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Indo-French Joint Venture 2010: Ride in North India, Leh and Beyond!

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  • Indo-French Joint Venture 2010: Ride in North India, Leh and Beyond!

    Introductionhttp://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/4...eos-added.htmlThe Beginning of the Journey:


    Brigitte would be riding an Avenger from Bajaj. And I would be riding my Pulsar220 FI.

    The Enthusiastic Participant: Brigitte FAYET



    Short History of how it all beganDay 1

    Brigitte arrived in India starry-eyed and I took her out almost immediately after barely an hour to get her accustomed as soon as possible to the chaotic Indian ways and driving on the left side. For her this was a first. I took it really easy. No U-turns initially. Took her around South Delhi. She did not look too uncomfortable despite the total change in road conditions, weather at , vehicles moving perilously close to her. Then I thought of giving her the acid test. I took her to Nehru Place in peak office hoursFirst Impressions of Brigitte of riding in a big city in IndiaDay 2

    The Journey BeginsDay3Brigitte on her AvengerAnd you would think Bengal is the only place they grow rice!



    I was stunned at the sheer number of vehicles in Kashmir. NH-1A seriously needs broadening in the valley! And the way most of the Qualis and Sumo Taxis are ridden over there would put most of Delhi Call Centre Taxis to utter shame! I was appalled at their aggressiveness. Brigitte did not seem to think so on this particular day. She was lost in the pleasing views of the Paddy fields while she kept her sedate pace of 70 kmph instead of trying to match with the Qualis drivers at unruly speeds break her neck. We were there to enjoy the sights and not push ourselves close to risking our lives.

    Arrival in Srinagar.

    Erstwhile xBhp member Styler and a very close friend of mine aka Amit Kalra had given me the contact of a very nice gentleman called Bashir who guided me towards Nagin Lake near the Hazratbal Shrine for a lovely homely stay in a houseboat as I have always done in Kashmir, away from the madding crowd near the canal, in the lake, in the peace and quite that I have associated Kashmir with.

    At midday we were installed in a dreamy houseboat floating on water with intricate furniture delicately carved out of walnut wood. There was our room with three beds, another room for someone else, a common dining area, a living room area with a small library, a balcony overlooking the Nagin Lake magically reflecting the surrounding mountains. If there is paradise on earth, it is here, just like Babar had said nearly 5 centuries ago. There is indeed a magical charm about the whole ambiance.

    Dreamy Interiors of our Houseboat





    Lost in Dreams in a Paradisaical Land



    After a sumptuous lunch, the three of us made off in a shikara to visit the Nishad Gardens. Nishad Bagh meaning Garden of Pleasure is the second largest Mughal Garden in the Valley constructed in early 17th century with several terraces going progressively up with cascading waterfalls joining the various terraces and modeled on the Char Bagh system adopted from gardens in erstwhile Persia. Though this is not absolutely the perfect time to visit these gardens, Brigitte seemed happy and delighted to be in such a place. All the flowers were not yet in bloom. It would take probably beginning august.

    Venice of India!





    Nishad BaghDay4: Departure from SrinagarI would have preferred a better beginning to the day but this prepared me for what lay ahead!500 metresThat is nearly calf deep mud for you. And that you are looking at one of the better patches!


    The water was deep at times till the axle!This is the improvement done to the Zoji La


    Pit Stop after crossing Zoji La to regroup


    Next stop was at Drass for photos and lunch. We stopped at that famous wall built by the Indian army during the 100-day Kargil war when Tiger hill was occupied and people traveling by NH1D were shot at. Had a quick lunch of mutton curry and rice. It was delicious and affordable. We ate like our lives depended on it. I apologized to Brigitte saying that I did not expect such bad roads at Zoji La. And then I shut my mouth.

    For the sake of posterity




    KargilEODOn the Kargil-Leh Route






    Some patches of green provide contrast to the barren desolate landscape




    I made several stops to take pictures, some makeshift videos with my N86 despite the good roads of 4 years ago having been eroded out of existence by thick persistent winter snow. But the road was still less than catastrophic and in portions was even close to being excellent wherein I reveled in trying out some of my antics in leaning not forgetting the fact that often a biker is was and will be chased by maniacally jealous four-wheeled cagers and in our county it was no less than the seemingly bulky but ubiquitous in Ladakh, the Toyoto Innova! But such incidents paled in significance compared to the magnificence of the beauty that enveloped me as I moved along like an insignificant speck of dust in the vastness of this marvelous landscape.

    A short stop at Hansikot to note the extreme temperatures recorded in this village. Next stop at Fotu LaThe Extreme temperatures of Hansikot!
    [img][/img]

    Photostop at Fotu-La






    Lamayuru is not far from Fotu La, a mere 13 kms from Fotu La with some nicely laid new tarmac. I was already beginning to visualize my lunch; remember, I had not had a real breakfast. No matter how beautiful the landscape, after a point in time, hunger is primordial and vital.

    Lamayuru

    After a satisfying lunch, we went on to visit the gompa at Lamayuru standing at 3621 mts. The gompa on the rock at Lamayuru is one millennium old dating from the 11th century making it one of the oldest monasteries and temples in Ladakh and housing 150 resident monks with some more from the surrounding areas making it one of the most active and populous temple-monasteries in Ladakh. The positioning and building structure of the Lamayuru monastery reminded me strongly of the Meteors that I have visited in continental Greece. Both were built with the idea of isolation from the local population and invaders alike for spiritual pursuits. Steeped in legend, this monastery belongs to the Red Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. We went in and took our time taking some pictures. Tibetan Buddhism is not my strong point and I am far from comprehending their rites and customs despite having visited close to a hundred temples of their kind.




    The Lamayuru Monastery atop the rock!


    Exquisite Paintings at the entrance of the Monastery


    Prayer Offerings


    Main Prayer Hall


    After spending a good hour at Lamayuru, we were back on the saddle riding towards Leh. We were made to stop after Khalse for registration of our papers, passports etc. As we approached Leh, we were getting longer and longer stretches of better roads. It was a delight riding on these roads. Not only did we move fast and gained time, but we could relax a bit, a remark that Brigitte made that I will be presenting shortly.

    Some Good Roads!


    Stop at the Magnetic Hill Phenomenon!


    Brigitte: The Harley Rider from France in Ladakh!LehAmit Kalra, xBhp id StylerConclusion at EODShanti StupaShanti Stupa




    May Peace Prevail






    Parking Lot!


    Next stop was the visit of Thikse Monastery:

    Thikse Monastery was built by a Tibetan Monk in early 15th century right next to the Indus Valley. In importance, it is second only to Hemis Monastery. Thikse is situated 17kms to the East of Leh on the road to Manali. It is another imposing structure with a very structural riot of colours that one expects to find in these parts. Before visiting the Monastery, we had lunch at the foothill of the climb. This was the first and last time that I had a bad headache. I took an anti-inflammatory tablet to make it subside. It worked!

    Went up to visit the wonderful nearly 600 hundred year old monastery.



    Prayer Wheels


    Inner Courtyard!




    Prayer Hall


    Steps


    Doorway


    Dalai Lama


    Monk


    In Recluse:

    This was another very nice day after the day in the houseboat. I really liked Leh. I would like to spend more time here, walking around, seeing the streets, the people, the vendors selling their wares. I had a nice day where I was not stressed to negotiate bad roads. I slept well. We did not ride much. We saw two really beautiful monuments. And I have managed to recover from the strain and fatigue of the Godzilla Pass. What tomorrow brings on the road to Chang La remains to be seen. We will deal with it tomorrow. For the moment I can say that we had a very nice, pleasant, beautiful and satisfying day in Leh with the short rides and the visit of the monuments.

    Day 7Chang La:

    Congratulations to Brigitte for doing this


    My Ever faithful pillion!


    Chang La Baba Blessed us!


    A short video:
    YouTube - Chang La in June 2010Our Tents


    Inside the Tent, a short break before going off


    And finally...
    Pangong Tso:



    YouTube - Pangong Tso

    YouTube - Pangong Tso Mediterranean

    Emerald green








    I went down to the waterfront!


    And tasted the water...


    The Vastness of such a place makes you feel infinitesimally small!


    Another example:


    Land's End




    Gulls




    Papa, lets go there to the water!


    And we went there...Brigitte's Impressions

    "Today's ride was beautiful. Most of the road was good surprisingly for a change. It de-stresses the mind as I did not have to constantly think about the rocks on the road, the potholes, the mud and water. I could really soak up the beauty of nature and enjoy the ride.

    I had only heard about the Blue Pangong Lake and seen some pictures. But for blue, this is the bluest it can get. Nothing gets bluer than this. And when you get here, it is difficult to imagine which planet you are on. This place does not look like from this planet. Totally barren with desert like conditions, not a blade of grass, and this huge beautiful blue lake that completely takes you by surprise. It is total bliss to be here."

    She even demonstrated to us the difference in the cries of the Gulls at Pangong and those in the Mediterranean! And at her demo, the Gulls there took immediate flight!



    I had waved at those bikers. Who could they have been! I saw a yellow Zma and another black bike. I had been looking out all the while since morning for the arrival of Ananth. I am sure that they were Ananth and Steve. It would have been nice had I managed to meet them.

    Our meals were being prepared. For the price we were paying, there better be some good meat. Twilight had fallen across the valley. The last bits of daylight still held on. It was 2000 hours. In such a clear environment it would never get totally dark as the moon was brightly shining. The shimmering lake was clearly visible. The wind was up as usual and temperatures had rapidly plummeted to Day8Diamox


    Satisfied we made our way on to the motorcycles. Looked around for Ananth and Steve. Could not locate them still. I figured that they did not stay at Lukung and assumed that they had probably gone back to Leh since they were not carrying luggage or being the adventurous kinds probably continued towards Lake Moriri during the night!

    Warming the enginesThe Two Riders at Pangong Tso


    Eighty odd kilometres to go before the summit at Chang La. Most of it is good road other than the last 7 kilometres. However there is a catch. A few kilometres out of Lukung there is a very tricky bridge. The approach to and exit from the bridge is like completely eroded road, mostly large sized rocks resembling round pebbles mostly about 10-15cms in diameter. Not the easiest of paths to negotiate. In fact, this portion of about 250mts is quite dangerous. This was the only point where Brigitte was apprehensive and scared about. And I was for her. But we managed to cover that without too much of problems. Rest was smooth sailing. Till we reached the ascent to Chang La.

    This time when we reached Chang La, we took some time out to take a few pictures. Shot a short video. And continued our descent back to Leh. Last time around, I was freezing at Leh with large clouds, windy conditions, temperatures falling several degrees below zero and my breathing freezing the moisture inside my helmet. No such luck this time. Clear good weather, blue skies, bright sunshine, everything that the doctor ordered for a nice ride!

    Brigitte shot the state of the roads around Chang La






    This is what covered the roads. Dug out some to show!


    Weapons of Mass Destruction!
    [img][/img]










    Halfway down I completely unbuttoned my jacket, unzipped and removed my raincoat and folded it up. It was getting warmer. More photos.

    While approaching Karu, suddenly I looked in my RVM and Brigitte was no longer there. For the past nearly 2000kms, I have never let her out of sight from the RVM. I slowed down and then finally stopped. Still no Brigitte. Minutes went by. Now I started getting worried. There was not a single traffic on the road. No human beings. No animals. One of the most peaceful and deserted stretches we have ridden on. Where did she disappear? Did she get abducted by Buddhist Monks?

    I turned around and rode back. After a few kilometres I found her taking pictures of the monastery just before Karu. I heaved a huge sigh of relief.

    This is where I lost herAfternoon spent looking for a barber in Leh yielded these results:


    The Leh Mosque


    People







    Text: Krishnendu Kes aka KEN

    Photos: Krishnendu Kes and Brigitte Fayet


    to be continued...

    Corrigendum: Styler is still member of xBhp, albeit a silent one!

    For continuation of our adventures click below...

    Khardung La

    Leh-Sarchu

    Baralach La
    Last edited by ken cool; 07-22-2010, 02:32 PM. Reason: Correction of Brigitte's license date!
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


    BMW Motorrad Days 2011

    Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

  • #2
    Great going. The lady must be feeling strange on downgraded motorcycle! Intersting writeup too! I am hooked, ken.

    Comment


    • #3
      Very nicely detailed and 'different' write-up. I am enjoying reading through it. However, it would be even better if Brigitte could put up her 'account' of the whole ride. After all, it is not everyday that one gets to ride to such beautiful locales.

      Also, I would like to know does an International DL (Driving Licence) work for India? After all, for them it would be riding/ driving on the "wrong" side of the road. How was that sorted out? Additionally, how did she and Mael take the whole trip? Any health issues faced because of the long hours on the saddle and the extreme weathers?

      I liked the photographs too, especially the ones in which the refletions are so crystal clear in the water. I am sure as each day's account is posted, more and more beautiful landscape photographs would eventually show up. Did you take your whole camera equipment (the 5D, 24mm, 200mm, the tripod, etc.)? What kind of equipment did Brigitte use?

      Waiting for more to follow.
      Last edited by Aryan; 07-01-2010, 06:23 PM.
      :)

      Comment


      • #4
        Just a little note from my side, if possible, pass on to Madam Brigitte FAYET
        Originally posted by ken cool View Post
        First Impressions of Brigitte of riding in a big city in India:
        “People ride really close to you. It looks like there is total lack of discipline or any kind of order.
        True, but as an Indian, I'm embarassed to see where we stand now!!!

        Originally posted by ken cool View Post
        However, each and every rider is extremely vigilant and is aware of his surroundings and movements.
        I was trying to disagree on first go through; but yes, everyone is extremely vigilant, its the "ME FIRST" attitude, indiscipline, nnfriendliness are the ones causing the chaos

        Originally posted by ken cool View Post
        He may not follow traffic rules. But he knows and anticipates what is going on around.
        Not around, but only on the front (and sometimes that also doesn't happen)

        Originally posted by ken cool View Post
        So it looks like there is a perpetual miracle happening on the roads. It is amazing how there aren’t more accidents happening!”
        This is one part I agree with my eyes closed; yes we're alive everyday due to miracle, or may be, since we're part of the system, we'ree used to live like this.

        Edit - One more question to you Ken Sir - What's Madam's impression on Avenger - Did she feel like Godess? Would like to hear from the horse's mouth on a little comparison between HD 1200C & 200 cc.
        Last edited by aargee; 07-01-2010, 06:25 PM.
        Skill is what keeps you on a Motorcycle
        Awareness + Skill is what keeps you out of harm's way
        ATGATT + Awareness + Skill means you might Live To Ride another day

        Comment


        • #5
          its definately gonna keep me glued to this thread for long for sure... Ken Da
          waiting for more to come
          "BiKiNg in INDIA is like JOGGING in IRAQ ,something may HIT YOU"
          --rpmboy


          "Seniority is NOT how fast u ride ,its in how 'Well' you ride "
          --rpmboy

          ''Bajaj-ing Since 2000 AD''
          --rpmboy


          Ride A Bajaj ? make it big. Join BBIG -- A Social Group of xBhp.com .
          sigpic

          Ownerships going strong :-
          Bajaj Chetak 1981...clocking 2,00,000kms+
          Pulsar 150 DTSi 2004...clocking 75,000kms+

          Comment


          • #6
            Very nice photos and very nicely written like always dada
            |NO WHEELS|

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Aryan View Post
              Very nicely detailed and 'different' write-up. I am enjoying reading through it. However, it would be even better if Brigitte could put up her 'account' of the whole ride. After all, it is not everyday that one gets to ride to such beautiful locales.
              Waiting for more to follow.
              Thanks.

              I took daily notes of her feelings and impressions. They will all come shortly. It would be difficult for her to write in English and post. I will keep doing that on her behalf. Besides you can directly get in touch with her on FB.

              Originally posted by aargee View Post
              Just a little note from my side, if possible, pass on to Madam Brigitte FAYET

              Edit - One more question to you Ken Sir - What's Madam's impression on Avenger - Did she feel like Godess? Would like to hear from the horse's mouth on a little comparison between HD 1200C & 200 cc.
              I will give you her impressions of the Avenger as we go along the days... quite interesting in fact!

              Originally posted by animeher View Post
              Great going. The lady must be feeling strange on downgraded motorcycle! Intersting writeup too! I am hooked, ken.
              Originally posted by rpmboy View Post
              its definately gonna keep me glued to this thread for long for sure... Ken Da
              waiting for more to come
              Thanks guys. Will try to keep this going...
              The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


              BMW Motorrad Days 2011

              Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the mail with a link to this thread, else i would have missed it too.

                Nice pics, loved the paddy field pic. its got action. Now that you've got the story going, will keep track of the updates.
                www.siddharthsirohi.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lovely Write Up, Even Lovelier Pics.
                  1998 Maruti Suzuki ZEN VX

                  2002 Yamaha RX135 4 Speed
                  2005 Hero Honda KARIZMA
                  2009 Suzuki ACCESS

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Am glued...

                    Hi Ken,

                    Fabulous beginning to a much anticipated thread. If this is what the quality of the write-up and photography is already, right at the very beginning of this journey, I can only imagine what is yet to come.

                    You're photography is definitely getting better in leaps and bounds, as the days go by. I've noticed something slightly bothersome about photography during long bike tours. Despite the numerous photo opportunities, the amazing locales and the pre-planning and enthusiasm, taking good quality photos become extremely difficult during arduous and lengthy travels on 2 wheels, firstly because stopping to take photos takes away a lot of valuable travel time, and secondly, after a very tiring ride stretching upto 10-12 hours, the exhausted body and mind find it difficult to cope with going that extra mile to capture and focus for good photography. Hats off to seasoned tourers like you and many others, who seem to perform majestically on the photography front too, after a long and tiring ride! Am yet to figure out a solution to this, as far as my tours and photography goes.

                    Brigitte sure is a brave soul. To have travelled all alone to India, and that too for this tough ride to the Himalayas, it sure takes a lot more than just enthusiasm and passion. And as always, Mael is a pro. Being pillion for such long stretches demands patience and skill of a different class, and a pat on the back to him too.

                    Anyway, hope the updates come fast and in plenty. Cant wait to know what happened next...


                    .....Simba

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jukebox View Post
                      Nice pics, loved the paddy field pic. its got action. Now that you've got the story going, will keep track of the updates.

                      Thanks for the input! Will keep that in mind in future endeavours. Yes, I realise it is important. The action bit!

                      Originally posted by eagle_f1 View Post
                      Lovely Write Up, Even Lovelier Pics.
                      Thank you.

                      Originally posted by desideep View Post
                      Very nice photos and very nicely written like always dada
                      Hey DD, thanks!

                      Originally posted by simba_smiles View Post
                      Hi Ken,

                      You're photography is definitely getting better in leaps and bounds, as the days go by. I've noticed something slightly bothersome about photography during long bike tours. Despite the numerous photo opportunities, the amazing locales and the pre-planning and enthusiasm, taking good quality photos become extremely difficult during arduous and lengthy travels on 2 wheels, firstly because stopping to take photos takes away a lot of valuable travel time, and secondly, after a very tiring ride stretching upto 10-12 hours, the exhausted body and mind find it difficult to cope with going that extra mile to capture and focus for good photography. Hats off to seasoned tourers like you and many others, who seem to perform majestically on the photography front too, after a long and tiring ride! Am yet to figure out a solution to this, as far as my tours and photography goes.
                      This is definitely an issue. Trying to cover distances and taking pictures at the same time. Each time some interesting vista crops up or an action photo-op crops up, stopping taking the gear out, shooting and getting along takes easily a good 20 minutes. 3 stops like that and you have already lost an hour! Do not know how to go about this. I have lost quite a few ops like that during this trip. It is a real pity!

                      However, if I stop to take a picture, then technicalities of f-stop, focal point and shutterspeed are not an issue. That works on autopilot! Of course the digital instant feedback helps! During the film days, it took a little more time to calculate the f-stops!

                      Originally posted by simba_smiles View Post
                      Brigitte sure is a brave soul. To have travelled all alone to India, and that too for this tough ride to the Himalayas, it sure takes a lot more than just enthusiasm and passion. And as always, Mael is a pro. Being pillion for such long stretches demands patience and skill of a different class, and a pat on the back to him too.


                      .....Simba
                      Brigitte is indeed a brave soul! No doubts about that. VERY VERY BRAVE!
                      The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


                      BMW Motorrad Days 2011

                      Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A very interesting collaboration and seems like a wonderful trip. Hats off to Brigitte for undertaking this challenging ride.

                        I am tuned in.
                        Last edited by Haroon; 07-02-2010, 10:21 AM.



                        Growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional
                        So many roads, So little time
                        RIDE for PASSION

                        See us & our global rides at:
                        www.rideforpassion.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nice trip this. Kashmir has always fascinated me, and I would love to go there sometime soon.

                          Brigitte has done a commendable acclimatisation to Indian roads and road users. Riding on Indian highways is no joke, and she seems to have taken to it pretty well.

                          Nice write-up Ken Da. Makes me want to plan a trip to J&K soon.
                          Awaiting the continuation log.

                          PS: Please give us some shots of your motocross P220.

                          My views on the YZF-R15 V2.0: http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/news/198...tml#post699240

                          The pleasure is when your rear wheel slides, and you bring it back; and when the front wheel lifts, you take your time bringing it back.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Day4: Departure from SrinagarI would have preferred a better beginning to the day but this prepared me for what lay ahead!500 metresThat is nearly calf deep mud for you. And that you are looking at one of the better patches!


                            The water was deep at times till the axle!This is the improvement done to the Zoji La


                            Pit Stop after crossing Zoji La to regroup


                            Next stop was at Drass for photos and lunch. We stopped at that famous wall built by the Indian army during the 100-day Kargil war when Tiger hill was occupied and people traveling by NH1D were shot at. Had a quick lunch of mutton curry and rice. It was delicious and affordable. We ate like our lives depended on it. I apologized to Brigitte saying that I did not expect such bad roads at Zoji La. And then I shut my mouth.

                            For the sake of posterity




                            KargilEOD
                            The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


                            BMW Motorrad Days 2011

                            Xbhp's Indo-French Kashmir-Ladakh Tour

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Cool!!!! Oh I must say....COLD....CHILLED AND what not....!!!!
                              sigpic

                              Comment

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