How do you sum up a year which has changed the course of your life? A year in which I experienced innumerable acts of kindness throughout my own country as well as in India and Nepal. A year throughout which I also learned the daily hardships of many women in our world who live in oppressively patriarchal societies . A year which involved cycling over the highest passes in the world, trekking in some of the most isolated regions, and camping for weeks on end beneath the stars in the middle of the Himalayas. A year during which I was invited in by families in every country I visited to eat with them, sleep with them, and live, if only for a day or a week, as they do.
“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”
Just before reaching the pass that would officially bring us into the Zanskar valley we encountered two Indian motorcyclists who had just come from farther ahead. They flagged us down to explain that the pass had been impossible for them to complete as there was no road. Not a bad road, or a washed out road, simply, no road. And on top of that, there was new snowfall (unsurprising as farther below we had experienced over twelve hours straight of rain) and apparently a river (or part of the non road) which would have water up to our waists due to the extensive snow melt. So, after spending one last night surrounded by beautiful mountains over 7,000m, we decided to cycle out and towards Leh in order to return a few weeks later for a twenty day trans Himalayan trek through the Zanskar valley.
“Because from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty – everything happens because of ignorance.”
Cycling through Suru valley was wonderful as I mentioned in my last post, but one unfortunate factor, something I have talked about before as it has followed me through India and Nepal, started to ruin it for me.
“What we all want in life is to travel, fall in love, and be happy.”
Halfway between Srinagar and Leh we decided to take a 250km detour down to Padum which is situated in the very cold and isolated Tibetan area of Zanskar Valley. First though, we had to traverse Suru Valley which is a lush green area with high snow covered peaks in the distance. The inhabitants are Tibeto-Dard meaning they are of both Chinese and Pakistani (and Afghani) descent. Though the region use to be Buddhist like its neighbor Zanskar, the inhabitants converted to Islam during the 16th century so mosques and headscarfs were in abundance.