Lion at the Rose Theatre Starlight Room

The film Lion is very intense. I cried several times.

Great cast: Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, …

Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple.

Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

The Starlight Room is a collection of comfy chairs, couches and loveseats where you lounge to enjoy a fine film. We ordered a bottle of red along with meals served just at the start of the film.

The night we were there guest speakers discussed the film both before and after the showing. Very interesting.

Shanti Stupa, Leh, India

Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district,Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagoda mission. …

The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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farewell Ladakh


I’ve been in and out of Leh, Ladakh, northern India for the past 3 weeks.


Leh town for tourists is a disaster, actually.



I doubt the current beautification scheme will help much.


Very few local people have much concern for cleanliness or sanitation.


Many streets look like war zone slums.


I was passing this construction site when a shopkeep yanked me into his store. Workers dropped a metal sheet – by accident – close to where I would have been walking.


The biggest churches and mosques are clean, however.


If you walk long enough on side streets, you can find tidy buildings. Nice homes. The rich are very rich. And educated. India has good schools.


Banks machines work well. That’s one example of things getting better.

Internet goes out for DAYS at a time, however. 😦

They need the SPCA. Sick and starving dogs are pitiful.


Holy cows are a different problem. Hindus like having them wandering the streets.


One sheep hangs out near the mosque. I assume it’s waiting on the next Muslim feast.


Very few examples of quality can be found in Leh in 2015.

I was happy with my $30 Hotel Chube. One of the top rated on Trip Advisor. It’s at the bottom of the Fort stairs.


The best restaurant in town is OK – Chopsticks Noodle Bar. Many of the other top ranked choices I found lacking.

The best bookstore in town is excellent – Leh Linkg Cafe. Likely the best Ladaki bookstore in the world. I spent a lot of time in the used bookstore – The Book Worm– as well. All winter, when tourists are scarce, the owner opens the shop each day and reads his own books on a chair in front.


The Good-For-All shop is a plus. They’ll take your used batteries.



The tourist attractions are impressive: Castle Tsemo, Palace and Shanti Stupa. I’ll post photos of those over the next few days.

My favourite image is that of the peace Stupa lit up at night.


Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

… the sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and features an ensemble cast consisting of stars Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tina Desai, Lillete Dubey, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie, Rajesh Tailang, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel and Richard Gere.

Gere was a good addition to the fantastic cast.

But this is Maggie Smith’s film. She’s excellent.

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

It’s near impossible to match the magic of a surprise hit with a sequel. This was about as good an attempt as possible. I enjoyed the film and hope for a third.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has received mixed to positive reviews from critics.

… Rotten Tomatoes reported a 62% approval rating, based on 149 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. …

On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 51 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”

Ladakh Marathon, India

The 4th Ladakh Marathon ran Sunday September 13th.

I tried to register in person on the 12th. And was turned down. Told they already had 4000 registrants. But went to watch the start anyway, just for fun.

In past years (we heard) the start was atop the Peace Stupa.

Ladakh Marathon 1

A runner from Bangalore and I climbed the steep stairs in the early dawn light, both feeling the altitude.

Ladakh Marathon 2

We were wrong. The start was actually down below on the other side of the Stupa.

Ladakh Marathon 4

The full marathon drops down to cross the Indus river. Then climbs up to Stok – the green patch under the mountains. The Dalai Lama spends a lot of time in Stok. I’ll start my trek there.

Ladakh Marathon 3

And they’re off.

Ladakh Marathon 6

Ladakh Marathon 5

I’d estimate about 1000 runners. Perhaps 4000 total were registered, counting all the local students that didn’t actually turn up. 🙂

Still, it was an impressive sight.


cycling Khardung Pass, Ladakh

Cycle high, sleep low. The best way to acclimatize to altitude. 🙂

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 4 of 16

Khardung La is 5,359m (17,582ft) … The summit signs incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602m and that it is the world’s highest motorable pass. …

Still … it’s bloody high.

Normally cold and windy, on September 14th when we were there it was sunny and mild. The Gods are smiling on me of late.

It’s 39km from the Pass back to Leh. Entirely down hill! 🙂

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 14 of 16

Dangerous? Nah! They have safety precautions in place.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 8 of 16

Summer Holidays is the company that pioneered downhill mountain biking out of Leh.

My day trip only cost about $25. No fancy support vehicle. They pile the bikes on a jeep.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 1 of 16

It takes about 2 hours to drive up the mountain on switchbacks.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 6 of 16

There are plenty of slow downs as vehicles inch past one another.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 7 of 16

Landslides and washouts are common. Heavy machinery (driven by men) and small hammers (driven by women) make repairs.

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Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 10 of 16


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Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 12 of 16

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Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 5 of 16

acclimatizing to altitude in Leh, Ladakh

Flying from sea level to Leh at 3524 metres (11,562 ft), it’s strongly recommended you rest for at least 3 days. To acclimatize.

I recall doing exactly that after flying in to Lhasa 3,650m some years ago.

Instead I decided to register for the Ladakh Half Marathon. … What could go wrong?

Luckily for me they turned away my last minute US$35 registration. With nearly 4000 runners already signed up, I was one too many.

I’ll acclimatize at least 3 days before hitting the trail. After all. 🙂

Rick Ley Ladakh

arrived Himalayas

I flew north out of Delhi over the Himalayas. Leh in sparsely populated Ladakh is in the rain shadow, not affected much by monsoon.

This is one of the very best hiking destinations in the world in September. Spectacular arid, jagged mountains.

I’ll walk the most famous trek for sure – Markha Valley. Perhaps another after that.

I’m staying at Hotel Chube for the first 3 nights. Will likely leave my luggage there when I go off trekking.

Everything fantastic so far. Bright sunshine. Warm weather. Gorgeous vistas. 🙂