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Old 4th April 2014, 10:59   #31
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II

Spangmik is a village in close vicinity to Pangong Tso. While it seems romantic to stay near the lake, we were actually hoping to put some distance between us and the lake due to the falling temperatures. We had already heard frozen stiff stories from past travelers, and didn’t want to freeze our buns off to the Himalayan weather, which was threateningly showing sign to turn for the worse now.

The Pangong Tso is a huge lake. It is 135 kms long and 5 kms wide. Currently only twenty percent of this great lake lies in India and remaining is captured by China in 1961 war. I met a number of military persons who were quite bitter about the loss of control over Pangong tso in the war. As per them, there was hardly any military presence here till 1961, and it was an easy conquer for China. Spangmik is pretty much the last village from India side where we could find accommodation.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5113.jpg

When we reached Spangmik, we could see many sites with tents sprung across. There were very few concrete houses, most of the tent hotels are of cloth only, which were fluttering wildly on the winds. We searched a few hotels, when I met the Mumbai Biker. He was riding alone from Mumbai, and had grand plans of adventures ahead. Wishing him luck, we continued our hunt for our abode at night. After checking a few tent sites, and skipping a few that required climb up or down through extremely tattered roads, we saw a nice site with tents located on top of a small hill. It was ‘Camps of Ladakh’ site, where Shahrukh Khan had stayed during the shooting of Jab tak hain Jaan. I remember this, because I was repeatedly informed of this very proudly by every person of the hotel.

But with or without this legacy, the tents were likeable, and the manager offered us a nice deal. This was the first time that we were staying in a tent. Usually we assume that a tent is the lowest possible accommodation short of sleeping under the sky, but here the definition was different. These tents were quite luxurious, with sit out areas, double beds and attached toilets and bathrooms. They were supposedly weather proof too, and bolted down securely.

We took the luggage in our tent, and dressed up to explore the surrounding area as we had daylight. When we came out of the tent, we saw our neighbours were senior citizens and struck a conversation out of interest. It turned out that both our neighbours were highly accomplished businessmen from Mumbai. It was nice to see that Leh trip was being done by people in all the age groups, and not just limited to hot blooded youths. They were equally perplexed by the fact that we – a couple - were travelling on a motorcycle.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5101.jpg

Last edited by ani_meher : 4th April 2014 at 11:02.
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Old 4th April 2014, 11:03   #32
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We came down the hill for taking a stroll, but soon the winds increased a lot, so we dropped the idea of walking around, and headed back in the tent. There is no TV or any other entertainment that could pass time. But when you have got the huge lake sprawled in front of you, with a chatty partner on the next chair and a hot cup of coffee, no such outside equipment was needed to pass the time either.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5110.jpg

The service at the hotel deserves a mention too. They provided hot water and tea whenever we demanded. The room was sufficiently equipped with warm blankets, and more blankets could be made available on request. Having such facility and service available this far from major towns was a wonderful experience.

The dinner time was 8.00pm, but it was preponed to 7.30. The food was great, and it tasted even better on the backdrop of such an adventurous day. We were informed that the time out for lights was at 10.00pm. I could not see any electrical poles coming to this place, so it was clear that all the electricity at the hotel was from a generator, which would be shut off at 10. We returned to our tent shivering heavily, and snuck under the thick layers of blankets. At that time, I remembered that the sky at Pangong tso is famous for its views. Since we were far away from a full moon, there was a good chance of watching the star lit sky.

I came out of the tent, shielded my eyes from the surrounding light from the site, and gasped. Millions of stars and planets were winking above me. Watching a moon less night sky from a non-polluted space is always a breath taking experience, even to a non-astrological person like me. But at places like Pangong tso located on 14000 feet above sea level, it is an even better experience as the air is thinner. Coupled with the chilling wind, looking at the million candles lit up above, and wondering whether there would be similar someone on one of these planets looking up towards me, was a heavenly experience.

I couldn’t let Nandinee miss this plethora of wonder, so I dragged her out with the blankets draped around her to come outside the tent. She came out very grumpily, but was similarly mesmerized by the heavenly beauty above us.

The waves of water shimmered in a distance, very slightly visible. Here we were, shivering under an open sky, gazing upwards in wonder, with the great lake witnessing two crazy bikers living their dream.

We returned to tent, and tried to find sleep among the cold atmosphere and in heavy winds that threatened to uproot the tents if they could. The blowing winds fluttered the windows and sit-outs of the tents. In the utter darkness that encompassed us, with no man made light available to illuminate it, we lied on bed, hearing each other trying to breathe. There is lesser oxygen in the air here than we city folks are accustomed to. I drifted away to sleep sometime near midnight, and dreamt of bumpy roads and windy weather.
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Old 4th April 2014, 12:08   #33
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II

Wah Meher Wah ! Ladakh on a 150 cc commuter bike ! Your travel tale is such an engrossing and inspiring read. It must be impossible for any camera to do justice to the beauty of this marvel, but your snaps came very close ! Congratulations to you and our wife for completing an almost impossible ride and inspiring more of us to do so !
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Old 4th April 2014, 16:57   #34
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Superb! That Rajasthan travelogue was epic, but this is even more so. And that too on a GS150R...! It's one of the most bulletproof and reliable bikes, I must say (I have it myself; in the same orange colour). Very very comfortable seat over long distances. Nice pics also, that S90 is a good camera indeed, you won't be needing an SLR I say.

Thanks for inspiring me to go out and ride the bike.
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Old 7th April 2014, 10:47   #35
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Back to Leh

Next morning, we woke up to find ourselves surrounded by Santa Clauses! It seemed that it had snowed last night on the high passes, and all the surrounding mountains were sporting snow caps on their heads. It was a cute sight, but at the same time it was worrying that we were going to cross those snowy passes today.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5137.jpg

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5138.jpg

We met our neighbours at the breakfast. It seemed that they too were kept awake by the blowing wind at night, and were worried how we would travel back in such weather. One of them even wondered what would happen if the tent would fly off because of the wind! I certainly didn’t have such worries accompanying me through the night, but it was heartening to see the care from strangers about our safe travel. They offered to carry our luggage in their Innova till Leh, and we happily accepted their offer. With our luggage gone ahead, the motorcycle would be more manageable and us more flexible in event of a fall. After breakfast, we put our luggage in their vehicle, and moved ahead towards the lake.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5145.jpg

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5149.jpg
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Old 7th April 2014, 10:48   #36
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The road towards the lake is a steep road that goes on in a straight acute angle from the main road towards the lake, filled with rocks of various size. It was pretty bad in condition, and I would suspect that tourist buses coming down from this road would have a number of grumbled tourists hanging on to dear lives, but it was easy compared to the horrors of Chang La. I passed a number of wet spots that went across the road. These would be the water crossings which flowed after the noon when ice would melt on mountains, but since this was morning, all they had to show were wet spots of sand which posed no problem at all.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5157.jpg

The lake is a majestic sight to behold. Irrespective of the hardships you have felt to reach it, once you reach it and stand beside the vast waters that have made their home at such heights, you feel humble. The water was stirring contently, reaching towards mountains at the other end, and out of sight towards the right. The story of occupation of this lake is a sad one, as heard from a Jawan himself. Till 1960s, there was an unwritten code of trust between India and China, and there were hardly any Indian soldiers posted on this side of India, and the vast lake was ours entirely. When China encroached in 1965, resulting in the first battle of a young India, giving it scars to last for life; it was an easy walk in the park for them to occupy these lands. This long lake of 135 kms, once all ours, is now a partially China occupied territory, with only around 50 kms in our side. However small be the lake that belongs to us, it has not lost its grandiose. It sits serenely stirring, and one wonders how many secrets it has known in its long history.

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The lake is famous in photographers for its ever changing colours. Since it is so high in the mountains, the sky colours are already enhanced, and the lake reflecting the dark blue sky uplifts the scene to another level. But unfortunately, the sky was turning gray, and the colours of the lake were scattered here and there, whenever there would be any opening for the sun to peek in. That didn’t stop us photographing and even in such unfavorable conditions, we managed to get good photographs. Wondering how it would be to come here in a day of clear blue skies, I turned my motorcycle towards the road, Nandinee snapping away to glory.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5171.jpg

Similar to the path that headed us down to the lake, the path up to the main road was equally sloped. In fact I managed to get stuck at a particularly sharp angle, where the motorcycle was not making enough torque to push me forwards. After some fancy trickery with the clutch and some luck, I managed to climb up to the main road. Breathing a sigh of relief for making that climb, we bid adieu to Spangmik and gunned the motorcycle towards Leh.
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Old 7th April 2014, 10:50   #37
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Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5173.jpg

The Santaclauses around us - the snow-capped mountains - were slowly chilling the atmosphere. Vesta was making good pace, and I tried not to think too much about the conditions at Chang La that awaited me a few kilometers ahead. We were returning from the same road as yesterday, so we knew what to expect from next obstacle. When we came at the spot of sands and the water crossing, we spotted a scorpio with a group, which happily gave life to Nandinee while I prayed and managed to cross the patch without falling.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5175.jpg

As we were approaching Chang la, and making the turns upwards towards it, I could see a little white snow sprinkled here and there. The atmosphere got chilly very fast, and soon we were struggling to climb upwards. The speed was slow, and the bumpy roads with rocks and potholes placed at the most strategic location didn’t help towards the speed either. Luckily the luggage was travelling safe in Innova, and I had less weight on the bike to manage. When I was around the spot where I had picked up Nandinee yesterday, I saw an Innova coming from behind. I hailed it to stop, and went to ask for lift, but I saw that it was already quite full, with an Indian family and a foreigner family. I was in two minds, whether to ask for lift or not. At one hand, there was safety of my pillion, and on other hand, courtesy towards others. However they had seen us from a distance for quite some time, and they readily offered to give lift to Nandinee. I would have declined in other conditions, however in this weather and in such low tourist season when vehicles were few and far in between, I had no choice but to agree.

The Innova went ahead, and I mounted Vesta, muttering to her, ‘Well, it’s you and me alone, dear. Take me home safe.’

The Innova disappeared soon out of sight, and I was making pace alone, tackling turns after turns, telling my back to ignore the last bump, and to brace for next one. The weather was cold, and the wind chill factor was freezing me to the bones. The snow was soon all encompassing; it was hard to believe that I was actually riding in snow! I was prepared for heat, for rains, for cold winds, but not for snow. All my layers of clothing felt as if made by paper, and the wind was polishing my body as if a stone artist would polish a stone.

I started noticing peculiar things about myself. Whenever I would approach any hard turn, my breath would get hot. Instantly it would fog up the visor of the helmet, making it impossible to look ahead. On hard turns, I had no choice but to slow down and lift up the visor, welcoming the sharp cold winds to work on my face with their claws. It was a game of cat and mouse, and the rocky terrain and the weather were teamed up against me. After a number of such tiring turns where my face would turn stone cold due to hitting cold wind, on a straight patch, I felt as if my body is slowly shutting down. I was still controlling my arms and legs, twisting accelerator and changing gears, but they felt so cold as if they belonged to someone else. There was no stopping for this chill, which was slowly encompassing me.

Inch by inch, I could feel the cold spreading away in my body, from my fingers through the perforated leather gloves, to my arms, to my shoulders, to my chest. I was riding ahead, feeling the cold spreading in my body, wondering whether to make a stop. But there was no one behind, and there was no one in front. A woefully unprepared stupid biker was making his way on the mighty Chang La, with no backup.
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Old 7th April 2014, 10:52   #38
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There I met myself. When I felt the chill deep inside my body, spread everywhere but a little part near my heart. As if something inside was still glowing bright, making light and spreading warmth. Even in that condition of shivering hands and utterly slow upclimb, I was surprised to come across this little bit of fire. I could feel as if I am all freezed up except for this little part that refused to give in, and fighting against the insurmountable calamity. It was a striking moment, the moment I realized that there exists something inside a man, that refuses to surrender.

I slowly felt the warmth of that little place spreading back up in my body. I could see increasing amount of snow, and yet couldn’t feel it. My fingers were still burning up, my lips were still being cut from the extremely chilly winds, but I was no longer bothered by them. The cold and the snow and the winds were part of me now, not against me. With renewed vigor, I pushed ahead towards the final upturns of Chang La.

Even though it was the same road as yesterday, a night of snowing had increased the difficulty levels a few notches high. The road which was already difficult due to upclimb and rocks was now helped further with slush and snow. Vesta’s speed was very low, and I knew that waiting on top of the pass, Nandinee would be having her heart in her mouth till she sees me at least in distance. But the pass is such that you can hardly see the next road save for a few hundred meters, and I had to rush ahead to reach on top as soon as possible.

I approached the water crossing of 100 meters. It was risky yesterday, and today I expected to be even more so, with the melting snow and the cold helping to chill the water nicely. Braving the temperatures and bracing myself, I entered Vesta into the path and we dipped ourselves in the knee-high water. The water was fresh from freezer, which entered my shoes in an instant and made sure my toes were icy cold. But that was the least of my worries.

One splash of the cold water and Vesta’s engine simply died. I put both my feet down in the icy cold waters, balancing myself on the motorcycle with shut off engine, overwhelmed by the turn of events. How the hell am I going to push this 150kg beast out of the icy cold water, which spread at least 90 meters ahead of me?! I looked back and ahead in blind hope to see someone, though I could not imagine anyone in their right mind would get down in the cold water helping me push the bike. But there was no soul to be seen.

I thumbed the starter of the bike, it whirred to glory, but Vesta refused to start. And I understood that after being splashed by such cold water, the engine would not start so easily. Muttering encouraging words under my breath, partly for Vesta and partly for me, I started kicking the motorcycle, if not to start the motorcycle, then to at least to move my foot and to keep it out of water. In a few kicks, Vesta roared and I heaved a sigh. No longer caring of getting wet, all I focused on was to move ahead slowly as to not tumble in the water, and not to splash the water too much to kill the engine. When I almost reached to the end, with only a 10s of meters to go, an expected ditch hidden in the water crossing dipped the front end of Vesta dangerously in, killing its engine again. But this time I was ready. Again a few kicks and good throttle, Vesta gilded across and we were out of the water, on the snowy lands.

I parked her on the side, and hurriedly removed my shoes and socks. This was the second time in 2 days that I had to repeat this maneuver. Remove the shoes dripping with cold water hurriedly with your cold shivering hands, pry away the wet socks chilling your feet and toes, and dance around to provide some heat in the frozen veins of the leg. While performing this routine, I saw a tourist vehicle coming from behind. I hailed it down, and asked them to deliver a message to a lady-biker who would be on either at the end or at the top of the pass donning full motorcycles gear and keeping a weather eye on road, that her companion would arrive soon, and he was safe. Looking bewildered, the tourists nodded and moved ahead.

There were only a few steep upclimbs remaining now, and each of them tested my patience and skill. At one particularly nasty turn with sharp angle – both upwards and sidewards - I saw at the speedometer of Vesta, and saw 6kmph! I was moving at the speed of an average human, who walks 1 kilometer in 10 minutes. The only difference is, a few notches reduction in this speed would mean the bike would stall and having no stable ground to keep my feet on, I would invariably fall and be dragged below due to the steep slope.

Sinking my teeth in the already battered cold-swollen lips, I braced myself, fought turns against turns, and finally could see the top of the pass, and my pillion standing on side, looking extremely tensed and yet very relieved.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5194.jpg
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Old 7th April 2014, 10:56   #39
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I greeted her, parked Vesta safe on the top, and sat down on my knees. I could hear rattling from the motorcycle’s underbody after the water crossing, but I had no inclination to stop on the way up where there was no help available, and gathering momentum would be very difficult. Now that I was safe on the Chang La top, I had to see whether it was any serious issue. Luckily it was just a loose chain cover that was banging around due to some missed screws, which I was sure were resting in the cold water in the water crossing below. Usually I would remove the cover to save it from falling off, but we were yet to cross the half Chang La pass ahead, and I didn’t want to drench the chain in the slush, so kept it hanging by a thread, as it was.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5191.jpg

We headed to the military canteen and grabbed a cup of hot tea, which felt extremely soothing - even to hold the hot cup in hands. We chatted and updated each other on the events on the journey. Nandinee was astonished to hear that I was almost stranded in the middle of the cold water. I was amused to hear that she left the vehicle and waited in the cold winds, praying and preparing to come down if I was not there in next 15 minutes.

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We came out of the canteen, and started looking around for some vehicle that would give lift to Nandinee till the end of the pass, which was about 13-15 kilometers from here. We saw a bullet coming from Pangong Tso side. It was the same couple that we helped yesterday, and met a few times today as well. The pillion lady on the bike joined Nandinee and both got lift in a vehicle, and the man approached me towards the canteen.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5197.jpg

When people face the same calamities, they tend to stick together, and so we introduced ourselves to each other. It turned out that the biker as Army man Varun, who was touring with his wife. I joined him for a quick snack, and learned that he was posted in Srinagar, and had come to Leh in hopes of catching the festival. The decision of Jammu Government to push the festival ahead had affected yet another tourist.

We moved on to the bouncy ride below. The snow, it seemed, was limited to mostly the other part of the pass. We could still feel the cold, but the snow density around us was remarkably less. While getting down, we passed a few lady bikers who were moving towards Pangong Tso. A few pillions were walking, as perhaps the rider had felt the turns to be too steep to tackle two up. I doubted whether they knew what awaited them a few kilometers ahead. However I didn’t want to discourage them, so I waved and signed thumbs up towards them. This seemed the universal code in Leh. I have ridden quite a lot, but only in the Himalayas I have seen bikers actually waving and giving thumbs up and generally caring towards other bikers. I think common sufferers make good friends!

Soon the pass ended and good roads started. I was wondering where would our respective wives be, and passed a military post on our right. I heard a sharp whistle from behind, and looked in the rear view mirror to see the pillions waving frantically towards us. We took a U turn and joined them, dodging generally uncomfortable questions like ‘Didn’t you see us?! Didn’t you hear us?!’
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Old 7th April 2014, 11:05   #40
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I didn’t know the position of my new friend, but looking at the soldiers at the post saluting him, I sensed that he would be at some good position in the army. He was very friendly, however, and so was his wife. After a round of introductions we chatted while sipping hot tea. We had plans of visiting other interesting places while coming back to Leh, and the couple decided to join us for the same. It would be a new experience for me, to ride with someone new to me, but we welcomed it nonetheless, and enjoyed the day thoroughly.

Yesterday we had rushed forward towards the Chang La in order to make sure that we reach our destination for the day as soon as possible, as the evenings would empower the water crossings and would make our travel difficult with every passing hour. However today there was no such worry. We had already crossed the toughest part for today, and now we were riding on well laid roads full of cheeky road-signs to keep company, such as ‘I love you darling, but not so fast!’

The ride on the way back was on full throttle, partly because of the great roads, and partly because of the feeling of breaking free of the tension of riding up Chang La and crossing all the hurdles safely. We would have reached much earlier, but every now and then some beautiful sight across the roads would hails us down and wouldn’t let us leave before taking a photo. At times like these, the pillion photographer really comes handy, as it becomes a team work. Rider points to the sight he wants to click, pillion clicks, reviews the pictures, and if need be, asks rider to stop the bike. Otherwise we continue without breaking pace.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5209.jpg

We saw this beautiful monastery at our left hand side, where the snake like river was providing a beautiful base for the hill on which the monastery was perched proudly on top, and the Sun was shining right on top, making the scene appear as if it would be out of some 3d visualization. The lands of Ladakh continued to offer such majestic sights thrown around carelessly, only for the eyes of a curious traveller.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5233.jpg

When we reached Karu, we had to take the Manali road for a while in order to get to the officer’s mess. Tomorrow I would ride on the same roads for making the exit journey from this beautiful journey. We had the lunch at the Officer’s mess at Karu, after a thoroughly confusing criss cross ride in the army settlement, misguided enthusiastically by many persons. By the time we actually reached the mess, the crows in my stomach were preparing to take off.
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Old 7th April 2014, 11:14   #41
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An army marches on its stomach, and so does a traveler. With full tummies, we moved on to our first sight on way to Leh – Thiksey Gompa. This Gompa has featured in the documentary ‘Samsara’, and I was curious to visit it in person. The weather God too, finally decided to smile upon us, and we were blessed with clear blue skies and bright sunlight. The worries of snow were left past in Chang La, and we felt as if Leh was welcoming us back with open arms and a huge smile.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5220.jpg

The roads after Karu passed through numerous villages, and with a little heavier traffic than our route so far. This was expected, as this was the Leh – Manali highway we were riding on. A two lane road connects the villages in twisting motion, and the whole route towards Leh becomes a relaxing ride that lifts one’s spirit up high in the sky.

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Thiksey Gompa is one of the better kept Gompas in this region, and one of the largest as well. We saw the Gompa on top of a hill at right hand side of the road. A mildly steep upclimp took us to the gates of the Gompa.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5229.jpg

There were hardly any tourists here. We asked around, and came to know that the Gompa was closed that day. Oh, what a disappointment! We clicked pictures here and there, but all of us were upset that we were not able to visit the main Gompa. While we got ready to leave for next sight, we saw some TV crew walking right past us onto the stairs that lead to the Gompa. How come they were allowed while we were not?! We marched inside with them as if being a part of that crew, and then started exploring the Gompa. Later we realized that there was some important function going on inside the Gompa, and so some rooms were closed for outsiders that day. Lucky we ventured in, and not believed the first person that said it was closed, otherwise we would have missed this beautiful place.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5243.jpg

We roamed inside the Gompa, walking on the stairs to go further up, much to the chagrin of Nandinee who prefers to walk horizontally than climb up vertically. The Gompa was very well maintained, and it was a pleasure to take a stroll and to click.

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Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5269.jpg

As with all the Gompas, this too was situated on a hill, with breathtaking views all around.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5266.jpg

The interiors are very well maintained. There was some function going on and hence all the atmosphere inside was quite silent, but that suited ups perfectly. After exploring the Thiksey Gompa, we got down to make our way to the next stop – Shey Gompa. But not without clicking one last photo of the Thiksey Gompa.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5283.jpg
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Old 7th April 2014, 11:16   #42
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Continuing on the same road towards Leh, soon we took a left at a board pointing ‘Shey Gompa’. A steep rocky road leads to the gompa. At other times, this road might have seemed daunting, but after the Chang La adventure, this was an easy climb.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5293.jpg

The Gompa is sadly in tattered conditions, and contains some of the most staggering climbs. An old watchman who stoutly refused to be photographed cared for the temple that housed a huge idol Buddha. This idol is located in a temple on the top floor of the Gompa, visible only from the chest up. The rest of the body is said to be below the visible part going as low as 40 feet!

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5320.jpg

The condition of this Gompa is a little better than Leh palace, but it is nowhere as maintained as Thiksey. However, as with all old places with history, this places oozes with charm that encompasses the visitors.

We climbed down the Gompa, and it was time to bid adieu to our riding partners. It had been many years since I rode with friends, and this small encounter with strangers rekindled the happy memories. The army couple moved on to their destination that night, and we prepared to move to ours.

At the opposite side of this Gompa, we saw a sign ‘Holy-Fish-Pond’. I couldn’t get the meaning of this sigh, as there were various permutation-combinations of the meaning: Ordinary pond containing holy fish - Holy pond containing ordinary fish – Holy fish in holy pond and so on. But the little pond was very picturesque.

Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II-img_5323.jpg

We gathered speed and started moving fast to Leh, as the sun was packing its things to take leave for the day. While riding, I heard a loud clanking noise as if something metallic has fallen off the bike. I realized the poor chain cover of Vesta had finally given up, throwing away the one screw that feebly held it in place for so long. Soon I was being overtaken by other vehicles who gestured or shouted at me ‘KUCHH GIR GAYA!!’ (something fell off!)

I turned back to pick it up. Luckily no vehicle had run over it, otherwise it would be resting in a trash can at Leh. I remembered seeing the garages yesterday, which were not too far from we were. We got in one such garage on the way back, and got the cover fixed. While the work was ongoing, I overheard two bikers speaking in Marathi. I struck a conversation, curious about their story. They had rented bikes in Manali and were coming from there. Their experience of Rohtang La – the first pass on the Manali – Leh highway – was very bad, with slush and rain thoroughly painting them. Also, I learned from them that the general condition of motorcycles rented from Manali is much more in doubt than ones rented in Leh itself.

They too had stayed at Pangong Tso yesterday like us. When asked about their experience about that stay, one of them was very enthusiastic in his response.

‘There were free drinks! There was some party in that hotel and we were invited to that party, and there were free drinks! The weather turned gray and we couldn’t get much good photos of the lake, and the snow freezed us to the bikes, but did I tell you about the free drinks?!’

Smiling as to how the definition of happiness changes from person to person, we took their leave and headed back to Leh. We filled up petrol from the petrol pump just outside Leh, and went to collect our luggage from the senior tourists that carried it with them. They welcomed us like we were family, and we were chatting up till it was 8 pm. As we had to go back to hotel, pack all the things finally and move out of Leh tomorrow, we had to stop the chat, but not without exchanging the email ids and phone numbers.

We returned to hotel at 8.30, and faced the lady owner who was looking quite worried. ‘Bohot late ho gaya!’ she asked caringly. It sure felt nice to see such care extended by new persons. But I guess this is what Himalaya does to you. It brings people closes, and it melts the distance between minds. Where strangers offer helping hands and businessmen actually care about customers. The magic of Himalayas continue affecting every soul fortunate enough to spend a moment in the shadows of the great mountains.

It was a very long day, and we wearily carried ourselves to bed post dinner, and drifted to sleep. Tomorrow we would leave this hotel and Leh, and would head back home through Tso Moriri route. It was supposed to be an comparatively easy ride now on, or at least so we thought. Another adventure was awaiting us tomorrow, with twisted smile on its face. But that calls for another story, another time.
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Old 7th April 2014, 17:04   #43
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part II

Great write up and brilliant snaps. Wish you both miles of safe, eventful and happy driving.
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Old 12th April 2014, 19:35   #44
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A good news regarding the travelogue. I had submitted this to Wrangler True Wanderer contest, and it is selected to be one amongst the top 10!

I will be going on another tour from 24th to 30th April 2014, and would be posting a separate thread documenting the same. If you like reading that, please vote!
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Old 12th April 2014, 21:51   #45
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superb! went through complete travelogue!

all the very best for the planned ride.
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