So I wrote this post in June and did not upload it….did not find the time to sort the pics and share the whole thing together !!! Such is my life right now ….so here goes…keeping it just the way I had written it back then !
Part V of the blog comes alive on the second anniversary of our ride. At this point in time the only feeling I have is that of SHAME! There is no better word than terrible to describe what a horrible job I am doing with penning down our trip and maintaining this blog!
Nubra to Leh: After the bikers took off early in the morning, Prashanti, Chetan and I waited a while longer at the hotel. After breakfast we got into our Qualis and headed towards Khardungla. As we drove on, there was a long period of silence in the vehicle. A little while later we all spoke out and we had just one thing to say… the thrill of doing this stretch on a bike is truly something! You can never get that feeling in a car. After all that you take in when on the bike, this stretch was almost boring for us. Everything beautiful seemed less beautiful when seeing it from a car. But most definitely what you see around is stunning…[i guess we were just missing being on the bike !]
However, we had some bit of action after this, action that was not good. A few hours into the car journey, we found Chetan to be extra quiet and in a while we figured that he was beginning to feel real sick. We stopped at the same place at North Pullu thinking that some warm tea might help him, but it did not really work. We somehow got up till Khardungla and made a stop once more. We ordered some hot chai and maggi for Chetan to have, but before even we got our food Chetan’ condition worsened. People there told us to head downwards immediately as Chetan could hardly breathe. We panicked! The other bikers were already headed down and there was no network on any of our phones as well.
By this time Chetan was almost unconscious… he would keep mumbling out in agony and we had no clue what to do. We kept trying to reach the guys on their mobiles. We were heading straight to Leh Hospital as Chetan needed immediate attention. As we got closer to town, we got through the boys and informed them to meet us at the Leh Military Hospital. Once there, the doctors took over! Chetan had had a very bad attack of Acute mountain sickness – the oxygen levels in his blood were far below normal – the cold had affected him!
After spending a few hours here, Chetan was shifted to Sonam Norbu Hospital where he was to spend the night. Anant stayed with Chetan that night while the rest of us returned to our place of stay.
Buffer days in your trip itinerary come useful when you have such unforeseen emergencies.
Day at Leh : The next day Chetan was discharged from the hospital and joined us back at home. While he spent the time regaining some energy the rest of us stepped out to explore more of Leh. Some of us visited the Leh Palace, visited the local markets, finished our souvenir shopping etc. The next day we were off to Pangong Tso.
Leh to Pangong Tso : I first fell in love with the beauty of this lake when Steve and Philip showed me pictures from their first ride to Leh. [Yes, much before it was made famous by 3 Idiots !] I was blown away by what I had seen – a blue that I had never seen before. I was excited! We were doing the journey to Pangong Tso in a Qualis, except for 2 bikes. Philip & Sharon did the journey on their bike and Prajeeth & Sellu joined them as well.
Our first stop here was Chang la – another ice cold pass. Chang La was unbearably cold this time and the constant drizzle just made the cold worse. While standing under a shelter, you have rain drops, falling on icicles and then falling on you… brrrr! Thanks to the weather we helped ourselves to so much of maggi and soup at the little eatery at Chang La.
Enroute Pangong Tso is where you will come across the famous Paagal Naala. This is a stream that runs past the road we have to cross. This stream is fed by melting snow from the mountains, which means as the day progresses there is more water flowing down. This happens up till a point when the stream is impossible to cross, when the water is beyond control! Crossing it in the morning is not a problem, but while returning it is important to cross this place early, else a challenge awaits you.
As we were nearing Pangong Tso, my excitement grew. I was waiting to see those lovely shades of blue I remembered so well from the picture. At a distance I saw something that looked like a lake, but wait it did not look blue! I felt my heart sink a bit, why wasn’t this place looking as stunning as I thought it would?
When we reached I heaved a sigh of relief… it did not look that bad! But…. there were just so many people there… it was crowded! If you wanted to savour the beauty of this magnificent lake, you had to find yourself a spot far far away or else you are going to have noisy tourists all around you! What makes it worse is that all of them seem to refer to the movie 3 Idiots at some point of time … aaargh… these are the bad things that a movie can do!
We decided to go further inside and get away from the crowd. When you sit by the banks of Pangong Tso and look around, all you can see is water, water and more water… for as long as your eyes can see. And then you see mountain ranges that separate us from China, beyond which lies a larger portion of Pangong Tso.
It was beautiful!
After a meal at Pangong Tso, we headed back soon. We had to cross the paagal naala you see! By the time we reached it, it was quite a strong current. Since we were in the Qualis, we crossed the naala easily. We crossed over and waited for the bikes to come. We saw a large number of bikers come by. Some of them crossed the stream with no problem while some of them struggled a bit. If you lose your balance for even a second, you could just be pulled by the water current. One of our bikes struggled a bit but everyone made it across safe!
Back to what was our home no in Leh, we called it a day!