Back from Ladakh: 2022 Edition

I got back from Ladakh on Monday – the trip didn’t go quite according to plan as I tested positive for COVID on the second morning of the trek so had to go back to Leh to isolate.

A bit of a disappointment after all the anticipation.

On the plus side, both the hotel in Leh (Hotel Glacier View) and the local Exodus agent (Chosphel, Venture Ladakh) were great, and the other lady on the trip got COVID too so we could isolate together.

Room 302 provided a great view and a daily breakfast delivery, and Chosphel came every day to check on us, which was very reassuring. Most importantly of all we were clear to fly home on our scheduled group flights.

I’m pretty sure I caught COVID at Heathrow (hardly anyone masking and very busy) or on the flight to Delhi – adults had to mask but kids didn’t and there were lots of families with under 5s on their way to see family in India. There is no requirement for a test, just a vaccination certificate.

With hindsight, what I thought was me not acclimatising very well – headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite – were probably all symptoms of COVID.

I didn’t get it too bad – moving about was tiring and I had a stuffy / snotty head for the first couple of days, which I spent sleeping, then another couple reading in between snoozes and then out and about a bit in the fresh air. The rules were quite relaxed generally so we were OK to eat out and potter around town once we felt up to it so long as we masked and stayed socially distanced.

Drank a lot of water!

The thing I got in Dolpo was much worse.

Not much has changed in Leh – the bazaar and back streets are still as they were, the Gompa too (minus as few of the lovely trees) but the Brazil Cafe was deserted so we didn’t go there. The new Central Asian Museum is great and Valerie P’s orientation tour introduced us to Baker’s Alley and a couple of open air rooftop cafe / bar / restaurants.

Our return to Leh coincided with a visit from the Dalai Lama who is spending a month at his summer residence in Choglamsar a few miles up the valley. Needless to say, we didn’t join the crowds at the Gompa, Mosque and Church the morning he visited them all.

Once we’d completed our day 0 (positive) + 5 days of isolation we headed out with Konchok and Lobzang from Ladakh Venture for a couple of (rainy) days camping and walking west of Likir, camping at Ulley and Hemishukpachan and walking between the two.

Leh - Basgo - Likir - Uley - Hemis Shukpachan
Leh – Basgo – Likir – Uley – Hemis Shukpachan

We returned to Leh a few hours before the rest of the (now all male) group. They had had 5 very hot days and then, once they were higher up, 5 cold, wet and cloudy days. Not so good. Only one of them summited.

A long journey home: Leh – Delhi – London – Hereford took 3 days. Tom picked me up from LHR on Sunday and I had lovely evening with them all, watching the final of the women’s Euros 2022 drinking beer and eating crisps.

Things I’ve come back to:

  • A new 4G antenna on the front of the house, which – so far – is providing nice consistent internet access.
  • Cows in Thistly Field – as opposed to cows in Leh’s Karzoo Ice Rink.
  • A scythe-wielding husband….

There will be photos, once I’ve got them onto Flickr….

The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes

The Other Side of the Story - Marian Keyes
The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes

Just the ticket for my COVID isolation read in Leh – a nice chunky novel revolving around the world of book publishing. Key characters: frenemies Gemma and Lily – connected by ex/current partner Anton – and London-based publishing agent Jojo who’s in the throes of a secret affair with her boss Mark. Oh, and Gemma’s mum and dad.

Plenty of insight into the world of book publishing and promotion – advances, auctions, deals and disappointments – and, as always, the relationships we have with family and friends

Picked up from LW London and left at the Glacier View Hotel, Leh, for someone else to enjoy…

Author page: The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes

Herefordshire Week 133: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 July 2022

Goodbye MX-5. Hello Ladakh.

At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh....
Spoiler Alert: At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh….

A manic week, trying to get work/life projects into shape before my hols, with a few extra curricular activities included; some planned, others not.

Relaxing morning with F&I on Tuesday watching the birds on the feeders and having mothers’ meetings in the bird bath and then sitting on the patio enjoying coffee and cake with L&M and dad. Then work!

Down to Ewyas early on Wednesday morning for a follow up blood test, arranged from Abergavenny last Friday morning. In the evening we went down to the Abbey with dad and Jean, N&T to watch Rain or Shine’s The Recruiting Sergeant. After Drs and work I was a bit too wound up to enjoy the evening as much as I wanted to, even  with an M&S picnic beforehand. After a sweltering day it turned cool in the evening, a bit too cool. Huge moon.

Got to work early on Thursday morning so that I could duck out after a speedy late lunch to drive to Ross to sell my MX5 back to Bowens Garage. I love it but I’m just not driving it and it stresses me out with all the keeping clean, driving-s0-the-battery-doesn’t-go-flat and other maintenance. So I took the hit and we now have a clear view of the birds and the pear tree from the kitchen window. And I feel better for it.


Then we had to speed back to Ewyas for me to have another blood test – I’d had a phone call and text message in the morning asking me to come in for another one ASAP as my sodium levels are (too) low. Wasn’t prepared to then be asked to drive the blood sample to the hospital for overnight testing so had a chat with the Dr and she’s going to phone/text me my results tomorrow. It’s likely to be just as I’m boarding… Let’s hope the levels are low because I drink a lot of water and don’t take a lot of salt.

A couple of hours more work, and then time to pack for Ladakh and online check-in!

Packed for Ladakh
Packed for Ladakh

And relax…..

Up early Friday to catch the 06.43 HFD-PAD train. I’d decided to allow as much time as possible for travelling to London and out to Heathrow for my 18.30 flight to Delhi, and to spend the morning/early afternoon working in the LO office.

Back in the smoke, I had my first go on the Elizabeth Line – aka Crossrail. The signage at Paddington isn’t great – “Elizabeth Line” doesn’t feature on the signs you see on the platform when your train pulls in and instead you need to look at the floor on the main concourse. Not easy when that’s full of people. That said, once I’d found my way to the eastbound service it was a speedy 11 min to Liverpool St – magnificent!

First time on the Elizabeth Line
First time on the Elizabeth Line

I headed back to Paddington early afternoon and was once again stymied by the signage. Westbound trains (currently?) leave from platforms 11, 12 and 14 but it’s not at all obvious how to get to 11, which of course was where the next Elizabeth Line train to LHR was due to depart from. Still, I made it to T3 a bit before 3pm and was sitting in the departure lounge by 3.25pm having done bag drop and security. No long queues for me.

A smooth flight, and mandatory masking except for small children etc – and there were lots of those, and lots of coughing. Uh oh.

Landed in Delhi a bit after 8am on Saturday. Spotted some likely fellow trekkers in the visa / immigration queue. Out of the terminal, Valerie Parkinson was waiting for us and once she’d corralled all 11 of us (turns out there had been 6 cancellations and 1 new booking since I’d bagged the “last place”) it was into taxis and through the busy streets of New Delhi to the Jaypee Siddharth hotel. A briefing from VP in the cafe/bar while rooms were sorted out and then some money changing (90INR : 1GBP). I’m sharing with J, the only other woman on the trip (cf 5 women when I’d booked). Took the taxi tour option for the afternoon – Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, India Gate, Government Buildings and Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple. Monsoon downpours limited what else we could do. Group dinner at the Mughal Mahal restaurant just down the road from the hotel.

Up early Sunday for our flight to Leh. All good. Taxis to the Hotel Glacier View, not far from the Kang Lha Chen where we’d stayed in 2016. Checked into our rooms and relaxed, acclimatising to the thinner air at 3,500m, until VP took us out for an afternoon orientation tour of the bazaar and old town. Thankfully not much has changed. Tea (and late lunch for some) at the Leh View rooftop restaurant overlooking the gilded roof of Leh Gompa. Leisurely afternoon, then buffet dinner at the hotel.

Leh’s night time audio entertainment comprises barking dogs and two 3.30am calls to prayer that segue into one another. Fighter jets optional.

The weather forecasts proved correct and it was as hot hotter in Abbey Dore on Monday as it is in Delhi. That’s nuts.

Another acclimatisation day, but a little more active – we drove to Shey to visit the old palace and temple, then walked across the valley to Tikse where VP gave us a guided tour of the gompa. Back to Shey for a late lunch then back to the hotel for a snooze and prelim kit bag pack, then a kit check (boots primarily) and trek briefing with VP out on the terrace.

Dinner out at another rooftop restaurant – Il Forno, overlooking the main road and entrance to the bazaar. I had pizza and banana lassi 🙂

That said, generally I’m finding I’m slow to acclimatise – headaches, no appetite, stuffy nose/head.

But other than that it’s so far, so good!

There will be some photos, once I’ve sorted through them.

TV: For All Mankind (finished season 2), Ted LassoThis Farming Life.

Photos: Herefordshire week 133 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-07-17.