Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 2 Lamayuru

Visit to Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa - 20th June '06

In the afternoon the Hotel Manager called a cab for us who agreed to take us around Leh, specifically to Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa. These were only a few kilometers away and so we reached quickly.

The Sleepy Day

Hotel Spic N Span sent a car to pick us up unexpectedly. We were received well at the hotel and managed to get a room on the 2nd floor which had good views of the mountains. The rooms were tidy and comfortable. Heater was available on request.

The manager advised us to not waste our energy in having a bath and sleep all day to acclimatize ourselves with the weather. And so we did. We slept only to wake up for lunch. The food in the hotel was good. We again slept off and woke up in the late afternoon.

View from the Hotel room

View of the Hotel Garden

View from the Hotel room

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

20th June - The breath taking flight !

The Delhi - Leh flight is supposed to be one the best to be on. We can tell you that it was! Breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountains. There were many ranges with snow clad peaks. The interesting views were of the melting snow moving between the mountains in the form of streams. On a number of peaks the snow was to be found only on the top and the rest had already melted. As you start from Delhi, you find clouds all under you till the time you entire the mountain ranges. If you are lucky (we were!), then the clouds clear as you enter the mountain ranges allowing you to enjoy the view.

We checked in on the internet a day before and got window seats for both of us! Its obvious, but make you sure you dont take the ones over the wings.

Photographs taken from the Delhi-Leh Flight.

We were wondering how the Jet airways plane is going to land in the middle of the mountains. It was the normal size boeing aircraft. Leh is the only low lying(comparatively) place in the middle of the mountains. Its also one of the few stretches of plain land. We saw the plane circle around a mountain and then enter the valley. There was so little time to approach the runway and land, or so we felt. We were relieved when we landed intact. The airport is nothing to speak about. The smallest I have seen. It consists of just the landing strip and parking space for 4 aircrafts and one baggage belt.

The Leh Airport

As soon as we got down breathing became heavy. Welcome to Leh at 11,500ft. The oxygen levels are supposed to be much lower than sea level and Acute mountain sickness can be quite troubling. We had to decide how do we make sure that we dont suffer from it!

Take off - 19th June 2006

We started from Bangalore by the 10:25 PM Jet airways flight from Bangalore to Delhi. The flight reached a few minutes late in Delhi a little after 1 AM. The flight to Leh from Delhi was at 5:30 in the morning. That meant we had to spent atleast 3.5 hours at the airport. We enquire and we were told that we can spent the time in the Jet primere Lounge. With a little difficulty we found the lounge and spent a few hours there.

Tickets, Hotel and all that!

We booked our tickets after doing research on all the options available. We used the Jet Airways online booking facility to book the tickets. I used my Jet privilege number and ended up getting a good deal on the web fares. The Bangalore - Delhi - Leh tickets cost us Rs 20K per head. This was the best fare I could manage across all airlines. The Delhi-Leh ticket alone costs Rs 15K for a return flight. Our next best option was costing Rs 22K per person where we had to fly a low cost airline upto Delhi. We actually flew Jet Airways all the way!

We booked ourselves in Hotel Spic N Span in Leh. I did the booking over phone from Bangalore and the fellow on the other side was quite friendly. He booked us for our entire duration of 8 days and agrreed to check us out for a day in the middle whenever we wanted to go on a trip and spend the night else where. He also agreed to arrange for taxis and permits that we might need to go to some of the places near the border. Sounded good. The hotel was a bit expensive by leh standards. Around Rs 2.5K per night. However, he agreed to give us the room on the top floor, which apparently had good views of the snow-clad peaks from the window.

The Ladakh trip

After thinking about where to go for almost 3 months we settled on going to Leh (in Ladakh) for our vacation after marriage. The search for the vacation venue started from Africa, went on to Thailand and then Malaysia. Finally we decided that in the month of June, the weather in South east asian destinations might not be too good. June is the best time to go to Leh ! And so Leh happened....