So on 8 February I flew 1 h from Srinagar to Leh, which was very nice. There Nawang picked me up and we thought to solve my communication problem immediately and buy a new SIM card. It’s really complicated in India with all these phone peculiarities. The SIM from the airport is switched off after 1 month of non-use and you need a new one on your next visit. But it doesn’t work in Kashmir and Ladakh because of the border area. You need a local to apply for another SIM. There is a phone provider called Jio, but they wouldn’t give Nawang one because he already has a Jio SIM. Airtel was a bit more willing, but told me to come back later. Then the nice office ladies would be my local contact. And no, in Delhi I would never have got this special SIM from the same company. And in the afternoon I finally had my own communication again. Now the exciting question: will this SIM work in Delhi and will I then have 2?
I had not been to Leh for four years. One thing I noticed immediately were the many road bollards to sort out the traffic. Now in winter there are not so many cars on the road, in summer it is supposed to be hell and the bollards might be useful.
I already knew that there were many new hotel buildings. But it is something else to see them. So many old buildings are being torn down, there are no more fields, everything is covered with houses.
What was the same: Leh has had a dog problem for a long time, i.e. far too many street dogs. But when they are still small, they just look too cute!
I felt pretty good on the first day – I was already a bit used to high altitudes due to Gulmarg and all-in-all. The next day, however, I was physically unwell. My stomach was no longer happy and I was too cold. My landlady had a device with which she measured my values. Indeed, no altitude problems. But I spent most of the day in bed. Maybe a bit much before the journey and in general.
My landlady is called Sonam Yangdol and Eva has been her guest for years. I only come sometimes. And Eva wanted to come the next day too! Together with the customers. However – miracle upon miracle – it snowed through the night. Everything white in the morning! The first big snow this winter! And all flights were cancelled except the one with Eva and the clients. It arrived about 4.5 hours late. But it came! One suitcase didn’t, because it had a power bank in it (but it arrived 2 days later). Somehow you always forget what belongs where and what is not allowed to come with you. Anyway, I received them all at the airport.
There is a huge new building at the airport, but it is not finished. Everything is paralyzed. Halfway through the construction, the local activist complained that the building was ecologically completely wrong and presented better plans. Now everything is to be rebuilt. But maybe the money has just run out or something else. In any case, the building is not going ahead for the time being.
By the way, it is cold here as usual, but we have a great wood stove in the room and lots of blankets and hot water bottles and the best landlady and so the winter time in Ladakh is great. The clients set off in search of snow leopards and wolves. I felt really good again and as Eva had to get used to the altitude anyway, the plan was to go to my local friend Dolma in Hemya the following day, which I did. I had quite a few experiences there – you’ll read about them in the next posts.