Yes. It has been calling out to me for a while. Since a friend's motorcycle trip couple of years back. Since my trip to Sikkim. Since my realization, life is too dynamic and anything can happen waiting for another opportunity. Since I read Pico Iyes's "Heaven's Gate" on the NY Times travel magazine. And when a close friend from undergrad and a colleague signed up, it was a definite sign. We were going to Ladakh this summer. :)
I have been waiting to blog about the upcoming trip, since it was more or less decided. But you know the thing about counting-chickens-before-they-hatch. However, last week, we finally made the formal "commitment" and booked our flight tickets into Leh and back! I can't wait - fifteen days just to revel in, soak in and take in the mountains.
In the book, 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', the author explains why he does not like road trips in a car. I can not recollect his exact words. But in essence he says, being in a car, you are in someways disconnected from the environment you are in. You are an outsider watching the landscapes, while not being a part of it yourself. I feel exactly the same way (though I know a lot of people who are road trip crazy won't agree to this). And so I hope, (dearly hope) to see the mountains as much by foot.
On the other hand, trekking the place also means I cover lesser area, lesser places in the same time. Already I have people asking me "You aren't doing the Leh-Manali route? But you have to! It is one of the best roads ever". Or, "You have to go to Nubra or .....". While they say it with good intentions, and are probably right about those places, I wish people understood that at some level, every trip is different, and every traveller different. For some, it is to see all that they can see. For some, it is to see one thing but see it well. Sometimes, you are lucky, and you do a bit of both. Sometimes, you take the chance to see a not-so-talked-about place, but are unlucky, and end up spending time in a place you didn't like. Some like long sumo journeys, some don't. Some are budget travellers, doesn't matter what their bank balance. Some are the luxury travellers, doesn't matter what their bank balance. And sometimes, you are simply good with your travel research and have your reasons for what you chose to do. (:))
It's hard enough, that when you plan a trip, it is more easy to find tons of places people praise about, rather than find places people honestly say they didn't vibe with or didn't care about. So, even as you research and sternly tell yourself, you want to do quality vs. quantity, somehow the quantity bit keeps popping up in your head urging you to squeeze more in that you can. And then, if I were honest with myself, there is that need to bring back badges, stories and adventures. I already find myself lured into places simply because that guide book says "From here you can see the mighty peaks of the Karakoram", just so I can bring back names and moments others can ooh aah to.
When I started on the "research" for this trip, I called up Mridula, travel blogger and honorary advisor (:)) for her insights. I asked her "There seems to be so many regions to go to, and each raved as very beautiful and seems to fall in the cannot-miss category. Can you order them in your opinion which is the best, most beautiful to go to?". She said, "Each and every part of Ladakh is beautiful. It won't matter. Don't worry, you are just going to love it." I loved her answer.
Anyway, I hope to keep both above-mentioned urges at bay, and do what I really really really want to do - take our time, and trek the mountains. It doesn't matter if the trail chosen is a disappointment or if it is plain regular. And with time to spare, we may ultimately do the road trips too!
If you are wondering, all the "I"s in the post, and where is the "we", well, this is what I want to do ideally... But, won't know until it all unfolds!