Kargil is a little town, it might have been the capital of Baltistan if this mountainous area would not be part of Pakistan these days, with kargil remaining in india. Leaving the decadently green and lovely mountain valleys of the Kashmir region, we came again through rather rough and brownish mountains and had to spend the night in Kargil because the streets here are in no shape to be mastered at night (also the vistas are definitely too impressive to be missed!). Kargil is predominantly muslim, oriented along the Iranian version of islam, it has a imam khomeini bus station, a imam khomeini main square and pictures of the imam in shop windows and everywhere else. I think the imam is not that beloved even at home.
our temporarly found indian travel companions (like us, they tried to find transport out of srinagar, and with their help we actually made it – and the obstacle was not public unrest, curfew and the like, but the spontaneous policy of the transport authority) they mentioned a museum and as we had some hours, we went. a silkroad museum it was, connecting Kargil with our days in usbekistan, featuring a pipe of tsar nikolaus II and several embroideries from the other ‘stans’. the next day, after very few hours of sleep in a really run down hostel, we got on a bus by 4.30 and stepped out of it again by 9 in the morning, in the wonderful little monastery village of lamayuru.
our first buddhist village – what a culture clash for us. here there are women on the street and they even say hello (or rather ‘julley!’ what seems to have a whole range of meanings like ‘hello, thank you, have a good day, etc’). we stayed in the home of a lovely women, who cooked for us and even heated some water, so we could wash with a bucket – we are completely used to this rather old style showering method in the meantime. she was a lot of fun, we had the feeling of living her family, if only for a day.
and then we got to leh, details on our stay here, which should include some monastery visits, maybe some meditation period and at least two 5000m peaks will follow. the altitude is quite a challenge, no fast movements etc. one can imagine that meditation was invented here.