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|28th January 2010, 14:15||#196|
Join Date: Jun 2007
Thanked: 224 Times
I shall add my bit once the show commences with Ravv's beautiful narration so far. Ive been amazed how much he has captured in his memories including the emotions we had felt as individuals. Its a tough task to describe your own , but for Ravvs to be taking mine and Nazim's experiences just as we felt it has been truly amazing. Oh ofcourse ...... and Naz's posting of the pics as the story unfolds is mouth watering. Machan , sorry bout RAW , lol.
|29th January 2010, 21:17||#197|
Senior - BHPian
The Lhasa Highway.
Thanks Arun, keep those compliments rolling! I savour each one.
The Lhasa Highway
After a restful night and a relaxed breakfast, Nazim and Arun hooked up with the cab driver and went off to collect the permit to visit the border post at Bum La. Once they were back, we bundled into the Omni - (no heater or blower!) and set off down (or up) the highway to Lhasa and Beijing for Bum La.
The scenery was truly amazing. Plants and a few trees cling tenaciously to life in that inhospitable terrain. Mountain streams feed lakes, most lakes and streams are now frozen. The stark rocky terrain is interspersed with verdant valleys. Majestic mountain peaks dusted with snow. Sheer granite faces looking on imperiously at everything below them. This was a different landscape - high altitude but full of plants and water.
Evergreens, mountains and a vibrant sky
A view of Tawang from up above.
A word about the road would not be out of place. This road barely sees any traffic, this was proven when two soldiers stopped us a little after Penkong Teng Tso and asked us to deliver an envelope at Klemta. Almost everyone who saw the Omni on that road exclaimed - that car will not make it! This only made our young driver more determined to take us there in his steed. I must say that he was an excellent driver and that he manouvered the car well avoiding all obstacles and picking the best line to make the ascents. His use of accelerator and clutch was judicious but, the Omni has limited capabilities and often, one or more of us were required to get down to lighten the vehicle and to push it up tricky patches particularly where the tyres were getting no purchase due to ruts, loose stones or water.
The road runs through a stand of conifers
Our chariot for the day
This was getting to us - the constant getting down, pushing and walking. At one point we were faced with a long road going down, Arun balked and said "Oh no! We will have to push this car all the way up. Let us stop and go back." Not being one to give up so easily, I replied that having come so far, we might as well take our chances. At the bottom of that long road down there was a check post. The soldiers manning that post cheerfully waved us in but not before dumping 5 live chicken in the back with a request to hand them over to the guys in Bum La. Now we had to make it. No question of turning back as we were carrying food.
The Omni soldiered along gamely thereafter and we had to get down and push only on two occasions. The third time we had to get down, the round stones, water gushing on the road, the narrow tyres and lack of power did the Omni in. (I wonder what the Chinese observing us were thinking when they saw us trying to get the Omni up that incline. I guess they were laughing into their sleeves at our foolish attempt or perhaps admiring our determination.....). I too gave up at this point as there was no way we could get the Omni up that stream (that was what it was). I was all set to return but Arun would have none of it. He said something to the effect of - they are counting on us to deliver the chicken and we shall!
Three Musketeers set off on their mission
So that was settled, the chicken would get delivered to the post at Bum La which was just over the next crest. Nazim decided to go too as did the driver. Jr. and I decided to stay back at the van as I did not want to expose us too much to the cold and thin air. So Jr. and I stayed near the van and sunned ourselves, thoroughly enjoying the warmth of the sun for as long as it was out. Once the Sun went behind the clouds we jumped into the van.
A few pics as I waited for the brave 3 to return:
Temple to a Martyr. THIS is the highest honour man can give a mortal.
Two majestic peaks that kept me company and mesmerised me.
Below the road
The moon shines on benignly on the two neighbours
I loved that view
Once the volunteers reached the crest, they were met by some soldiers which kind of confirmed to me that our hunch that the post was just over that crest was correct. Some of the soldiers walked back with our brave expeditioners while one peeled off and came down that hill, jumping from rock to rock, agile as a mountain goat and something on him flashing bright in that thin clear air. Soon he passed us giving us a cheery wave. He bounded down the road and disappeared round the bend. I got back to admiring the scenery and getting a few snaps with my FZ. Once I was through I was getting some shut eye in the van when I heard a knock on the window to see this young soldier smiling at me and offereing me something. I opened the door and got down to learn that he was offering us some hot halwa that was 'prasad' that was offered at the Mandir to a Baba i.e. a martyred soldier. Once we had the prasad, he got on his way. Watching him come down that slope was impressive but it was nothing compared to watching him go up! The soldier made short work of the same patch that Arun, Nazim and the driver had trudged up. This soldier made it look like child's play and jumping from rock to rock, with sure footwork, he disappeared from our view in no time at all. I now knew what that flashing thing was - it was the stainless steel container containing the prasad. LOL and I had thought it was some fancy military equipment.
Our brave trio were gone quite a while and I was wondering if they were having lunch when they made an appearance over the crest and came down much faster then they went up. Wow, were they excited, they had just looked onto China, seen the border post and the hut where the Indian side hosts border meets with the Chinese. One of the first things they told me was that the post was not over the crest that could be seen from the van. It was after two more crests and that the total distance to the post was about 3 km. Boy, I was glad that I did not venture to walk. They also told me that had hot halwa as prasad. That was how fast that soldier was, he trekked all the way down and up carrying hot halwa in an uninsulated steel vessel with the temperature at 6 degrees below 0 and at the end of it, the halwa was still warm!
Once they were in the car we got going. Car and driver performed seamlessly and we did not have to get down to push even once (I wonder if the whole - "the car is not able to make it" bit is a ruse to avoid taking the vehicles to the border due to some local sentiment).
The drive back from Bum La was totally relaxed and we got an opportunity to enjoy the scenery without any anxiety. We took a decision to give a miss to Sangester lake and took only a short break at Pengang Teng Tso. Pengang Teng Tso with its walkways and tin roofed shelters did not seem too inviting after the drive to Bum La and the raw nature we saw on the way (including several frozen lakes and streams) as the following pics show:
Mountains in green and white
Imagine the torque or BHP required to rend solid granite like this
A snow field
Snow dusted landscape frames a frozen lake. The lake shows signs of melting at the edges where sunlight warms the rocks.
Road skirts a lake
Above and below: Same lake in different angles and light.
Lake in the far distance, like a jewel set in jewellry
I managed to capture this yak on the way back, suited the mood of that moment perfectly, a blend of majesty, indolence and perhaps melancholy.
The evening was given over to packing and a nice relaxed meal at what had become 'our eating joint'. Tired but happy, sad too that our short stay in magical Tawang was over and we had to hit the road the next morning. We prayed that the Se La lake was frozen and that there was snow there so that we could spend some time there.
There is a story in the picture below, the monk and the Laura - two opposite paths, one of frugality and the other of indulgence, each is facing a different direction, perhaps indicative of how our paths which came together briefly were to go different directions - the Lama to his secluded monastery and the Laura to carry us back to the urban mayhem.
Proof that nature does not need to be saved for mankind - it needs to be saved FROM mankind
I have a few more pics from this day to share - coming up soon.
Last edited by Ravveendrra : 29th January 2010 at 21:23.
|29th January 2010, 22:13||#198|
Senior - BHPian
I thought they had got down to push the car
They were however taking pictures of each other taking pictures!
The sheer majesty of that mountain floored me
A picture of the road that did us in
Some pictures of the trek that the above road caused:
Some general pics:
Range after range, seemingly endless mountains
The moon in a deep blue sky - the picture does no justice to the actual colours in 3D (or is it 4D) reality.
|29th January 2010, 22:39||#199|
Senior - BHPian
Arun: Machan, do you think Ravi is clicking pics of us?
Me: of course! Ravi has the FZ with the 18x Optical Zoom! And he stayed back near the Omni!
Arun: Forget all that, These chicks are heavy... please share the burden!
Me: Dude, then who will handle the D90? Just make sure they don't run away... BTW, I eat Chickens... but never carried or touched them!
Arun: ***... our omni driver has disappeared... Can we make it to the top?
Me: Forget that, I saw a board that we are now being observed by Chinese Army... I just hope, they don't shoot us!
Arun: Our Army is there to guard us! Don't worry!
Hurrah! I see the Bumla hut!
Me: huh? yeah, We both are sweating at -6 degrees and at an altitude of 15000+ feet! Man, I am proud to be here! (Sad, I can't show the finger to the Chinese as I feared for my dear life... I am not even married!)
Well, the rest is history! (at least in our memories!)
We made it to Bum La and we did rest our feet on China!
@Ravvs, that was an awesome post! pics from my side will be delayed a bit as I am shifting my home this weekend and also, I am learning to process RAW images... (Arun, Dude, Next time I hear you mention anything about being RAW, I will Kill You!! LOL)
|29th January 2010, 23:28||#200|
Senior - BHPian
Grrr the RAW - they are a pain to even view. You had better get going soon though as this thread was #66 amongst travelogues and had close to 11K views, the last time I looked.
Forget the board politely informing us that we were under enemy observation - what scared the daylights of me were the minefields.
I thought 7500 km would give enough opportunity for you and Arun to get hitched. Bagdogra, Shillong and Tawang did seem promising...........unless there is something I do not know . Now your folks can say: Payyan China varrikum poyitu vandaan. Should increase your prospects immensely.
Sweating at -6 at 2.00 p.m. obviously did not put you in peak form else, you could have mouthed nasty messages in Sen-Tamizh at the Chinese on the Tibetan side. This would have set the cat among the pigeons on the other side forcing them to spend a zillion $$$ and scurry to get someone who could lip-read pure Sanskrit in Tamil !
My one regret of the trip is that I was not able to make that walk to the hut, aaah well, one cannot have everything.
One thing that struck me was how the army treats all visitors to the Tawang valley as their guests. They literally take you under their wing and ensure your safety, well-being etc. It really must be a burden on them - ensuring the safety of several thousand ignorant civilians and their uncouth ways compounded by some very daft driving. One thing visitors to Tawang will do well to remember that one is quite literally dependent on the army for pretty much everything, from roads to emergency services, medical facilities etc. One must also remember that anything one does there has a bearing on either the environment or security or both.
P.S. When is the housewarming party? Let us do up one wall with a collage of pictures from this and other trips...
Last edited by Ravveendrra : 29th January 2010 at 23:33.
|30th January 2010, 20:18||#201|
Senior - BHPian
Panggang Homa Tso.
aka, Grassy Lower Lake . Because of its shape, this lake is also known as the ‘Heart shaped Lake’.
SRK made Madhuri dixit's hair on that stone in Koyla!
Well, I found the video too... The Lake appears at 3:40 in the video
Life is a...
Gift, Accept it.
Challenge, Meet it.
Battle, Fight it.
Goal, Achieve it.
Journey, Don't finish here!
Last edited by pulsar56 : 30th January 2010 at 20:22.
|30th January 2010, 20:31||#202|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 6 Times
|30th January 2010, 21:33||#203|
Senior - BHPian
Some more pics on the way to Bumla!
Last edited by pulsar56 : 30th January 2010 at 21:41.
|30th January 2010, 23:34||#204|
Senior - BHPian
ARUN, time to get out of your cozy corner in the back seat (with or without soundstage) and show some of that marathoning ability of yours here. I've been waiting for your take (and wit) on the happenings in what seems to have been the trip of our lives.
This thread is also sorely missing Suren's sharp comments. Suren was one guy who kept track of our movements on real time basis via the phone. Suren Boss where art thou?
Just for the record. Arun earned himself the soubriquet of "Dracula" after his body demanded seemingly endless transfusions of blood platelets just a month before the trip. By the time we embarked on this trip he was still 'recovering' but, nothing in the manner he trekked showed it. Also remarkable was his ability to put in long hours behind the wheel. Seeing him perform on this trip one could scarcely believe that he was down with dengue fever less then two months before.
Twas also a joy to see Arun work his charm on worthy candidates .
|1st February 2010, 12:52||#205|
Join Date: Nov 2009
Thanked: 24 Times
hey guys, the last couple of sets of pictures just are unimaginable, you guys captured the beautiful nature really well!!
the high alt pitcures, frozen lake and the yak are simply awesome.
well - whats more?
|1st February 2010, 13:05||#206|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Thanked: 302 Times
Very good pictures the lake the snow the roads the effort is splendid and sharing these with all of us priceless keep going.
|1st February 2010, 13:22||#207|
Join Date: May 2007
Location: UP 16
Thanked: 156 Times
Hey Ravveendrra & pulsar56, great going guys.
Amazing trip and awesome photographs.
Man I need to make a trip to the N-E soon.
|1st February 2010, 15:13||#208|
Join Date: Jun 2007
Thanked: 224 Times
Even more hilarious fact is that, many people probably think that this "Arun" that gets quoted ever so often was a ghost --- and you guys have gone mental with the High Altitude .
Right Jokes apart , yes this trip has been an amazing experience in all ways thinkable. One thing is for sure , any future extreme drives or trips and i know for a fact who my crew are gonna be ( Including le tank ).Of course there will be additions - The regulars of Hyd Tbhp were sorely missed.
The drive to Tawang
On the personal experience front , it was the first time i spent time in a Skoda and getting the chance to drive and experience le tank was a revelation. Yes we had the wonderful sights and visuals going by and all that's been captured in Naz's posts , but falling in love with the car is what i remember most. It was a case of getting to know the vehicle and being prepared for hurdles that we were going to face. I've had many encounters with the various surfaces in Arunachal and the 1st six days got me confident enough to know what can and cannot be thrown as "roads" under the Laura's belly.
Talking about sound stage of my comfort, let me put it this way .... i was giving stiff competition to a 7 year old when it came to sleeping on long journeys and the back seat of the Laura was my domain. Ravvs and Naz had to push , cajole, sweet talk and convince me to drive every time we stopped for tea , lol. But, once i was given the keys it was a whole different episode - they had to do the whole cajoling " should we stop for tea" episode in reverse to get me out of that seat. Thats 'bout it. Every other experience was covered by the narration so far.
Oh yes i slept like a log!. As Ravs pointed out , i was down with Dengue and only got discharged from the Hospital around end Nov. I was thinking to myself if i could make the trip as all the advice showered translated to "you'll need a minimum of 6-10 weeks to recover". All through 1st week of Dec, i experienced phases of fatigue and exhaustion. Resting at home was not easy, what with boredom playing games in my head. I aint kidding when i say that my head and body felt like a fish out of water. Nothin excited nor interested me ..... but for trying to be ready for the trip. Sure enough , i pushed myself to attend work for a few hours and that changed my attitude. Mentally I was no more a patient and that's when my journey to Arunachal began.
the rest to come in future posts.
Last edited by absynthguzzler : 1st February 2010 at 15:21.
|The following BHPian Thanks absynthguzzler for this useful post:|
|5th February 2010, 00:05||#209|
Senior - BHPian
Departure: Tawang scheduled N/H: Bomdila
Thanks all of you for your kind words of appreciation. They spur us on when we are lethargic to write / post pictures.
As for the slow progress on my part, it is in part due to some travails. I hope they pass soon and that the little chap and I surmount all obstacles. If we do - a party will be due!
Coming up -
some crazy pics of a car shedding weight,
beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, natural rock formations,
our own discovery of a head of Buddha crafted by mother nature,
quaint churches, mighty cathedrals, mightier rivers,
roads less travelled at night, fog, following jeep drivers,
a mad rush to beat the 'bandhwallahs' ........
My previous post stopped with our day out to Bum La. By common logic our travels (and this travelogue) should have stopped there. I mean, hey, here we are, we just been through a nice long trip over some gruelling terrain and have experienced what some might call an extreme holiday. We have seen some intensely beautiful sights and overall we have had some amazing and wonderful experiences. By all counts the travelogue should logically stop here. Right?
Wrong! Who is talking about logical? We were on a trip to experience beauty, we were on a trip to explore our country and experience it, we were also on a trip of self-exploration. To cut a long story short - we were on a trip for the sake of a trip. We were not on a guided tour where we jump out at designated tourist spots, get our pics clicked and jump back in. So, we travel on.
We had a leisurely breakfast and checked out of the Gori Chen at a decent hour as there was no rush today.
Nazim, all scrubbed and set for the day.
Now Nazim, please will you move away from the window - you are blocking the view:
View of the monastery spoiled by the mass of coiled wires
We were to drive till Bomdila and halt there for the night. We planned to stop at Sela for a little while before taking advantage of an invitation for lunch at Baisakhi (I must confess all of us were really looking forward to the sumptuous spread that our friends in uniform are justly famous for).
Arun decided that enough was enough and gave the dickie a thorough going over. Well, I do not know what all he threw out but, our suitcases and bags fitted in with some room to spare. Now this gave us something new to worry about, something that we did not have to worry about on this trip till now - what if the luggage moves around in the dickie! We need not have worried, after the first bump taken a wee bit too fast, the luggage settled in nicely!
Leaving Tawang, we once again marvelled at the beauty of that road, the lively stream running alongside adds its own distinctive charm. I refer to it as a stream so that one does not think of a roaring river running along the road eg. the Beas between Kullu and Manali.
'That road' again
Some views from 'That Road'
Se La lake was frozen and a hillside beside it was covered in snow and the sky was clear with sunlight covering the mountainsides. It was just right for a nice halt to enjoy the last of the high altitudes their frozen lakes and snow. We debated over taking the car down and onto the bund but decided against it and walked down instead. The snow was a day or two old, the lake was frozen solid (we checked by chucking the largest rock we could find onto the surface). The little chap went beserk! Can't blame him - the child in each of us jumped for joy at that sight.
The youngest two members
Did he fall?
Is he all right? Exhausted perhaps?
Of course he is all right - just making snow angels!
Above & Below - Misty mountain
The little chap beaming & looking chubby in all those layers (this day he had 4 layers on his legs and about 7 on his torso (2 layers of woolen socks in shoes).
Bye bye Se La lake
Very reluctantly we dragged ourselves back to the car by telling ourselves that our hosts would be waiting for us. (But not before a few more snaps!)
The mountain at the back (L of pic) is solid granite, cut through to reveal its layers like it was a piece of sponge cake.
Cloud being pushed up along the mountainside to Se La
Above & Below: A baby God did not put his building blocks away!
Just below Se La, we came across a lovely jungle fowl sitting right next to our window on the parapet to the road. I stopped and was hoping to hear 'click' 'click'. Nothing........a long pregnant pause. The jungle fowl gets bored and jumps off the parapet to lose itself in the trees below the road. Then I hear something, it is Arun cussing that all the cameras are 'off' and neatly packed in their bags . Aah well, the price of neatness, I guess. The stretch of road which had ice and fresh snow on it on our way up, which neccesitated the car to be dhurried, is now clear and we zip down to reach Baisakhi just 'fashionably late' for lunch.
Lovely quaint little houses
With a giant sized view!
We stopped at the gate to Baisakhi that proved so elusive on our way up and thanks to the sentries being informed that we were expected we were quickly ushered in with directions to the Officers mess. Once we got out of the car the sheer beauty of the place - particularly the mountain in front - took our breath away. Our hosts were on hand to welcome us and ushered us indoors quickly. It was quite amazing what the soldiers had done to the interiors of the temporary structure that was their mess. The interiors were done up beautifully. Carpets made up for the uneven floor, curtains graced the windows, chandeliers hung from the rafters of the temporary structure evoking memories of high ceilingled halls, pricelss period furniture added a certain timeless grace, the walls were full of memorablia, trophies and the like. The whole place oozed history, history of the batallion. A history that all there were visibly proud of and keen to uphold. The manner in which these brave men made a warm cosy 'home' that they could be proud of, in that cold, misshapen building so far away from their families was truly an eye-opener and heart warming. Those officers were perfect gentlemen and made us feel absolutely at home, they shared with us some of the high points in the history of their battalion and regiment. They regaled us with some wonderful anecdotes and tales of one-upmanship. We filed into the dining room that would have done a stately country home in Britain proud and gleefully tucked into the piping hot food that was served in great, yet understated style. I am normally one to dwell on the food but that meal rates a special mention. It was now some 10 days that we had been away from home, that food for the first time made us homesick! All the regular goodies were there, vegetables (fried and curried), meat, steaming hot rotis, fresh bread, steaming hot rice, pasta (was it penne?), hot gulab jamuns to top it off, on that cold day it was gastronomical heaven. Now before one gets the idea that the gentlemen in uniform have a cushy life, let me disabuse you. The plumbing is rudimentary, the cold wind creeps in through the joints in the doors, windows and walls causing a draft which adds to the discomfort caused by the unheated rooms (heating is by kerosene buring heaters), the cold necessitates wearing warm clothes indoors. Electricity is from Diesel gensets and used carefully, the telephone works fitfully, mobiles - forget them, internet - ISPs do not exist, food and other supplies have to be trucked up. P.T., shuttle and other sports are cumpulsory even when the sky is overcast and the temperature is well below 0. If you go on leave, you have to go through an acclamatisation process before you can go back up the mountain to be with your 'family' i.e. your battalion. It is a tough life but, one worthy of a gentleman.
N.B. Good news for all you with young kids. Our hosts that afternoon informed us that children adapt much better than adults to high altitudes and that AMS is rare in children. So please plan your trips and do not dose your children with Diamox (you might need it, kids do not) however do keep them hydrated by ensuring that they sip water or citrus juices every few minutes.
Stuffed to the gills, we tore ourselves away from that cosy place and bade our hosts goodbye. Once in the car, we realised that we had spend the better part of the afternoon over Baisakhi and that there was no way we would be in Bomdila before dark. Dusk brought us a new revelation - the traffic thins out dramatically. This planted the seed for a diabolic idea in our head. We reached Bomdila by around 7 and popped into the hotel for dinner.
Over dinner we debated the pros and cons of pushing on and reaching Tezpur We estimated that the drive would take us less than 4 hours due to the reduced traffic which meant no more convoys, no more long halts at narrow parts to let oncoming traffic pass before moving on etc. One pertinent point that Arun brought up was that if we cut out the Bomdila night stop, we would get a day in Guwahati which could be devoted to getting some TLC for 'Le Tank' at Himatsingka Motors (the A.S.C. for Skoda). What swung the decicion however was none of the sound logic - it was the thought of spending the night in the excellent rooms of the Hotel KF and starting the day after a sumptuous breakfast in KF. The thought of the stylish, well appointed, bright yet restful rooms of the KF put an end to all debate and the decision was put into words by the little chap who piped up to say "We will sleep only in KF tonight".
My son wanted me to sit with him in the back so it fell upon Arun to do the honours at the wheel with Nazim at his side. Nazim held the distinction of not having gone to sleep even once in the car and he did not disappoint that evening/night either.
That drive down was accomplished with ease till Bhalukpong. The only traffic were a few buses who were a pain, as is the wont of their ilk and quite a few fuel tankers who were absolutely disciplined and courteous. An unexpected bonus was that the slush had settled and was semi-frozen. Conversation was limited as we were a little wistful at the end of a fabulous leg of our journey.
Our smooth peaceful drive ended when we encountered thick fog just after Bhalukpong. The sides of the road were not marked clearly and the road was in a state of 'work in progress' for most of its length. Arun seems to have developed some kind of radar or infra-red vision for he managed to keep the car on the road and got us to Tezpur and our favourite Hotel KF in good time (around mid-night). The staff at KF promptly gave us the same rooms as we had on our way up, so it was easier for us to settle in for the night.
Now it is time for me to settle in for tonight!
Erm, what is this pic?
Oh, it is from another leg of the journey!
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