This is the second part of the 3 part series of my recent Ladakh experience. Click here for the first part. This post is about the experiences in and around Leh!
Day 6: (Leh, Ladakh)
- It was decided that the day would be spent in Leh. We had to get our bikes serviced.
- Was ready by 10:00 am and got a mechanic to service the bikes. TASHI was the name of the mechanic and we found him to be very good.
- We ran into couple of Australians who had come for a India trip. After starting a conversation with them we figured out one of them had been coming to India every year since 1998. We were impressed with his knowledge of India. It turned out that he was an editor who comes to India to work on his books.
- We applied and got the permit for Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake
- The work at Tashi’s took half a day. In the evening we went around the town.
- The first place we visited was the Leh Palace. We were entertained with local dance and singing.
- Shanti Stupa was the next place we visited and we had the rare opportunity to meet the Rock n Roll Monk. I got to admit he simply rocked.
- Sharyathi decided to skip the palace and stupa as he was busy finding out ways to ship his bike from Manali to Bangalore. He decided on GATHI.
- We found an amazing open air restaurant called KC where we had our share of fun with amazing food and liquor.
Bloopers/Bike Failure Counters/Road Condition On Avg: Good Roads.
- The funniest moment happened when UD and me decided to follow this European couple to get a video shot of the lady wearing a skirt. This was to be a proof for some silly bet UD got into with some friends in Bangalore.
Day 7: (To Pangong Lake, Ladakh)
- It was a slightly delayed start to Pangong lake. After a quick breakfast we were soon driving along quite fast. Even though we were to drive on the mountains the roads were relatively good and we could fasten our pace.
- Before we could rejoice the good roads we hit the worst stretch of roads ever. This really slowed us down. We came to realize that in this part of the country there is no way of telling if the road would be fine throughout the distance.
- As we were nearing the lake we realized that we were actually nearing the Chinese border. The border patrol was on alert all the time.
- It was almost noon when we reached Pangong lake. But the last 4km was not bikeable as the road was cut down by water. The ice cold water cut right in the middle of the road.
- We made the decision to leave the bikes and go on foot. Crossing the stream turned out to be much more tougher than we expected. The current was very strong and we had to make a human chain in order to cross.
- Once on the other side we had to walk atleast 3 km to reach the lake. It was quite hot and most of the folks were reluctant to walk.
- I challenged others that I would be able to reach the lake which was visible from a distance in 20 mins. The bet was on and I started hurrying myself and walked as fast as my foot could move on a sandy surface.
- I realized that I lost sight of all my friends when I was so busy trying to win the bet. I just followed the line of sight of the lake and ended up in a Military restricted area. Thankfully the army men there were kind enough to show me the way out of the restricted zone. Soon I found couple of camps and managed to reach the lake. Took 25mins.
- There was no signal so contacting the others to know their position was impossible. I was not able to find the rest of the gang so I decided to walk back to fetch them. Luckily for me I found Ankur walking around the camps. On catching up with him I learnt that they had arrived much before me as they took lift from the main road. So much for the bet.
- The lake was spectacular and we spend good 1 hour gazing at the beauty of the lake
- We had to wait for the same taxi that dropped us to find our way back to the stream where we had kept our bikes. Finally reached that spot at 4:00 pm.
- We realized that the current has become much stronger and crossing was impossible. After a hour delay and varied path finding we successfully managed to cross the stream. It was a terrifying experience.
- It was almost 5:30 when we started off from Pangong lake. We knew that we are going to travel at night , something we wanted to avoid.
- Traveling at night was one hell of a experience. We were the only people on road and the mountains have become very very cold.
- Reached leh at 10:00 pm and then went back to KC for dinner.
Bloopers/Bike Failure Counters/Road Condition On Avg: Average Roads.
- Saw a Gujju family trying to cross the stream with all the luggage(mostly food) and got stuck in between and screaming for help. It was a hilarious sight.
I felt totally recharged after the break. The day started off with songs of Pink Floyd while the others were getting ready. I could hardly wait to see the famous Pangong Lake. On hearing the magic word “chalo” I pushed the bike to its limit. The roads were good and was able to reach our first destination Chang- La. With no mood to take photos at the worlds 3rd highest motorable pass, we pushed on to the lake. I felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks when I glanced upon the blue patch of water. It was nowhere close to what I had seen on photos. I felt betrayed by nature and started cursing it. There was no lake, only a mug full of water in a vast white background. I left like I was in some computer animated movie where colorful objects pop out in a white background. It took a while to realize that it was not the lake we came looking for. A sense of urgency came over me and I wanted to reach this place before the sun king sucks off all the water using a straw. I could finally see few people around an area. I knew that the lake was very near. My heart started pounding and I could feel my breathing slowing down. I was waiting for this moment all my life. Just as I was about to witness the lake for the first time, the landscape changed. I could not see any lake but just a stream of water. It was as if the mother nature was playing tricks on me. It was like chasing mirage in a desert. I soon found out that the lake was 4kms away and we had to walk that distance. The walk was even more thrilling than the bike ride. I knew that I was just few more kilometers away from my destination. My fellow riders were walking slowly and were not showing the same enthusiasm. I decided to walk ahead of them and reach as soon as I can. In the excitement I wandered into the Military protected area. I was not aware until I was stopped and questioned. I was thirsty but all I could find was a donkey carrying water. I drank that water and strolled towards the lake. I realized that my upper body was moving forward in anticipation while the lower half struggled to cope up. I nearly fell down on seeing the lake in its full glory for the first time. I was fascinated by the rich blue color of the water. The mountains surrounding the lake looked like a wall protecting this spectacular lake. It was the biggest lake I had ever seen.
Day 8: (To Diskit, Ladakh)
- It was Aug 15th (Independence Day), we set off to Nubra Valley. As usual we had a late start. Ankur had already started complaining about back pain but ignoring early warning we continued on our journey.
- The highlight of the journey was Khardung-La (The Highest Motorable Pass In The World). It was quite an achievement for us and we were overjoyed. It being Independence Day gave us all the more to celebrate. Uttaran got us a Indian Flag from the army men posted there. We took many photos with the flag.
- The journey from Khardung La towards Nubra valley was quite uneventful except for scenic view of the valley
- We reached Diskit (part of Nubra Valley) at 5:00pm. Got a decent hotel to stay for the night.
- In late evening we visited Diskit Gumpa which was in bad shape. We found out that they were running short of money and needed donation to run the Gumpa. Its sad to a beautiful Gumpa not properly taken care.
Bloopers/Bike Failure Counters/Road Condition On Avg: Average Roads.
Day 9: (To Leh, Ladakh)
- Ankur complained of pain. He was not able to travel due to back pain. We decided that he must not continue with us for the rest of the trip. But to send him back home, we need to reach Leh. Uttaran requested a French couple to take Ankur along to Leh as they were heading that way. The nice couple readily agreed.
- Without Ankur we pushed off to find two humped camel also known as Bactrian Camel in Diskit desert. We had a pleasant camel ride around that area.
- We had a long photography sessions and then headed out to Leh.
- For the first time we saw snow fall in Khardung- La. It was a pleasant sight to watch.
- We reached Leh in the evening and headed out for major shopping. Most of us bought lots of t-shirts and few jewellery’s for family and friends.
- In spite of ATM problems in Leh we managed to spend all the money on shopping.
Bloopers/Bike Failure Counters/Road Condition On Avg: I was taking the turn at high speed that i lost balance and fell. Average Roads.
- The camel took a liking for Sharyathi. He was holding the camel’s humps firmly. I think rest of the story is self explanatory.
Day 10: (To Kargil, J&K)
- Ashish started the day with search for a Taxi or Bus for Ankur. It was decided that to take a flight from Leh to Delhi would cost us a fortune. So we booked a Srinagar-Delhi flight and decided to send Ankur on a taxi rather than ride with us.
- We started off to Kargil at noon and we knew that we would reach there very late. Our only hope was good roads to make good time. Unfortunately such was not the case. The roads were very bad and it soon became dark and we found driving almost impossible.
- The only highlight of the stretch was the Magnetic Hill. There was a section on the highway where vehicles would move upwards with the engines off. There was such excitement that we kept on repeating the stunt.
- There were times when we had to keep rotating the driving duty to prevent back injury for the pillion riders. There were no roads at some places. We did regret not taking the alternate state highway.
- We reached Kargil at 11:00 pm. We were tired and hungry. This was the first time people lost their temper. Its more to do with hunger than tiredness. At last a sane few managed to find us a place to stay for the night. It was a shady hotel called Madhina.
- Stuffing ourselves with anything that was available we decided to sleep off the tiredness. Unlikely place, unlikely time we actually started a argument of Palestine/Israel conflict. It went on for hours with each of us taking a side. In the end the discussion ended in the same state as what the conflict is now.
Bloopers/Bike Failure Counters/Road Condition On Avg: Sharyathi and Ashish fell from their bike when taking a turn. The reason stated as gear problem. This fall also caused some problems in the bike. Bad Roads.
- All of us witnessed a white lady butt naked sitting on the side of the road shitting. It remained the topic of discussion for rest of the journey.
- Uttaran and Myslef stopped at every white lady standing on the road and facing the otherside hoping to see her pants come down.