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Old 10th January 2013, 17:27   #211
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Default day 11 #2 : On the road... Again!

Two breakdowns. Yes, we had survived two breakdowns on a single trip. Last time we had a breakdown was many years back, near Chitkul. We wasted two days then just waiting for the tech from Tata to arrive.
But this time, thanks to some luck, and the BRO, we were on the road in our newly patched white elephant. That usually calls for music in the car, but I did not want to risk missing out some "important sound".

So we started, with just the clatter of our white elephant for company.
Come to think about it, we did not even visit the Chandra telescope once. now thats quite strange for a Hanle visit. Nor did I click the monastory on the top of the hill.
Well time to fix that
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6687_lrxl.jpg

As we drove on the excellent road, we finally spotted Kiangs again! I guess they hide in the evening. With the sun out now, we got ample sightings
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6690_lrxl.jpg

Today was a bit cloudier than normal
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6691_lrxl.jpg

Nevertheless, the sun shone brightly through. A zoom shot of the Kiangs
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_p1010363_lrxl.jpg

A bigger "herd"
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6693_lrxl.jpg

As the clouds cleared, the sky became more interesting
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6695_lrxl.jpg

the road may be excellent but the culverts can be dangerous, so watch your speed unless you want to be airborne
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6697_lrxl.jpg

Even more curious Kiang
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_p1010364_lrxl.jpg

We stayed in the vehicle, as getting out would scare them. They know vehicles just noisily pass by.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_p1010365_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_p1010369_lrxl.jpg

This time our trip had another speciality. We had spotted a lot of migratory birds at Pangong Tso. At Hanle, we had not been so lucky. The time of the black necked crane had passed, and most had flown away, but as we come on a crest, I see a trio roaming freely in a grassland.
Our first sighting of the sarus crane. Yay!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_p1010372_lrxl.jpg

The excellent road means you reach Nyoma in two hours, however, our progress was slow, thanks to the frequent stops. They served two purposes. First, photography, and second popping the bonnet open to see everything is working fine
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6708_lrxl.jpg

As for photography, the mountains of Nyoma Hanle stretch, which are always amazing. No matter how many times you see them, they look as magical and as exotic
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6711_lrxl.jpg

We have a late lunch in Nyoma, and the elephant is also behaving fine. Luckily BSNL is working, and I decide to call up the "Tata whiz". He is happy with our progress, and suggests we do degassing.
Now what is degassing. We do not know, and I was sure that TASS also would not know. Even he was sure TASS would not know.
Well its simple, fill coolant, open radiator cap and then run engine at 1500rpm to make coolant spill and keep topping up. Has to be done on a cooler engine

Hmmm Degassing, coolant.... looks like we have to visit the service center after all, if only to get coolant. But today, we were going to Tso Moriri!
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Old 10th January 2013, 18:36   #212
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Default Re: day 11 #2 : On the road... Again!

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He is happy with our progress, and suggests we do degassing.
Now what is degassing. We do not know, and I was sure that TASS also would not know. Even he was sure TASS would not know.
Well its simple, fill coolant, open radiator cap and then run engine at 1500rpm to make coolant spill and keep topping up. Has to be done on a cooler engine

Hmmm Degassing, coolant.... looks like we have to visit the service center after all, if only to get coolant. But today, we were going to Tso Moriri!
I learnt this thing couple of days back only, when i had to change my coolant tank of my manza which cracked. But surely they did not use this term degassing and as you mentioned i am also sure the TASS guys did not also know. They know what is to be done but not the term.

BTW Tanveer, for the outdoor pictures did you use any sort of polarizers?
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Old 10th January 2013, 18:44   #213
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Default Re: day 11 #2 : On the road... Again!

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I learnt this thing couple of days back only, when i had to change my coolant tank of my manza which cracked. But surely they did not use this term degassing and as you mentioned i am also sure the TASS guys did not also know. They know what is to be done but not the term.

BTW Tanveer, for the outdoor pictures did you use any sort of polarizers?
Yup, for the daytime landscape shots I used a polarizer with my 16-85 VR lens
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Old 10th January 2013, 18:51   #214
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Default Re: day 11 #2 : On the road... Again!

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Yup, for the daytime landscape shots I used a polarizer with my 16-85 VR lens
Okay. Otherwise the blue sky and clouds would have been hazy without the polarizer i guess. The colours are very prominent, distinct and sharp. Wonderful pictures.
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Old 10th January 2013, 19:05   #215
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Default Re: day 11 #2 : On the road... Again!

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Okay. Otherwise the blue sky and clouds would have been hazy without the polarizer i guess. The colours are very prominent, distinct and sharp. Wonderful pictures.
Polarizer just results in deeper blues. As for haze, there is no haze at those altitudes.
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Old 13th January 2013, 09:08   #216
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Quote from the English daily, The Philippine Star,

"The mental body is nourished by quieting the mind, by reflecting or meditating. Learn to befriend silence"
"The spirit body is nourished by going beyond the noisy monkey mind, by immersing ourselves in the sun, sea, sky for nature heals. The spirit body is the hardest to understand, which is why we need to break through the mind through a daily practice of silence, inner work & reflection".

Spending a week-end inside a quiet hotel room in an alien country has never been such a blissful experience had it not been for this travelogue. Thanks for embedding the URL in your signature, the moment I clicked on it, I was taken into an altogether different world, it was a complete nirvana. Just going through this thread has given me immense pleasure I wonder how it would have been for you who has actually seen it & done that. I would never in my life dare to undertake such an adventurous journey.

The pictures are simply out of this world, priceless & your narration is icing on the cake. "Throwing the WE in the lake would have made a bigger splash", sums it up very well, your feelings at that moment, your love-hate relationship with your beast.

I have been so deeply immersed in the sheer beauty of this wonderful story that I have lost the count of how many lakes & passes are yet to be covered. Would you mind updating that now?

I wish this story continues on & on & there is no end.
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Old 15th January 2013, 15:56   #217
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Eagerly waiting for the next update Tanveer !
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Old 21st January 2013, 00:01   #218
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Default Day 11 #3 : The 13th calls

What a road
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6712_lrxl.jpg

Thats what you see when you cross the town of Nyoma. But appearances can be deceptive. There are bumps which can launch you, and some end up in the ditch on the side.

As for us, we just ambled along, listening, smelling. For coolant, for oil or any damn thing that was ready to leak out

I took few pics. Some came out nice
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6713_lrxl.jpg

And then it was time for the Mahe bridge checkpost
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6714_lrxl.jpg

Its 3pm, and the policemen incharge are quite amused at the list of places added on the permit form. They are curious whether I came through chushul. "Yes" is my reply. Not many come from there now, they tell me.

Not wasting much more time, we start off again. Tso moriri, should be just around an hour from here, or a little more.

We cross the bridge
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6715_lrxl.jpg

And say our prayers
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6716_lrxl.jpg

The road is bumpy for now, but very soon, its going to get better
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6719_lrxl.jpg

And then smooth black tarmac starts, and I can make good time. Less than an hour from the bridge, we are at our 13th pass, the Namshang La. It has the cleanest prayer flags!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6720_lrxl.jpg
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Old 21st January 2013, 07:49   #219
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Praying for more and quickerrrrrr

I know you are busy but there isn't there another travelogue to start and finish?? 8-)
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Old 21st January 2013, 08:35   #220
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Default Re: Day 11 #3 : The 13th calls

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
What a road
Attachment 1040739
Why so late & why so little, give me more.

Quote:
As for us, we just ambled along, listening, smelling. For coolant, for oil or any damn thing that was ready to leak out
I believe you have already covered the two breakdowns earlier, so no more surprises on that front at least.

Quote:
I took few pics. Some came out nice


And then it was time for the Mahe bridge checkpost
Attachment 1040741
Can you please post the picture of the bridge & the checkpost?
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Old 21st January 2013, 09:59   #221
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Default Re: Day 11 #3 : The 13th calls

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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Praying for more and quickerrrrrr

I know you are busy but there isn't there another travelogue to start and finish?? 8-)
If I ever get around to starting that one

Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoIndian View Post
Why so late & why so little, give me more.

I believe you have already covered the two breakdowns earlier, so no more surprises on that front at least.

Can you please post the picture of the bridge & the checkpost?
Yes, no more surprises. But at that time we did not know that.
As for the bridge, that says photography prohibited.
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Old 21st January 2013, 21:55   #222
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Default Day 11 #4 : Ten Eleven

From Namshang La, the black as the night tarmac snakes its way down
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6721_lrxl.jpg

Its one of the gentlest passes known to man. When we first saw it for the first time in 2009, we did not believe it was a pass. Arent passes supposed to be scary?
Well there is nothing scary about Namshang La. A nice place to rest the white elephant.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6723_lrxl.jpg

And from there, down you go, to a lake called the Kiagar Tso. Not many stop here, cause they are in a tearing hurry to get to the Tso moriri, but I feel, lake number ten is much more pretty than the its bigger cousin.
Don't you think so?
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6726_lrxl.jpg

This is where the road says "end", and the tracks start. Some time ago, they used to be a lot worse, but now even small cars can happily do them

And then start the plains. They are Morey plain's cousins, smaller, yet more magnificient
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6727_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6728_lrxl.jpg

Such a landscape warrants "The elephant pic"
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6729_lrxl.jpg

As we approach the lake, a small Chang Pa settlement is spotted, and soon after, at 4:19pm, we get the first glimpse of the Tso Moriri, Lake number 11
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6731_lrxl.jpg
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Old 21st January 2013, 22:02   #223
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Default Day 11 #5 : Tso Moriri

I have mixed feelings about Tso Moriri.
Its a nice lake no doubt. But somehow, it always dissapoints. It feels sad, dilapitated.
I don't know why?
Maybe its because of the village of Korzok, which presents you with the worst accomodation you can find in Ladakh.
The rooms are dingy, dirty, and they smell bad. The town lanes are narrow, full of cattle and the stuff they drop out of their behinds.
Food options are limited, and even the maggi does not taste right.

This time was no different. The only half decent hotel, if you can call a smelly rooms with a dirty toilet luxury, quoted 2000. Right at the entrace.

We gave it a pass, and decided to go forward into the "town". The caretaker told us that we would come back.

And we did. What was available in the town was even worse. Finally, we haggled to 1600 a night with dinner and morning tea.

But you are definitely not interested in the state of the linen. I guess you are interested in Tso Moriri.
In all the acco hunting, we managed to hit the lake

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6732_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6733_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6734_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6735_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6739_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6740_lrxl.jpg

We stayed till the sun set, and it got colder than we thought it could ever get any damn where.
The night was going to be rough
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Old 21st January 2013, 23:08   #224
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Default Day 11 #6 : Cold

-10 degree C, says the green chinese thermometer as I try not to drop the keys. Its little past 9pm, we have had our dinner, and before we sleep, its time to warm up the elephant, and take some night shots.
-10 degree C. I am not going to hold the tripod. No way. So no night shots.
The cold has broken my threshold for tolerance.

Two feet away from the parking, is a thin blanket, under which there is a Homo Sapien. I think. Because no member of our species can surive this under suc a thin blanket.

He is snoring, and as the elephant wakes up to a noisy clattery idle, he has not budged. A very wooly shivering dog tries to share the blanket and only then the specimen wakes up, and shoos him away. If I had to sleep in the blanket, I would bring all the dogs and the cattle, no matter how smelly, into the blanket with me.

Anyways, as we sit there, I turn on the heating at full blast. The cold engine does not give any warmth yet. With the winds howling, even with the tarp on it will take a good 15 minutes to get the engine warm. Here if we do not warm up the engine, we will be sitting here till noon.

We sit and reflect upon our journey. Its coming to an end. Tomorrow, we will leave changthang, reach leh, and move ahead. It was our last night in this part of the region.

Of course Zanskar awaited, a new chapter, a new road for us.
WE had done 13 passes, and seen 11 lakes. And suffered two breakdowns. Somewhere there was doubt, and apprehension. Will the elephant survive Zanskar? What other gremlins lurked under the hood.

But all that lay in the future. As for where we had come from, here is our Changthang map
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-mapxl.jpg

Towards the north east you see pangong, from where we went to chushul, and crossed the Kakasang La to Mahe seeing two lakes.
Left of Hanle(lower right corner) you can make out the twin lakes of Kyun Tso.
Top left is Leh city, and right in the middle bottom is Tso moriri, with the tiny kiagar giving it company.
Tomorrow, we cross another pass, and see more lakes, but for now, the elephant is warm, though I cannot say the same for us.

We take dozens of blanket and quilts, and try to sleep. I think of the guy in the thin blanket sleeping outside, and feel even cold. I don't know when sleep came, or whether it was an illusion. All I know is that the damned alarm started runging a little too soon!
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Old 22nd January 2013, 15:25   #225
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

I W'really appreciate your writing skills / narration, Photography & your trip planning... I also saw your other travelogues and they are all just Fantastic!!!

Keep it up!!!
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