June 3, 2009:

Acclimatization Day in Leh
Slept in until around 8 am and then had breakfast at the hotel. They did a good job with it. I
had oatmeal and scrambled eggs with lots of tea. Around 9 am, the four of us, i.e. Kim,
Graham, Marc and I went to sightsee. At first we went through some nice parts of Leh to the
Sankar Gompa which sits in a nice courtyard. This courtyard is surrounded by several large
chortens. Sankar Gompa belongs to the Gelugpa Sect and its main statue in the Dukhang is
one of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa.
After leaving Sankar, we headed back toward Leh, but then made a left turn to the backside
of Namgyal peak. Here on the backside there are many chortens and what looks like
graves. We went up Namgyal Peak on a relatively steep trail, of course, Graham had to take
the direct route....and then he was tired!
From the top of the trail to Namgyal Peak we had a great view of Leh and of the old
crumbling fort on top of the peak. Besides the fort, there are also two temples up on the
peak, the Gonkhang and the Maitreya Temple. Unfortunately they were both closed but also
looked like they were in quite some disrepair. We sat at a balcony in front of the Gonkhang
Temple for a while enjoying the views and hoping that no earthquake would throw us off.
Then we hiked down the steep trail from Namgyal peak
towards the Palace. Around the Palace are several more
gompas and we visited the Chamba Lhakhang and its
imposing Maitreya Statue.
Kim and Graham were ready for food so we went down into town and had lunch at the Ibex
restaurant. After lunch, Marc and I headed back up to the Palace whereas Graham went
shopping and Kim looked for an internet cafe. At the Palace, which was built in the early
17th century, Marc and I bought tickets and we went in. This towering nine-story Palace
dominates Leh. Although there is really nothing to see in there, it was cool to walk through
many of the rooms and make our way up to the roof. From here we had spectacular views
of Leh and its surroundings.
It was late afternoon until we were back at
our hotel. As the night before, we met at 7:30
for dinner. This time we went to a Tibetan
Restaurant. Food here was also good, but not
as good as at the Ibex. Marc did not feel well.
He thought he was dehydrated and drank
plenty of water while Kim, Lakpa and I filled
up on beer.
Stok Kangri