Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Kashmir – On not bus-ing across Leh

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Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey Monastery

We abandoned our plans to hoof it around Leh, but we were still sample-the-local-culture type of tourists. So no rented SUVs for us, it was going to be local buses instead. We asked our inn-keeper for the night whether it would be possible to catch a bus the next morning to our next village stop. He assured us that there was a bus to be caught at 10:00 am the next morning. Excellent.

We had time to do the morning tea ritual and eat a leisurely, if spartan, breakfast. It felt like a vacation after all. We hefted our backpacks, walked half a mile to the nearest bus stop and patiently sat down to wait. The waiting was pleasant – deep blue sky, fresh mountain air, high desert landscape around us, the golden Buddha statue glinting in the courtyard of the monastery we had visited the evening before. Very picture postcard perfect. Put in some luxury tents and charge a bunch of rich tourists $1000-a-day perfect.

And there was the distant drone of the bus. We took a last look around, picked up our backpacks, and … spied a smelly diesel truck turning the corner instead of the expected bus. No bus, no matter. We sat down, ignored the amused villagers across the road, and congratulated ourselves (yet again) that our urban minds could still be moved by majestic Himalayan landscapes. But even patting oneself on the back gets a little tiring when done too often. It was nearly noon now and still no sign of the bus. Also, we realized that we were the only ones waiting for the alleged bus. Surely, the bus must carry locals. But where were they?

Getting out of Leh, crossing over to Nubra Valley

Getting out of Leh, crossing over to Nubra Valley

I asked the still amused villagers waiting on the other side of the road if they knew anything about a bus on this route. They assured me that there was indeed a bus on this route. Oh, good. “Supposed to be here around 10:00-ish?”, I asked tentatively. Their amusement turned to laughter. “No, no”, they said, “The 10:00 am bus was canceled three months ago.” What the …? Was I stranded in this god-forsaken desert of a place? I mean how much of the fucking landscape did I need anyway to feel all connected to nature? I eat organic, y’know.

“But the passing trucks will usually give you a lift”.

“Ah, salt of the earth, these men who ply their trade across India’s bumpy highways. So generous of them to help stranded travelers”, I thought. “What was the point in hurrying through such a tranquil place anyway. We were on a vacation after all.”

Just then we heard the drone of a truck coming towards us. Thumbs out, the truck stopped, and that was the end to our waiting. Thank goodness.

For more of our Ladakh adventures, read on.

Written by Sachin

July 7, 2009 at 12:17 am

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