Zanskar-Ladakh travelogue, 2000

The Road less travelled... to Dzongkul Gompa

My ankles were completely destroyed by my expensive "Scarpa" boots, so I had to wear sandals instead. Actually I would recommend sandals for trekking in Ladakh during the summer, as long as you are not going up above approximately 5500 meter.

Two eagles.




These children spotted me from a mile away (I think they were washing in the river) and started to run toward me screaming for "pen" and "sweet".

I had brought enough "sweet" to not let down their cargo cult expectations
 of the usual western tourist venturing out to meet the locals.

       

It was just after Sani, where there is a gompa which one of the above Lamas once headed, that I met the party which you can see below. They wanted to talk to me, but as my Ladakhi didn't go much farther than "juley" I resorted to using sign language.

I had bought a book in New Delhi called "The yogins of Ladakh", published by Motilal Banarsidass, detailing two English guys quest for meeting the kind of Lamas we know from Tintin in Tibet,  who are flying around in the clouds now and then to get supplies for their life in a small hut or cave. Anyway, it's a nice book if you are going to Zanskar or Ladakh (most of the book is about Zanskar actually), and have some interest in Buddhism and the mysticism of some of the sects.

The point is that I showed the book to the old nun, who was the most interested in talking to me. The others simply looking at me. When she saw the pictures of the two saints above she almost went into a trance.  I took pictures of the book, and tore out the pages for her, for which she was very happy. She then proceeded to read my mind or tell my fortune or something like that, but of course I didn't understand too much of it all. And the nun got tired of trying to communicate with me. Probably because she did read my mind!

 Could the two small fellows be reincarnations of saints?

When the a cloud suddenly blocks the sun it becomes freezing cold!

In Padum I had been told that it would be around 2 hours to reach Dzongkul.
It took me about 6 hours, and that was as fast as I could possibly go. I went by a motorable road, and there may be a walking trail that is faster. Still, you may often have to add a few hours to local walking advice, just in case!



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