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Old 27th December 2011, 12:30   #1411
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms
Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms
Aug 25, Kargil-Leh, 259 kms
Aug 26, Leh, 148 kms
Aug 27, 2011, Leh-Turtuk, 241 kms


Aug 28, 2011, Leh-Pangong Tso, 445 kms


- Will we reach Pangong Tso today?
- What if the car topples over?
- To go or not to go?
- Rs 7,500 is a lot of money to lose, isn't it?
- 27-16-14, the shrinking team?
- How to locate one Pole with a soul?


The fear - will the car topple over? - was now out of the way after repairing my Scorpio's leaf springs.

With that depressed feeling, we drove to the Jorchung Guest House in Leh. Plans were being discussed to have a grand Tibetan food dinner. I was wondering how I am going to re-work the schedule now that we have slipped up on reaching Pangong today.

I walked into the hotel room and found the Mumbai Roadsters huddled in their room in a quandary. What's up, I wonder. Apparently, AP runs some business back home in Bombay and the business is missing him or something like that - lots of customers yelling for their chivadas and that has AP maha-worried, he is getting calls every second minute from fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles, grand-uncles, kakas, chachas and all that, and he has decided that he wants to go back.......and NOW! And since he has borrowed the SWift from his cousin, with the express undertaking that no other hands except his will soil the steering wheel, he is also wondering how he is going to drive back alone all the way back to Bombay. I also mouthed some advice, sympathies and solutions, little do I know about his customers' hunger pangs. The scene in their hotel room looked quite somber, his pals exhorting him to continue on the drive and defer his going back.

What of the others?
It was like a ship had come into a wayside port after a long voyage and the sailors sauntering away, each to his own, to shop, gawk & much other sundry jobs around the port area.

Bol Bolero decided to make up for the lost opportunity of Aug 26 and decided to see some gompas himself in Thikshey & Shey.

TS, the evergreen young man in pursuit of spirituality, the Indian experience and the good lens shots, decided to hop off in Thikshey Gompa to have tete-a-tetes with the lamas there, since it would be pointless to come back to Leh so early. And he said he will make his own way back.

Lalu was with me, he could not even find a stray dog in the workshop compound to snap his shutters. Used car parts lying in a dusty compound definitely do not make great subjects for photography, I am sure.

JC & his team (except for TS) were with me in the workshop too and we all returned to the hotel. Shibu was a worried man - we had paid some Rs 7,500 in advance to a travel agent in Leh market to book tents in Pangong Lake just to be assured of a bed and roof in case there was some sudden inflow of tourists that day (since we were such a large group). He had skilfully haggled for a rock-bottom rate of Rs 500 per head (when the normal cost for a twin-sharing tent is almost Rs 3000), and the camp guys were very clear that we will lose the money paid in the event of a no-show. We know that if we leave the next day, we may opt out of staying in Pangong and instead move ahead, so that money would be a loss for us.

Some days ago, DB and SS (the son-in-law father-in-law pair in my Scorpio from Bombay/Ahmedabad) had told me that they prefer to fly back to Bombay instead of driving back - they felt that the journey was too arduous and accordingly they booked themselves an airline seat from Leh, leaving on Sep 2. But now, they came up to me and said that they had decided to curtail their trip today itself and spend the remaining days in Leh itself. WHAT - you ahve come all the way to Ladakh and you go without visiting Pangong Lake? Maybe they were dismayed by the problems my Scorpio was facing or they were simply too tired, I don't know which. So here we are, our team strength comes down to 14!
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Old 27th December 2011, 12:41   #1412
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This in my opinion is the second most important issue (first being your own health) when it comes to doing a road trip in the Himalayas.

Since we were doing this trip as a part of such a great team most of the issues wrt going in a swift were taken care of and in addition the swift itself is a very reliable vehicle among the hatches available.

So by the virtue of the above we did not need to do much apart from a regular checkup and service before we left from Mumbai.

When it comes to my previous trip we had a lot to do since ours was the only car, we had only one driver and it was a car built from scrap.

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What if my car breaks down in Ladakh?

What if.......?

Have you prepared your car well before the trip?
The last time i bought an army auction scrap gypsy and re-built it myself which helped me ensure that everything was new and reliable, btw this turned out to be more reliable & cheaper than buying an unknown used gypsy.
So know your car really really well and for long before the trip.

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Do you understand your car beyond the wax polishing and ICE?
This in my opinion is the most important aspect, general understanding of how things work and specific knowledge of what is located where under the hood/body of your car is very very important. Knowledge regarding the electricals comes in handy very often (it is also easier to work on and fix yourself as compared to the mechanicals)
Another important aspect is appropriate defensive driving skill when you know that something is wrong and you need to make it to the workshop.

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Are there some essential spares like fuses, puncture kits & tools in your car?
Wow this was my favourite part. I had a return arrangement with a part shop and had taken gypsy spares worth 15K (which dint include a clutch) of which i endedup using stuff worth about 2k during the last trip.

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Is there someone you can call as a technical troubleshooting helpline - other than silly girls manning service centre desks in your service centre back home?
Very very important, my 4X4 gear stick was stuck in neutral and so the vehicle was alive but yet stuck 25kms before Keylong. I luckily had a little network on my BSNL and could manage to speak to an expert mechanic in mumbai and he on the phone directed me to open the top cover unplug the gear stick and engage the 2X4 using a screwdriver. All this due to a small bush cracking in cold temperature.

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There is no need to run scared of possible break-downs in the midst of nowhere - they will definitely happen! You have to be ready with a suitable response, it is impossible to go through such a long and arduous drive without some niggling issue or the other.

Our own KSM-vTEC broke a accelerator wire on his way up Barlacha la, but got a army mechanic to help him fix it again (he had a spare wire, of course).
Luckily i had a spare accelerator cable and all the tools, but since i had never replaced a cable myself it would take me much more time (which i just dint have, we had just 1 hour of daylight). So we decided to drive on with a handheld accelerator and take help from the army guys at Sarchu the next morning.


Well said HVK!!!
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So don't worry - be prepared, get your hands dirty and trust in God.

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 27th December 2011 at 12:44.
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Old 27th December 2011, 12:56   #1413
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While on the topic of preparing your vehicle for a long journey, nothing can sometimes be enough.

I prepared my Scorpio well.
Among other things, I keep telling all to be careful about the battery in Ladakh since you will need all the power that you can get to start up on those cold mornings. And nothing but a 120% fit battery will do.

You would have probably noted that I had starting trouble in Turtuk. Before the trip, I had the battery output tested, terminals cleaned, one of the loose terminal joints fixed and all that, but I missed out one important detail - and this was to trouble me through the trip.........
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Old 28th December 2011, 12:06   #1414
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We consulted the team and 2 possibilities emerged - except me, the rest of the team proceed on the circuit as planned, taking the original permits with them. Or we stick together, finish my Scorpio's repairs ad proceed together the next day as planned.

The team thought it over - but were firm that we all go together even if it meant that we lost a day. What team spirit! ....If necessary, we cut out some sector ti make up for the lost time. Wah Wah, I cannot but express my admiration and gratitude for this team spirit.
This was a turning point and would change our schedule a little (which was ok because we would just need to have another long day and we would be back on track for rest of the destinations) HVK leaves for Leh and the rest of the team sits back at Karu finishing the parathas and enjoying the spare time we had.

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By luck, I meet a guy who directs me to one corner of a ground where - O M G - there is indeed a spring guy at work on a Tata pick-up! He is there specially that Sunday. He looks at my springs, nods and asks me to wait.
HVK reaches Leh and i call him from Karu just as he finds a helpful mechanic on a holiday.

A few ambitious thoughts pass my mind immediately but i dont speak up and just suggest to the team that we leave for Leh asap and spend the time there.

We take one Swift and just sprint to the workshop in Leh where HVK was waiting for his car to be takenup and get to know that the work can be concluded in an hours time and its only 3PM now.

I remind HVK that in 2009 i had left from Karu for Pangong after refuelling at 4PM and all the check post let us pass. Yes it was really dark when we reached Pangong that year but we did make it for dinner.
So can we give it a shot if the work gets done on time?

But wait!!! the team is already in holiday mode and has dispersed in different directions..(some sleeping, some shopping, some sightseeing and 1 packing to leave from Mumbai all alone) and every one is dreaming of a three course meal


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A very relieved person I was, but now what? It is hardly 4 pm - what do we do now? There is going to be a twist in the tail!
So now one thing is assured that we can leave really early in the morning on the next day

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 28th December 2011 at 12:09.
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Old 28th December 2011, 14:27   #1415
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Plans were being discussed to have a grand Tibetan food dinner. I was wondering how I am going to re-work the schedule now that we have slipped up on reaching Pangong today.
This was something we were now looking forward to! It really shows how the entire team had accepted the situation and had converted it into an opportunity for a celebration night!!

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I walked into the hotel room and found the Mumbai Roadsters huddled in their room in a quandary. What's up, I wonder. Apparently, AP runs some business back home in Bombay ... and he has decided that he wants to go back.......and NOW! And since he has borrowed the SWift from his cousin, with the express undertaking that no other hands except his will soil the steering wheel, he is also wondering how he is going to drive back alone all the way back to Bombay.
Phew this was one shocking and tensed situation, AP had decided to leave for mumbai alone and take the Swift with him. We were not comfortable with this idea since he was going to be alone and if he needed any kind of help it wouldn't have been possible. All this for what?? Just to save a couple of days??

We transferred our bags and gave him some used clothes etc to take home and just as he was about to leave he decided to try and speak with his family one last time about the delay and the situation turned around...AP had decided to stay back. So our IPHE Team and the Mumbai Roadsters remained intact.

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Shibu was a worried man - we had paid some Rs 7,500 in advance to a travel agent in Leh market to book tents in Pangong Lake ... so that money would be a loss for us.
Since we were not going to make it to Pangong for the night the tent booking advance that we had paid was at stake. I clearly remember the hotel agent telling us that he was doing us a favour by giving us a huge discount. Now something told me that he would not agree to postpone our booking or still worst return the advance we paid since we may not even spend the next night at Pangong to save time and move to a place closer to our next destination as per the original plan.


To be cont.....

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 28th December 2011 at 14:33.
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Old 28th December 2011, 14:56   #1416
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Well, Kaushik comes up with this idea that why don't we go on to Pangong Lake tonight itself, maybe we will find some cold weather there, Leh is so waaarmmmmm!

I am always the cautious Jack, chided him and said, "Arey Bhai, the check post at Zingral will close at 5 pm AFAIK, and it can be pretty dicey driving in the dark!"

In any case, I heard BolBolero whispering loud that he had not had a bath for the last 3 days or whatever and TS was not traceable, since he had been dropped off at Thikshey and he did not have any mobile number to be contacted.

I comforted Shibu that the worst is we lose Rs 500 per head because of the no-show Pangong Lake resort camp advance bookings.

I could see JC in the Leh hotel....but where was his able co-driver NJ and my own team mate Lalu? They had already left for Thikshey in search of the spirited TS who could be anywhere in Ladakh by now........
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Old 28th December 2011, 15:28   #1417
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Health is ignored by many. My Ladakh trip this year had 3 friends with me in my Safari. I had given them elaborate preparatory advice over 6 months in advance, which was willfully neglected.

Since I approached the trip from Srinagar, Zanskar was out first diversion. One of the team had nose bleeding issues when we reached Pensi La. This continued to aggravate and after a 2 day stop at Leh and doctors advice, 2 of the team had to fly back.. before even the major part of the trip started.

Its always advisable to have some basic fitness in place and ensure that if you have any health issues, get them sorted or ensure you have a doctors advice and prescription handy on the trip.

As the roads in the mountains improve and more and more people are drawn to it, this is something that might play spoilsport to many well made plans.
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Old 28th December 2011, 19:00   #1418
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Health is ignored by many. My Ladakh trip this year had 3 friends with me in my Safari. I had given them elaborate preparatory advice over 6 months in advance, which was willfully neglected.
We also drove the good health tips before the trip and were lucky to see good results through the drive, barring some minor ailments. I don't recall anyone having any AMS symptoms or any other health problems.
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Old 28th December 2011, 23:37   #1419
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this is turning out to be a suspense thriller HVK, people shuffling around plans in quick succession :P
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Old 29th December 2011, 23:19   #1420
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Day 12: Turtuk to PangongTso 28th. August 2011

An early morning at the Turtuk Holiday Camp, but only for the IPHE Team. The scheduled departure time this morning was going to be around 4:00am. Most of the guys were up by 3:00am. It was too cold to even think of taking a bath, so I would have to make do with just washing my face. Two days without a bath, a first for me!

The master organiser KSM-Vtec had already made arrangements for Tea and a packed breakfast the night before. We were pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Rahimtullah Khan the owner of Turtuk Holiday Camp personally serving us tea at that unearthly hour with a smile on his face. Turtuk will have to be visited again!

We left the camp at around 4:10am in pitch darkness. I guess we must be doing good speed, because we crossed the Thoise Air Force station at around 6:00am.

Thoise Air Force Station
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Snowcapped mountains near the Thoise Air Force Station
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I was pretty much the last in the convoy during the morning speed run. We reached Khalsar by around 7:10 am without realising that we crossed Deskit and Hundar somewhere in between. At the tea break at Khalsar, HVK was gesticulating angrily with a cup of tea in his hand at the late comers, mainly us in the Bolero, about being slow and slowing down the whole team! He gave us just 5 minutes to finish our tea and start moving again. Horror of horrors, we needed to refuel the Bolero, so 5 minutes were out of the question! Somehow managed to refuel the Bolero and have tea also and we were ready to move on after around 10 minutes!

The Mumbai Roadsters on the road after Khalsar
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Shayok River
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The IPHE convoy!
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A water crossing
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Baby Alto @ water crossing
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BolBolero's Bolero @ water crossing
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Snowcapped mountains
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Cute Donkey! Never thought I'd say that!
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Change of drivers!
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Interesting mountain face!
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Not sure if this lady was waving or shielding her eyes from the sun! I assumed she was waving and I waved back!
HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-img_4522.jpg

to be continued....
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Old 30th December 2011, 00:43   #1421
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Day 12: Turtuk to PangongTso 28th. August 2011

continued...

We crossed the 5324 mts ASL WariLa at around 10:00 am. We were at Shakti at 11:15 am and at Karu by 11:30 am. It was supposed to be a quick refuelling halt
for the run to PangongTso and onwards. But a lot of surprises in store for the team. JeepCaptain had a puncture which needed to be repaired. HVK had damaged/ broken leaf springs. So the immediate run to PangongTso after the refuelling was out of the question.

JP and TS at the Karu Petrol Pump
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SS, DB and TS looking intently at Discovery Bolero's flat tire!
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The Mumbai Roadsters refuelling
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KSM-Vtec doing the maths!
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A cute kid at the Petrol Pump
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So here we were the IPHE team at Karu, with Chief HVK unable to go forward towards PangongTso due to the broken leafsprings. A lot of discussions took place over countless cups of tea at the roadside stall at Karu! Some including HVK were of the opinion that we should continue and that HVK would catch up with us by the next morning. Some people decided to not carry on with the trip and get back to Leh and thereon towards their final destination - home!

HVK himself made a lot of phone calls to people in Leh to find out the availability of mechanics on a Sunday. After many many agonising minutes, he finally left for Leh in search of a leaf spring mechanic. The rest of us pondered a lot and then finally a decision was made to head back to Leh to Jorchung Guest house. In all probability we would be heading to PangongTso the next morning and from there onwards..
We would be going to the Guest House, probably freshening up, do some shopping and have a grand Ladakhi Dinner tonight. Well that was the general plan..

So off they went...

On the Leh - Manali highway going towards Leh we encountered the

mountains near Stakna
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Stakna Gompa
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The mountains across the highway near Stakna
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We crossed the
Thiksey monastery
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A gompa in the distance?
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Shanti Stupa
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We reached Jorchung Guest House Leh at around 2:20pm and promptly took the keys to the rooms we had vacated just yesterday morning! Some of us ended up in the dining room eating the Parathas that laluks had got packed at Karu.

I knew what I was going to do! Take a nice hot water bath, get fresh and head out to the market for some T-shirt souvenior shopping!

to be continued....
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Old 30th December 2011, 01:32   #1422
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
With that depressed feeling, we drove to the Jorchung Guest House in Leh. Plans were being discussed to have a grand Tibetan food dinner. I was wondering how I am going to re-work the schedule now that we have slipped up on reaching Pangong today.
Depressing it was, but the idea of having a Grand Tibetan/ Ladakhi dinner was very tempting!

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I walked into the hotel room and found the Mumbai Roadsters huddled in their room in a quandary. What's up, I wonder. Apparently, AP runs some business back home in Bombay and the business is missing him or something like that - lots of customers yelling for their chivadas and that has AP maha-worried, he is getting calls every second minute from fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles, grand-uncles, kakas, chachas and all that, and he has decided that he wants to go back.......and NOW! And since he has borrowed the SWift from his cousin, with the express undertaking that no other hands except his will soil the steering wheel, he is also wondering how he is going to drive back alone all the way back to Bombay. I also mouthed some advice, sympathies and solutions, little do I know about his customers' hunger pangs. The scene in their hotel room looked quite somber, his pals exhorting him to continue on the drive and defer his going back.
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AP had decided to leave for mumbai alone and take the Swift with him. We were not comfortable with this idea since he was going to be alone and if he needed any kind of help it wouldn't have been possible. All this for what?? Just to save a couple of days??

That was one tense moment for everyone. Anku driving back to Bombay ALONE!


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What of the others?
It was like a ship had come into a wayside port after a long voyage and the sailors sauntering away, each to his own, to shop, gawk & much other sundry jobs around the port area.
Well said Sir!

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Bol Bolero decided to make up for the lost opportunity of Aug 26 and decided to see some gompas himself in Thikshey & Shey.
Unfortunately couldn't visit Thiksey from the inside. Had to satisfy myself with the external view. Some other time perhaps! Could not go to Shey either.

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Some days ago, DB and SS (the son-in-law father-in-law pair in my Scorpio from Bombay/Ahmedabad) had told me that they prefer to fly back to Bombay instead of driving back - they felt that the journey was too arduous and accordingly they booked themselves an airline seat from Leh, leaving on Sep 2. But now, they came up to me and said that they had decided to curtail their trip today itself and spend the remaining days in Leh itself. WHAT - you ahve come all the way to Ladakh and you go without visiting Pangong Lake? Maybe they were dismayed by the problems my Scorpio was facing or they were simply too tired, I don't know which. So here we are, our team strength comes down to 14!
This was a real shocker, when I came to know of this at Karu itself!

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Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
This was a turning point and would change our schedule a little (which was ok because we would just need to have another long day and we would be back on track for rest of the destinations) HVK leaves for Leh and the rest of the team sits back at Karu finishing the parathas and enjoying the spare time we had.
HVK reaches Leh and i call him from Karu just as he finds a helpful mechanic on a holiday.
A few ambitious thoughts pass my mind immediately but i dont speak up and just suggest to the team that we leave for Leh asap and spend the time there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Well, Kaushik comes up with this idea that why don't we go on to Pangong Lake tonight itself, maybe we will find some cold weather there, Leh is so waaarmmmmm!
I am always the cautious Jack, chided him and said, "Arey Bhai, the check post at Zingral will close at 5 pm AFAIK, and it can be pretty dicey driving in the dark!"
So now we know who was the person who thwarted our Grand Tibetan/Ladakhi dinner plans!
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Old 30th December 2011, 11:20   #1423
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms
Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms
Aug 25, Kargil-Leh, 259 kms
Aug 26, Leh, 148 kms
Aug 27, 2011, Leh-Turtuk, 241 kms


Aug 28, 2011, Leh-Pangong Tso, 445 kms


- Will we reach Pangong Tso today?

I think that is evident in the title that we did drive the same day to Pangong!

- What if the car topples over?

It did not, thanks to the nice mechanic who went to neither church nor masjid (He goes to temples though!) on a Sunday, and fixed the broken springs in the car, with the guarantee that it is good for the next 5000 kms till I reach Bombay at least , if not more. With a caution that I should be easy on bad roads because the welded springs would have lost their springiness, ride will be very harsh and the remaining springs can get over-stressed.

- To go or not to go?

With powerful motivation from Kaushiks, how can one not go on? 5-course Tibetan dinners can wait.

- Rs 7,500 is a lot of money to lose, isn't it?

JC bargained his way, cancelled the bookings, then re-booked! We got groggy wondering whether the instruction cancelling the bookings reached Pangong, or the re-booking info reached Pangong!! We had the cars anyway to sleep in!

- 27-16-14, the shrinking team?

Yes, that happened. We almost became 13, but AP decided to stay on instead of trying to drive non-stop solo back to Bombay. But DB and SS bailed out and decided to spend the next few days (before their Sep 2 airline trip) sightseeing in Leh city.

- How to locate one Pole with a soul?

That was the biggest challenge - how to locate TS who had wandered off alone at Thikshey. Right from the workshop, NJ and Lalu drove off in the Bolero in pursuit of the missing Pole. They went searching in every gompa (almost!) en route to Thikshey and I believe after lots of fruitless endeavours, they managed to locate our sexagenarian in Thikshey photographing some young Ladakhi ladies, lamas (he even found some lady lamas, I think) & landscapes (strictly in that order!). They firmly clamped on to him awaiting further “travel” instructions! That was the key!

Wonder struck at this stroke of luck, we scrambled to our cars, left a bemused Jorchung Guest House owner gaping, bid the 2 senior citizens DB & SS good bye, checked our cars once more and whizzed off from Leh towards Pangong – the time was 430 pm when we rounded the Leh petrol pump round and reached the Karu petrol pump – for one more round of refueling – since we had to do the next 800 odd kms without any more filling stations (and I was carrying 40 litres of diesel extra in cans) at 515 pm.

The team reassembled at the Karu petrol pump and we moved together. The road to Chang la is fantastic except for the final ascent. At Zingral check post6 pm – they did not even bother to check our permits, simply waved us past, looks like there are no more time restrictions towards Chang la. Road was dry, no snow, but for a change we shivered in the cold at Chang la 5370 metres, at 620 pm. We made just that one obligatory halt to take photos, had to move on, we still had nearly 80 kms more to go and darkness was enveloping the mountain sides. Once the lights switched on, there was the usual irritation of getting blinded by the headlights of the cars behind – and I had 5 of them behind me!! – and we observed some protocols of maintaining safe distance so that each can drive without worrying about the glare from the lights behind. I find it disconcerting to drive on the hills since the other headlights make a play on the cliff faces and confuse you on the turns and downs. Roads were fairly decent, although there were many stretches of dirt road interspersed with tar.

Darbuk at 740 pm. This is the junction where the direct Agham-Shayok road intersects, the alternative to Wari La from the Nubra Valley. Tangtse at 8 pm – and the checking of permits at the check post there. No drive time restrictions here too.

Tangtse is the last village where you have some accommodation before Pangong, which is just 30-odd kms away (I have stayed in Tangtse couple of times and the acco is very basic). The road ahead was not easy to drive in, especially at night, there are too many water crossings and the road frequently (did I count some 30 such??) dips down steeply into a pit where the water crosses – and to alert the car behind, I started flashing my hazard lights every time I hit one of those water crossings. But happily, none of them had water – or had little water – but you must be cautious during the early months of Jun-Jul when heavy snow melt means these roads can be overflowing with water late in the day.

Pagal Nullah – who has not heard of it? The dreaded water crossing 17 kms before Pangong Lake which has been one of the worst sections in the entire Ladakh circuit. Water flow from snow melt descends onto the road, washing it away. On a hot day, the water can be even 2 feet deep by evening, and it is better to take this sector in the morning hours when water flow is minimal. The BRO has built many bridges here in the past, but all of them have been washed away. During the last Ladakh trip in the year 2009, we had to drive on the dry river bed which is fully of boulders, which is also one reason why it is dangerous to drive if water is even less than half a feet deep because you simply cannot see the tarck and you can easily fall into a pit or hit a sharp boulder under the water.

But happily, the BRO has finally vanquished the Pagal Nullah the last 2 years and the new bridge they have built a little higher up has survived the ravages of the water flow and you can now drive any time, never mind if it is a warm day and after lunch time!

So, after some exasperated feelings from the first-timers who have grown up romancing Ladakh drives with tales of Pagal Nullahs, “what is so great?” “can’t see any madness here” and “we have seen worse”, we finally reach Lukung, the head of the Pangong Tso. At 9 pm. Needless to say, we missed the picture card photo op of the “First View of Pangong Lake” which graces many phohto albums, the night was pitch dark. Entering the perimeter of the Lake, some basic instinct took over and I missed the way and shot off on the road to Marisimik la – some sub-conscious instinct to go drive up the highest motorable road in the world (yes, that is the M la, not the K la, even though M comes after K).

We reach our resort for the day – the Marisimik la Camp – which is a tent camp resort on the banks of the Pangong Lake. Happily, our bookings were intact, and dinner was ready to be served. We checked into the tents – these ones had their own loos – which normally cost some 3K apiece, but were ours for 1K (Rs 500 per head).

For those looking for cheaper acco, you have to either check out with the tea shop tent wala just below who offers beds for some Rs 100 a night or go some 5 kms further down the road – not easy – to Spangimik, which has some homestays.

The cars were all parked face towards the wall, with “sweatering” since it was cold here.

At the dinner table, we said Hi to a large group from Bombay – in taxi Innovas from Leh – who were playing some games! (After we returned back home, we saw a blog from one of the members in that group which mentioned “their” encounter with a “Nat Geo/ Discover” shoot team (meaning JC’s Bolero)!!

Although I heard some feeble noises about night photography and star gazing, I doubt if anyone had any stamina left at the end of such a long eventful day……..

But we had made it to Pangong Tso as scheduled – and that is what mattered!
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Old 30th December 2011, 11:59   #1424
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Ah, Now would come the photographs of the most beautifull lake in the world Pangong Tso. And I mean it when I say the most beautifull, because I think it is indeed. Cloud, rain, sunshine or snow the lake has its own charm!!!
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Old 30th December 2011, 16:37   #1425
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I guess irrespective how many people are there in a team or how experienced the group is, there comes a time when we need to make some tough decisions and such situations show the real braves ones from the ones who back off from deciding. The IPHE team has indeed made some real tough decisions and its good see to people who were ready to make such decisions and take the responsibilities and also those who returned, I am sure must have been a tough decision to make. hats off to you guys. Story is getting very very thrilling as it goes over the J&K. Good narration by everyone and especially the Thoise airfield pictures are superb.
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