29 October 2014

On the road from Manali to Leh

The second day of the journey from Manali to Leh took us through hour after hour of landscapes like this, where I felt almost as if I'd returned to Mongolia.

Now it seems so long ago.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

24 October 2014

Poplars at Leh

At Leh, I used to sit on the upstairs patio, watching the sky and the way the poplars bent and swayed in the wind, listening to the azan and the rustle of leaves, and I wished to be nowhere else. When I returned to recuperate after serious illness, the leaves had begun to yellow and fall, but the sound remained.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

21 October 2014

Failed portrait; Old Town, Leh

I'd walked past this man many times, greeting him with a 'Julley,' to which he always responded with a great smile and nod of the head, and often a 'Julley' also. I'd even inspected some of his motley collection of wares but had finally declined to buy anything after finding one of his bracelets emblazoned with 'aloha', which I assume is not a Ladakhi word. He seemed unperturbed; in fact, he seemed delighted I'd even bothered to stop and take a look.

We continued to greet each other with smiles and Julleys, and on my last day in Leh I asked if I might photograph him. He beamed and nodded and the moment I turned the camera towards him he stopped smiling. I couldn't get him to smile in any of the series of photographs, but as soon as I'd finished and thanked him, that wonderful smile returned. This is why I consider this a failure as a portrait -- it might look O.K. but it doesn't express the personality I encountered.

I'm now back in the Pohangina valley after a very long and tiring journey. Recovering my strength will take some time, but otherwise I'm fine.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

15 October 2014

Last days in Leh

I've spent the last several days continuing my recovery in Leh. It's quieter here now, with far fewer visitors; the days are cool, sometimes cold, the air crisp and clean. Autumn's well underway and the light and colours in the evenings are simply beautiful. 

Tomorrow I fly to Delhi; shortly after midnight I'll check in for my long journey back to New Zealand.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

09 October 2014

Ponies on the Annapurna trail

A typical scene along the trail to Annapurna Base Camp. Sadly, a jeep track has been bulldozed all the way to Landruk, the first day's destination, and although it's often impassable because of slips, the feeling of achievement of the first day's walk is now tempered by the knowledge that sometimes it's possible to drive all the way. How much further will the track be pushed? If ever Joni Mitchell's lyrics about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot were apt, they are here.

But ponies and porters are still essential for supplying the guest houses along the route, and I always enjoyed encountering these pony trains.

[If you haven't realised already, I only got as far as Landruk. You can read why, here.

Update: Part 2 of the account of the illness is now up on Pohanginapete.]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor

05 October 2014

Heading for Annapurna Base Camp

Well, I was intending to get into the Annapurna Sanctuary. Illness put paid to that, though, and I pulled the plug on the trek before getting too far in, where I'd have been in serious trouble. I managed to walk out without being carried and without having my pack carried, either.

More about the aftermath later on the other blog, but no need for alarm.

Update: The first part of the account of the illness is now up on Pohanginapete.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor