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Old 19th July 2010, 15:39   #31
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Every year i see tons of pics of now familiar terrain that i visited in '07 and every single year it still looks so appealing and enticing! Timeless charm that keeps drawing people. Nice trip!
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Old 19th July 2010, 16:08   #32
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The following photo's are extension of the narration in the previous post.
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Old 19th July 2010, 16:57   #33
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Beautiful Snaps there. Seems you like to observe the people around you. Nice writing about the people, their lives and the changes in general.
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Old 19th July 2010, 20:20   #34
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We started at 0700 hrs in the morning, the French were already in the vehicle when we were picked up from the hotel. There are two ways towards Nubra Valley. You can either go from the old taxi stand or pass from the Changspa village road and move towards the Road leading to south Pullu. South Pullu is an army check post where the vehicles halt, register and wait for the military to give a go ahead. Just like Jozi La or other passes, traffic is one way. Since it had snowed heavily the earlier day, roads were cleared for the traffic to return to normalcy with snow evident on the either sides of road. At south Pullu, we had opportunity to click some pictures and buy quick bites for the journey ahead. In a dingy shack with no light,and people screaming at the top of their voices, to be heard/served first, we successfully managed to get out the place with the shopping. The French(Olivier) had never seen something(shop) like this before. It started drizzling, meanwhile among the rumours that the Pass won't open today, we also had an chance to see a helicopter trying to land close by. He almost did, and took off before touching the ground. He would quickly hover and try landing again, to miss by inches. This repeated four times before he returned to the base. I assume it was just a military training exercise or he was a really bad pilot.

Finally we were shown the green light. The kilometre long lined vehicles scrambled to push their way in, breaking lanes. Like school kids pushing through a small gate, after school. snowflakes started settling on the windscreen, added to my excitement. At 39, I still carry that curiosity in my eyes, like that of a five year old when excited, it helps me learn more. finally we could see the 'top', Khadung La. It was nice to see people jostling and pushing to get a solo photo with that yellow sign board, standing in all it's glory announcing that you have reached/achieved, 'World's Highest Motorable Pass'. Some of them will turn around back and go to Leh after this achievement, rest will carry on. I hopped in to the souvenir shop besides the Shiv Temple and bought that Beer Mug, with Khardung La printed on it. Weather at that point of time did not permit us to stay out of the vehicle for long, unlike those soldiers with those special outfits and snow shoes, they really looked handsome. " Let's go", announced Issah in a commanding voice, the weather wasn't very promising and he had doubts if we could cross without getting stuck in an avalanche or something worse. I still made him stop on the way to play in snow, solo. Rest chose to stay indoors. The so called (road) dirt track had become worse, with snow turning in to water under the wheels that came crushing it. I pitied those labourers, sitting on the sides of the roads, covering their faces with scarves from the biting cold and glares on the nose, waiting to clear any snow on the road. These were the heroes, who keep the pass up and running.

Browns started emerging, altitude dropped. We could see the landscape taking a different shape altogether. First stop Diskit Monastery.(Diskit & Hundur Gompa - Diskit & Hundur Monastery Ladakh India - Diskit and Hundur Monastry Ladakh) We didn't spend much time in there. Like I said, didn't mean too much for us. Quickly I read through the daily routine of the novice monks, few clicks and off we go. Diskit was the village. I had heard a lot about the double humped camel rides. Excitement grew as we neared the place. I don't have words to explain the landscapes. So much diversity in this land called India. I call it another Europe with 29 states as it's countries. The moment we reached near the double humped mammals, my excitement died down instantly. the fur from most of them had worn out. they looked in a pretty bad shape, overworked and underfed. 300 INR for a fifteen minute ride and nothing to hold on to. Not even a saddle in place. The animals had some cloth tied at their backs and ropes through their noses, pulled by the caretakers. In my presence, three incidences of people falling off occurred creating a trouble among the 'camelwalas' and a group of boys from Mumbai. One of them seriously hurt his back, camel kicking repeatedly on the arm, as well. A couple of pictures and we decided to move ahead.

Accommodation was next on cards. Issah showed us a compound with tents at 1200 INR. Bargaining session brought it down to 1000. I wasn't satisfied. We decided to see more. I guessed the white skins with us made the prices shoot up. Next stop, we found the tents at 300 INR fora night. The French were made to sit inside the car, it worked. There is one more popular way of stay in Ladakh which is 'home stays'. A local Ladakhi would welcome you in their home and offer you accommodation and food from his kitchen at 150-300 INR approx. Hitch, no western toilet facility. But if you want to know the Ladakhi way of life, that is the way. Not good for me. I chose to stay in another place with room and attached toilet @ 500 INR. Hot water on demand. Electricity was 'now you see me now you don't' kind. You would not have seen as many stars in you life, as you would see in a clear night in Nubra. It's an amazing sight, just out of the world.

Chit chat with other inmates of the place continued when I found Olivier feeling bored and out of place. We decided to go for a walk and his lady didn't want to stay either. somehow these guys find us to loud while we chat. Armed with torches, we walked about a kilometre and half to know that we can't find the way 'home' and will have to turn around and go back the same way we came. The three of us somehow managed to run back to shelter, wet and cold. Dinner was exceptionally good, we thought. In the morning, we started at 0830 towards Panamik. The last village accessible to foreigners. a few kilometres ahead starts the Siachin Glacier. Panamik is a hot spring. rich in sulphur, yellow mud, evident of the minerals in this warm water spring. It was time, we moved towards North Pullu to make it in time for Leh. On the way, I stopped to collect round black stones to decorate my fish tank. No matter how much I try, words cannot replace the photos attached, more than that, a personal visit.

Mangled remains of a commercial vehicle once again reminded of the difficult terrain we were in. Next stop Pangong Tso.
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Last edited by horabonny : 19th July 2010 at 20:26.
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Old 19th July 2010, 20:25   #35
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Nice pics. The camels seem to have adapted well to the weather, they too have fur!

Did you stay in that tent location? how was the experience?
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Old 19th July 2010, 20:36   #36
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following pictures are a continuation from the earlier post.
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Last edited by horabonny : 19th July 2010 at 20:40.
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Old 19th July 2010, 20:45   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Nice pics. The camels seem to have adapted well to the weather, they too have fur!

Did you stay in that tent location? how was the experience?
Hi, No I didn't, as the tents were not up to the mark, so we stayed in the rooms instead..
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Old 20th July 2010, 11:18   #38
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Nice photographs there. Really enjoying this thread.
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Old 20th July 2010, 16:01   #39
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With the highest motor-able pass under our belt, it was time to check out the second highest, 'Chang La'. With confirmation that the pass has been opened to tourist vehicles after some unexpected heavy snowfall, we once again drive through the Shey village and then Karu village where we had those tasty Tandoori parathas. We had them again to our hearts content, since we didn't know, when would be our next visit to Leh. Quick registration at 'Karu' and off we were driving towards Pangong Tso. I realised the importance of vehicles and no. of passengers being ferried when I read this, (2 killed in Ladakh avalanche, 73 rescued) It had snowed heavily and the weather was more than chilly. We reached at the Chang La. To be welcomed by the Soldiers who offered free tea to all tourists. I needed to purchase a plate with Chang La printed on it along with a plastic stand. Apart from buying a souvenir for my drawing room, it could be my 'thank you' for the tea being offered. These soldiers, who smiled at everyone, showed that they loved what they did. My salute to them, for their services. There were queue's for women awaiting to use the mobile toilets installed there for tourists. At a safe distance, men were lined up relieving themselves, making holes in the snow, while others, busy getting the right photo shots, me included. At 5.3 kms above sea-level, it had to be cold. Meanwhile it started snowing again and everyone ran back to their vehicles. Risky affair these passes are. When we started to move, I witnessed the vehicles ahead were skidding in the layer of ice which was about 2 inches thick now. To left was a gorge half kilometre down or may be less, with no railings. So if we skid, and the vehicle drifts to the left end, even braking won't make a difference. We had stopped, as all other vehicles. It's was a narrow road. 60 vehicles stalled in a row, the drivers alighted & started chatting in their local language. After about 15 minutes they decided to move ahead. The moment we moved, I could feel the vehicle skidding and driver manoeuvring the wheel to control it. I asked him to stop immediately, which he did. After extensive studying, had I passed my driving test in Spain, at first attempt. Theory first and Practicals later. The first thing you need to do is, chain the tires in snow, else it's a crime in Europe at least. Drivers are programmed to follow the rules, such extensive is the course study and practice in that part of the world. Chains were in the boot, but the driver insisted, that they usually do it, without the chains and it is 'ok'. I was not going to be a part of this 'trial and error' practise. Me, my wife and another person who understood the gravity of the situation, decided to walk. I could see the military trucks with chains attached moving slowly but cautiously. After about 300 mtrs when the layer of snow subsided, did we decide to be in the vehicle again. Meanwhile, some started dozing, once snow was out. We drove for about 3 hours before the heavenly sight was visible. the 360 degrees vision was like HEAVEN (though I haven't seen one before, but I can imagine, this be it, if there were one). I have self driven all around switzerland, visiting many lakes and mountains. Be it Mt. Titlis or jungfraujoch, even many parts of Spain, but never have I encountered a beauty of this kind. Its a pity that we have to share it with the Chinese. Only a third of the lake is on the Indian side. People were feeding the 'Gulls' in this brackish water lake. Some jumping endless number of times in air to get that one 'right shot'. 'The Three Idiots' no doubt has helped the Ladakhi's with endless countrymen wanting to witness this sight. along with it, came the plastic plates and bags and waste cans and all that you can think of. Dust bins were not in sight, and people couldn't help dumping the waste, which the wind carried into the lake. It won't be long before we can witness another 'Dal Lake', if right policing is not put in place. I asked my driver,to communicate the same to other drivers. But all seemed helpless, after all they (tourists) bring in the much needed money. With whatever plates/plastic we could collect from the water we did & we moved into a tent like structure for some quick snacks.Arguing with people, won't better things, I thought. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the place with many photos. Windy weather forced us to retreat, and we started on our way back, the same day to Leh.
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Last edited by horabonny : 20th July 2010 at 16:07.
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Old 20th July 2010, 16:21   #40
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Sincere apologies, as the earlier post could not be formatted, despite my repeated attempts. I know it would be difficult to read because of this. Continued here are more snaps from the lake.
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Old 20th July 2010, 19:07   #41
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Beautiful seagull pics. I think its a trademark for Ladakh visit. I have seen them appearing in all Ladakh threads. BTW, irrespective of camera configuration everyone's pics turns out to be awesome.

The weather looks great. I am sure it must be chilly like you mentioned!
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Old 30th July 2010, 21:20   #42
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Hi,
since I have been travelling, I wasn't able to continue posting the travelogue. Hope to finish this in a couple of days to come.
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Old 30th July 2010, 23:13   #43
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Very nice pics. Clean and crisp.
Leh trip is something which I also want to do.

And people have done it in all sorts of vehicles. I remember there was a gentleman from Bangalore who drove his Palio 1.6 all the from Bangalore to Leh and Back. In his travelogue there was one picture of a lone guy riding his pulsar with all his stuff tied on his rear seat.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...a-lama-10.html (Bangalore to Leh, Gama to Lama)

That unknown man is a source of inspiration and proof of human will power.
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