Acclimatisation in Leh and the Dalai Lama
Our days in Leh introduced us to the altitude, the Ladak food and hospitality and one happy world spiritual leader.
We all felt a little light headed when we arrived, and the scenery around us did nothing to help bring is back down to earth. The mountains were made of rock and in the distance a few had glaciers sitting on top of them. We were told that they were usually bigger and that the mountains were usually covered in snow at this time. The enormity of the glaciers made it difficult to comprehend that they should have been much bigger and the snow abundent.
Our hotel was a little haven on the hill. Cooking dinner each night with the food grown in the front garden. The grandmother of our host family watched us as we built our bikes and there was a friendly greeting of jollay nearly every 15 minutes.
The first night was a test of our acclimatisation. I woke early in the morning with a head that was on the verge of exploding, I tried sitting up, lying down, standing on one leg but nothing seemed to tell the jackhammer in my head to disappear. Soon Gavin was awake, I think because he could hear the pounding in my head. We went walking down the hill to try and drop the altitude. The morning was gorgeous and really it was quite spectacular to see the mountains light up and the local people, donkeys, goats and cows start their day. Except for the pounding head and nausea. Eventually we made our way to the hospital at the bottom of the hill, and for the grand price of 2 rupee (approximately nothing in any other currency) a lovely man told me to poke my tongue out, drink lots of water, take some pills and rest. When we walked out Gav said he wasn’t worried, except maybe when my lips turned blue. I spent the rest of the day asleep and woke the next day feeling human again.
Which was good, because as soon as we woke the next day we walked towards the the airport road with nearly everybody else in Leh. The local men and women were dressed in traditional clothes, bright colours, tall hats and proud faces. We lined the street on either side and soon a calvacade of cars came crawling up the road. In the the shiniest one sat the smiliest person ever. The Dalai Lama was greeting everybody with his friendly smile and loving presence. He drove by us and our although our moment with him was fleeting we all felt like it was a special morning and hopefully a good omen for the rest of our journey.
Tomorrow we were starting the riding, FINALLY!! We had eaten well, acclimatised and got the nod from the worlds spiritual leader. Anything we else we had forgotten to do didn’t matter.