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Old 5th October 2009, 20:40   #181
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
... Thus, I have GPS route maps - and markings for major points of interest such as turn offs, petrol pumps, hotels/food joints, etc, for almost the entire route and also Car Camera footage for all but a couple of days.
@hvk, I'd love to see the car cam footage of the drive.
Let us know if you plan to share it.
Was that some specialized video cam? How does it handle vibrations / bad roads?

@laluks, amazing read with great pictures.
I'll get there one day..for sure.


-- Torqy
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Old 5th October 2009, 21:15   #182
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Day 7, Sep 18, 2009, Morning, Leh

This was the first relaxed day of the trip so far!

I got a wake-up call from Rohit Bhogle who was driving his Safari from Pune 1 day ahead of us, and was about to leave Leh for the long journey back to the plains. So at 630 am, here I was, shivering in teh early morning cold, catching up on road gossip with Rohit and his companion Subodh, as they shared info on the road conditions to Nubra V, Wari La and Pangong Tso. They had faced heavy snowfall in K-Top and had done the drive to and fro Nubra V in a day. Having seen them off to Manali, I made my way back to the Guest House, had a leisurely breakfast and Glenn and I presented ourselves in the M&M ASC at 900 am to get our wonderful Scorpios checked and restored.

We had another meet-up with Rohit Mendiratta and Rajiv K Bharat in the garage, and more gossip followed. Not only had Rohit/Rajiv taken the same route as Rohit/Subodh (and what was to be ours as well), but they had also succeeded in driving Leh-KTop-Nubra V-Wari la-Chang la-Pangong Tso in the same long day! Lots of invaluable road feedback and the first confidence-booster that our convoy could climb up Wari La without any problems.

We met a M&M test driving team from Nashik - 2 of them - with brand-new petrol-engined Scorpios which they were trying out in the Manali-Leh test track! Lots of useful info we gained during that encounter. Don't know whether thsi is true but they said that all crde Scorpios have ECUs calibrated for altitudes upto 4,000 metres only and the car electronics can get muddled up at higher altitudes.

Leh is the workshop town of these parts and there are mechanics all over the place.

In the meantime, Doc Mandar (kaiserketkar) spent the morning running around for permits. How did we go about obtaining permits for such a large team? We had worked out that the day we were in Leh, it was a public holiday in Ladakh, so Govt offices would remain closed and not issue permits. So, we identified a travel agent in Delhi/Leh (thanks to Ramkya) who was requested to obtain for us permits a day before our arrival in Leh. We had mailed him details of the entire team and remitted money @ Rs 200 per head. The permits were to be obtained for the following sectors:
- Nubra Valley, to go till HUnder and Panamik
- Pangong Tso, to go till Spangimik
- TsoMoriri Lake, to go to Karzok

We had also asked him to get us permits for Marisimik La, but the travel agent mucked that up. It took Doc Mandar a whole morning session to run around and get the permits in place, especially since the foreigners in our team had to produce their original passports. Thanks to his efforts, the thing got done, and we got many photocopies made (12 per car!) of the 4 separate permit sheets! For those not in the know, photocopies have to be given to each check post where the original permits are checked. You can also obtain the permits yourselves at the DC's Office.

The Scorpios were ready by 300 pm, and Glen and I rushed back to Leh Market for a quick lunch at the Tibetan Kitchen, and readied ourselves for the next drive.
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Old 5th October 2009, 21:19   #183
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torqy View Post
@hvk, I'd love to see the car cam footage of the drive.
Let us know if you plan to share it.
Was that some specialized video cam? How does it handle vibrations / bad roads?

@laluks, amazing read with great pictures.
I'll get there one day..for sure.


-- Torqy
The Car Camera records continuously from the moment the ignition is switched on. Needless to say, it takes up lots of storage and the entire footage of the trip is over 10GB! The video/audio/GPS data is recorded in flash memory which I download into my laptop. It has a resolution of 5 frames per second which gives it excellent quality. It is designed to absorb vibrations and bad roads and there is no shake whatever be the condition of the road, you record what you see, images as still as you can get.
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Old 5th October 2009, 21:20   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Behind every driver was well-oiled machinery - to take care of logistics such as refilling drinking water, dispensing foodstuffs, mixing electral/ fruit drinks and generally looking after the car - such as cleaning windshields and so on. That is indeed the team spirit at work, each one has a job to do and if he does it well, everyone is at ease and all needs taken care of. Each of our cars (Glenn & HVK) had a guy to spend and account for expenses on food, hotel rooms, etc, and this car-wise arrangement worked well. Even though we travelled as one large contingent, it made more sense to look after expenditure car-wise for better accountability and accounting.

In my car, one of the team members also had to record log book notings, mark GPS points,etc.
Yes. It was amazing team work. In Glenns car, GK was the official accountant and food supplier, Saji was the official photographer, and through him only our teams cash flow outside was done, I had the role as a navigator, data logger and the backup driver and Glenn always behind the wheels comfortably only thinking about driving safely.

Car to car accounting was the best. No confusions. All common spends immediately gets divided as cars and later the members of each cars settle it off amongst them.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I had 2 more babies to take care of every night - my GPS and Car Cam. Both devices had storage limitations and unless I downloaded data daily, I ran the risk of them being overwritten. So that was a chore every night to take out our laptops (except in high altitude areas Pangong and TsoMoriri) and dump the rich content that we had recorded in the Garmin GPS and Car Cam for the day. Thus, I have GPS route maps - and markings for major points of interest such as turn offs, petrol pumps, hotels/food joints, etc, for almost the entire route and also Car Camera footage for all but a couple of days.
They were indeeed babies for HVK. At one instance the GPS was exposed to the harsh sun and was not getting switched on. HVK stopped speaking altogether. He even refused to eat. We were worried. Later to our big relief it was just that the stupid batteries of the GPS unit got drained.

At the end of every days driving HVK used to download the data carefully for his wonderful logs that will come out soon. I was amazed at the amount of data that HVK generates and handles.

Last edited by laluks : 5th October 2009 at 21:22.
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Old 5th October 2009, 21:29   #185
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Originally Posted by lloydofcochin View Post
Awesome teamwork laluks,hvkumar & sj_koova. Very well written and detailed travelogue.

Hvk's attention to detail is amazing!!

@ laluks - Superb narration
@ sj_koova - Beautiful pictures
Thanks lloyd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Torqy View Post
@hvk, I'd love to see the car cam footage of the drive.
Let us know if you plan to share it.
Was that some specialized video cam? How does it handle vibrations / bad roads?

@laluks, amazing read with great pictures.
I'll get there one day..for sure.


-- Torqy
That car cam generated almost 2GB of data everyday. HVK always gleams like a boy with his toy when he explains it to us.

Thanks Torqy. All wishes from our side for your trip. 2010 is so near.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
and more gossip followed.
Gossip for HVK is roads, roads, and more roads...
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Old 5th October 2009, 21:31   #186
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At the end of every days driving HVK used to download the data carefully for his wonderful logs that will come out soon. I was amazed at the amount of data that HVK generates and handles.
Thanks, Lalu, the HC SD Card drive in your laptop was indispensable! My laptop can read only SD cards, I had to rely on Lalu's laptop to read the SD HC cards that were running in my Car Cam - so the effort was as much Lalu's as it was mine. I used to bull-doze into Lalu's bedroom which was also the control room for checking out Saji's fantastic photographs every night, get my SD HC card read and copied to my USB for transfer to my laptop! Yes, quite some evenings we had together.

Every night, we had to check out our cars - oil levels, leakages (if any), suspension, etc - before we could retire and sleep at peace.
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Old 5th October 2009, 22:04   #187
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Great pics Saji. In your post #112 the picture captioned 'More snow clad peaks' shows Mt. Nun(7135m.) and the picture captioned 'Majestic peak' shows Mt. Kun(7077m.) the highest and second highest peaks in Zanskar respectively.
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Old 5th October 2009, 23:06   #188
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Day 7, September 18th, 2009
Leh - Thikshey Gompa - Hemis Gompa - Leh


By the time I got up Glenn and HVK were already out to the Mahindra Service station. Saji and GK had already had a walk around the town and had visited some temple a top a hill.

Well, I sluggishly got ready and got out of the room by 11:00AM.

A prayer wheel near the guest house we stayed.
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Me, Saji and GK took a walk through Market road and reached Chowkang Gompa. This is a modern one, and is the headquarters of Ladakh Buddhist Association.

Chowkang Gompa
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Immediately after the Gompa you get the Jama Masjid. Behind Jama Masjid the dirty alleys take you to Leh Palace.

Leh Palace as seen from down hill.
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I wanted to go up the hill to Leh Palace again, since last night we could not complete the climb. Saji was against it after our misadventure the previous night, most probably he was scared with the UFO. He gave some excuse about his complexion and stuff about the afternoon sun, but definitely we were sure it was due to the UFO scare. He is even scared that some one will kick his back if he puts up the UFO picture in the forum . So it was me and GK to the Leh Palace.


From Leh Palace you have to climb a steep hill to reach the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa as seen down hill.
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GK climbed all the way up the hill in 12minutes, in between waiting for me, he could have done it in 7-8 minutes flat. And about me, don't ask - I took a whopping 30 minutes, panting and puffing and taking rest in between. I appreciate GK's patience, care and concern to have waited and guided me in the climb. A word of caution, if you have not got acclimatised to the heights and AMS, and feel less stamina, don't ever try this climb.

The climb to Namgyal Tsemo Gompa. Can you see the tarred road to the extreme right of the picture and a person climbing towards the bottom left. This could give you a relative indication of the climb.
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At the top of the hill in the Namgyal Tsemo gompa you can see the three storied high Sakyamuni - the historical buddha. But sadly it was closed for renovation. Behind the gompa is the ruins of Victory Fort.

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After the breath taking views of Leh town from there we trekked down to the Leh Palace.
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We saw Shanti Stupa from there.
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Leh Palace was built in the 17th century by the Buddist Ladakhi kings. Leh palace is still under renovation. By the pace at which it goes on I guess it will take another 10+ years to restore it completely.

I could gather this much from the nearby board.
"Leh palace is a legacy of Ladakhi's wars with kashmir rulers in the 19th century. It is a miniature version of Potala palace in Lhasa (Tibet) and is the highest building in the world of its own times. The construction of nine storied Palace on the Tsemo hill was initiated by Tsewang Namgyal, founder of the Namgyal Dynasty (AD 1553 - 1834) in AD 1553 and completed by Tsewang's nephew, Senge Namgyal, the most illustrious king of Ladakh. The material used in the construction of the Palace is stone, mud bricks, popular wood, mud mortar and wooden rafters. The mud plaster utilised locally is known as Mar-kalak. Only the chapel inside the palace is in religious use and it contains a stucco figure of Du-kar (a form of Prajnaparamita).

Originally the capital town Leh was founded in Circa AD 14th Century by one Khri-gstug-L de. It was pronounced as Sle or Gle in the beginning and with the passage of time its spelling changed to 'Leh' by Moravian missionaries, who preferred the German orthography."


The Leh Palace
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View of Leh town from a window of the Leh Palace
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You can see the Jama Masjid and Chowkang Gompa.
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Below the palace we find the Soma Gompa which the royal family used for traditional dances. Immediately next is the Chamspa Lhakhang and the Chenrezi Lakhang. Inside the Chamspa Lakhang which is also known as the Red temple of Maithreya, you can see the 3 storied high statue of Buddha Maitreya with one storey high statue of Avalokiteswara and Manjusri on either side. The place was rebuilt in 1957.

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The dirty alleys behind the Jama masjid are a part of Old Leh. Here you find the traditional mud brick Ladkhi houses.

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After the climb we were too tired and was craving for good food. We walked through the Market road towards Fort Road.

Market Road
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See traffic Jam. All touristy hill stations are the same
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handicrafts for sale
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Fort Road
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We went to Tenzin Dickey Tibetan Kitchen in Fort Road for good Ladakhi vegetarian food. I can feel the taste even now. While having lunch got a call from Glenn to be ready to go out to Thiksey and Hemis Gompa. We finished Lunch and reached the guest house to see a glowing Road Runner.

RoadRunner after his much deserving bath.
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We could not visit Shanti stupa and Sankar Gompa, hence. So also we did not visit Spituk(statues of Vajrabhairava and bull headed Yamantaka), Phyang (Mahakala statue, every three years a giant thangka is unvieled here), Choglamsar( ceremonial residence of Dalai Lama), Shey (Royal palace, Shey gompa and Shey fort), Stok (Stok palace and a Stok Gompa, it is on the other bank of Indus river), Matho Gompa and Stakna Gompa due to lack of time.


Continued...
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Old 5th October 2009, 23:12   #189
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
We had another meet-up with Rohit Mendiratta and Rajiv K Bharat in the garage, and more gossip followed. Not only had Rohit/Rajiv taken the same route as Rohit/Subodh (and what was to be ours as well), but they had also succeeded in driving Leh-KTop-Nubra V-Wari la-Chang la-Pangong Tso in the same long day! Lots of invaluable road feedback and the first confidence-booster that our convoy could climb up Wari La without any problems.
Kumar sir, Little correction.

It was Leh - K_La - Nubra on one day and Nubra-Wari-La-Changla-Pangong-Leh next day.

We had Dushayant with us on Dzire who did this route Leh-KTop-Nubra V-Wari la-Chang la-Pangong Tso

Last edited by rkbharat : 5th October 2009 at 23:13.
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Old 5th October 2009, 23:59   #190
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Day 7, September 18th, 2009 Continued

Thikshey Gompa

At 15:00PM, HVK's and Glenn's Scorpios along with AB's Bolero set out to Thikshey Gompa and Hemis Gompa.

Thikshey Gompa is a town inside a monastery. Then main Gompa here has two prayer chambers. The eastern one has a 14m high Maitreya Buddha statue. The western one has dharmapalas -(their face are so fearful which depicts the detachment from the ignorance of the physical world).

The first view of the beautiful Thikshey Monastery
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Entrance to the Monastery
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Glenn and Saji catching up on world news - read gossip
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Latvian friends make a point.
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HVK telling history of the monastery to AB's family and friends.
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Eastern Prayer Building
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The team climbing to Easter Prayer Hall to see Maitreya Buddha.
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Maitreya Buddha in the Eastern prayer Hall.
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Some wall paintings from the monastery
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Yet another failed attempt of a macro photography.
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Views from Thikshey Monastery. Check out the barren land, farm and greens.
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Return from Thikshey Gompa
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Continued...
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Old 6th October 2009, 00:18   #191
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Day 7, September 18th, 2009 Continued

Hemis Gompa

Hemis Gompa is a must visit. It is only accessible through a narow gorge. One of the largest in Ladakh. Once in 12 years (like our Neela Kurinji flowers in Munnar) the largest thangka in Ladakh (12m wide x 4 storeys high) is unfurled from the top of the Monastery. Next will be in 2016. The 8m high statue of Padmasambhava is also here. There is also a small Museum here.

We reached Hemis by 18:00PM. Light was not conducive to take many photographs.

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Inside Hemis Monastery
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Padmasambhava. No HVK and Saji are not praying with folded hands, they are photographing.
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Views around the monastery
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Behind the monastery
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The three cars waiting at the entrance of Hemis
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Our RoadRunner with his wicked grin waiting for me. You can see Saji and GK discussing about Sajis photographs.
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After Hemis we drove back to Leh. We also filled up diesel in the tanks and Jerry cans for the next days run.




By 20:30 we met at the Tibetan Kitchen for the Team Dinner. Mostly everyone in the convoy was here. It was one amazing night of togetherness. Saji will put up the Team dinner photo.







Hurray Half Time.
Let me take a break

Last edited by laluks : 6th October 2009 at 00:23.
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Old 6th October 2009, 00:28   #192
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MY TAKE ON Day 7, Sep 18, 2009, Late Afternoon, Leh, 115 kms

Long delayed from a promised 1 pm departure, Glenn and I could bring around our Scorpios to pick up the gang only around 400 pm. Doc Mandar, Rajiv Menon and Vishal Bakshshi decided to take naps along with their handsome Scorpios, and Raj Singh drove away in his Scorpio to pray at the local gurudwara.

So here we were - HVK, Glenn and MileCruncher - setting off on a Gompa Tour of Ladakh. We took the Manali road out of Leh, skipping the Shey Palace - no climbing up steep steps for us - and arrived at Thikshey Monastery, which is 20 kms from Leh. The road goes all the way up the hill. We note that Thikshey, like most other Gompas, is open from 8 am - 6 pm, and charges hefty entrance fees, a reminder that we are on a well-trodden tourist trail.

The Golden Buddha at Thikshey - no videos, please - towers over 2 storeys and you can click away what is arguably the most famous and enduring icon of Ladakh. Not to miss the small room next door which has some exotic statuettes and ceramic tiles painted/engraved with dragons and floral designs. The prayer hall is huge and richy decorated with tapestries and paintings - strangely lots of Hindu mythology here. Even if you have no spiritual yearnings, Thikshey is a compulsive stop-over for its sweeping panoramic views of the Indus River Valley. If there is one Gompa you have to visit in Ladakh, this is the one.

Leaving Thikshey at 515 pm, we rush to the next destination, fearful that the Hemis Monastery will be closed by the time we get there (we make it with 5 minutes to spare, at 555 pm). To get to Hemis, continue on the Manali road till Karu (18 kms), then cross the River Indus and get to Hemis which is another 8 kms away.

Hemis is the largest monastery in Ladakh, and is hidden behind mountains, with a narrow entrance, obviously to deter and defend this holy centre from invaders - this houses 500+ monks and stages some of the grandest dragon dance spectacles every year. Giant Buddhas and saints, and yet one more group photo later, we drive in the swiftly-descending darkness back to Leh.

On the way back, we tanked up at the Choglasmar petrol pump - preferred because the IOC pump in Leh Round stocks only premium diesel and is rumoured to sell "adulterated" diesel. This time, we made no mistakes - all of us filled up our cans in preparation for the forthcoming petrol-pump-less drive into Nubra Valley the next day. Happily, the caps sealed tight and the diesel did not stink to the heavens inside the car. Don't forget to carry spare diesel.

Back in Leh, it was dinner time and for the first time,the entire team gathered at the Tibetan Kitchen in Leh Market for a grand dinner together. Rohit/Rajiv also joined us that night.

Were we ready to leave Leh the next day morning?
Yes - Fuel tanks full, fuel cans full
Yes - Cars serviced and raring to go
Yes - Permits in place

I am told that some in our team had a tough team drawing cash from the ATMs in Leh Market that day - the SBI ATM had long Qs and the J&K Bank ATM across was not working. One more reason why you carry as much cash as you can carry and forget modern technologies. And not to forget - they never heard of Credit Cards in Leh!
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Old 6th October 2009, 10:40   #193
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Wow! This is indeed a unique travelogue with lalu narrating the day's travel in a story like way with his numerous photos, Kumar saab's crisp narration which has all the logistics & route part of the trip covered & saji's superlative pictures. Wonderful combination, guys! Just one thing I wanted to know. I have heard that the camera batteries get drained quickly in such cold conditions. Did any of you people experience any problems like that? Also, any special care/precautions taken with the cameras?

Ranjith
yeah, the batteries do drain out like there's no tomorrow. and i learnt it the hard way. i thought i'm smart enuf to carry duracells instead of rechargeable cells because they 'last longer.... much longer ]but i had duracells draining out in a days time! so i was able to use my S2IS only for about 3 days, thank god, Dhananjay had his EOS [with rechargeable batteries] and we managed with one camera between the two of us.
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Old 6th October 2009, 10:43   #194
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Back in Leh, it was dinner time and for the first time,the entire team gathered at the Tibetan Kitchen in Leh Market for a grand dinner together. Rohit/Rajiv also joined us that night.
Kumar - Thanks for inviting us for the dinner and it was great to have met the entire team. I am enjoying this travelogue and photos posted by the team, the pictures are simply amazing.

Regards,
Rohit Mendiratta
AarEmm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th October 2009, 11:27   #195
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Kumar ji

In my understanding You are indeed demonstrating a true leadership example.

Planning
Setting directions, schedules
Paying attention to details
Organizing (schedules, hotel rooms, repairs)
Leading
Trouble shooting (diesel, car repairs, preventive maintenance)
Monitoring, recording what is actually happening
helping others
keeping the team together
having fun together
sharing experiences
providing tips, advice on what to do , what not to do
etc etc



it would be a great feeling to have you as a leader in any team on such challenging journey.

hat's off to you.
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