That dream road-trip to the heaven up North, Leh-Ladakh is on everyone's bucket list. We remember our time when we were so full of excitement, anxiety, happiness, nervousness, and some more emotions, all at the same time. It wouldn't be any different for you'll too. So, tickets booked, reservations made, bags packed, itinerary sorted, now what? Well, what we thought we could share with you'll are some of the incredible experiences we had on this life-changing trip and think you shouldn't miss them at any cost. So grab a notepad and take notes!
1. Having butterflies on the twisting, turning, edgy roads
This is one experience you are bound to have without even trying for it! The roads are crazy, and all types of crazy. Crazy good, crazy beautiful, crazy dangerous, crazy narrow, crazy edged and the list goes on. The first day we thought we are going to have a heart attack! Lol! But the best part, you get used to it and how. We are sure we are never going to get motion sickness for life, after being on these roads. Also, those quirky signs that BRO (Border Road Organization) has put up, make for a hilarious read every now and then.
2. Spotting Himalayan Marmots on your way to Pangong Lake
Marmots are giant squirrels that you may spot exclusively on the road from Leh to Pangong Tso. They are these fuzzy little cuties you wouldn't want to miss out on seeing. We were so lucky to have spotted these. Do note, they are from the squirrel family, so they are extremely quick and can hide in their burrows in no time. You need to have a keen eye and a soft foot if you wish you capture one of these in your camera frame.
3. Being in awe of our Indian Army Heroes by visiting the Kargil War Memorial
We can't even begin to explain the goosebumps and the sense of patriotism we felt at this sacred haven. The Kargil War memorial is built in honour of our war heroes who laid their precious lives in the Indo-Pak war. You must also watch the documentary they showcase. We were in tears and just so proud and humbled. It's an experience of a lifetime. You could get some souvenirs and also send yourself a postcard from here.
4. Including Turtuk in your itinerary
So we had been going through tons of itinerary's for over a year to make ourselves the perfect one for our trip. I'm sure you must have done almost the same. We had hardly ever come across any itinerary which included Turtuk- the last Indian village, in it. But all thanks to our dear friend and tour host Stallon, we got to visit, know, and live this magical place. A place we can never ever, ever forget. So trust us on this, and get it on your itinerary too.
5. Making memories at the three highest motorable roads
Duh! Obviously. I mean it's not every day that you will be road-tripping the highest motorable roads in the world, right? So there will come a time (it happened with us) that you will just give up on taking pictures and just look out of the window and take it all in as you travel. This will happen because every inch is beautiful and you just can't keep clicking. But do keep in mind to get back some memories of these three points. Our best memory was at Changla Pass, where we experienced snowfall for the very first time in our lives!
6. Understanding the locals and their ways of living
Locals here have been living in these rough terrains for years and have made a living from such limited resources. There is so much to learn from them. We need to be grateful for the lives we live where most things are available to us. While chatting with this old uncle Mashooq, he told us how he used his only tool, the hand-weaver and has made a living for himself and his family making clothes out of camel skin for years now. When asked about the hardships he faced, he just said no there are none and greeted us 'Julley' in a happy tone, as we took his leave.
7. Staying with the locals & experiencing the joy of giving
The locals here live a very content life. They never expect anything extra from you. In fact, they open their hearts and do more than just renting you their homes. They make you feel like family. What can you do in return? Just give them the love and respect they deserve, keep their places and surroundings clean, and if possible carry some books, pencils, crayons for the kids there. We did it and they were so happy. One of them came to us with his new book and pencil and showed us how he had learned to write his name. That joy was priceless.
8. Slurping on steaming Maggie at those low temperatures & trying Ladakhi cuisine
We know you would say, this is highly exaggerated and blah. We thought the same and were proved totally wrong. We had our first bowl of Maggie at a cafe at the Khardungla top - the highest motorable road in the world. The temperature here was icy cold and the breeze could blow you away. That bowl of Maggie warmed us inside out. It became our comfort food then, and going forward, every now and then. We also tried the traditional Thukpa, Thentuk, Lamb soup & Momos in Leh.
9. Spending at least one night at a campsite
Yes, please do at least one camp-night on your road-trip. We stayed at one in Jispa, on the way to Manali from Leh. It was a pleasant surprise as we didn't know we were going to stay at the camp. At first, we were confused and not sure, but it was quite a highlight of our trip. The temperature dipped to almost 3 degrees at night. We had a campfire and gulped down rum to keep ourselves warm. We slept to the sound of the Bhaga river flowing nearby. What a life!
10. Buying souvenirs from the Leh market
Of course, you have a list by now of how many flags you gonna get back or how many fridge magnets and t-shirts you need to buy. Well, you will get everything in the many Tibetan markets across Leh's main centre. The place is always buzzing with so many petit shops selling everything right from a woven sock to a nice biker jacket. Your checklist should include flags, fridge magnets, dream catchers, wind chimes, and the t-shirts that read - I got Leh'd. ;)
That's it. We really think these are the top 10 amazing experiences you can't miss on your trip to Leh-Ladakh. We hope you enjoy all these and many more when you go on this ultimate road trip. Let us know if these experiences were enjoyable. Also, send in any new ones that you may come across. Go now, you have been inducted well!
Ja <enter_your_name> Ja, Jeele Apni Zindagi!