The Wandering Life, circa 2010

While digging around my hard-drive, I happened upon these pictures from 2010 when my friend Erik and I hitch-hiked through Ladakh, a Tibetan speaking region in Jammu-Kashmir at the confluence of India, Pakistan and China.

Although we were ostensibly doing “research” as the culmination of our study abroad program, we were really two young guys trying to figure out what we wanted our lives to look like. Up until that point, traveling to Kathmandu and then on to Leh, Ladakh was the craziest thing I had done.

While we had quite a few close shaves (accidentally sneaking onto an Indian Army base, violent gastric distress in a monastery, getting benighted on a mountain, waiting on the sides of lonely desert roads for our next ride), I mostly remember the hospitality of locals who welcomed two smelly backpacker kids into their homes, just because it was late and we were lost.

I know whatever I do next in my life, I would like to relive the feeling of those times- we would come upon a new valley, and we would see things that didn’t seem like they belonged to the real world. And we would go to the next valley, and things would be even more crazy inspiring. We lived on very few dollars a day (many days were lived on one sweet roll from the local bakery) but I remember it as one of the happiest times of my life.

All the pictures below were taken by Erik during the trip.

Cheap fun in the Nubra Valley
Our staging ground in Kathmandu, Nepal. This is the Boudha Stupa.
A goat herder we met while wandering around the desert. “What are you guys doing walking around the desert without shoes on?” Ummm…
Himalayan marmots are rather friendly
The school run by the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala
Some Army guys gave us a ride on their cargo truck on the condition that we laid low.
Hitch-hiking is a lot harder when you’re toting around a 50 pound cargo parachute that you bought as a souvenir.
Over this breakfast, we talked about how we were going to get arrested by the local police because we had overstayed our sensitive area permit and had to exit the valley through the military police checkpoint. Luckily, an Indian Army working dog hurt its paw and its handlers smuggled us out in their jeep.
What are we doing wandering around without our shoes on?