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Old 17th November 2023, 13:01   #1
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Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere

Hi guys,

This is my first post ever on team-bhp and I have been thinking about writing this for a long time! In this post, I want to share about my first attempt at a Ladakh road trip. From the exciting start to unexpected twists, a big disaster, and my successful return, I want to share the story of this journey of self-discovery which spans across 4000 kilometers! This may take a while so grab a seat, relax, and let's embark on this incredible adventure together.

CHAPTER #01 | Pune to Jammu

I started early morning on a Friday. As per plan, it would take me 3 days and 2000 kms to reach Jammu. My first day's drive was 614 kms away till Indore. It was flawless and I completed the distance within 10 hours. The next day, I would be driving another 558 kms. This was a super fast drive which I completed in less than 8 hours thanks to the amazing NH552G followed by the super-smooth NH52 all the way to India's Pink City: Jaipur!

The 3rd day I had an even ambitious target to reach Jammu: 812 kms away. This too was my fastest drive and I reached Jammu within 11 hours. The highlight of this drive is the newly opened NH152D between Narnaul to Gangheri in Haryana. A 227 kms long 6 lane expressway with a speed limit of 100 kmph! This road is bordered on both sides by endless fields which strech across almost all of the 227 kms expressway! Truly amazing! This was followed by the scenic NH44 through Punjab all the way till Jammu. In this way, I completed the first 2000 kms of my drive within 3 days crossing through 7 states. The VW Polo GT TSI is a real mile-muncher and given the excellent highways, it can easily cover long distances and return excellent fuel mileages. I got a lifetime best of 20.5 kmpl on my drive from Jaipur to Jammu!

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230604_143124000_ios.png

CHAPTER #02 | Jammu to Srinagar

I was hoping to reach Srinagar by afternoon so that I could check off items on my to-do list like going to the Dal lake and enjoying a Shikara ride. Little did I know what kind of nightmare was waiting for me!


The first 2 hours of the drive were great as I passed through scenic roads with amazing views of the lower Himalayas surrounding the Tawi river below.

Finally I started crossing the Chenani-Nashri tunnel. This is a mind-blowing 9 kms long tunnel cut right through the mountain connecting Jammu to Srinagar and reducing the distance by 30 kms while bypassing the snowfall and landslide prone areas around. It is part of the life-line NH44 over which supply trucks pass through 24x7.

My perception about Kashmir started evaporating almost as soon as I exited the tunnel. I was stuck for what felt like an eternity with several other vehicles in an unmoving traffic jam... the first of the jams that I would encounter today. The problem with this road is that through many sections, there is only a single lane and so only vehicles from one side are allowed to cross due to which vehicles from the other side are completely halted. I had never used any sunscreen before but was carrying it for this drive as it was recommended by several vloggers. I found out the reason why. As I was waiting for the traffic to move, with the car windows open, although the temperature outside was a pleasant 25 degrees, the sun was scorching even at 9 in the morning!

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230605_092052146.jpg

Progress was slow and I realised that regardless of the ETA shown by Google Maps, it was going to be a while before I actually reached Srinagar. The road was narrow and winding, surrounded by mountains on one side and steep cliffs on the other. It was a nerve-wracking experience, especially as trucks and buses passed by in close proximity. Some sections of the roads were really bad and very dusty and I realised that I didn't have to wait to reach Ladakh to start some off-roading! I encountered several traffic jams, and also a section where shooting stones were crashing down on the road and the vehicles. I'd heard about the shooting stones and being in a car, I wasn't so concerned about them until I saw a couple of big rocks falling on the truck in front. That's when I realised, that although they're called as stones, they come in all shapes and sizes from tiny harmless ones to outright deadly ones and if you ever come across such a zone, wisdom is in crossing it as quickly as you can. The only respite to this situation were the amazing views all around surrounding the mighty Chenab river!

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230605_065802184_ios.jpg

There were some really difficult sections where I found the automatic DCT transmission along with the Traction Control System and the Hill Hold function of the car to be very useful. My car wouldn't roll back on an incline while climbing like some of the other cars around!

At some sections, driving at a bit of speed was possible but I needed to take care as bad roads with pot-holes could be present at any moment. Due to the heavy truck traffic all through this road all the time, the state of the road is extremely bad!

CHAPTER #03 | Disaster Strikes!

Around 1:30pm:

This is where things started to go horribly wrong! As I was overtaking another car at a bit of an open road, I found myself heading into a very bad section of a ditch which impacted the front left bumper. My speed had not even been 30 kmph and I thought the car would be fine and so I drove on for a bit. However, within a few minutes, the engine high temperature warning started beeping and I took the car to the side to check. As soon as I opened up the bonnet, I realised that I was in deep trouble!

The coolant fluid was leaking away and I had to quickly try to find out the source of the leak! I got on the ground below the car to check if I could spot the leak. However VW engines are pretty complex and I'm no expert. I wasn't able to pin-point the source of the leak. I tried a couple more times and then accepted that I was going to be stuck here for a while! It was literally in the middle of nowhere!

A truck driver who was halted behind me suggested to take the car to the nearest village where I could try to get it fixed, but I had no idea how to get that done. Nor did he offer any help. I tried halting passing cars and explained what happened to one of them. The driver took my number but after that I didn't get any calls.
After a while, I drove the car to the other side of the road where there was a bit of space so that I would not block the traffic and started thinking about what I could do. To add to my misery, the sunny weather changed to cloudy and it also started drizzling making it really cold prompting me to immediately wear my Rynox winter liner.

I thought of calling a friend I know in the Army, but their phone was unreachable. So I dropped a WhatsApp message and decided to call VW RSA. Luckily for me, both my Airtel and Jio numbers were working in the area! It was actually way past lunchtime now, around 3:40pm. I did have packed food but because of this situation, I was not able to bring myself to eat anything nor drink any water.

I spoke with the VW RSA. After putting me on a long hold, the agent told me that there were no tow trucks available today and that I would have to call back the next day at 7am. I told him that I'm stuck literally in the middle of nowhere. I was prepared to wait but wasn't it possible to book a tow truck for the next day right now? But he insisted that I should call the next day. This I feel was a mistake for me to accept what he said. I should have called back and spoken to someone else. Maybe they would have been more helpful.

Anyways, around 4:15 pm finally I received a call from my friend in the Army. I explained my situation to him and tried to explain where I was stuck using Google Maps. It was a section of the highway adjacent to a village called Dolegam but this was not very useful to determine where I was. He asked me to check with some locals around if there was any Army unit nearby. Luckily for me, there were a couple of tea shops nearby and the people there told me that there was indeed an Army unit just around the bend of the road and I could walk across. So I walked to the place and found 2 soldiers who were preparing to leave for the day. As I walked with them, there was a truck which had come to pick them up and I requested their officer to talk to my Army friend. After speaking with them, I got the contact details of the local commander from my friend and was asked to call him.

Feeling hopeful, I spoke with him and he assured me that they would make sure that I was safe and that if I needed they would also arrange for some accommodations at night. I told him my prime concern was to get the car fixed and that I didn't want to leave it in the middle of the road. He said that he would call me back in a while and asked me to wait. So I got in the car and decided to try to relax a bit while waiting for some help. As I thought about what had happened, I wished several times if I could turn back time to that moment to avoid what had happened, like in one of those video games. But life doesn't work like that. Life can throw at you the most difficult challenges in the most unexpected situations. The only way that I was going to survive this one was with patience and perseverence and I knew that. So I waited...

I was very sure that I didn't want to be separated from my car in all this mess. Whenever I am on any kind of solo trip, be it with my car or my bike, my vehicle is like a living person, my companion, my support system in all my adventures! It's like Chetak was to Maharana Pratap, or Roach to Geralt or Phobos to Kassandra! I could not be parted with my car!

CHAPTER #04 | Getting Towed

As I was waiting for a while in the car, around 5pm a couple of very energetic soldiers came by and told me that they would be with me till I reached a safer place. We tried calling several mechanics to come over to check the car but nobody turned up. We thought of filling water in the coolant container to make the car go for a short distance but evidently the radiator would not hold any water at all and it all leaked away quickly. Finally they got a 4x4 Gypsy and decided to tow my car to a more convenient place. Being stuck in any place is the worst thing to happen to anyone and any movement immediately feels very hopeful. I was very happy that at least I would be moving on from where I was.

Some kind of rope would be required to tow the car. I had bought a steel tow cable for this trip thinking that maybe I would help someone in need. I never thought that it would be used to tow my own car! But nevertheless, I had it and it was very useful to finally tow the car to a nearby Highway Nest Mini, a local roadside restaurant. Once we got there, they tried to get a mechanic again, but no one was reachable. So they decided to get my car towed to a mechanic's garage nearby at a village called Banihal. Once there, they would get the mechanic to try to fix it. They stopped a passing tempo and engaged them to tow my car, again using the same tow cable. After this tow, the hooks of the cable were completely damaged, but it had done it's part.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20231002_091724000_ios.jpg

At 7pm after depositing me and the car at the garage, the Army folks finally left me. I again spoke to their commanding officer and shared the details about what happened and the plan next and told him that I would let him know what happened next. He told me to call him in case I needed accommodation for the night. I was feeling hopeful that the mechanic would at least be able to temporarily fix the car so that I could travel to a place with a VW workshop and get it fixed properly.

I can tell you, the mechanic tried with full effort, right up till 10pm and fixed most of the leaks but in the end, it was not to be! When I saw that the mechanic had finally given up, I told him to fix the bumper etc. back and that I would arrange for the car to be towed away the next day.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230605_135104887_ios.jpg

CHAPTER #05 | Stuck in a remote village in Kashmir

In the meantime, a local who had also come to get his car fixed, offered to drop me off at a place for the night. It was one of the most basic places I had ever been to and I got a bed in a common hall for Rs 200 to sleep at night. The light was on the full night, there were 2 other guys who were sleeping covering themselves head to toe with thick blankets and talking loudly on their phones in Punjabi. The pillow was damp and I decided to use my backpack as a pillow instead. The blanket was really thick, although I'm sure that it hadn't been washed for days! Anyways, I didn't have much of a choice and I had to kill time till morning, so I tried to sleep as much as possible, although it wasn't the best night's sleep I've ever had. I kept waking every 2-3 hours and checking the time till finally at 6am, I decided to start moving.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230605_224546544.jpg

This place was so basic, there wasn't even a wash basin for me to brush teeth. I remembered that this place wasn't too far from where my car was parked. I hadn't eaten anything the whole day yesterday nor had I had any water. I had supplies in the car, so I decided to walk to it. After about 25-30 mins, I reached the car and was happy to find it safe and waiting for me. I finally had some water and a breakfast bar. It was now 7am and it was time for me to start taking full control of the situation. I called up the VW RSA. The lady who assisted me was very helpful. She confirmed the availability of the tow truck, confirmed that there was a VW workshop back in Jammu to which my car would get towed in order to get fixed.

Only hitch in the plan, the tow truck would not be able to leave before 1pm because of traffic and would reach me by 5 or 6pm. I didn't find this convincing and challenged her by saying that traffic is there all the time so what's really stopping the tow truck from leaving earlier to come over? However she didn't have any useful answer. So I asked her to share the details of the tow truck vendor thinking that I would speak with him directly. After ending the call, I spoke with the vendor, confirmed that he had received my case and that the tow truck would be sent. He told me that the driver of the tow truck had been driving all night and needed to rest a while before starting to come to recover my car. Now that I could understand so I asked him to call me as soon as the tow truck was on the way and also asked him to share the drivers contact number.

Now that I had an entire day to kill waiting for the tow truck, I decided to make the best of my situation. The local guy who had helped me find the accommodation at night was back with his car and while speaking to him, I told him all that had passed and that the tow truck would arrive by evening and mentioned that till then, I was going to be their guest! He probably took that comment to heart and we went for some tea where he offered me some of the local Girda bread with butter for a quick breakfast. Had I not been in this situation, I would never have had the local food like this so this was pretty awesome!

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230606_101519721.jpg

One we were back to the garage, I thought of Googling a bit to find any nearby hotels. I found a JKTDC hotel very close by and after checking the online reviews, I decided to check it out. It was about 15 mins walk away and after meeting the manager there, he confirmed that a room was available but I would have to pay the cost of a full night's stay even if I stayed only till evening. I was tired, my clothes were dirty and I definitely needed to freshen up. Knowing the kind of traffic jams across the roads leading here, I knew the tow truck would take time and I didn't want to spend all that time sitting at a garage. So I decided to go for it and paid the rent for the room.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230606_120708047_ios.jpg

CHAPTER #06 | Taking Charge

Guys! You cannot imagine the world of difference having a bath and a change of clothes can do for you when you are in this kind of situation! Feeling much more confident now, I stepped out again to look for a breakfast place. Here in Kashmir, the highways are full of tiny road-side eateries including pure-veg Vaishnav Dhabas and I randomly decided to check out one near to the garage. After having a nice paratha, I went again to check on the car and asked the mechanic to re-install the car bumper which was still pending. He kept telling me that he would do it in a while. I didn't feel the need to push him until I was sure that the tow truck was on the way. The driver was probably sleeping at this point of time anyways! And I was actually prepared to spend another day here, if need be.

When you are stuck somewhere and are waiting to get help, the long wait can drive a person crazy! The best way to spend time is to keep the mind occupied and away from any kind of negative thoughts. So far, I had confirmed with the RSA that they had engaged the towing service and had confirmed with the towing vendor that they would be sending a tow truck today itself. The next thing to confirm was, whether there was actually a service workshop in Jammu or just a showroom. One thing that I have learnt is to not take anything at face value and anyways, there was no harm in confirming the details. Another thing is, after all this mess, as long as my car got towed to a VW workshop, I was sure that they would be able to fix it. I'd decided that depending on where it gets towed, I would either continue on my journey towards Leh or then I would start my return back to Pune, and attempt Ladakh another time. As luck would have it, VW have only 1 workshop in the entire of J&K and it is located in Jammu!

I contacted the VW RSA again via the WhatsApp chat service and tried to get the contact details for the Jammu workshop. I spoke with 2 different agents but they were of no help. The numbers on the VW website actually connected me to Skoda focals rather than VW and they were not able to share the VW focal details. Instead of going thru the VW website, I searched for the VW Jammu dealership's website and there, I found the correct number for the VW workshop reception. After explaining my situation to the lady, she immediately connected me to the workshop manager. I confirmed with him the location of the workshop was actually at the address that the RSA had shared and that he had received my case details and asked him to confirm that the replacement parts needed to fix the car that is, the radiator and the lock carrier would be available. I also asked him where I could drop the car as I would probably reach late at night when there would be no one at the workshop to receive it. He assured me that he would have the parts available and the car ready for me the same day once I got there. I also booked a hotel in Jammu for 2 more nights and confirmed with the hotel that I would have a late check in.

Finally, with all these things in place, I just had to wait for the tow truck driver to let me know once he started. Around 2 pm I got a call from the driver that he was starting. Now was the perfect time to ask the mechanic to reinstall the car's bumper. I called him and told him that now that the tow truck was on the way, I needed the bumper to be reinstalled. I also told him that although in the end he had been unable to fix the car, he did make an honest effort working till late in the night and that I would pay him for his efforts regardless. Money can really work wonders. By the time I went again to meet him by 3:30 pm after having lunch, the bumper had been re-installed and the car was ready to go!

CHAPTER #07 | Overnight drive back to Jammu

Now all that was left to do was to wait for the tow truck. It was a long agonising wait till 9pm when the tow truck actually arrived and the car was loaded onto it. I knew that the driver would have been driving the tow truck all the time and wouldn't have had the chance to have any food, so I asked him to join me for dinner at the same Vaishnav Dhaba I had been going all day. After dinner we finally set out for a long-greulling night drive back to Jammu.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230606_211628485.jpg

The traffic on the Jammu to Srinagar highway is really crazy and we were stuck in jams several times through-out the night too! Additionally, I couldn't really sleep even though I wanted to. Even the truck driver with his hectic schedule had been getting sleepy and dozed off a couple of times when we were waiting at a jam. I had to wake him so that we would start moving. In one such case, he just let go of the air-brake without pushing the brake pedal due to which the truck rolled back and bumped into the truck behind! Fortunately no-one was hurt and no damage was done. The average speed of a tow-truck carrying a car on board cannot be more than 20-30 kmph and I realised that we were going to be on the road all night! Only after crossing the Chenani-Nashri tunnel did we get some relief from the traffic jams and finally the car was deposited in front of the VW Jammu workshop at 7:35 am. I asked him to drop me back to the hotel which was just about 5 kms away straight back on the highway.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230607_073526222.jpg

CHAPTER #08 | Getting the car fixed

After checking in, there wasn't much time to rest. I quickly freshened up, had a breakfast bar and was out again to go back to the workshop. Having a VW car for several years, I knew my way around working with VW workshop people and as long as I got there by 9:30, they would be available there to work with me. Except that now I didn't have any mode of transport handy. As I stepped out of the hotel, I spotted 2 rickshaws and asked if one of them would drop me. I showed them the location on Google Maps. People in Jammu aren't so tech savvy and don't really know how to use Google Maps nor do they accept UPI payment for rickshaw rides. However, I was able to convey the destination to the rickshaw driver and he agreed to take me there for 300 Rs. He told me that rickshaws in Jammu move based on distance and not on meter. He may have been duping me but I didn't have much of a choice here.

I got to the workshop exactly at 9:30 and the staff also got there and opened the office. The big advantage I had of discussing my case the previous day itself was that they knew that I would be coming and were able to start helping me with the case right away! Presently I spoke with their workshop manager, showed the car, explained the case and he was very sure that he would have the car ready for me in a few hours. In fact he asked me to wait there itself and he would have the car ready. I told him about my situation that I hadn't slept at all in the night and needed to rest for a while. I would call him by 2pm to check on the car. Saying so, I left the car with the workshop and started to figure out how to get back to the hotel. Presently, a six-seater turned up with someone getting off. I asked if they could drop me straight down the main road and he readily agreed. There were about 10 ppl in the six seater besides me and I was actually doing stuff, I would never have normally done but as long as things kept moving, no harm, right?


After catching a nap till around 2pm, I checked the phone and saw that there were already missed calls from the workshop. I called and was informed that the car was ready and I was offered to be picked up from the hotel in my car while the workshop manager took the car on a test drive. While I got ready, he actually arrived within 5 mins and I hurried down to get into the car. The sight of the car, nicely washed and ready to go was truly amazing!

As we started driving back to the workshop at one section, the car in front of us urgent braked trying to save a stray horse on the road, leading to my car driven by the workshop manager to bump into it! As a result, the other car's rear bumper and my car's front bumper got big holes. Additionally my car's number plate got smashed. While he was able to convince the driver of the other car to let it go, I was going to need a new number plate. I had no idea where to get it so I ask them to help me with it. Thankfully, I was driven to a shop nearby where I could get a replacement number plate for 200 Rs. My car is 8 yrs old and it doesn't come with the stamped number plates like the newer vehicles. However having no number plate would guarantee that I would be stopped at every junction, so it was better to get a temporary number plate installed.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-img_20230607_151514901-1.jpg

So finally after making the payment and collecting the car I drove back to the hotel for a full rest before setting out on my journey back home the next day.

EPILOGUE

After 3 days of flawless driving, I reached back home on Saturday evening.

Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230610_084029113_ios.jpg

Technically, I could have decided to attempt to go to Leh again. However a wise man knows when to turn back and try again another time! 3 things convinced me to return and try again some other time:

1) VW have only 1 workshop in the entire of J&K. I would again be without support in case something else happened to the car and this time, possibly would be further away from help. Also the radiator and lock-carrier, the cage in which the radiator sits are made of plastic, a real Achilles heel for an otherwise fantastic car! I'd already replaced the lock-carrier once in the past when it had broken for no apparent reason. After this incident, I was not so confident that it wouldn't break again leading to the same kind of situation.

2) Getting the car towed to Jammu, getting it fixed and the interim hotel stay meant that I had wasted 3 days and spent a good amount of my Ladakh budget already. Although I could still have continued, from my experience so far, I would be better off on a bike rather than in the car. Bikes are easier to manage, easier to fix and easier to tow!

3) I hadn't slept properly for 2 days! Even if I continued on to Leh, I would be needing to take another day or two off to physically recover from my experience. After this, the return journey back home would take another 3 days across 2000 kms. I was not sure if I was ready for that!

There are several lessons to be learnt in this story about how to manage a disaster in this kind of situation. I'm just happy that in the end, I was able to fully recover from it with the car and drive it back 2000 kms all the way to Pune without any problems!
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Old 17th November 2023, 18:05   #2
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

What an epic journey, unfortunately for all the not-so-good reasons!
Sometimes adventures like these really throw up new perspectives and make you think as to why one wants to "go there"!

Sorry to read that this once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the heavenly abode of Kashmir /Leh went haywire and you had to return without going the full distance as you had planned.

I can only hope that the onward journeys from Pune to Jammu and the return bit, atleast helped salvaged your desire to drive long distances. Do share some pics of those drives.
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Old 18th November 2023, 09:50   #3
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

That was one epic adventure. Good writeup and thanks for sharing. Glad it all ended well. Although it took time, one positive was that although things moved slowly, it moved in the right direction and there were a bunch of people who helped out especially the army folks.
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Old 18th November 2023, 10:13   #4
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Read your entire post and could relate with you at places as I had a roadside breakdown in a rural road in Rajasthan in my FIAT Punto earlier this year. No roadside mechanic was willing to work with me even though I knew the diagnosis and the fix. Was lucky that one guy finally gave in and worked on my car as per my instructions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dwanderlustdrv View Post
As we started driving back to the workshop at one section, the car in front of us urgent braked trying to save a stray horse on the road, leading to my car driven by the workshop manager to bump into it! As a result, the other car's rear bumper and my car's front bumper got big holes. Additionally my car's number plate got smashed. While he was able to convince the driver of the other car to let it go, I was going to need a new number plate. I had no idea where to get it so I ask them to help me with it. Thankfully, I was driven to a shop nearby where I could get a replacement number plate for 200 Rs…
As all is well that ends well and you are back home safely with your beloved companion machine, let me say this in a light hearted friendly manner that it is funny to read this part because:

After all that you went through that you described in the post, reaching upto this point after reading the whole post gives the reader a sense of relief that the OP’s troubles are over, only to read up about an incident that could have again damaged the radiator/ cooling system of the car and that too by the very person who had fixed it. I hope you get my point.
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Old 18th November 2023, 10:44   #5
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

This is surely one of the most challenging and exhausting adventures I've come across in a long time. Glad to see that the car performed flawlessly on the return journey. While a solo trip is all we need from time to time to escape our daily routine life, it's in situations like these you wish you had brought someone else on the trip as well. Nevertheless, one should never stop going on solo adventures. Owning a Polo for the last 12years, I sure do know how complicated they can be. Not surprised that the village mechanic was not able to properly mend your car, when a well known FNG in Rajarhat, Kolkata could not refill the ac gas properly. DO attach some pictures of your trip. Pune to Ladakh drive in a VW Polo GT TSI | A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowhere-20230701_135505.jpg
Here is my 12 year old Polo with my 1 year old Altroz. The Polo still looks as good as new.

Keep Revving!!
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Old 18th November 2023, 10:49   #6
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Quite an amazing experience and hats off to you for having narrated it with such good cheer. Doing Ladakh from Pune alone and unsupported does seem like a lot - and I must say you are fortunate that the car broke down relatively close to Jammu. I do hope this does not dissuade you from long drives - look at our friend Mod graaja, who has done Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh from Coimbatore in the Deep South in his BMW 3GT.

Take care and wish you many thousand miles of happy motoring.
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Old 18th November 2023, 12:39   #7
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Read this in one go sitting waiting in a hospital for a loved one. I would say you were wise in turning back as AMS too would surely kick in because of fatigue and exhaustion.
Better luck next time.
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Old 18th November 2023, 16:09   #8
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

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Originally Posted by dwanderlustdrv View Post
.... However a wise man knows when to turn back and try again another time...
Wiser words have never been spoken. Call me superstitious but when the manager got involved in the collision on his way to deliver the GT to you, I thought that this trip was jinxed and better to cut your losses and retreat. He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.
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Old 18th November 2023, 18:30   #9
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

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Originally Posted by dwanderlustdrv View Post

There are several lessons to be learnt in this story about how to manage a disaster in this kind of situation. I'm just happy that in the end, I was able to fully recover from it with the car and drive it back 2000 kms all the way to Pune without any problems!
Amazing Write up! Thanks a ton for sharing!

Can't imagine the stress you'd have as I've had a breakdown in my Rapid on the Highway between cities too, but there's been no experience like it, and in the end these are the ones we will cherish!
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Old 18th November 2023, 19:50   #10
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Man! While it must have totally sucked to be in a situation like that, coming out of it unhurt is simply amazing and worth all the travels we undertake. On the brighter side, you have the most amazing adventure story for a lifetime! Just imagine how awesome this one will sound 20-30 years from now when they'll have mostly driverless cars on the roads!
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Old 18th November 2023, 22:14   #11
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

As a fellow long distance traveller, I can understand how it must've felt but I am glad you got it fixed and now back home safely. I totally agree about the Jam, we were on our bikes and I was just thinking that being in a car here is terrible because of stand still jam, on bikes you can go from sides at least.

Having said that, this is not a scenario of car breaking down on its own (which the title is suggesting). As you mentioned you did hit a ditch after all, so updating title accordingly would be better.

Anyway, I cannot understand how hitting a ditch at 30kmph cause this much damage. I am speaking as I too drive a Polo TSI and have gone through bad ditches and breakers myself. It makes me feel either the speed was more (as you mentioned you were overtaking on an open stretch) or ditch was too deep.
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Old 18th November 2023, 23:21   #12
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Great write up! I thoroughly enjoyed the writing. Man, you really dove headfirst into some crazy situations! Props to your army buddy helped at the right moment.

The decision to return was undoubtedly difficult, considering your exhaustion, but there's always another time to conquer challenges.
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Old 19th November 2023, 00:57   #13
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Its almost like the mountains don't want you to have the easy way or atleast they want you to earn that trip. I too had to return from my first solo Leh trip, mostly due to timing and weather. But the sense of accomplishment once you complete it after this is next level. All the best !!!
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Old 19th November 2023, 02:46   #14
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Out of the numerous threads on Ladakh trip, only a few stand out, and this one is outstanding!

As I was reading through, I kept thinking what if I were in your place? What would have I done?

Having that friend in army really helped you. Otherwise it's difficult to imagine how you'd have moved the car!! Probably would have spent the entire night in the car.

Last edited by MyLife_MyCar : 19th November 2023 at 02:48.
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Old 19th November 2023, 09:15   #15
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Re: Pune to Ladakh Drive with VW Polo GT TSI - A tale of how my car broke down in the middle of nowh

Great Sunday morning read!

You took us all there with you with the details. Could relate to you a lot as I belong to nearby area in PB on how logistics work there.
The mountaineers have limited resources but always willing to help and share.

You thought about break-down and was prepared. Do share more accessories which you may have kept for such situations like puncture repair/safety hammer etc.

You made Pune-Jammu so flawless which is an achievement in itself.

Good luck with the re-attempt.
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