“Despite being born in a cold country such as Finland, I had imagined that the worst thing about Ladakh would be the cold weather. But fortunately, weather was not the worst thing. Actually I barely thought about the cold weather, except on some nights when I couldn’t feel my feet despite sleeping under four blankets. When there are many amazing things around then it seems trivial to focus on the bad things. And there were a lot of amazing things to see in Leh and around Ladakh.
After a month-long stay in Ladakh, I have experienced the astounding beauty of Nubra Valley, the view from the top of the Khardung La pass, beautiful monasteries, the changing colour of the leaves of apricot trees in autumn as well as indulging in dried apricots, nuts and jam almost every day. And let’s not forget the magnificent view of a never-ending stretch of mountains from the windows of the Delhi-Leh flight. These things made me want to extend my stay in Leh for more than a month. We also experienced warm hospitality from the people of Ladakh. It is the kind of hospitality that makes you want to have another cup of butter tea even though you might not savour the taste of the salt tea. But you still drink it looking at the nice smile on the face of the person who is waiting to serve you.
We also had the opportunity to visit LEDeG for a week and understand the work they do. The time of our visit was perfect since it coincided with the Serga Clay Festival which LEDeG was organising at Charasa in Nubra valley. It was good to see the entire village coming together for preparation of the event as well as participating with full fervour in the festival.
We also learned about the other activities carried out in the region by LEDeG. The organisation works for improving the central part of Leh by keeping it clean and also by promoting pedestrianisation. They also work to ensure clean and safe groundwater for the locals. Learning about the work done by LEDeG for the environment in the region was an eye opener for me. There are people like me who come to Ladakh for a visit and expect flush toilets and long and warm showers which is causing a negative effect on the environment. After that, I was more aware of my water consumption and also made conscious efforts to cut it down. With the increase in footfall of tourists, it is important to adapt tourist activities according to requirement of the region and I am happy to see that LEDeG is working in that aspect.
Before my arrival in Leh, I felt that spending a month in such a cold place would be very demanding. My plan was not to come to India to experience cold. But once my stay in Ladakh came to an end, I wished that I could have extended my stay in Leh. My stay was filled with great experiences and I savoured tasty local food and met nice people. In the end, saying good-bye turned out to be the toughest thing.
Jullay and see you again Ladakh!”
Charlotte Winberg Networking intern, Future Earth, visited Leh in October 2018