Thursday, August 02, 2007

The desert in the sky

Jammu & Kashmir is an amalgam of 3 contrasting regions: Buddhist Ladakh, Muslim Kashmir & Hindu Jammu. Since it lies in India's most troubled region, the military presence is very strong here. Permits are required to go virtually everywhere due to the pressures with neighboring Pakistan, Tibet and China.

Nature is not very generous here. My lungs have been working overtime for days. Ladakh, besides being one of India's most culturally diverse areas, is also a very precious ecosystem with altitudes of nearly 20,000 feet. In short, it is literally a desert in the sky.

As the red blood cells increase and the signs of altitude decrease, I am feeling quite cosy in this remote Himalayan region. My secret recipe for altitude is - at least 3 liters of water per day, multi-vitamins, Omega-3, light high carbohydrate meals, 320mg's of aspirin every 8 hours for the first 48 hours. Fortunately, I've always had great luck with altitude and feel like I could run sprint up Mount Tamalpais at this point.

As I have been hitting the lesser known roads here, I am finding a stark combination of absolute wonder and incredibly harsh climates (I've seen more than a few bite the dust from the altitude). It's one of those places that you can get sun stroke & frost bite in the same sentence. Still, the people are amazing and worth every hassle that this desert in the sky throws my way.

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