June 2, 2009:

Flight from Delhi to Leh
Around 4 am we got up. Rajesh and Sonka brought us to the airport. But at first, we picked
up our travel companion Graham who stayed at the Imperial Hotel. At the new domestic
airport, check-in was pretty fast but what went on my nerves was the constant passport
check, probably 4-5 times until we boarded the plane. We flew Kingfisher Airline, an airline I
never heard of before but who apparantly gets good reviews. The plane was a little
delayed, but we took off around 6:30 am. Once we got out of the Delhi haze, there were
great views of the Himalaya Range over which we flew.
The flight took about 1 hour. Leh is located at an altitude of 3,500 m and we could feel the
altitude immediately. Once out of the plane, more paperwork to fill out and another
swineflu questionnaire. We finally were able to grab our bags and met Kim who was
waiting outside the terminal for us, her "babies" for the next 4 weeks.

The drive to our hotel took only a few minutes. We were staying at the Shynam Hotel
which was probably a 10 minute walk from the center of Leh. Marc and I got a 2 bed room,
pretty clean. We had a snack and a couple of cups of tea and then explored Leh for a while.
Kim showed us some of the main sights of Leh and got us oriented. Then we had lunch at a
rooftop restaurant. I immediately thought that this was not the cleanest place I ever ate at
but I ordered some spaghetti with tomato sauce. There were raw tomatoe slices around the
spaghetti and after I ate them I thought that this was a bad idea, but too late. Sure enough, I
picked up bacterial diarrhea in Leh (which unfolded its full terror on me a couple of nights
later) and I thought it was from this meal.
After lunch, Graham wanted to go back to the hotel and take it easy. Marc and I proclaimed
ourselves ready for more sightseeing and Kim took us up to the Shanti Stupa, or Peace
Pagoda, which is high above Leh. This was a good acclimatization hike and there were
superb views of Leh and the Indus Valley.
We got back to the hotel around 4 pm and I had an urgent bathroomvisit without knowing
yet how bad it would get a day or so later. We had dinner at the Ibex restaurant. Lakpa, our
Sherpa Guide, joined us as well and we were allowed by Kim to have a couple of beers.
Went to bed around 9:30 pm or so and did not sleep too good. Small bed, altitude and
frickin' barking dogs. Marc, of course, slept like a baby!
Hotel Shynam