Tallo came to pick me up on his motorbike a little later today, around 9 am. We first went on a hike to Taw Tibe Farm, which involved climbing a hell of a lot of steps, but I am accustomed to uphill climbs by now. The farm itself is considered to be its own village, home to only two families.
I awoke well-rested and looking forward to exploring the town. I had known beforehand that Ziro is home to the Apatani tribe and was curious to see their way of life. My guide, a 26-year-old Apatani named Tallo, arrived promptly at 8 am and asked if I would prefer to walk or go by around by motorbike. I chose walking.
The Sumo ride to Ziro was a fun (and somewhat dangerous) one, which often seem to go hand-in-hand in my choice of recreational and holiday activities.
Including me, there were nine passengers packed into the vehicle. The driver looked like a punk kid, having an arm tattoo, spiky hair, and wearing a black wife beater. There were five young guys in the front and back seats combined, and four women (including me) in the middle seats. After strapping our luggage to the roof, we pulled out of Naharlagun and began the winding, bumpy ride. This punk kid surprised me—he expertly maneuvered the uneven road boobytrapped with numerous craters, as well as the oncoming Sumos that appeared out of nowhere around the sharp corners.
On May 12th, I set out for Leh airport from my guesthouse at 7 am to catch my morning flight to Guwahati. I had booked my AirBnB accommodations literally ten minutes before leaving, just barely managing it with the in-and-out wifi signal. I know by now that I prefer to have my accommodations booked before I set foot in a new place, at least for the first night. It saves time, energy, and potential stress, especially in a chaotic, big city like Guwahati. The guesthouse I chose (Shimzun Guest House) is owned by Chihan, who lives with his sister and nephew in a separate apartment downstairs (with some communal areas). He was happy to have me stay with them despite booking at the last minute.
Today is Day 4 of the trek, and the most difficult thus far. First of all, it’s IDGAF-level cold both inside and outside. “Achoochoo” is my layman’s interpretation of how to express “really damn cold” in Ladakhi (ok, the ‘damn’ is my insertion, and yes, it’s pronounced like the sound effect for a sneeze). The top priority now is to stay warm. The good thing about cold, dry weather is that the consequence of not showering for x number of days is slowed down. Continue reading
Since I last wrote in this blog in 2014, a hell of a lot has happened, for better and for worse (but mostly for the better). A few of these events I could have imagined, but others I could never have predicted.
Travelling to Thailand for two and a half months in 2014, following the death of my father, was my first flirtation with rebellion and adventure. I did not outright quit my PhD program in chemistry—I initially took a four-month leave of absence in order to maintain a safety net. Still, in my mind, I was finally channeling my inner badass, a formerly dilligent graduate student gone rogue. I temporarily detoured from academia in the hope of gaining a renewed vitality in being estranged from my normal way of life.
Today consisted of 6-7 hours of trekking through Markha Valley, which sits at an altitude of 3770 m, a bit higher than Leh. It was cloudy and windy for most of the day, with brief periods of snow (which promptly melted).
I didn’t feel great during the trek and ended up with a headache towards the end, which I assume had to do with the slightly higher altitude. Luckily, after some ibuprofen and hot chai, it disappeared.