All along the roads in Ladakh, groups of construction workers are slaving away for 300 rupees a day, bundled up, cheering and waving when we passed by. It is heartbreaking to watch these people building roads with their bare hands, working under these conditions for next to nothing.
Once we stopped to chat to a group of Ladakhi workers, who are rarely seen on construction sites. Quite a few women were among them – they even get less: only 250 rupees per day… When they told us they did not even look at us, that’s how embarrassed they were earning so little.
Talking about construction work – Our return to Leh from the Nubra Valley was delayed by more than three hours when road construction required blasting some rocks from the mountain slope. It was done the very moment we reached the top of Khardung La.
The huge boulders were then pushed down the slope by a caterpillar. Quite a sight when the massive rocks incinerated upon impact. Over the three hours this took, an incredible traffic jam built up on the pass with hundreds of cars waiting on each side of the pass. The caterpillar only managed to free a narrow passage, so first all vehicles going north passed through, and then those heading back to Leh. After the long wait everybody wanted to go first and it was like the survival of the fittest.
A small car was pushed over the edge and miraculously was stopped from rolling 1.000 meters down by a few large boulders.