to our Buddhist friend who is into all religions, there are 2 mosques in Leh; one is Sunni and the other is Shia. We don’t really know which is which, husband just went to the mosque which appears open most times.

Leh – accommodation

Guest writer: the husband

We stayed at juniper guesthouse. It had nice rooms but it was still an overall bad experience because (I) room was cold (ii) no electricity for the majority of the time (iii) no hot water when there was no electricity (iv) door was difficult to open and close. Maybe the lack of electricity would apply to any guesthouse but I hear other guesthouses use solar heaters. I don’t like cold very much so I don’t understand why the hostels in Leh cannot have heaters like in Europe. Luckily the wife got a discount for the last five days. Oh and because it was undergoing renovation there was loud knocking during the day and we were on first floor so we had to keep the curtains closed all the time making the room dark.

The pros of this guesthouse is that it has rooms with attached bathrooms, the furnishing is modern and bed is good enough. Most importantly for me is the toilet has to be clean, modern and has hot water. And this guesthouse has it all. Though I have to admit, electricity is available only during some parts of the day especially night time. And the water heater is only on once or twice a day. Our heater seems to be problematic…there is enough hot water only for 1 bath a day for each of us.

At times there is no water so we can’t pray. I think the water from the water tank has finished. We have to alert them and they will lift the water.

Owner says there is a shortage of water and there is no light to lift the water. Honestly, I have no idea what that means only that we have to wait for water. I thought 24 hours hot water meant we can bath anytime of the day and not ask for hot water when we needed to bathe. Oh well this is not Singapore where we have no water of our own yet we have water – hot and cold anytime. Alhamdulilah for living in Singapore.

Owner also said that we shouldn’t wash our laundry because there is shortage of water. Ok I never considered this but we need water for a lot of things; bathe, small business, big business, wash hands if we snack, wash apple, wash leg, take wudu’ before we pray, brush teeth and wash face if we don’t bathe before sleeping. We drink bottled water so that is not on the list.

We only use hot water when we bathe because that is what we can afford. Otherwise it’s freezing water for everything else. We will come into the room from the toilet feeling really cold.

I feel chided for not using water wisely. I mean we don’t even complain about electricity which comes on so rarely during the day. We don’t complain for not having hot water most times. Husband has all the other complaints above.

Owner was hospital most times and even prepared breakfast for us on the first day we arrived and it was good breakfast. Breakfast cost Rs100 per person per day. There is no free breakfast for all guesthouses in Leh from what I know. Owner is Muslim and she is a nice lady who greets us everytime we meet and provides hot water for drinking when we requests etc.

This guesthouse is situated off tukcha road which is off main bazaar area. 5 minutes walk to main bazaar.

Nonetheless I still think Juniper Guesthouse is one of the better guest houses in Leh.

We looked at a number of guest houses before deciding on Juniper.

Reeyul Guesthouse

It was our second choice and he wanted to give us the room for Rs 500 as well and it was a good room. Maybe we should have tried that. Toilet was modern as well. This is situated along tukcha road which is off the main bazaar area. Like a 3 minutes walk from main bazaar.

Moon land Guesthouse

The guesthouse was clean, rooms were ok but there was no attached bathrooms which meant that inconvenience everytime I need to pray or go to the toilet. We didn’t get a chance to see the bathroom because someone was bathing. Costs Rs400. This is situated behind the main bazaar.

Babu Guesthouse

We stayed a night here and owners were nice and warm people. Pretty basic for Rs300 which was a room with a bed and window. The ceiling was made of wood (directly from trees kind of wood). There is light only in the evenings till daylight. Toilets are outside and they are quite bad by my standards and I cannot bathe in such toilets. Hot water is on the bucket system.

This is situated behind the main bazaar and it is quite far from main bazaar. It is near the palace though.

As an aside, I watched a movie while in the plane to Delhi and the hotel the lady stayed in wrote on its board that they provide running hot water. When the lady asked for hot water in the morning, the owner told her that she had to request for hot water and the little boy would come running with a hot water bucket to her room.

Skitpo Guesthouse

I remember it being not so good. Can’t remember anything else about this guesthouse. Owner was nice though.

There were many other guesthouses along changspa road which we explored one morning after breakfast. We didn’t go check them out because we have packed and unpacked enough over the past few days and Juniper Guesthouse is good enough for me.

Leh – food

Guest writer: the husband

The food in leh was generally cheap and filling. Especially the rice portions. It was also quite tasty but it was also very oily! Plus most restaurants only open after 12 so there were few breakfast choices. In the middle of our stay in leh we found a halal Reataurant serving Tibetan cuisine so we look forward to trying that out! So far fried momok tastes like murtabak and fried thukpa tastes like mee hong kong.

We normally have our meals at Master Chef, Wazwan planet and Amdo Cafe. And we try to keep to 2 meals a day, breakfast and lundin. I must have breakfast and I get hungry during Subuh which is around 5am but we can only have breakfast at 9ish. Breakfast would be varieties of toast and omelette. Lundin have been butter chicken, Wazwan chicken, thukpa, fried rice, mo mok etc.

Leh – shopping

We shopped for cloths, books and shawls mainly along main bazaar. They are famous for their pashminas which I didn’t get any of though it was soft as silk. I got a few unstitched suits, shawls and 3 books for the transit. Of all the suits, i got 2 stitched at Raj Tailors as recommended by the shop owner who sold us 2 suits. Really cheap like Rs150 per suit and Rs30 for the rubber which I didn’t really want but he said there is no other way. There are so many tailors around so that shouldn’t be a problem.

We spend Rs550 on food and Rs51 on 3 bottles of water daily.

I got henna done on one hand front and back. I wanted simple design but the girl doing henna called me her friend and told me the complicated design was nice and she liked it.

There is some shopping area along Changspa road and old road as well. More shopping area at the end of main bazaar area towards the taxi stand and further downhill.