Ladakh Diaries

After almost 4 months of planning, we just concluded our first trip to enchanting Ladakh to witness its beauty. I could not resist sharing my experiences from the trip. Here’s how it all went.

  • Day 1: 7th July 2017
We were in Leh by 6:30 am and we could already see some amazing views of enchanting Ladakh through our flight windows.

 

We were greeted by outside of the airport by Mr. Anchuk, our driver and guide for the entire itinerary. He took us to a beautiful hotel, Hotel Cho Palace. We had a warm welcome there as they greeted us with their traditional souvenir, followed by much-needed breakfast. Then, it was time for much-needed sleep.

 

Being the first day at Leh, we had to spend half day relaxing and getting acclimatized with the climate. We met our travel coordinators by 3:30 pm and they gave a walkthrough of our entire itinerary.

 

By 5 pm it was time for some nearby sight seeing and local market shopping. Mr. Anchuk took us to the Shanti Stoopa where we started witnessing real Leh beauty. The mesmerizing view there made us fall in love with Ladakh.

 

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After Shanti stupa, it was time for Leh Palace. The 7 storied palace situated in mountains gave us a glimpse of ancient architectural styles in this part of India.

It was time for some local market shopping now. Before we end our day, we spent some time in Leh market.

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We were already feeling the toll on our bodies now and some of us got the taste of high altitude sickness.

  • Day 2: 8th July 2017
We started our day at 9:30 and we went to Hall of Fame museum. We saw some amazing memories and of several Indian wars such as Kargil. It also has showcased handheld weapons used by Soldiers. What amazed me the most was the heavy suit and accessories they carry every day, especially at Siachin.

It was time for the second most exciting part of the trip, 14 km long river rafting at Zanskar river. Being my first experience I liked it a lot. At the start, it was frightening looking at the rapids in the river, but it we felt like we conquered it. We also got a chance to get down in the river which is formed by the melting of the ice layers on the surrounding mountains. Needless to say that it was very cold inside the water.

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Then we headed to a calm monastery which also had some eye pleasing views and a huge Lord Buddha idol.

We were already tired after 2 hours long river rafting. We decided to skip next places and we reached our hotel for the second day, Hotel Namra Camp. We had some nice tents for a cozy sleep after a surprisingly good dinner.

  • Day 3: 9th July 2017
We started our day with a 9℃ cold weather with birds chirping just outside our tents. After a heavy breakfast, we left for yet another monastery in this land full of monasteries. We also snapped some selfies and photos at Moon Land.

Then we headed to Alchi Monastery, which is said to be the oldest here, which has 3 forms of Buddha. Just outside this monastery we delved in the local market there and started our return journey to Leh.

En route to Leh, we stopped at Patthar Sahib Gurudwara and also enjoyed the Prashad in langar. It was then time for one of the very popular attractions here in Ladakh, the Magnetic Hill which defies gravity.

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In the evening we checked into Hotel Hill Town and after a refreshment, we captured beautiful flowers at the hotel and spent some time gossiping. We also went to the local market here in Leh for some shopping.

  • Day 4: 10th July 2017
After an early breakfast, we headed towards Khardungla Pass, highest motorable point in India. In the amazing and chilling weather of Khardung, we spent some quality time in the snow.

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After spending almost 40 mins in the snow, our hands and feet started freezing that forced us to leave the place. This was my first snow experience and the best one so far in this trip indeed.

After the lunch, we left for nights Nubra valley. This place is another beauty of Ladakh. After experiencing snow, we were in desserts of Nubra valley. It was quite surprising to see sand dunes in Ladakh which is known for its cool and snowy weather.

In the evening we went into the desert for a Camel ride. A ride on a double humped camel was our first experience and was quite enjoyable.

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We had a stay in tents where we ended our night with Dumb charades and songs.

  • Day 5: 11th July 2017
In the morning we heard the news that Dalai Lama had arrived at the Diskit monastery of Nubra Valley. It was obvious that the place was going to get crowded which is why we had to skip Diskit Monastery sight seeing and take a different route back to Leh.
En route to Leh, just a few km outside Nubra, some of us went for AVC Bike ride in the dessert.

There were also few spots in the amazing climate where the free flowing water added to the beauty of the greenery of Khardung village. We snapped some photos there and stopped again at Khardungla Pass for some snow play.

By early evening we reached Leh and had lunch at the popular restaurant Tibetan Kitchen. We spent the evening Leh local market for some souvenirs for friends and family.

Everything was going until we realized that we don’t have a booking for last day hotel. We had flight tickets booked for 17th July morning and the hotel was booked till 16th only. We decided to visit airport next morning to check if we can rebook our flight.

  • Day 6: 12 July 2017
Our day began earlier as we had to go airport for the inquiry. We went to the airport only to know that the rescheduling the flight would cost more than staying in the hotel for one more day and adding one more spot. So we decided to extend our stay in Ladakh.
To start with, we went to Rancho school which featured in 3 Idiots movie. Unfortunately, it was closed for some reason.

Then we went to Chumathang, where we witnessed the amazing phenomenon of Hot Water Springs. Just to the side of the Indus river, which is known for its cold water, boiling hot water springs were quite amazing to watch.

After having lunch, and almost 250 km drive, we reached Tso Moriri which has an amazing picturesque lake. We had a good long photo session here amidst the mountains and lake water. It was extremely cold there which is why we had to head back to our hotel immediately after the sunset.

  • Day 7: 13th July 2017
In the chilly weather of Tso Moriri, we woke up early and after breakfast headed towards Tsokar which is known for its too salty water. We could hardly see any water in the lake.

It had started raining heavily already. We drove in this heavy rain and foggy weather to Tanlangla Pass, the second highest motorable road in the world. We had much-needed Maggie there and proceeded towards our next destination.
In the evening we reached at Druk White Lotus Padma school, which is popularly known as Rancho’s school after the popular movie 3 Idiots.

After this tiring day and 250 km drive, we reached our hotel for the rest.
After having some rest and dinner we went for shopping some leather jackets.

  • Day 8: 14th July 2017
We started our journey back to Leh in the chilly weather. En route to our journey to the hotel we were staying in, we visited Hemis Monastery, largest monastery found in Ladakh. It was really gargantuan and awesome. It also had a huge idol of Padmasambhava.

Adjacent to that, it has a big museum where you can find ancient cultural clothing, weapons, vessels. etc. We also bought some souvenirs from the museum. We were already tired with the 250Km long journey and passed some time relaxing at the hotel in the evening.

  • Day 9: 15th July 2017

Finally, the day had come for which we were all waiting in readiness. Today we were about to visit Pangong Lake, a whopping 140Km long lake with mesmerizing beauty situated on Indo-China border. We traveled through some, desserts, greeneries where we also got a chance to meet some Marmots.

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This was the first time all of us saw this amazing animal. We reached Pangong by 5 pm and went immediately to the lake side to shoot some photographs. We also got a chance to see Yak there.

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We shot many photographs of the lake and also shot some pictures which you can relate to the movie 3 Idiots (as some of the scenes were shot at this lake). After it was dark, we went to our hotels for a good night sleep.

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  • Day 10: 16th July 2017
This was a surprise day for all of us. We had no plans for this day as we had mistakenly booked flight tickets for 17th instead of 16th. So some of decided to rest at the hotel whole day and others decided to do some adventurous stuff.

I and my friend rented a Classic 350 and went to the Khardungla Top once again, but this time on a motorcycle. Whereas two of us went to explore Leh on a bicycle. All of us enjoyed the day and went to sleep thinking about the amazing and memorable 11 days spent in Ladakh.

It was finally the time to say
Julley Ladakh 👋🏼

P.S. My two cents for those who are planning for a Ladakh Trip.
  1. High altitude medications are a must. Carry at least 8-10 pills per head.
  2. When traveling to places for Leh, make sure you carry as much drinking water as possible.
  3. Public toilets are a rarity except for the sight seeing places.
  4. Extra batteries for cameras and power banks for the phone are a must. As almost every day in the evening, you’ll face power cuts. Especially at the tourist places.
  5. Sunscreen lotions and UV glasses are a must carry. Especially for those who are planning for a bike ride. You should also carry body lotions and cold creams as it gets chilly at night.
  6. Carry Maggie cuppa noodles, as you won’t find good food at many places. Hot water you’ll get at most places.
  7. Carry extra jackets at Tso Moriri. It’s freakin’ cold there.
  8. Carry gloves and extra shoes/socks when you’re going into the snow as your shoes and clothes will be wet and you will find it uncomfortable to sit in the car afterward.
  9. Mind your pockets and phones as we found at least 2-3 broken phones on the road. The rough rides there probably cause the phones to fall.
  10. If you are traveling to places from Leh, try to leave as early as possible. The places are distant and rough roads make it taxing to cut the journey time short.
  11. Never, never go out doing activities on day 1. Your body needs to get acclimatized to the Ladakh climate.
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Security in Android

Android, probably the most loved mobile operating system now has over a billion active users now with over 50 billion apps been downloaded from the Google Play Store alone. Android also grabs over 80% share of all smartphone users globally. But when we talk about these numbers, do these users really have a safe and secure operating system?

The answer is yes, but, provided the user is smart enough and knows how to keep his or her phone secure enough. So what makes a user smart enough to use an android smartphone? Let’s follow some security tips to make your android even more secure.

Secure your lock screen
For some, having a PIN, Pattern or Fingerprint enabled lock screen is inconvenient and they prefer either no lock screen or swipe/slide lock screen to unlock their smartphone. This enables unauthorized person to copy the data from your phone to computer if they could connect your phone to their computer. Most android phones when connected to a computer get connected in MTP mode wherein your data from SD card can directly be copied from your phone to the computer. If the phone has PIN or Pattern enabled lock screen, the contents of the phone’s storage are not visible on the computer unless the phone is unlocked with the PIN or Pattern.

Use of Unknown Sources option
If you visit Security settings of your phone, you will find that the option ‘Unknown Sources’ is disabled by default. If that option is enabled on your phone, one can install third party applications (.apk) on your phone which might contain malware, spyware. Turning off that option, i.e. checking it off will inform the phone to download only the trusted apps like the ones that are there on the Google Play Store.

Verify Apps option
In Security settings of any android phone, one more option ‘Verify Apps’ is found which is intended for scanning any application for threats before it is installed on your phone. While an application is being installed on the phone, Google will scan the application being installed with the help of some pre-installed Google Apps.
Warning before installing malicious apps
User has a choice to continue with the installation if he knows what the application actually does, but if the app is too dangerous to install, Google will automatically block the installation so that your phone is not infected.
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If the application was found to be dangerous at the run time, Google will notify about that malicious application.
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User has an option to keep that app anyway. In case Google finds the app too dangerous for your phone, it will automatically remove the app from your phone and will notify you.
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USB Debugging
Android phones have a section ‘Developer Options’ in the phone’s Settings app. Which is hidden by default on Android 4.2 or greater devices. This option has a setting ‘USB Debugging’ which is used by Developers for debugging purpose. Implications of enabling this option can lead to installation of unwanted applications and modifications to your phone’s firmware. If connected to a computer, your phone opens the gate for installation of any android application using ADB tools provided. Also, using ADB tools, one can uninstall any user app, clear any app’s data, restart your phone, and most importantly change your phone’s firmware by rooting your phone. So unless you know very well when you need USB debugging to be ON, you should keep it disabled.

Use of Antivirus Software
Use of Antiviruses can help a lot in identifying the malicious apps. It can provide you the detailed info of any AdWare, SpyWare, Malware, etc. Also, many antivirus software provide you anti-theft features which are very helpful in case your phone is stolen or lost.

Update your system and Webview regularly
There are many security agencies who find loopholes in any operating system. In an attempt to find the bugs in android, recently a company called Zimperium found an exploit Stagefright by which just receiving an MMS could leave your phone jeopardized. Google is committed to fix these issues on a continual basis. The problem is, even if Google fixes these issues, it’s upto the manufacturers to publish the patches as an update to the system. As a result of which, starting from Android 4.4 (Kitkat) android uses Chromium based Webview and fixes made to it are pushed to the Google Play Store – Android Webview so that user’s can have these patches without manufacturers needing to release the updates.

Know what Rooting really means, before you root the phone
Rooted phones are the most vulnerable ones and can be considered as the least secured ones as rooting the phone can directly provide the superuser access (similar to administrator in Windows) which can lead to reading and writing of data into the system partitions as well. It’s upto the individual to decide whether to void your phone’s warranty for modding or tweaking your phone.

Conclusion
Android operating system is secure enough and one should not worry about his or her phone being compromised, provided he/she knows how to use it well. Google has taken every possible step towards making sure that your phone is always safe and secure.

Ranging from the permissions model to sandboxing and runtime security checks, everything has been layered well to make sure you get the best out of android. It’s just that the user needs to take a few steps towards making his/her Android the most secure operating system.