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Thread: Ladakh: A Journey that Dreams are made of...

  1. #221
    Rusted Praful's Avatar
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    Monday, 28th September: The night before had been loads of Momo's and Beer, so I din't expect that I would be getting up any early in the morning. So we stuck to our tradition of getting up late and starting even later. Amit was much better in this respect, he had had bath and gotten ready to move at the time when were batting our sleep eyelids. With the new SLR at hand, the photography keeda bit me again and took the opportunity to click some pictures whilst the others were suiting up.

    Good Morning Leh!






    It was about 9.30AM when we finally moved our lazy butts out of our guest house, then started the hunt for a place to have breakfast. We all finally agreed upon Gesmo Bakery which seemed to be a place serving some yummy continental breakfast. Well the yummy part certainly worked in our favour, but the speed of the service was well quite in the opposite direction. We ended up having an extended breakfast which lasted almost 2 hours. After we had filled our tummies to much over the recommended level, we proceeded to fill our bike's tanks with some expensive liquid. My bike's front tyre was running a slightly lower pressure, so I even tried to fill in air at the petrol bunk. But much to my dismay instead of filling in air the defective machine ended up reducing the pressure even further. Now the meter showed 12psi, this was not only sad but also risking considering we had Marismek la ahead of us the next day. I asked around the petrol bunk guys if there was anywhere else I could fill in air, they pointed in the direction of the Manali highway, which was excellent news considering that we were headed in that direction. In the meanwhile, Pranay had gotten to work with the electric compressor that we were carrying only to figure out that it was not working. Anyhow with high hopes we proceeded on the Leh-Manali highway, I stopped at the first petrol bunk that I got. Only to discover that even their air compressor had conked off. Nothing else to do but proceed forward, one of the guys at the bunk said I'd get one at Karu. So again we proceeded forward, this time we all rode a little fast, not because of my tyre pressure issue but more because we had loads of distance to cover.

    The ride from Leh on the Manali highway was beautiful and seemed promising, we were going to be heading down this road all the way 2 days later. But for now our journey went only till Karu, where we took a left towards Shakti which lead to Chang La. Again at Karu the same story was repeated, the petrol bunk guys did not have their air compressor working. Now the only option left for me was to go the HeMan way, that is using the foot pump. With a heavy heart I proceeded further down the road, but destiny's star was shining at that point of time and I spotted a guy repairing truck tyres. I asked him if he would fill air for bikes, he said it will cost me 10 bucks, I was more than happy and paid him 20 instead. Now I my ride was back to its usual state. We retained our usual formation, where I lead the pack and Amit followed me and who was followed by Veda, Pranay was as usual the tail gunner for the pack. Beyond a certain point after the Karu turn the roads improved quite a bit and it was evident that it was freshly laid this season. Slowly and steadily I increased my pace as I started enjoying the smooth tarmac rushing beneath me, the 220 was gobbling mile upon mile like a hungry stallion. A minutes later I realised that I had gone much ahead of the pack and took a break right where the climb towards Chang La began. Just before the climb started there was another road that diverted from the base and went along the base of the mountain. Now this road was even yummier and was pitch dark black top in the midst of that desert. Later on I realised that it was the road that comes from Wari La, something which we had decided to leave for next time. After a brief wait of a few minutes I could the streak of three bikes and I decided to push forward on the hill path.

    Not that I am great at corner carving, but hills is something I enjoy riding in and it just puts me in a state of trance. Again I was pacing up the twisting winding roads like there was no tomorrow. Around one of the U turns I saw a earth mover coming down in the opposite direction, since the roads were thin I just pulled over off the road and signaled them to come forward, but on seeing me they had slowed down too, I signaled them again to pass. If it would have been a taxi or anything like that I would most probably gunned the throttle and passed through whatever gap they had left me and in the process it would have scared the driver a bit too, but the BRO deserved more respect than that, and so I pulled over. I could see inside the earth mover the three guys were wide eyed and in a state of shock. I don't they expected a civilian tourist to let them pass, then they shocked me with their reaction, they started the earth mover and started descending when the passed by me all three of them stood up and saluted me, I did the same in return. It was one of those moments which cannot be really put into words and this brief exchange of salutes is something that I will always remember from this trip. After this I rode a little bit more distance and decided to stop for the guys to catch up. I glanced at my watch and it was 1PM, the only thing ringing through my mind was Pagal Nallah!!

    Waiting for the guys to catch up!
    The road to Wari La in the second picture.





    Pranay was the first to appear and I guess the relatively sedate Amit and Veda must have bored him to death. We moved forward only to take break in five minutes, this time we had moved to the other side of the mountain.

    Roads carved into the Mountain, Can you spot Veda and Amit?





    Roads leading to Chang La





    We grouped here and rode in formation again. The roads soon gave way to barely roads and finally it was just a dust trail, I guess that's where the snow line began. We all took a pit stop at the first glimpse of snow and out came the cameras shooting everything in sight.

    Just before Chang La and the road leading to it!






    We reached atop Chang La at about 2PM, the climb had taken us a good one hour. Chang La might be lower than Khardung La, but the cold was equally biting into our skin here. After a few of the customary poser shots with the Chang La boards I went to pay my respects at the Chang La Baba mandir, opening my riding boots, socks and knee guards proved to be an herculean task due to the cold and relative lack of oxygen. I din't take much time as my feet were going numb on the cold stone. After which we took a few more poser shots. We had read about the free tea offered by the Indian Army here and Veda had been waiting all day long for this freebie. After multiple rounds of tea we moved on, our break here had lasted an expensive 45 mins and thoughts of Pagal Nallah were again racing through my mind.





    Since it was already 3PM we had to rush henceforth, the decent from Chang La was quite painful as the roads were in a pretty bad shape. But then once we were past the snow line the roads improved again. Here on we stopped taking too many breaks for pictures too. We had not had anything to eat since we left Leh and the super heavy breakfast at Gesmo gave us enough energy to keep pushing ahead. The landscape and scenery from here was very dramatic and itch to bring it under my lens kept bugging me, but Pagal Nallah made me forget all that. We only stopped where we could not control the itch any further. The descent till the plains was a bit tricky, but once we were on the plains around Tangtse we thought we could speed up but the bumpy roads would just not let us do that.

    The roads beyond Chang La till Tangtse








    The Army presence was pretty strong around Tangtse and the only signs of life in the valley. A group of 4 geared up bikers passing through that area was getting some good attention from everyone around. We had initially thought of stopping at Tangtse for lunch, but the time crunch meant we just push forward. Beyond this the landscapes got even better and I promised myself that I would stop for pictures tomorrow on our return journey, but for now Rip! Rip! Rip! The road here is pretty risky where there sudden depressions on the road built for the water to pass through, one of these caught me unawares and resulted in a long skid mark being left on the road. The Michelins were doing their job extremely well, in all the ripping the group had again split up, so I slowed down and Veda caught up with me pretty soon. We both then rode together, I did stop at a few places to take pictures and let Amit and Pranay catch up, but they dint so we proceeded further ahead.

    Roads beyond Tangtse



    I knew Pagal Nallah was just around the corner, it not the wet crossing that I hate, that part I love. Having wet socks is the thing that scared me the most. I was constantly on the look out for a stream that would easily gulp my bike and me in one shot but nothing appeared for long time. Then the roads suddenly just broke into really bad gravel, there was some construction work for a girder bridge in progress and we had to ride around it. While going around it had to cross a small stream which was a breeze and done in one shot. Me and Veda took pics of each other crossing the stream. After crossing the stream we realised it was not just a stream it was what was left of the notorious Pagal Nallah. The BRO had built multiple pathways around the stream so it breaks into multiple paths and the strength of flow is reduced considerably.

    Pagal Nallah, or what's left of it!





    We laughed at the Nallah and our bad luck of not witnessing what Pagal Nallah really was like in the earlier days. Pranay and Amit had still not caught up with us till this time so we decided to take a break a little further. What we saw next was a sight for sore eyes....

    The First Sighting of Pangong!!!









    We had made it in time, it was 4.30PM and we had reached Pangong without any issues. My bike hit 44444kms exactly at this spot! Overjoyed to get a closer look me and Veda rushed ahead without waiting for the left behind Amit and Pranay to catch up. We passed the Army camp and the tents of Lukung, on the way we also saw the turn off for Phobrang village which tomorrow we would have to take. Spangmik our destination was clearly visible in the distance, here we waited for the others to catch up and in the meanwhile went crazy with our cameras.

    Pangong Tso in all its glory!





    A Pano shot of Pangong!




    After a long gap Pranay and Amit finally arrived. We decided to stay in Lukung itself rather than riding all the way till Spangmik as staying in Lukung would help us in a early start the next morning. We did not stay in the tents, instead we got the huts for 400 rupees for the night. We dumped our luggage in the room and just crashed in bed. After I had rested for a little while I decided to venture out with camera as there was still enough day light. On the way out Veda asked me where I was off too, I replied 'I am going to explore'. Veda was instantly interested after a few minutes he started along the same path as I went, soon enough Pranay followed suit. Much later even Amit decided to join us. I headed in the direction of Spangmik, thinking I'd go till there and come back. But it seemed too far off and and instead got off the road and ventured towards Pangong. After the inital loose gravel finished off, it gave way to loose sand with the rear of the bike digging into the sand it was a tough ride to reach the shore line. Finally after I reached I stopped, I could hear another engine struggling in the sand, after a little bit of searching I could see it was Veda stuggling in the loose sand. I wanted to take my bike right next to the lake, but the effort in reaching there was too much and realised that the pictures that others took with their bikes was from a different location. We spent a lot time posing and clicking here, till we realised it would be get dark if we dint start any sooner.








    We soon reached back our rooms as darkness descended upon Pangong. The caretaker was given instructions for dinner and he also prepared some snacks for us. After a few minutes of chatting, I could not contain the itch to click and stepped out again to try my hand at night photography. It was beautiful and chilly at the same time, the slight breeze blowing added to the chill factor. I spent the next half an hour clicking and trying to get the hang of night shots.

    Our abode for the night









    A self portait!




    The guys were calling out to me since I had stepped out they kept shouting about some Aloo thing, I was more into taking pics at that time. Once I got back to the room, I realised what I was missing out. The caretaker had prepared some salted potato fries, which to our Gesmo breakfasted tummies was the tastiest thing we had ever eated in our life. By the time I reached only a little bit was left so ordered a few more plates till dinner got prepared. Dinner was a simple affair of rotis and some mutter panner along with the salted potato fries. As the night grew colder our bodies wanted us to rest as tomorrow was a tough day ahead of us, Marismek La had to be conquered. But I had other plans of the time, I dragged everyone out of the room for another round of night photos. All of us tried our hand at clicking long exposure shots, there was another group who were taking a 20 minute exposure shot. Only if I had the camera remote, I mentally made a note of buying the remote as soon as I got back. It was getting chillier by the minute and the moon was slowly setting behind the mountain, without the moon it would have been really difficult to walk back from the lakeside to our rooms.

    Group shot besides Pangong!



    The starry night sky besides Pangong!










    After monkeying around with a torch light for the long exposure shots we headed back to our rooms. The moon did finally set on our way back and we were enveloped in complete darkness, thankfully Amit was carrying a torch with which we managed to reach without a hitch.

    Tired from the day's riding and a stomach full of salted potato fries we all hit the sack and feel asleep immediately. I got up in the middle of the night as there was some loud noise outside almost as if there some sort of wild animal, later realised that it was only Veda out for a piss. I checked my watch it was around 3AM, as I glanced out of the window what my eyes saw is something that will be etched in my mind forever. The sky was filled with stars more than anything I had seen earlier, after the moon had set the number of stars visible had increased drastically. I was half tempted to step out to click photos again, but the warmth of the blanket covering me made me change my and was back in deep slumber again.....


    Mighty Marismek La tomorrow......


    Next Navigation :


    13. Day 10 : Pangong Tso - Marismek La - Leh

    Last edited by Praful; 05-12-2010 at 11:33 AM.
    shiv4747 likes this.
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  2. #222
    Addicted DevilisH's Avatar
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    The night shots are amazing dude !! waiting for the next part

  3. #223
    Rusted Praful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rakowli View Post
    ya sure waiting for your updates eagerly.
    Quote Originally Posted by DarthVeda View Post
    I am waiting eagerly as well....
    Your wait for the moment is over!

    Enjoy Pangong!

    Quote Originally Posted by road_ripper View Post
    @ Praful

    Great log dude. Hats off to you!!!
    You have excellent narrating skills..
    This is the best Trip log I've ever read!!
    WoW, thanks for the HUGE appreciation buddy!

    Quote Originally Posted by JoHn SaMuEl View Post
    This is the best trip log i have ever read.Excellent pics. BTW, were you using the kit lens with the camera?
    Thanks John, I was using the kit lens and sometimes used the 55-250 as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by rakowli View Post
    Where is praful? no updates since long. we all are waiting for your log.

    Your wish has been answered!

    Quote Originally Posted by satyenpoojary View Post
    Oh my God - (the expression after viewing first page ONLY)!
    Thank you for bumping this thread! Reading this now!
    Still reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by inder.cool View Post
    @ Praful : Awesome log and pictures man..!! Waiting for the updates from the remaning days.
    Thanks buddy, hope you enjoy the rest of the log too!

    Quote Originally Posted by DarthVeda View Post
    log will be updated with the best part of our journey very shortly
    Shortly = 2 weeks! :P

    Quote Originally Posted by happybiking View Post
    Wonderfully written and captured man!!! Brilliant !!!

    This one should be a part of the Best Blogger contest or is it over???

    P.S : Manage a leave on monday man i.e. 1st March...I don't wanna ride solo again
    I believe the best blogger contest needs the travelogues to be complete, mine is far from over, its only 70% done now!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeshu_hyd View Post
    The Best Ladakh Travelogue , i gave ever come across
    Wow thanks for your appreciation dude!

    Quote Originally Posted by steveburnside2001 View Post
    @Praful - waiting dude for a long time.give us the good stuff
    Good stuff is all throughout the log buddy!

    __________________________________________________ _____________

    @All: My humble apologies for the delays in the log, but work and personal commitments leave little time to set aside 3-4 hours for writing the log. I will finish this log.....One day!
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  4. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by prafultripathy View Post

    Shortly = 2 weeks! :P
    On a journey like this time stands still

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by DevilisH View Post
    The night shots are amazing dude !! waiting for the next part
    Thanks buddy!

    Will work on the next part as soon as I have some free time at hand. The pics for the next day's log are processed already.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarthVeda View Post
    On a journey like this time stands still


    Right On!
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  6. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by prafultripathy View Post
    Thanks buddy, hope you enjoy the rest of the log too!
    Ohh absolutely i did..!! Stunning fotographs..

    Quote Originally Posted by prafultripathy View Post
    I will finish this log.....One day!
    Hope that day comes soon enough lest we forget abt it..!!

  7. #227
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    amazing pics and logs....waiting for the rest...keep it going....
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Girls are like roads, more the curves, more the dangerous they are.

    To ride or not to ride?? is a....
    very very stupid question....

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    Absof***inglutely stunning night shots!!!thanks for sharing

    When are you planning another Leh???

  9. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by inder.cool View Post
    Ohh absolutely i did..!! Stunning fotographs..

    Hope that day comes soon enough lest we forget abt it..!!
    Don't worry that day will come before the end of this month....Or so I hope!

    Quote Originally Posted by k2cool_87 View Post
    amazing pics and logs....waiting for the rest...keep it going....
    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by happybiking View Post
    Absof***inglutely stunning night shots!!!thanks for sharing

    When are you planning another Leh???

    Thanks for the appreciation buddy!

    Another Leh will happen when the cash register is ringing and my boss is ready to give me leave!
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    Updated the Navigation links!

    Will put up the next day's log in the evening.
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