Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nubra Valley. Panamik Springs and Yarab Tso.

At Yarab Tso.

From riding bactrian camels our trip through the Nubra Valley took us to a hot spring and a lake. But first, we had to get there. More dreary views of sand that is already gray in color.  I was trying to stay positive but seriously, it's just gloomy here today.  I really want the sun!

It felt like we were back tracking from yesterday as the lake was now on our left side when it was on our right yesterday.  There aren't all that many roads here so I'm pretty certain where heading back in the direction we came from.  Hmmm...

Though the road was flat, it was curvy and at times, unpaved.  Small streams cut across the road at times, causing Dorje to really slow down and drive carefully over the flowing water.

Soon, we left the desert behind and headed more inland, if you will.  Up into the hills where there were more trees and small villages....maybe they're just hamlets.

As Dorje made the turn off the road, I saw the signs and I quickly took a photo of them as they were the only indication as to where we were going.  It was hard to decipher the first set of signs.  We were going to a hot spring?  a kitchen?  a bathroom?  a public convenience, whatever that is?

The second sign wasn't much better except I figured out we were going somewhere named Pananmik.  They actually mispelled the name of the village - it's Panamik not Pananmik....drop the second *n*.

Panamik is known for its hot springs and Dorje had brought us to a place where you can soak in the healing sulphur waters. 

There is a small kitchen here located right next door to the bath house which is separated into a section for men and a section for women.  For a small donation of 30 rupees (less than 50 US cents), you get a towel and you can head inside.  I am not a spa/hot spring soaking person so I opted out.  Chantale was eager to give it try so she went on in.

I got distracted by a group of puppies that showed up outside the restaurant.  They were getting handouts - bits of naan, from a fellow tourist so they stayed around....ever so cute and happy as can be.

I decided to get in to the act so I stepped inside the kitchen and bought a couple pieces of naan.

By the time I returned to the puppies, it looked like their Dad had joined them.  Feeding off the tourists had become a family affair!

When the naan ran out, Ayşe and I followed Dorje to a spot behind the kitchen and bath house.  As we hiked up the hill, we followed the path of a stream of water.  Steam was rising as the water flowed down the hill into the bath house and you could smell the sulphur in the air.  It wasn't a very strong odor of sulphur but it was there.

Ayşe dipped her hands into the water to confirm it was hot.  After this, she decided she wanted to soak her feet in it so she went back down to the kitchen where she handed over her money and got her towel.

I just lingered outside for a few minutes, chatting with a French tourist who was here traveling with a woman who had gone into the bath house.  His English was pretty poor but it seemed like they were being shepherded around the area by an Indian friend.

I gave the ladies some time to enjoy the waters before heading inside the bath house to check on them.  By the time I got to the room, they already had their feet out of the water, drying them off, and getting their shoes and socks back on.  Both of them really enjoyed the soak.

From Panamik, we continued our journey on the road that runs alongside the desert. More scenic views on most gloomy day.

Once again, Dorje pulled off the main road and parked in a spot that was pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  No signage to tell you where you are, no nothing.  This time, he got out of the car and instead of just pointing us to walk in a particular direction, he waved for us to follow him.  So we did.

There was a clearly delineated path to follow but I had absolutely no idea where we going so I asked Dorje. The answer I got back sounded like *Arab So*.  I had to Google just now to get the proper name of the place.  It's Yarab Tso.

The path led us uphill for a stretch.

At first glance, this doesn't look like a place to enjoy a hike but on closer look, things begin to reveal themselves.

Yarab Tso is considered, by Tibetan Buddhists, to be a sacred lake.  All along the path you will see small stone cairns.  If there wasn't already a clearly delineated path, you could say the cairns serve as navigational markers but here, they take on religious significance.

Not to mention that the rocks here have some really gorgeous colors to them. I'm guessing that the yellow is sulphur and the red is iron. Yarab Tso can be reached by foot from Panamik so it would not surprise me if there are sulphur deposits here but then again, I'm not a geologist so it could be something else.

From uphill, we then went downhill towards a small body of water.  That is Yarab Tso.

Okay, I respect the fact that this is a sacred lake though I don't know why.  From a completely non-religious perspective, I really didn't understand why anyone would worship this lake because it's not all that impressive to look at.  Perhaps on a sunny day, with bright blue skies, the water will also be a brilliant blue but today, it was drab as the sky above it.  As  you can see, Ayşe raised the hood on her rain jacket.  The rain had begun to fall gently.

With not much to inspire me to stay, I think I was the first to turn around and head back to the car.   Seriously, I am not good in weather like this - cool and rainy.  I just want to hole up inside and watch TV.....or cook.  Hiking on wet, muddy ground over slippery  Riding in car.  Okay that's a good second option.  Let's go!