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Old 1st July 2009, 01:41   #241
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Thumbs up Excellent trip and a Marvellous travelogue

Suman ji,

I have spent close to 4 hrs reading your detailed travelogue (along with the various comments and questions from BHPians).

I should confess I was not able to take my eyes off the pics, nature at its full colours. I couldn't have used my half a day at office, any better than reading and enjoying this travelogue.

I have no words to wish you for this wonderful trip and thank for the excellent pics, taking time off your routine schedule. I wish and hope that I would also make such a trip.
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Old 1st July 2009, 03:08   #242
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Suman!
Some Govt chappies were looking for you...
They want you to be the brand ambassador for Ladakh.
Congo on the trip mate.
Waiting for the finish now.
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Old 1st July 2009, 08:56   #243
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Originally Posted by doctorkats View Post
Suman!
Some Govt chappies were looking for you...
They want you to be the brand ambassador for Ladakh.
Congo on the trip mate.
Waiting for the finish now.
Hey man, thanks! Did you tell them that you were the true saviour? Seriously, I owe you one - no actually, make that two or three! Everything worked the way it was supposed to. Catch you in a while

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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Suman W.*.*....a 4x4 at your disposal and you did not cut across more plains? Oh man that is what is the done thing. Not only the surface is better than the road but shorter too.
Ya-ya Sudev, I know that was criminal of me but I guess I'll survive. On a serious note, I know what you mean - maybe another day, another time. On this journey, the priority was to more of getting from A to B through the More Plains rather than exploring the More Plains. Also, if we crossed Sarchu early enough, we may have pushed on to Jispa which is why we didn't want to waste time. Of course, that Plan didn't happen eventually but.........
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Originally Posted by gsajjanraj View Post
I have no words to wish you for this wonderful trip and thank for the excellent pics, taking time off your routine schedule. I wish and hope that I would also make such a trip.
Thanks mate & I'm sure you'll be able to do it some day!
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Old 1st July 2009, 10:02   #244
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Default Day Eleven continued: Pang & more (no pun intended).....

About 25 minutes & 8-10kms before Pang, we encountered our first snowstorm - moderate severity. The landscape was gloomy & the road surface was lousy but we enjoyed the experience nevertheless
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3019.jpg
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In a while, the weather cleared & we were then approaching Pang
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It takes a while for you to get used to the fact that most of the stuff around you in this part of the world is in the "highest" category!
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It was time to take a break for lunch so we stopped at a Dhaba down the road. Light snowflakes kept falling but the storm was over. Maggi, Wai-wai and Omlettes with Chapati were ordered & we munched in the comfort of the tent
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We restarted 40 minutes later, crossed the police checkpost & continued on our way. These were priceless sights - waterfalls frozen in time & a gateway through the rocks!
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25 minutes from Pang, we approached this unfamiliar name - wasn't on the map & hadn't heard anyone mentioning it!
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Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3050.jpg

Turned out to be a seemingly innocuous & innocent looking patch but one needed to negotiate it with care. Our friends had tried to rush through & were stuck
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3051.jpg

The Qualis was pushed out with sheer manpower. Yours truly coming back after surveying the crossover point to see what the fuss was all about!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3052.jpg

The Scorpio wanted me to tow him out but insisted that I use his tow rope. I did warn him that it wouldn't work because it was too flimsy but he told me "Sirji, Army rope hain, bahut majboot hain. Aap chinta mat karo". Well, it was attached (don't miss the thickness!!)
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3053.jpg

I got in, engaged 4L, put The Beast into reverse & let go the clutch. Sure enough, one tug & it went bust! He was eventually pushed out (like the Qualis) I guess. Anyway, it was time for us to cross over. No fuss - 4L, stick to the right & you're through
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3054.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3055.jpg

Great views punctuated by bad roads as we neared the next milestone......
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3057.jpg
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Last edited by suman : 1st July 2009 at 10:07.
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Old 1st July 2009, 11:01   #245
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Default Day Eleven continued: The Dash to Sarchu!

The noteworthy items on the day's agenda were 3 Passes, the More Plains & the wonderful Gata Loops (21 of them, LOL). We'd covered one Pass & the More Plains and were now at Pass No 2 - Lachulung La!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3066.jpg
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We moved on towards the next item on our list
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Hats off to these Force Travellers, we saw them making mincemeat of bad roads everywhere, Baralacha La included!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3069.jpg

Look mumma, the river runs through it!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3071.jpg

Another milestone ticked off the list, Pass No 3 - Nakeela
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3073.jpg

The Beast thundered on towards the next marvel of engineering on our agenda, the Gata Loops! (Strictly IMHO), another bit of work that left us confused because we couldn't really figure out which loop was part of the 21 loops & which wasn't (in case you're wondering what I'm talking about, we did count the road looping more than 21 times from start to finish). Why can't they be as simple to decipher as (for example) the Batasia Loop going up to Darjeeling!!!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3076.jpg
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I think we enjoyed the wonderful view of the river way down below more than we enjoyed the Loops!
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Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3083.jpg

Finally on plain ground though still way above sea level
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3084.jpg

I loved these architectural forms - remnants of erosion, don't they look handcrafted?
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Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3086.jpg

Look at that blue sky & the contrast with the dirty road, we were getting closer to Sarchu!
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Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3088.jpg

Finally!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3090.jpg

We crossed the river, registered ourselves at the check post & went down the road to our campsite. How often had I seen these pics in someone else's travelogues & dreamt of the day when we'd see them with our own eyes!
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Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3092.jpg

A short while & a nasty water crossing later, we reached Himalayan Saga, the first campsite as you approached from Leh. The time was around 5.15pm & it was too late in the day to push to Jispa. Besides, we wanted to see Baralacha La in the nice light of day. So we decided to stick with the Sarchu nightstay plan.
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It appeared that we were the only guests at the Camp that evening. To be honest, this didn't overly excite us - the only ones (apart from the staff) in the middle of nowhere. But the advantage was that we had the choice of all the tents available. So we selected two of them keeping in mind their proximity to the Dining Tent & the quality of the zips & the minimum gaps - Tent nos 1 & 2!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3098.jpg

We were greeted with hot Tea & Biscuits in the Dining Tent - nice! We were covered in umpteen layers but despite that, even at that hour, we were feeling bloody cold! LOL! It wasn't even sundown - what would happen later!! Total Distance Travelled - 269.7 kms; Total Driving Time - 8hrs 50 mins
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3099.jpg
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Old 1st July 2009, 11:15   #246
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Awesomes. My eyes are still hurting with all that snow!!

btw, you do need to tell us total damages, excl hotel costs!
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Old 1st July 2009, 11:32   #247
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Phew!!!! This is one hell of a travelogue. I can never imagine myself having enough patience to compile each and every detail.

Hats off to you Suman, for compiling such a wonderful & comprehensive travelogue. Now, definitely I want to visit the wonderful locations that you have shown, but don't know when I will be able to.
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Old 1st July 2009, 11:40   #248
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Default Day Eleven, Final Part: Sleepless in Sarchu!!!

No pics on this one, just facts! Sarchu!!! What can I write? Suffice it to say that it was the coldest night of our lives. But, that came later.

As I mentioned, despite all the layers, we were freezing! We huddled together in one tent, trying to keep our minds off the next twelve hours or so - playing "guess the movie", chatting etc. And then, we heard the noise of a vehicle outside & the sound of voices. My wife peeped out - a Scorpio, three guys & a lady. The presence of the lady reassured us - the last thing you'd want in a lonely place like this is a group of four unknown guys who may or may not be decent. Turned out our fears were unfounded......

The Camp Manager called from outside the tent -

Sir, aapka dost aayen hain
Dost? Kaunsi dost?
Sir, bahar aa keh dekh lo....


Unzipped the tent entrance & walked out - surprise, surprise, fellow Tbhpian Roshun along with Anil & Subhashish of the Scorpiofans group & Anil's wife (Subhashish had helped me during my DSLR & Tyre purchases, yes, he is a man of numerous talents). They were stopping over at Sarchu & had seen the Safari & realized that we were around. We were relieved that we wouldn't be the only ones there at night. Some small talk, a round of introductions & then we moved back to our respective tents as the wind was getting noticeably chillier! Subhashish boosted our spirits further by casually mentioning that the temperature kept going down by a degree every hour at Sarchu! LOL!!!

The hands of our watches moved way slower than normal. The lights came on (generator that they ran from sundown till guests went to sleep). I needed to charge the video camera but the only extension cord & power point were in the Kitchen tent. A short walk so off I went & came back pretty much frozen! Finally, it was 8.30 pm & dinner was announced. Very very basic & simple meal but tasty & there was fruit salad with custard for dessert By the time we finished dinner, it was even colder. Another cheerful tip from Subhashish - "make sure that you shake your partner sometime during the night - just to make sure that he/she hasn't frozen over!!". Holy moly, how reassuring!!

Even though I'd never seen so many stars in the night sky & the adjoining peaks were looking super in the moonlight, I just couldn't find the motivation to set up the tripod so gave it a miss. Sorry guys, its my life! Walked as briskly as possible to the Kitchen Tent, picked up the Video Camera & managed to get back to our Tent without freezing to death!

We tucked in for the night in our respective tents with ALL our layers on, plus two or three thick quilts & a hotwater bag. But no matter what - the exposed portions of the anatomy (as in the tip of the nose, for example) were freezing. The wind howled outside for quite some time & despite the flaps being secure, there were some miniscule openings through which it made its presence felt! Although there were no symptoms of AMS as such, slight breathlessness was experienced. After a while, we gave up & resigned ourselves to our fate.......did drift on & off but were mostly awake, awaiting the end of that cold, cold night. Heard the next morning that it had been Minus Four!!!! We were pretty sure that it had actually been lower.

Sleepless in Sarchu - a simply unforgettable experience!
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Old 1st July 2009, 12:00   #249
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After a while, we gave up & resigned ourselves to our fate.......did drift on & off but were mostly awake, awaiting the end of that cold, cold night. Heard the next morning that it had been Minus Four!!!! We were pretty sure that it had actually been lower.

Sleepless in Sarchu - a simply unforgettable experience!
Suman Bhai, if i am not wrong would not it be a good idea to stay in the car along with the heater ON.
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Old 1st July 2009, 12:14   #250
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Suman Bhai, if i am not wrong would not it be a good idea to stay in the car along with the heater ON.
For ten hours - not a good idea! Don't forget that I was doing Leh-Manali on one tankful of Diesel (no pumps till Tandi which was still 114 kms away & as we later discovered, it had no stock of Diesel anyway).
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Old 1st July 2009, 14:50   #251
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Suman da. Logged in after over 10 days, as I have been travelling a lot on work--on aircraft all and sundry.

Just the first few pix from you made me realize I have been wasting my time these last 10 days! Nothing like travelling by road, especially the kind you have pasted up there. Wow indeed...
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Old 1st July 2009, 15:04   #252
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This is one of the best travelouge i have read, kudos to your patience in writing & getting us also inspired for such a once in a lifetime trip ....

@SUMAN sir thank you very much ....

I guess my delivery date must be postponed i have much better things(reading ur travelouge) then meeting the deadline ...
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Old 1st July 2009, 16:42   #253
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Agreed that Sarchu and Pang are horrible places to stay the night ... howling winds, chilly temperatures and lack of oxygen all conspire to make the nights longer than they really are. If you wake up some where in middle of night you can hear your heart thud in your ears and curiously many a person starts feeling "hot" and wants to throw away the quilts and unzip jackets.
Superb pictures and narration. Well Team BHP seems to be every where.
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Old 1st July 2009, 16:50   #254
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Thanks all, you guys are excellent motivation for any writer
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If you wake up some where in middle of night you can hear your heart thud in your ears
Well described & very very true.......
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Old 1st July 2009, 16:53   #255
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The last pic in post #244 reminds me of the song from 'Jab we met'. Similar location. Kareena and Shahid singing driving 'Yeh ishq hai, jannat dikhaye..'
Good to see the tug of war between the Scorp and the Safari.
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