First Day In India (New Delhi – Leh)

It is 7:33am in Malaysia, 5:03am in India.

Arriving New Delhi at Night

I am in New Delhi Airport now, going to board to Leh with Spicejet.
It is my first time to India, a country I have heard so much about with so many love/hate relationships.
Malaysia Airlines brought me to New Delhi, I was in a 2-seater, next to me, I assumed he is a Malaysian. Turned out, he is not, his name is Goki, a Japanese student who studied here. He even speaks like locals (Indians), that is new for me, the way he shakes his head with his ascent. He loves spicy food especially the non other than curry.
We walked side by side after arrival, I am super excited to see the signs “Welcome to India” and listened to Indian songs broadcasted. Then we parted at the immigration counters, I queue up for E-tourist visa which I applied online, with a chopped, I am in! It is also a goodbye to my favourite bottle on the plane which I left it. Well, life moves on.
……

From Terminal 3 to Terminal 1

I asked information counter which terminal is Spicejet, he asked to go to gate 9 and so I went out, instantly felt the warm weather as I was wearing a jacket, carrying 3 bags with me. I found a help desk to take a shuttle bus to T1, all you need is just to show your boarding pass and ticket, you will receive a ticket for free. Hopped on the bus, few locals walked in and they need to pay for the bus. Hmm.

Bus Shuttle Experience

The bus condition is old but functional, air condition works when we almost arrived, but still thankful for the 15 minutes drive in the main road where I get to experience the honking and traffic along the way. I read about the honking, here, it serves as a reminder for others. Okay, this driver gave a lot of reminders to others, that’s good.

Terminal 1 Airport

Arriving at T1, a few of us took the lift to the first floor and go through security check with documents and the bags. I got myself a water bottle for INR50! To be honest, I do feel safe inside T1 because there are many armed police or security I am not sure. It is a smaller airport but many were seating at the seats to allow time passes by. Freshen up myself by brushing in the loo, then I got myself and the bags a good space, I am ready to nap. It is a 4 hours wait to check in for a domestic flight to Leh airport.
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It was a long journey, awaken, doze off, awaken again, until it is 4.15am, exactly 2 hours before the flight. I woke up to get ready for check-in. Only to found out, which I knew, my baggage is over limit the of 15kg for check-in baggage, over by 1kg, so I was charged extra INR400. They are quite friendly at the counter but during the immigration, the female inspector who check on me looks super sleepy, I believe it is about time for her to end her day here.

Domestic Immigration

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A bit of funny incident happened, I put my boarding pass in the tray for inspections, the female officer asked for it so she could stamp on it after passing through the scan, I went through the scan and out to get the pass but the officer questioned why my boarding pass do not have the stamp on it. So happened, maybe he is not fluent in english, he speaks Hindi to me, which my mind could not interpret at all, thankful for an uncle interpret for me. I took the boarding pass back to the female inspector, got it stamped, showed the officer, done. A cute incident which light up my heart.

Laptop Station

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I walked around, there are chairs for nap and a laptop station in the foodcourt. Here am I typing my story in one of the laptop station. =)
Ready for boarding to Leh soon!
Goodbye New Delhi:
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Almost reaching Leh Airport:
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………..

Arriving Leh Airport

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I reached Leh Airport about 7:25am, after filling up form for foreigners, Jin and Gurmet picked me up to the guest house.
On the view from the plane was fascinating, piles of rocky mountains like I have never seen before, one group after another, it was astonishing! Taking photo at the airport is prohibited as it is a military based area, during the journey to the guesthouse, will get to see many militaries trucks passing by with military base camp.
Talking about their driving skill is one of a kind too, it can be labelled as skilful. Super thankful to have Jin and Gurmet who helped carry my bags, which is very suggested to not exert pressure when you just arrived.

Arriving Guest House

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3.30pm. Here I am, in Nyanjen Family Guest house, on the bed of the biggest room in the guest house. Just taken lunch and had a casual chat with the other participants for the retreat.
The place we are staying are surrounded by the valley with many beautiful trees and flowers. I am so grateful to have breakfast ready by Nyanjen family and got a space to rest.

Tips To Acclimatise

It is 10,500 ft high here, thus we needed to take at least 2 days to rest and acclimatised. Give time to the body, it will work the magic just fine.
Took nap for a few hours, it is also an awaken-asleep journey where I find my heart beating quite fast. Gurmet mentioned it is normal, just need to drink a lot of water, eat proper food and rest.
He also suggested not to take shower for the first 2 days, sleep with blanket, socks, cap, and mask to maintain the moisture.
Okay, no showering but wipes still possible. =)

Online Connection

Checking in the guest house allows me to connect online to reach my loved ones. The Sim card bought from other places will not be able to use here, thus, most of the guesthouses have wifi ready. It is on and off due to the connectivity and electricity.

Sharing From Volunteer Activist in Ladakh

Our hosts are so considerate enough to invite someone who have been involved in volunteering – Kelly to speak with us this evening.

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Kelly is a citizen of US who have been helping out volunteering issues and teacher training in Ladakh for 5 years, with a tourist visa. She has been training teachers in the monasteries as the education format here are basically memorised, even for the teachers. Students would memories the mathematical timetable, they could answer 7-3=4 but not 7-4.
We were shared that even for science, teachers and students would memorised according to the textbook without understanding the meaning. That’s a shock for me. But, thankfully, this method is slowly replaced with new teaching. Kelly is providing 5 days teaching intensive class for the teachers.
Lesson: Take note wherever you go, the impact you are giving to the local community, whether it’s trash or just the way you dress, the youngsters will take you as an example to look ‘cool’.
What Kelly is asking, is for us to encourage the locals to preserve the own culture, how we can help, simply by dressing what the locals dressed. Western or people in the city are looking to spend more time in nature, in building own garden and agriculture, yet, Ladakh culture is moving towards wealth and materialism where higher educated children will not continue their family’s agriculture or generation passing crafting skills.

Learned About Ladakh

From her sharing, I learned more about Ladakh, not just the beauty we could see from our eyes, from the words the locals shared.
  • Ladakh only open for tourism on the 1970s which the locals love to welcome people to their homeland
  • Education: To enter university takes a lot of examination, as the education level got higher, its a huge competition to earn a master say choosing 5 out of 100 thousand.
  • Surviving: Ladakhi survive by growing their food, generate their own electricity.
  • Best time to visit: August, before it gets too cold
  • Resources: Might be limited from November to May as the two main roads will be closed

Our Meals

Breakfast we had tea with toast with homemade apricot jam.
Lunch, we had something like Nasi Briyani with pickles and yogurt.
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Dinner, we ate a pasta-ish soup dish which they called Ajutahi. I search online it is similar to ‘Skyu’. Made from wheat and root vegetables, Skyu is a traditional soup-based dish. Soft wheat dough is kneaded into pasta-like shapes and cooked with root vegetables like carrots and turnips.

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Getting Ready

After 13 hours of travelling, I am finally here. Love the hospitality, food and environment here. Love the people, we did a round of introduction, getting to know the participants are here with a common purpose – self discovery and growth. =)
Thank you Gurmet who arranged our stay in Nyanjin Guesthouse to experience the local hospitality!
Our hosts: Jason, Jin, Gurmet
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Getting ready to sleep for tomorrow’s morning yoga session.
That’s for the first day! =)
Sending Love, 
Vic Qi
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