20 August – Mud, monks & monasteries

From a Facebook message to family:

We went sightseeing today at the Hemis Monastery.  Good timing for us as just when we arrived, all of the monks came out and lined up along the front entrance.  We were very impressed until we found out they were not there for us. The head Rinpoche of the Drukpa lineage of Buddhism was arriving.  It turns out that like all big shots he was two hours late but it gave us good opportunities for photos.  Of course, Ladakh is a small place and another friend we met earlier in the trip was acting as the driver for the Rinpoche.  Yesterday while we were shoveling mud in the south Leh house, a woman called out to us from the road.  It turned out that this guy’s wife was working nearby and was just walking down the back lane we were on to get water cans filled.

The sad part of the day was driving through Chonglamsar village as we went back to Leh.  We had been through this town just south of Leh several times and it is a Tibetan enclave.  Most of the people living there are refugees from Tibet or second generation immigrants. The normal main street through the village is as two lane road bordered by shop houses.  Today, two weeks after the flood, the road through is barely a single lane bordered the whole length on both sides by 2 1/2 meter mountains of mud.  You can just see the wreckage of the tops of the shops from high up in the jeep.  Some buildings looked still intact but others were a mess.  The amount of mud that travelled several kilometers to bury this town is mind-boggling.  We also stopped to take some photos of the devastation near the Leh hospital. 

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