I left Dehli in the normal sweltering heat and humidity. The taxi picked me up at 4 a.m. to make it’s way to the Delhi Airport only to find out that it was the wrong terminal. Then I had to get another taxi to take me the rest of the way. I wanted to go to Leh in the north. I thought well, there is plenty of time to get something to eat after going through security control. WRONG! In India they take this security control VERY seriously. I had to put my things in the plastic bins like in Germany. One guy took off his belt and started to put it in but the guy looked at him strangely. I wasn’t asked to take off my hiking boots though. I was then instructed to go further down the lines to one that said LADIES so I could be body checked. When it was my turn, I had to walk forward to a woman in a little booth with a curtain. Once in there she saw I had my boots on and said I need to take them off and get them scanned again. At first I waited in a line near where the LADIES sign was but then I thought it was better to go back to where all my stuff was that was already scanned. I was also concerned it would disappear. Backpack with passport, money, mobile phone, coat, etc. The man who instructed me to go to the LADIES line screamed at me to go back there. I tried to explain what happened but he didn’t want to hear it so I went back to the other line. As my boots were waiting to get scanned (a process that goes very slowly in India) I was called into the little booth again to be body searched with the metal detector. I started talking with the woman and she said recently she arrested a man who had a false heel on his shoe and in the empty space was gold. He was a gold smuggler! Finally I got my boots and headed back to the other place where all my stuff was. I found my back pack and a woman asked me if I had any metal in there and I said yes a thermos and cup so she asked me to take it out and the bag had to be scanned again (but she took it and put it through). I finally got everything back and then headed to the Food Court to get some breakfast.
After the security ordeal, I finally headed to the gate to hang out and wait for the flight. The airport is VERY quiet and they don’t announce flights so you have to check from time to time as to the status of YOUR flight and gate. They had nice lounge chairs to lay down on and pass the time. Then it was time to board the plane. It was only about a one hour flight to Leh. After we were served our drink and snack, we saw them! The Himalayas! What a view! First snow capped mountain tops on the middle Himalayas (explained to me by a Nepal guy who works at a monastery excavating old relics.
I arrived at the Leh airport to a welcome of many machine-gun armed soldiers. It is a very small airport and all passengers had to fill out an entry form. The minute I stepped off the plane onto the metal stair case to de-plane, I felt the altitude and was immediately dizzy and seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was difficult to do even the slightest task. Prior to leaving Delhi, a few days before I noticed that I was getting a stuffy nose (no wonder with the sweltering temps and then being in my freezing room with the cockroaches…) so a sinus infection was on the way! It reared it’s ugly head the morning I left so I started taking an antibiotic I had with me.
After being picked up by a taxi to take me to my hotel (the Snow View Hideaway http://www.snowviewladakh.com/ ) l, I was really pleasantly surprised at how QUIET it is here. The air is clean ! There is a nice courtyard and out door places to sit and eat or talk. Lots of nice people staying here too. My room is small but the bathroom is very modern like in western countries. No flooding of the toilet or sink onto the floor. No cockroaches and no mosquitos. The altitude sickness is a bit difficult but I think I’ve adjusted fairly well. The big problem is the sinus infection. It has hit me VERY hard. I had a fever last night but the owners of the place were kind to bring me a space heater (it got very cold last night and you could see stars and constellations very well.)
I’m hanging out in bed today because the infection has taken over my body with a vengeance. I’m typing this from my bed looking out the window and there is a reflection of the mountains in the other window. They are majestic and covered in snow. The owners are so kind they brought me tea and toast and homemade apricot jam. I feel like I’m in good hands. I hope I’m feeling better tomorrow so I can go out and explore a bit.