Monday, May 16, 2011

Epilogue

{Ladakh}















You didn't think we just up and left India like that, whiz-bang, did you? Heavens, no. The ATM sighed as we withdrew one last precious, meager wad of rupees and booked two tickets north to eastern Kashmir, to the mostly-Buddhist region known as Ladakh. Not thaaat far from Pakistan. Not thaaat far from Afghanistan. Very much not thaaat far from Tibet. But pretty damn far from just about everyplace else. Ladakh. The unclaimable, untamable mountain desert at the top of the world. Where 15th-century monasteries still tower from their cliffside perches like stone sentinels keeping watch over Time, Humanity. Where Indus Valley apricot orchards erupt in fuzzy bloom this time of year, and higher yet, up in the glaciers of the Himalaya, the last surviving snow leopards patrol for game.

Ladakh. Where one stumbles out of the tiny Leh airport at 11,000 feet out of breath from Thin Air, out of breath from Staggering Beauty.

Ladakh. Heaven on earth. Shangri-la.

24 comments:

  1. P.S. Our amazing wildlife biologist friends went to Ladakh this winter and actually SAW a snow leopard. I'd be remiss not to link to their wonderful account of the whole experience: http://a-year-in-india.blogspot.com/2011/04/in-search-of-snow-leopard.html

    SNOW LEOPARDS, people. Snow leopards.

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  2. ooooh! i'm planning on heading north to Ladakh next month - if i can make the journey (which i've read is not the easiest with all the acclimatization one needs..) love the pictures and glad your india posts are not quite done yet :)

    p.s. i spent the entire weekend reading all of your posts back until last august...it was hot out and was the perfect reading material for sitting in front of my AC ;)

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  3. i love this post...it's heartwarming in some sappy - it was nice knowing you - kind of way. i admire your love for India - especially because it comes from a genuine place - you truly took the time to know India - you didn't just live it up - you experienced it in all it's glory whether that be it's glorious colors and foods or it's stomach bugs and heat - you lived it. i hope i'd be so brave.

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  4. Terrific photos- what an inspiration this whole journey of yours has been!I am off to visit the snow leopards site- yay!

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  5. Incredible. How long will you be there? For work or just fun?

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  6. sigh all of this has been a dream, a wonderul dream

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  7. sky leopards! brilliant.
    perfect end/perfect beginning.

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  8. Kay- stay with Joshi's family at Padma guest house in Leh, acclimatize to the altitude for a few days, then drive over the pass to the village of Hundar, and stay with Northern's family at Organic Camp. In a tent. And eat their apricots. Heaven.

    Olivs- funny, I've had your pictures from The Farm in my head all week, thinking the same thing.

    Misie- glad you gleaned that it wasn't all Fun & Adventure All the Time; this place really sucked the life and humanity out of me at moments, but yes, still, it's been glorious.

    Annamaria- my friend James also posted about tracking the uber-rare snow leopard here: http://newenvironmentality.blogspot.com/2011/04/truly-unbelievable-snow-leopard.html

    Jen- we've finished our "work" in India, so this is just a honeymoon trip of sorts for a week+, then back to Real Life, whatever that may be. I would LOVE to come back to Ladakh in Sept/Oct (ripe apricots! Heavenly weather!) for a motorcycle trip...

    OSW- you're a dream, darling. About to go catch up and see how the move went.

    Liz- I think you meant snow leopard, but sky leopard is brilliant. Ima call them sky leopards from now on.

    Hollie- I rarely say this about India, but yes, it was just about perfect.

    ESB- skyyyyyy for miiiiiiiiles.

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  9. Oh. How beautiful!

    Bye bye, India. I'm going to miss experiencing you through the loveliest words and eyes.

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  10. These photos are breathtaking!!!! Lily, they are absolutely gorgeous. And, yes when you return come to SF we will grab Blue Bottle, maybe go camping, and adventure. XO!!!

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  11. this is the best of all the endings. It's like a movie. You are in a place I wanted to visit all my life. I know I've been saying this about India all this time, but actually ladakh is at number one, and it's been ever since I was 19. I love all these pictures. Thank you.

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  12. Well now I'm just even more jealous.

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  13. i wish you had a little blog button that i could embed on the side of my blog!

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  14. gorgeous pictures of a breathtaking (literally) place.
    thanks for the vicarious travels, Lily!
    xoxnic

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  15. Lily, have you left India? BUMMER! I'll miss you guys! Thanks for the snow leopard shout-out.

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  16. great pictures, ladakh must be simply amazing! just found you via your guest blog at the desert fete (which is graet, by the way) - so happy to follow your adventures from now on!!

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  17. oh my sister...i am SO happy you went up there...we went at the end of our trip too! If you can go to Likir, go...say hi to Norbu (who runs the guesthouse there) he is a temple painter and you can see and talk about incredible things with him...
    i cannot wait to hear more...lovelovelove,
    deb

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  18. Lovely lovely photos!! Do you use a canon?

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  19. Lily, you just always simply write so vividly. Are you home for Summer, has it been a year already??? We must meet, sip coffee, chat, eat, relax, find trouble, good trouble. Sending you much love!

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  20. How lucky! I spent three months travelling through northern India and never made it this far north. I can't believe that I stumbled on your blog at the end of your journey through India! It has been a pleasure seeing all the familiar and now nostalgic sites. Prepare for some re-adjusting when you get back state-side. The first thing I did? My first ever burger from Burger King and it was aaaawsome.

    BY the way- do all of your rickshaw drivers say "achaa!" all the time? It started popping in my vocab by the end.

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  21. Now you're in Ladakh I'm so envious I'm having difficulty breathing. You'd almost think I was there... Despite the physical trauma, I've loved following your travels - thank you.

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