The houses in Ladakh mostly come in a white colour, with wooden framed windows and depending on how much money the owner has to spend - decorated with beautiful wood carvings. The hallways and stairs are barren from the inside and you’ll have to wear your shoes not to get freezing feet.
Sometimes the walls are decorated with paint or children’s drawings, but usually you’ll find nothing on the walls. The living room and kitchen are my favourite places of the Ladakhi house: colourful, warm and cozy because of the beautiful carpets and cushions on the floor and the (often) skilful carved low-tables to eat on.
So this is where you take your shoes off - just outside the living room. They don’t have such things as tables and chairs - you’ll sit cross-legged on floor cushions. The ceilings are always decorated with colourful cloth - or in this house, simple green mesh.
The kitchen is the star of the room. It will consist of one, or sometimes two cabinets with a double gas stove on it, and an open shelf construction where all the pots and pans are displayed - carefully arranged by type, colour and purpose. Most of the cooking is done on the gas-stove, but there is always a stove with runs on cow- or yakdung and which is used to heat up water for bathing and to keep the kettle on. Outside the house or on the roof is where the people dry the dung before it can be used as burning fuel.
The bedroom consists of several thin floor mattresses and blankets and its where the entire family sleeps together. In my case, I had the honour to take the floor mattress right next to a blanket with drying yak-cheese. II woke up with a vile, sour, taste in my mouth.
It’s great for midnight snacking though. Especially when the snoring of the head of the family keeps you awake. For hours.
The ‘toilet’ is on the second floor, and consists of two or three holes. Whatever you drop in there can be easily accessed from the ground floor. Superhandy. Nothing there to hold toilet paper or to hold on to if your squatting skills are not strongly developed so I have to admit I was wiggling and swinging trying to balance myself and aim for the hole. I’m such an amateur!
In these villages there is electricity between 19:00 and 22:00 and sometimes 23:00 hours, so that is the only time the lights work and you can charge your phone or camera (if they have sockets - which is not always the case).
The best thing about Ladakhi villages and homes are the people though - they make it warm and welcoming and will try everything to make you feel at ease. Neighbours and relatives tend to drop in all the time for cups of chai and servings of chapatti, so by staying in one home, you’ll get to see most of the villagers anyway.