Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Day 26 Leh Lazy Day

Didn't get up to a lot today, slept in a bit. To much medicinal rum the night before. Jon-Luke & I went for a walk into the market late morning. Jon-Luke got his 1st cut throat shave today, his face is as smooth as a babies bum. LOL. Then some lunch. Back to the hotel, watched some TV, packed our bags for the trip home.
Atul organised a bit of a show, local Ladahk song & dance & in costume. It was more interesting than I thought it would be. Then dinner, & our last meeting. Lots of pats on the back & such.
Off to Delhi tomorrow, then the long flight home the following day.
Adventure over.
I hope who ever has read this blog has enjoyed it.
I highly recommend Atul's tours, they are very highly organised, even on the rest days he has organised things to do in the local area.
Overall it has been the trip of a life time.
Please contact me at jcwholesale@xtra.co.nz if you would like more info or use this link to check it out yourself http://indianmotorcycletours.com

Day 25 Day Trip to the Top of Khandung La Pass 18380ft

The weather fined up & we were able to head off to the official highest motorable pass in the world at 18380ft. The weather was a bit cooler today & made riding quite pleasurable. Not far from Leh we turn onto the beginning of the pass, all tar seal, mmmmmm, easy ride we all thought. It was a great ride as we wound our way up. We had to stop at a checkpoint before we could proceed. This was 14kms from the top. Immediately the road became unpaved & very rough. New it was to good to be true. LOL. From the day befores rain there had been a few rock sides & some large boulders in the middle of the road. We encountered some water crossings & some muddy patches, where made it interesting. There were a number of cars, trucks, cyclists & runners going both ways, so we had to be very aware, particularly of the trucks, stopping & letting them go past was the best method as the road in places, was not only poor but very narrow. Army trucks had to do 3 point turns to get around the switchbacks.
This pass seemed to be steeper than others we had gone up so we were climbing alot faster. Once we had battled ourselves to the top, everyone had to get pictures of themselves under the sign saying how high we were & the words the highest road in the world. As you would. I think as we climbed so quickly Jon-Luke felt some affect as he felt very tired. We had a cup of tea at the highest cafe. There was a small shrine at the top. This pass is quite a popular pass & was busy at the top. We stayed at the top for about an hour, it was cold with a little snow around. It was a we made it moment for all of us.
It was time to go back to Leh, road repairs were in full swing, & we had to stop 3 times & wait as bulldozers cleared the road. They just push the rocks & rubble over the side of the cliff. One place we had to wait over half an hour, it just snowed a very very little bit as we waited. The road was interesting where the bulldozer had been.
Finally we all arrived back at the hotel.
Jon-Luke & I made it without falling off. We have riden some of the highest roughest roads in the world, we have seen some magnificent sights & views & we made it unscathed. Jon-Luke was on the bike for the whole 1665kms save 2 water crossings which we all needed help getting across. Maybe 200 meters. I am very proud of him as he didn't complain, even when we hit some huge pot holes, nearly coming off a few times. He deserves the tee shirt more than I do.
I have never been happier to get off a bike, take my gear off, knowing I wasn't going to put it on the next day. However I would do it again. :-)
Rest day tomorrow, & some sought of presentation. Will report tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Day 24 Stuck in Leh for the Day Bad Weather

It rained all night, & was raining this morning. We would not have gotten through the first check point to get over the pass. We waited until 11.00am to see if the pass was open. Unfortunately not.
Jon-Luke & I decided to go for a walk, as we walked through the market we noticed we we very close to the Leh Palace. A very old building. We walked between houses up the side of a sought of cliff, where a path & steps were climbable. Cost us 100rupees each to get in. Much of it has been refurbished, & refurbishment is on going. Tons of tiny dark rooms & passages. Some balconies that did not look safe. The higher we got, the better the views of Leh. Once near the top you could almost get a 360 degree view of Leh, it was pretty cool. I did bash my head on a low entrance, there were plenty of them, but I only did it once. LOL. We spent about an hour there, then went back more or less the way we came.
For lunch we found a roof top restaurant, that sold Pizza, wood fired oven. We sat under cover while it still rained & had lunch, very pleasant.
Back to the hotel, to watch TV, but the bloody power went off again. Getting used to that now.
The sun is out now so hopefully we will get a day trip to the top of Khardung La Pass & back. Well we have to really as we have already bought the Tee shirts. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Day 22 & 23 Leh to Pangong Tso Lake & Back 160km Each Way

Up reasonably early & away at 7.30am. We retraced our steps back to Karu where we turned off & almost immediately started on the Chang La Pass. Quite a good tar sealed road until about 4kms from the top, where it turned into a really harsh road. We wound our way up, as we did we had the most wonderful view of a green valley, all divided into paddocks full of various crops. Another wow moment. I think I have now gotten used to the narrow roads, no crash barriers, huge drop off's & ignorant truck drivers that will run you over in a heart beat. This pass is at 17586ft, however there is speculation it is higher than that & is in fact the highest pass. The difference is minimal, & we have the tee shirt for the highest pass now, so we will run with the status quo, they are bloody high anyway. LOL. About a km from the top & quite a large water crossing later we were on tar sealed roads again. Down into a stoney sandy valley. Very hostile environment, yet people live there in little pockets, god knows how. The army presence is very high with yet another large army camp, army trucks driving everywhere. We arrive at Pangong Tso, at 14100ft it is very high. We stopped for lunch before carring onto out camp, another 10kms further on. It was sweltering hot, the lake looked great. The far end of the lake borders onto China & 60% is in Tibet, it is something like 134kms long. Yet another army base is located here. Probabaly because the border is so close. As it was very hot & 3.00pm the snow & glaciers melt causing alot of water which in many cases crosses the road. There was
one in particular that although was not long, it was at least as deep as the axles on the bikes & running very fast. Atul was unsure whether to cross it, he did however & like sheep we followed, you could feel the side pressure on the bike, we all made it. Arriving at the camp we, well some of us decided to go for a swim, to use a nice word, it was a very bracing moment, as this lake is glacier feed. It is just something you have to do, isn't it?
Back to Leh today, & as Atul had said most of the water crossings had gone, even the fast flowing one was all but a trickle, as they are snow & ice melting during the heat of the day & stop melting at night. It was cooler on the way back & the top of the pass was cooler. This time we had a cup of tea, care of the Indian Army, free, very nice. :-)
The trip down the pass was even better than going up as the green valley below we were able to view most of the time.
We got back to Leh at about 3.00pm, I had a late lunch with Jon-Luke, plus 2 beers. I was knackered & slept for 4 hours before getting up & going to a Tibetan place for dinner.
Off over the highest official pass tomorrow, looking forward to that, however it is our last ride, the holiday adventure is all but over.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Day 21 Leh Shanti Stupa

Feeling much better today, as it is a rest day. Well that is what it is called anyway. I went for a look around the Leh market, I found it to be more civilised than Delhi, with a lot less pressure selling. I bought a few bits & pieces. Can't buy to much as there is no room, lucky me. Jon-Luke decided to watch TV while I away. But in true Indian fashion, over half of the 3 hours I was away the power was off. I found some humour in that.
When I came back we went for a nice lunch, & at 4.00pm Atul had organised a trip to the Indian Army Hall of Fame, went in for a quick look but that left me dead cold, I am not into that. Then off to Shanti Stupa, a temple shine type building, it was awesome, perched on top of a hill as per usual. It was very pretty, don't think that was the right choice of word. Anyway a well worth while visit. We went there at sunset as the view from the top was absolutely awesome.
We decided to have a different dinner to the normal fair, Jon-Luke had Pizza & chips, I had Wonton Soup & a beer, a welcome change. Vince an Aussie we have befriended joined us, overall a pleasant night.
Off to bed earlyish as we are up at sparrow fart tomorrow for an early start.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Day 20 Tso Kar to Leh 145kms

We take off at 9.00am. Straight into the thick dust. For some reason we went out a slightly different path out. I took my time & almost got stuck, a couple fell off & a number did get stuck.
Once onto the main road we started climbing again, to the summit of yet another high pass, this one called Taglang La Pass at a mere 17582ft, the 2nd highest that vehicles can go over. We stopped here for a while. There was a small temple, tiny really, I got a picture of it. To our very pleasant surprise a new tar seal road had just been constructed for the descent, it was a welcome change from the rough roads we have been used to. It was a pleasant enough ride today, as we got lower it did get a lot hotter though.
We went through a town called Karu, it was basicly a very large army camp, must have been 5kms at least to drive through it, truely amazing the size of it. Almost to Leh we go through what looks like a huge house building project. One thing is, there is never any lawn to mow, very dry & dusty. The hotel we are in is flash for what standards we have endured. LOL. No service for the mobile, but at certain times we can hook up to wifi. Vince & I went for a late lunch, very nice, Jon-Luke planted himself on the bed & caught up with some TV time he had missed out on over the last couple of days.
So I have been able to update the blog. Hurrah.

Day 19 Sarchu to Tso Kar 125kms

Took off at about 10am. We were making quite good time as the road was mostly tar seal. We got to the base of the Nakee La Pass. There were 21 switch backs in the space of about 2kms. The road was just wide enough for a truck, so when we encountered one we would stop & pull over to the side of the road to let it past. It was tricky when to trucks or buses were going in opposite directions, one would have to reverse to find a bit of road wide enough for them to pass each other. The road carried on up to a height of 15547ft. The road dropped slightly to the base of the Lachulung La Pass at a height of 16616ft. First picture is Jon-Lukes very own stone pile, We stopped for a rest there, a small snack & a drink. The way down was in my opinion the hardest riding I have done. The road was all dirt, ruble & very bumpy, it was difficult to find a path that was remotely smooth. So Jon-Luke & I bumped our way all the way down. When we stopped for lunch I was exhausted. We stopped for about 45 minutes, it was stinking hot. I had the usual Maggi noddles for lunch & a Masala tea. We took off up hill past an army base, & ended up on a very high plain, the road had just been sealed, so we were off,
70kph, The best road so far on our journey. It couldn't last & it didn't. We had to go off the road as a bridge was being built. The first thing that happened was I dived into a pile of dust about 6 inches deep, it is very slippery & we all but came off, rescuing it at the very last minute. There was a lot more of this thick dust to come, I had been through some previously but not this thick. Riding 2 up made the bike less stable than the others who were 1 up. More gravel, we then turn right down a 3km track to our tent camp for the night.
Lots of that nasty dust, I took my time, others zapped past me. This place is next to a salt water lake, which we can just see. Atul said you can walk to it, but you may come across wild yak's, wild ass's & quick sand. Thought we would give that a miss. Jon-Luke is knackered & is sleeping. This camp is at 14900ft. It got pretty cold & the beds I am sure were made of rocks.
Note: This country is enormous, with massive changing scenery, a challenging & enjoyable