Zanskar-Ladakh travelogue, 2000

Starting from Darcha

Why start from Darcha, why not from somewhere else?
Well, when you come to Darcha, and have decided to stay there for the night to acclimatise, that's what you ask yourself. I felt like moving on as soon as possible!

Indian tourism-frontier cowboys.
If you don't come to these guys they will come to you! You may have tasted better food in your life, but this restaurant, part of the trek-n-travel agency outfit, is (was in 2000) the only restaurant in Darcha. The cowboys will offer to hook you up with guide and/or horsemen, but you could easily negotiate a
deal yourself; try looking in the campground behind the first row of houses, where you'll probably be camping yourself as well.

A band of horsemen waiting to be hired by a new team of trekkers.
They are usually local enterprising Zanskaris doing this as a lucrative summertime job; not that they get rich  off this business, it may be their only money income. Unlike in Nepal there are no porters in Zanskar, all transportation in the mountains is done by horseback. While there are yak breeds (dzopkios) in Zanskar, I didn't see any yaks being used for transportation.

As I'd experience later on, the horsemen often don't get treated well. And some trekkers expect them to work 24 hours a day  for the meager pay they receive. While I donīt think it's necessary to pay these people a higher rate than the "market" (they won't expect that either) it is imperative to treat them like fellow human beings.

You feel sorry for Western civilization (to quote Mr Gandhi "that would be a good idea"), or maybe rather just for "common sense", when you see western tourists fighting with the local Indians over amounts of money that none of the tourists would care about back home.

Nepali roadworkers.
 The Nepali immigrant workers are seemingly not very well liked in Zanskar. I heard quite a few stories accusing these Nepalis of everything from murder, robberies, violent assault and drug smuggling  (as well as gambling and drinking - very grave indeed). While some of it is probably largely crap and gossip, I am sure you have to be a roughneck for this kind of job.

There are a lot of Nepalis abroad due to the enormously high rates of unemployment in that country. You'll meet Nepalis everywhere in the hotels and guesthouses, probably usually working for lower wages than Indians would.



Zanskar 3-stars.
This is the first shack you encounter after you leave Darcha (2000). It's a 'teahouse' and restaurant, believe it or not, and there is a camping ground outside; it's the logical place to stop if you want to divide the trek from Darcha to Zanskar Sumdo into two days, which is probably the wiser option. (I slept there the first night after Darcha!) 

Go back or continue trekking.