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Old 27th June 2011, 14:05   #151
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

Fukche/Koyoul - Demchok [Indo-China border]-Nyoma-Leh



Was glad that morning came up, howling winds and bitter cold had us experience just a little bit of Changthang in October. To think what it is like in the winter months is beyond comprehension until one experiences it.


The morning was brilliant. On one side of Koyoul towards Fukche was somewhat clear whereas the other opposite end there was dark circling clouds with the the rays of sun breaking through just a bit. Wind was still very strong and biting.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6599.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6605.jpg



Safari VTT was parked close to the wall, plus with a shawl and also idling most of the time since 3:30 am
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6598.jpg


Roamed about in early morning a little around Koyoul, the tiredness does not affect when a traveller finds oneself
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6595.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6596.jpg


And then saw this villager leading his horse against that backdrop, the light was closing fast with dark clouds gathering around, got this shot - it was dramatic - as he moved out for the call of work. In landscape photography, there is something like Rarest of Light, and the light that I saw that day should come close!


Cold Desert, Changthang: At the tiny village of Koyoul, India, close to China border, leading his horse to camp through the rough weather of the cold desert of Changthang. On a late October cold night and with strong winds sweeping, early morning I see him leading the horse through inclement weather, their stances showing the wind strength. The burst of rising sunlight through clouds symbolized his mental strength. A nomad has to go out everyday with his livestock to graze, no days off whatever be the weather.

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And somehow I have to compare this shot with this one taken this month itself, at Chilka Lake, Orissa, on June 13, 2011. As monsoon cloud gathers and wind picks up speed, a lone fisherman in his small boat ventures out for his livelihood. Both these pictures, one at 15,000 feet and the other at 0 feet [sea level], show the struggles and the determination of the real common man of India, though separated by thousands of miles.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_3523pp.jpg




As our senses get saturated and awed by all these scenes and vistas, its time we to move on. Thanked the restaurant owner brothers for all hospitality and support, our plan was to go to the military base of Fukche and meet the Commanding Officer there. Again, as usual, just to present myself with a request if we will able to go to Demchok, the ultra-sensitive area of Changthang, the Indo-China border. Chances were slim but still there's no issue at least trying - we have made to this far. We had seen Indo-China border at Bum la, Arunachal, one visit here would just be again one of a journey to savor.




contd..

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2011 at 14:15.
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Old 27th June 2011, 14:13   #152
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

oh man, oh man. This is just unbeatable. You are changing the definition of family adventure
And also changing my itinerary with your every post
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Old 27th June 2011, 15:11   #153
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

Fukche/Koyoul - Demchok [Indo-China border]-Nyoma-Leh contd...


Some more info about Demchok:

Quote:
The Demchok tract is situated in the Chumathang belt and the Indus flows through it. This was the historic route of the caravans heading to various parts of China.

It is an arduous journey as the road is metalled only till Dugti 98 km from Leh. From Dugti there is a 100 km unmetalled road, which takes more than six hours to cover till the last Indian post at Demchok.

Demchok is the first settlement along the Indus as the river enters the Indian soil from Tibet. A typical cold desert village although compared to other parts of the Ladakh region it is situated at a low altitude. Administrative record books show that it has a population of 150 people living in 24 houses, all having solar-powered lights. The village itself was divided into two parts one held by India and the other by China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, though there is not a single divided family. On the Chinese side one can spot two houses and the road seems to be in a poor condition

Kailash Mansarovar is 300 km away from here. The trade route from Ladakh to Tibet passes through Demchok.

One can approach Demchok from Leh (330 km) and Rupshu.


At the military camp of Fukche, stopped at the gates, I asked the soldier that we are visitors and if we have a chance to visit the frontier post of Demchok, some 35 km dust track from here.

Soon the query has reached out to the Commanding Officer of the post, a young, smart guy who comes from the post in an ATV. That was an entry in itself, seeing an dashing young army officer with an imposing mountain range at the backdrop, coming out from the camp on an ATV - if not for the military installation would have taken a picture.

A very informal and pleasant hi and hello, handshakes, and then a short conversation as to from where and who we are and why we wanted to go!


For the why we would like to go further from here - we just want to go for the completion of the travel, to the border, to the last point till a vehicle can go - we have seen the Indo-China Line of Actual Control [LAC] at Bum la, Arunachal and going back from here, 35 km from this side of the Indo-China LAC would be very disappointing to say the least!

A good smile from the officer, took a pen and piece of paper, and wrote some golden words! That these guys starting from Fukche are going to Demchok and will return back on the same day, and that the junior officer there to show us around the place once we reach Demchok.

But his other instructions were clear - you people are going all alone on this 35 km track, keep to the right, there are two tricky water crossings, move along the telphone posts as much as possible, do not stray to the left, that is Chinese territory and you even can get caught. If possible, do not stop during the journey and only generic pictures of this senstive Indian border post.


And with a goodbye to the Major and a that valuable piece of paper in hand, we moved along - finally a journey of us all alone along a 35 km track along the River Indus, where we go along the LAC, sometimes to veer almost to the Chinese side to go back to the telephone post track of India.


And we were off and soon the first water crossing
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6616.jpg



The 2wd drive loaded Safari rear wheels dug deep and somehow got some traction to put itself through, getting stuck over at 15k feet isn't good and that too with the complete journey left
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6619.jpg




Done that we moved on lands beyond comparison..
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6650.jpg


Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6633.jpg


Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6643.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6638.jpg


Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6641.jpg


Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6655.jpg



Some part of the Fukche to Demchok goes through a high altitude, flat dry desert plateau. In just like that salt plains that we see on the TV where speed tests are done, and I picked up some triple digits speeds just for fun! It was amazingly flat.


Along the high altitude cold desert plateau of Changthang, Fukche-Demchok track
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6815.jpg




When you combine the parched lands of Little Rann of Kutch and the bare mountains of Changthang, Ladakh, one gets this!
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6662v1.jpg



Stopping briefly over here we moved forward towards the forward post....



contd...

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2011 at 15:15.
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Old 27th June 2011, 15:23   #154
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
And also changing my itinerary with your every post
You should, if you dont have Koyoul in your itinerary! And also may be Kyun Tso to that, courtesy vardhan and tanveer.
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Old 27th June 2011, 15:26   #155
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Bah. Yet another lovely trip from ADC. Was off team-bhp for a while and what a pleasant surprise on return !! Keep it up.
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Old 27th June 2011, 15:27   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
You should, if you dont have Koyoul in your itinerary! And also may be Kyun Tso to that, courtesy vardhan and tanveer.
All three of you should be banned from internet community . I have only 13 days in hand and I need to do all this, thanks to all three of you

And that water crossing looks scary
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Old 27th June 2011, 15:46   #157
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

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Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Was off team-bhp for a while and what a pleasant surprise on return !! Keep it up.
Thanks Sudipto-da, good to hear from you after a long time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
And that water crossing looks scary
Yes in this the rear wheels did go deep and was spinning down, but not to the stuck point. For a 2wd, got this from experience, the moment they start digging into to get stuck - instantly do a back gear just for a few seconds to just go into the traction side and then immediately with controlled thrust go through the likely stuck portion.

Two things are important - this action and controlling the accelerator finely - one will be surprised what a 2wd can do with controlled acceleration - but of course a 4wd is exactly that there's no equality or comparison.

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2011 at 15:55.
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Old 27th June 2011, 16:13   #158
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

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Originally Posted by adc View Post
Yes in this the rear wheels did go deep and was spinning down, but not to the stuck point. For a 2wd, got this from experience, the moment they start digging into to get stuck - instantly do a back gear just for a few seconds to just go into the traction side and then immediately with controlled thrust go through the likely stuck portion.

Two things are important - this action and controlling the accelerator finely - one will be surprised what a 2wd can do with controlled acceleration - but of course a 4wd is exactly that there's no equality or comparison.
Thanks for the tips. I am not sure if SX4 will take it, though it has already gone through some really tough patches
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Old 27th June 2011, 16:27   #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
I am not sure if SX4 will take it, though it has already gone through some really tough patches
It surely will. If there would have been a sedan that would suit for all travel, that is SX4 - it has got the best of its class GC and the torque - these two combination do give rise to a potent 2wd touring vehicle.

Good luck on your journey!

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2011 at 16:34.
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Old 27th June 2011, 16:35   #160
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Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
Thanks for the tips. I am not sure if SX4 will take it, though it has already gone through some really tough patches
From what I have seen, front engined FWD cars fare much better than SUVs(2WD) in tricky stretches.
SUVs have advantage of better underbody protection and GC.
If you can spend 4-5K and get a tough underbody guard for engine and sump, you are ready to take it all.

If you get crazy enough to do Kyun tso, carry two wooden planks.
At a couple of places, the safari was lifting a wheel. at such stretches, a wooden plank will sail you through.
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Old 27th June 2011, 16:41   #161
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
From what I have seen, front engined FWD cars fare much better than SUVs(2WD) in tricky stretches.
SUVs have advantage of better underbody protection and GC.
If you can spend 4-5K and get a tough underbody guard for engine and sump, you are ready to take it all.

If you get crazy enough to do Kyun tso, carry two wooden planks.
At a couple of places, the safari was lifting a wheel. at such stretches, a wooden plank will sail you through.
Thanks Tanveer, I am planing get the Sump and engine area covered, just need to identify the right design. Remember we discussed somewhere that a bad design of Sump Guard can do more damage

I am planning to keep two thick planks with one side studded to prevent slipping with Tyre rotation
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Old 28th June 2011, 01:36   #162
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Default Re: Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oc

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you get crazy enough to do Kyun tso, carry two wooden planks.
At a couple of places, the safari was lifting a wheel. at such stretches, a wooden plank will sail you through.
Well, we'll put this to the test come the first of July. There are two cars this time, so we are hoping that that should allow us to risk it a bit more compared to my usual solo craziness.

Of course, I am refraining from commenting on ADC's journey out of sheer jealousy. But seriously, this is such an incredible travelogue.
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Old 28th June 2011, 11:13   #163
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
I am planning to keep two thick planks with one side studded to prevent slipping with Tyre rotation

Quote:
Originally Posted by codelust View Post
Well, we'll put this to the test come the first of July. There are two cars this time, so we are hoping that that should allow us to risk it a bit more compared to my usual solo craziness.
As Tanveer referred this would be best sensible option with 2 vehicles following at a distance, one goes in, the other pulls it out.

But the plank think with rkbharat leading from the front would be most interesting, would definitely follow on how it goes, of course of best of try and luck for the Kyun Tso.



Lets continue now with the rest of the day...
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Old 28th June 2011, 11:20   #164
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Fukche/Koyoul - Demchok [Indo-China border]-Nyoma-Leh contd...



And so we moved on towards Demchok, as we go by side of Indus, keeping along the telephone posts as much as possible.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6694.jpg

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Some few kms before Demchok [Indo-Tibet border], the amazing track goes by side of River Indus
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6717.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6719.jpg




contd...
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Old 28th June 2011, 11:35   #165
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Fukche/Koyoul - Demchok [Indo-China border]-Nyoma-Leh contd...

Reached Demchok approx 35 km from Koyoul in 2 hours around. Showed the commanding officer over there the letter from the Major at Fukche and he deputed a soldier to show us around. Thanked him and we went towards the LAC area, Tibet [China] is mere 20 feet away.

Quote:
Demchok is a typical cold desert village although compared to other parts of the Ladakh region it is situated at a low altitude. Administrative record books show that it has a population of 150 people living in 24 houses, all having solar-powered lights. The village itself was divided into two parts one held by India and the other by China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, though there is not a single divided family. On the Chinese side one can spot two houses and the road seems to be in a poor condition


One nullah differentiates the two sides, the left side hills are of India and left side ones are of Tibet, China.
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Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6722.jpg

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Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6755.jpg




Demchok hot spring is located at the farthest end, as seen. With coldness and high velocity biting winds, the natural hot waters is very much used by the locals as well as the Army people.


And here as in Bum la, Arunachal, LAC, Safari VTT-TMT stands the maximum that one can go, on the Indo-China LAC.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6732.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6740.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6758.jpg



As we have hot tea, courtesy of a jawan at that post, an eagle appears, has a look and then goes back to the its territory to report! Must be Chinese[!!] but then they have cameras and camps facing towards this side for activities just as we have also.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6737.jpg

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Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6762.jpg


I had quite few questions about activities, just like what we heard in Arunachal LAC, this areas too is absolutely peaceful. Both sides are just alert as they should be, 24x7, 365 days a year.



Its time to move out now, what an experience it has been!

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6750.jpg

Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6742.jpg




Our national flag flies high at Demchok, the last inhabited area on the Line of Actual Control, as it overlooks Tibet, China.
Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10-img_6766.jpg


as it continues to do at the Indo-Tibet border of China at Bumla, Arunachal. National Flag at Bum la-Indo-China LAC (Safari VTT-TMT Exotic Tour - Known and Unknown Western Arunachal and Nameri[Assam])
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The hospitality we got was fantastic, soon we had bread and some food - gladly had them as again this was breakfast and lunch combined. Thanked the soldiers and a goodbye, it was time for the huge return journey - some 350 km to Leh, it was already close to 1 pm as we left Demchok for Leh.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 28th June 2011 at 11:44.
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