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Old 6th January 2013, 23:38   #196
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Default Re: Day 10 #5 : Caprine excreta

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Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
Well a question was popped yesterday on 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' as to where these Kiang's are found in India. And it was worth 50 Lacs!!!
So did was he/she able to answer the question? I am curious.
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Old 7th January 2013, 14:17   #197
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Default Re: Day 10 #5 : Caprine excreta

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So did was he/she able to answer the question? I am curious.
No, she quit at 25 Lacs. She nearly guessed it to be from Kutch region. Thank God she quit. Kiang's are supposed to be the largest and most wide-spread breed of the Asian Wild ***.
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Old 7th January 2013, 14:35   #198
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Default Re: Day 10 #5 : Caprine excreta

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No, she quit at 25 Lacs. She nearly guessed it to be from Kutch region. Thank God she quit. Kiang's are supposed to be the largest and most wide-spread breed of the Asian Wild ***.
Khurs in Kutch are close relatives of the ladakhi kiang
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Old 8th January 2013, 17:15   #199
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Default Day 10 #6 : The elephant in the room

So we have had an awesome day. Climbed the hill to get an amazing view of the twin lakes.
Learnt new things about Goat droppings, and even spotted the elusive kiangs.

The going has been good, but since morning I have been ignoring the part of my brain worrying about the white elephant.

As soon as we reach the GH, we make a run for the BRO camp.
Night has fallen, and as we reach the BRO guys are waiting for us.

All fixed.
They show me the pipe where they cut the ends and fixed it again. But I am a worried man. I am sure I saw another pipe leak too!

So what to do?
We fill up the radiator, and start warming the car. Its well below zero, and standing here waiting for an hour will not do.

So what next? Well we decide to take an uphill TD? Where to go? Well the steepest uphill is right next to us. the Photi La road.

So in pitch darkness we go around 5kms, and the temp guage rises to near half.
We stop, I open the bonnet, and...

There is a pipe leaking.
Its a small 2 inch long pipe located in an unreachable place. There is no way this pipe can be removed without removing stuff like turbo and all.

The BRO engineer is not worried.
"Bring her in tomorrow" we will fix it. is what he says.

But I am very apprehensive? This looks like a bigger job.
As we go to the guest house I make a few calls, and I am told the trick bombay taxis use. Loosen radiator cap, drive, and keep filling water every 30 minutes.

Looks like this is what we have to do.
I am going in panic mode again, when my better half keeps a saner head

"We will get it fixed here only" she says
"Who knows what kind of workshop tata has at Leh?"

I am in a bit of dilemma.
Options are clear
1. Go to Tso moriri with radiator cap open, and then head for leh day after
2. Go to Leh tomorrow itself and make a day trip to moriri

However, my wife suggests, why not give the BRO engineers a chance. If they can reach the pipe, our plans will be good.

For now, she suggests we have dinner, and go visit the night sky waiting for us.

Well night sky. Thats always an option.

So after dinner in pitch dark, we fire up our leaking elephant, and decide to click photographs.
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Old 8th January 2013, 18:43   #200
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Day 10 #7 : The nights of Hanle

Its 10pm. And its cold
Very cold.
-5 degree is what the made in china green thermometer tells me.
This means my hands are freezing as I handle the metal tripod and camera. Cannot wear gloves, they do not offer tactile feel of operating the small buttons.
On the bright side, low temperatures mean lower noise.

We start up the leaky elephant, and make a beeling for the road leading upto mount Saraswati, the mountain on which the Chandra telescope stands.
But we are not going up. The telescope is operating, and even slightly light can cause issues, and I am in no mood to drive up with no moonlight for aid.
So we come to a stop near the base of the climb, facing southwards, towards Punguk village.

The milky way shows the way, with the galactic core starting to rise. It will pek around midnight, or post midnight, but I am not waiting till then. Its too damn cold here!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6674_lrxl.jpg

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Northwards, the sky offers a different picture. There are so many stars out here, I cannot even make out the constellations
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I decide to take out the 50mm and shoot wide open. Bad choice, since full wide open it has some serious CA. The blue is due to CA
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6677_lrxl.jpg

Time to rotate camera again, and get the Andromeda galaxy
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6678_lrxl.jpg

A 200mm lens at F2.8 would have been wonderful here, but beggers can't be choosers

So I settle for the millky way
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6679_lrxl.jpg

And take a few aimless shots too!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6681_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6682_lrxl.jpg

Barely 20 minutes have passed when I decide to call it quits. The wind is rising, and its getting cold. Very very cold. How cold? Well anything below -5 is too too cold.

This time I do not let my panic guide. We tuck in the white elephant as we retire for the night
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6683_lrxl.jpg

So will the tarp keep her warm. Tomorrow morning will tell.
Will we go to Leh or Moriri?
Tomorrow will tell
Will we drive with the open radiator cap or closed on?
Tomorrow will tell

The night simply is for sleeping.
And with questions we lay down to sleep.

The elephant may have broken down, but as my wife said, we saw what we came to see, and we shot what we came to shoot. Hanle had not dissapointed. The skies had cooperated, and the moon had stayed away.

Time for a good night
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Old 9th January 2013, 08:26   #201
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Awesome photographs of heavenly bodies and fantastic narration. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 9th January 2013, 12:09   #202
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Fantastic pictures of the night sky. Can you share the EXIF info for the first photograph.
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Old 9th January 2013, 12:27   #203
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Fantastic pictures of the night sky. Can you share the EXIF info for the first photograph.
Fisheye shots taken 8mm F3.5 around 45 seconds
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Old 9th January 2013, 14:23   #204
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Day 10 #7 : The nights of Hanle
The travelogue has been simply superb & pictures amazing.

I keep marveling at your ability to take great photos & could not help but envy you at the same time

Any chance of rating it higher than 5 ?
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Old 9th January 2013, 18:24   #205
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Default Day 11 #1 : The fix

I do not remember what I had for breakfast. I was too worried to notice what I was eating.
We had a lot to cover, a lot to drive, and a lot to endure. The toughest section of our trip lay ahead of us, and our Elephant was leaking.

On the bright side, she cranked to life on the first crank, thanks to the tarp treatment.
On the bright side, even the sun was shining brightly, even though it was -3 at 9am in the morning.

Our destination was the BRO workshop, where the men were waiting for us.
The BRO amazes me. These guys toil day in and day out, in the harshest of conditions. Peacetime or wartime, their job never ends. for their enemy is the terrain. Its the weather, its the harsh conditions.
Day after day they cut through mountains, lay down roads, and work with their bare hands.
They do not have the latest tools, nor do they have unlimited machinery at their disposal. Yet they go about their work day after day.
And when people like us come for help, they never refuse.
Whether its driving their transformers half a km away just to help a lone traveller, to to cut through mountains of ice, they take it all in their stride.

Today morning they were not idle. There was a big dozer not starting. The old engine oil had hardned up due to a week of inactivity, and engine was not turning anymore, thanks to the battery which got drained.
They had deadlines to meet, roads to make, yet when we turned up, their head mechanic started working on the white elephant.

First we stood there and surveyed the engine bay. The tiny 2 inch pipe lay deep inside, and tools would not reach there.
So it was decided, remove the turbo hose and the air filter box. They mostly had big tools, for their big machines. Luckily I was carrying a suitcase full of every concievable small tool you could need.
Spanners of all sizes? Check
Screwdriver with all heads ? Check
M-Seal? Check
Lubricants? Check
Ropes? Check
Cable ties? Check

And so they started to work. After an hour of effort, the tube came lose, and now it had to be fixed. Lot of options were thought of. Seal it with a condom and limp to leh? Put mseal and some additional rubber around it? Weld it using heat?

The chief tech Harbhan Singh would have none of it. He and another tech Sunil decided that a replacement would have to be found. They also decided to get some screw type clamps since the original clip on clamps were almost gone.

So we decided to raid their "Vehicle Graveyard".
Here all old machines go to die. Machines which are beyond repair, defeated by the mountains. There lay an old pneumatic compressor, used to give air to pneumatic drills for cutting rock.

Compressors usually have lot of tubing, so with hammers and whatever they could find, the it was ripped apart, and a suitable thickness pipe was found.

This pipe was much harder than what tata had given, and was made to withstand pressures the white elephant could not even dream of creating.
This also posed another problem. How to get it to climb on the metal ends?
Simple, they set it on fire using a kerosene stove. The stove had been doing duty under the big dozer, which they managed to start with over an hour of effort by a combination of under engine stove and jump starts from a truck.
Now this stove was lighting up this hose, and finally just before noon, the repair job was done.
The elephant was repaired. A quick run up the photi La road revealed no further leaking, and we were all set.
And with that, they shared my joy as we had a miny treat with the dry fruits etc,. we were carrying. They wanted us to stay back for lunch. They were cooking chicken. But alas, we had to start. Tso moriri awaited. Of course, we will go to Leh for a final checkup, but for now the Elephant was fine, and roaring without any coolant spraying anywhere.

So with one final snap with our new friends, we started our journey. Time to put up a pic with our saviors! the 124 RCC!

Not once but twice they had saved our skins.

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6684_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6689_lrxl.jpg
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Old 9th January 2013, 18:39   #206
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Great determination by the BRO to help you out in the middle of nowhere. It is very heartening to hear such stories.

BTW a wonderful travelogue and please keep them coming.
The pics of the night sky is breathtaking.
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Old 10th January 2013, 11:22   #207
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

A silent salute to these brave souls who come what may are ready to sacrifice everything for their nation. It is indeed a heart warming tale to hear how they step in and provide help to all those who are in need. A pity really how little we value their lives who are putting everything at stake for this nation's safety even at their own peril meeting a gruesome end as happened recently. Seriously we pay a very very short shrift to the keepers of our nation :(.
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Old 10th January 2013, 11:26   #208
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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A silent salute to these brave souls who come what may are ready to sacrifice everything for their nation. It is indeed a heart warming tale to hear how they step in and provide help to all those who are in need. A pity really how little we value their lives who are putting everything at stake for this nation's safety even at their own peril meeting a gruesome end as happened recently. Seriously we pay a very very short shrift to the keepers of our nation :(.
You are confusing BRO with the army. What happened recently was with the Army, not BRO. BRO is a totally different organization.
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Old 10th January 2013, 12:01   #209
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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You are confusing BRO with the army. What happened recently was with the Army, not BRO. BRO is a totally different organization.
Point taken. I was just appreciating the folks who serve in these organizations in extremely harsh and thankless conditions.
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Old 10th January 2013, 15:37   #210
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

I waited as long as possible to start reading this wonderful thread as i wished to read it in one go. My patience ran out and i started reading it in the morning today. Ah..what a wonderful afternoon Iv'e had!

Thanks Tanveer! WE has behaved well on this trip so far. You were lucky to catch the Ball Joint Failure early and the having the hoses repaired by the BRO was indeed a lucky break.

I was impressed that the Continental tyres took the abuse of the sharp rocks on that newly built road after Chushul. I doubt my Yokohams Geolanders would have managed.

If you don't mind adding a vehicle to your convoy next time you travel to these breathtaking places do please PM me. My Fortuner and I would love to join.

Waiting for the rest of the story now.
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