My trip towards Northen India caused a paradigm shift of my view towards roadtrip. It’s one of the most challenging trip I had, and from this trip, I found that traveling to remote places on earth is more interesting than going to the common attractions in any places. From this trip, I seen the hugeness of our earth, and the people out there are really struggling to live. The region is called Ladakh, which is less known even among the ‘Indians’.

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Basically, there are 3 ways for ones to reach Leh (main city of Ladakh). 2 of them via roadtrip namely Leh-Manali Highway and Leh-Srinagar Highway. The third method is the easiest, fastest but also the most expensive, which is via plane. Since I have limited time, so I chosen the last method. Also, one can only reach Leh via plane during winter time (Nov-April) due to the snow condition in the mountain area. This time, I didn’t pre-book any hostel online, but tried to find some budget hostel only when reaching there. Earlier in Delhi, I’d already bought the sim card and subscribed for internet. However, when I was in Ladakh, only I realized that there wasn’t any signal for internet. So, I couldn’t google for anything, but had to rely on the traditional method asking people around if there was any budget hostel. After searching and asking around for 1 hr, we finally able to fd a budget hostel with available room. The owner and his wife is very friendly.

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Outside the hostel, there was some homegrown apple. Yes, apple. With the permission of the owner, I could pluck and eat the apple. It’s the sweetest I’d ever eaten, and worry-free.

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Leh is in high altitude, and  I was aware of the danger of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness). However, after 30 minutes check-in, I didn’t feel anything wrong nor any sickness, so I just proceed to Leh Palace. As a buddhist myself, it’s my first time I visit to monastry related to Tibetan Buddhist. It’s an eye-opening experience where the structure, and the statues looked a lot more different as compared to those in East Asia/ South East Asia. Additionally, ‘death’ is just a normal thing here, as part of the life-cycle and not taboo-liked in our home countries.

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Leh Palace

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Buying ticket for Leh Palace

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Outside view of Leh Palace

After Leh’s Palace, it concluded the activity for the first day of stay in Ladakh. On the next day, the plan was to walk around the town area. In the town, I met a seller for Pashmina, named Ashok. It was October, and near winter time. So it’s off-peak season, and he was waiting to go back to his hometown after few months in Ladakh. He was a kind man (and helped me to find a taxi driver that going to Kargil).

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Ashok with his Pashmina

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One of the busiest street in Leh

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Tibetan ‘prayer wheel’. It’s used to accumulate wisdom and good karma and to purify whatever sin been done.

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Beautiful view along the way to Hemis Monastry. It’s Indus river by the way … !!

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Hemis Monastery

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Lama in Hemis Monastery

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Religious(Buddhism) figure in Leh Palace. It looks like someone from middle-east …

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Human skull as part of the door frame design

One of the reason I wanted to visit Ladakh was because of the famous Pangong Tso & Tso Moriri in nearby region. However, it required special permits and I couldn’t made it on time. So I changed to plan B, to visit Rangdum. Between Leh and Rangdum, there is a town named Kargil. People in Leh/ Rangdum are mostly Tibetan Buddhist, but those in Kargil are mainly Muslim. There is a weird law in the region where the taxi driver is only allowed to operate in their own district. For example, Leh’s taxi driver could only do their business in Leh’s region (Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Nubra Valley …etc); and it’s the same for Kargil’s taxi driver. So it was difficult for us to find local driver in Leh, that willing to pick us to Rangdum. After 2 days in Leh, we managed to find a taxi driver (from Kargil), that could bring us to Rangdum. It’s 337 km distance from Leh, but it took us 20 hr to reach there. Along the journey, the scenery was magnificent, exhilarating and eye-opening. They were the most majestic views that I’ve ever seen.

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Rangdum from Leh

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The view by the time we left Leh area

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Famous Ladakh MoonLand

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Scenery in Kargil district

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Stopping by for lunch

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Kids working like adults

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Roadblock while on the way to Rangdum

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Majestic view along the way

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Wild horses in the remote region

After nearly 16 hours of road trip, we reached Rangdum. However, I didn’t plan for any accommodation in the area as there was no available resources in the web. The intention was to find the hostel upon reaching Rangdum. But the sky already getting dark and the temperature was freezing cold. So I had to depend on the driver. He brought me to somewhere of his friend place I guess, and had some hot tea during the stay. After a long day of sitting in the car, I was freaking tired and went to sleep in less than one hour. On the next day, driver woke me up at around 6 am and said we had to leave already. After paying the bill (800+ Rupee), we prepared to get off. Surprisingly, it was snowing outside! It’s early October and it’s snowing, just wow!

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 Car been covered with snow in the early morning

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Surounding getting brighter just after 30 minutes of car-drive

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 Could barely see nothing beyond 30m

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Path ahead looks dangerous

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Small village that looks beautiful when covered in snow

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After few hours, we arrived at lower altitude. Temperature getting warmer

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The driver stopped by near his home (I guess)

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Innocent and beautiful scenery

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Gorgeous view on our way back to Leh

After another few hours, we’re back to Leh town.  It was 5pm+ and apparently, it’s way faster for our return journey. If someone wanted to visit Rangdum, I would suggest 3 days, 2 nights, so that he or she could really she what’s the interesting things in Rangdum. I guess I will come back once again in future, who knows?

Back to Delhi, the next destination was Taj Mahal. It’s a must-do thing in India, right? Previously I booked for transportation service from Delhi to Agra, with one of the travel agency (Caron’s Holiday). Also I requested them to book a ticket for viewing Taj Mahal at night, to minimize the waste time.

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Camel walking on the street in Agra

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Friendly family that let me take their pictures

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Indian Tea in the making

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Taj Mahal at night

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Agra train station

After Agra, I took train back to Delhi. This conclude my travel to India. Definitely, India surprised me! And I will come back to India for sure.

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