In June and July, I participated in the G9 Outdoor Ed trip to Ladakh. Ladakh is a mountainous region in the north-west of India, located in the state of Jammu-Kashmir. I chose the trip because I love the mountains and I wanted to challenge myself by going on a longer, harder trip. In this reflection, I will talk about what I did and what I took away from the trip.
The trip lasted about two and a half weeks. During this time, we visited schools, explored Leh, and walked and climbed over 100km to reach a peak over 5500m high. We stayed in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, for the first four days. We visited the Lamdon School, which is supported by both UWC East and Dover. We met and interacted with many kids of different ages during the time we spent there, and participated in many activities with them. We also had time to explore the rest of Leh. We visited the local market and shops to buy all sorts of things- jewellery, scarves, the gear we had forgotten to bring… We also visited the Shanti Stupa. It is perched atop a hill, high above the main road, and the view was absolutely beautiful.
On the fifth day, we drove about 2 hours to reach the starting point of our trek. We trekked for a total of 11 days, during which we climbed up from 11,000 ft to 16,000 ft, back down to 11,000, and finally up to 17,000ft again. For the first two days, we stayed in homestays in the village of Rumbak. We then camped for the rest of the trek. The last three days were devoted to rest and travel.
I don’t think this explanation does justice to the place or the trip. Everything about Ladakh was magical. I remember being in the plane when we first flew over the Himalayas to reach Leh. I almost cried because the view was so beautiful. Even when we were staying in Leh, or in the campsites, I couldn’t believe that I was actually there- it almost felt like living in a photograph.
I learnt so much on the trip and experienced things I don’t know if I would have ever gotten to experience on this trip. Some of the memories that particularly stay with me are of talking to the girls at Lamdon School. At first, I was very scared to visit and meet the kids. I didn’t know whether I’d be able to connect with them, or whether things would get awkward. To me, they were just strangers. But when we visited, the kids took us on tours and showed us around, and during that time we got to ask each other a lot of questions, and bond in a way I had never imagined. I especially remember watching an assembly with those girls. We talked through it all- about our lives, our experiences, the things we loved. We would mostly speak in English, but when things got harder to translate, we would sometimes revert to Hindi. And I loved every moment of it.
I also remember meeting a girl who was the exact copy of a girl on our trip. As they met and got to know each other, they quickly became close, and it was amazing to watch as they discovered all their similarities. I now understand more than ever how interconnected we as humans are. In the end, we’re all human, and there are probably people just like you half a world away, on another continent. It was one of those revelations that I always knew, but never discovered until then. I will always cherish the time I spent with those girls and I hope to keep in touch.
I also believe I grew a lot during the trip. This trip was physically and mentally draining for me. This was the first time I had climbed at such a high altitude, and it took a lot of getting used to. It was also the longest I’ve been away from home, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself. I struggled, but I made friends and I managed to get through it. As a result, I think I became a little more independent than before.
Overall, I’m really glad I got the opportunity to go on this trip. I had so much fun and learnt so many things that I will keep with me going into the future. I hope I can go another trip like this again someday.