Sunday, 9 December 2012


Wednesday 28th July 2010
Arrived in Leh around 10pm. Some of the group were startled to discover Leh was a town, and not a medieval, mud brick village. We found a room at the Yak Trail Inn and fell asleep. In the morning most of the group moved up the hill to a guest house reccommended by the Lonely Planet. I decided to stay in a lovely guest house I saw in the area of Chubi, called Green Villa. It had a large garden, every square centimetre planted with potatoes, tomatoes, Kos lettuce, broccolli, cabbage, carrots, barley, and many other vegetables. And lots and lots of lovely flowers. Green Villa is self sufficient. It also is host to 14 - 16 guests a night during the summer season of June, July, August. They make their own butter, jam, flour. They have fields further up the mountains where they keep their animals in the summer months. They harvest apricots, mustard seeds, walnuts. They cut the flowers and grasses for fodder for the animals. Ladakhi homes have a colourful profusion of plants pots with geraniums, poppies, cornflowers, sunflowers.

The gardens are irrigated by an intricate system of shallow channels which run to the base of trees and curve around them, run along the rows of vegetables and are damned off at the ends with small sluice gates of slates secured in place by old pieces of clothing. At first one wonders why there are random bits of jumpers lying around in the ground, then I realised it was to further secure the tiles of thin stone or slate that acted as diverters for the channels of water.

The food in Green Villa was the best I tasted in Ladakh and India. The Mother of the house - ama le - would go into the garden and pick the leaves and vegetables for the lunch and dinner. The food was fresh, clean, healthy, light. We had soup, vegatables and rice, then sometimes a warmer, heavier dish made with a sort of homemade pasta. I think this dish would be good in the winter cold. They also had chillis growing in the garden, and this Ladakhi dish had a spicey edge to it.

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