23 July – We came to walk, but I had the runs

Sure enough, resting was good advice.  That 250m walk to the hotel and climb to the third story has really winded me in this altitude.  With the lost sleep because of flights, we appreciated the nap that was only broken for a quick lunch and dinner on the rooftop before it turned into our night’s sleep as well.  I cannot say that sleep was tremendously restful as even laying in bed took our breath away.  Every time I started to nod off, I had the feeling that I was not getting enough air.  That is worrying for a claustrophobic like me. 

A bigger problem though was that when I woke up this morning, I had a bad case of diarrhea.  That should not be too much of a surprise after eating in Delhi the day before yesterday but I had to get that fixed quickly.  I was reminded of the altitude acclimation problem though when I went to put on my shoes to walk to the owner’s office.  Dang, I had to rest after tying each shoe!  At any rate, the owner told me that the normal hotel doctor was in the Nubra Valley, waiting to see the Dalai Lama – just like we were planning to do.  The second option he suggested was to go to the local hospital to see a doctor.  After a nice 2km trek (squeezing my butt the whole way), I got to the registration desk of a small one-story building.  It would take me Rs2 (about US$0.05) to get registered.  I only had Rp100 notes so they waved me through without paying, explaining it was too hard to give me change.  I tried to say “keep the change” but there was a big “no bribery for faster service” sign next to the desk and they told me to go to room 14.  I waited there for about 30 minutes before my turn to go in to see the doctor.  Once inside his room, there were also about six assistants and two other patients.  The assembly line of blood pressure, pulse and temperature takers went smoothly and the doctor gave me my prescription.  I next headed for the dispensary and got half the medicine I was prescribed.  They explained that I needed to buy the rest in a chemist shop (drug store).  Huh?  It turns out that I never needed to see the doctor after all.  The chemist can dispense any drugs or antibiotics as long as you can tell him what you are suffering from.  After the dispensary, I went back to the registration desk and asked for my bill.  After initial confusion, they explained that the Rs2 covered not only the registration but also the doctor visit and medicine.  Wow.  I felt bad so I gave them the Rs100 note and asked them to let the next 49 patients in for free.  It’s easy to be generous when it only costs you US$2. 

The rest of the day was spent resting, reading and taking photographs on the rooftop restaurant.  We did also manage a small slow walk over to and up the main road to town.  It was embarrassing having 80 year old woman practically sprinting past us.  At the hotel, another guest was a German woman, Annemarie.  She had started a trek but she got altitude sickness and had to return to the hotel.  Her husband had continued on so she was bored out of her mind, sitting on the hotel roof, reading all day.  Hopefully, neither Melanie nor I will suffer the same fate when we do our trek.  Luckily, we have more than two weeks to acclimate before walking.

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