The heat finally kicked in from the sleeping bag and I found myself lulled to sleep much later in the night. My friend was gently checking on me now and then if I was breathing properly. He later told me that it’s important to do that. Pounding head is one thing but difficulty in breathing can lead to more problems.
I woke up quite early to answer nature’s calls at 4 am in the dark thanks to my friend who told me to do that before the crowds came in and messed it up. He was a seasoned camper and was slowly acclimatizing me to realities. It was not just adventure,fun and all this did require some kind of practice and adaption.
I remember running in pitch dark at 4 am with my headlight strapped on with the rain. When I was going back to my tent, I just stood for some seconds to look around. It was so dark, so quiet, just the pitter patter of rain, the howls of mountain dogs. Surreal and scary.
We started off early right after breakfast because it would be another 8 hours or more back. We would be taking a different route this time. And the photographer friend wanted to stop and click rare birds that are indigenous to this region and the birds that migrate from far off lands during the season.
He would beautifully explain each one of them , show them to me, show it in his lens and patiently wait for the right shot. He would get so lost in what he was doing, my friend would keep on watching out for him, in case he missed a step and fell off.
Our Zakir Jackie Shroff looked fresh and by his look we guessed he must have downed a peg or more last night and I so wished I had a drink too 🙂
But being in this region and drinking dehydrates you totally. Yup there were bikers who smoked, drank but they were used to this. You had to be careful in not having too much hard liquor.
As we drove back we went to Taglang La Pass – a high mountain pass in the region rising at an altitude of 17,480 feet and this is disputed but it’s known as the Second highest Motorable road in the World.
Whatever might be the claims, the drive towards it, leading to it, the rough roads to the wide well maintained ones, we finally reached there! It was an awesome feeling.
We saw loads of bikers riding up that terrain, reaching there, celebrating and dancing, the other higher motorable pass would be on another trip. I saw a group of bikers reaching there and immediately dancing Bhangra Style – Yup from Punjab with full on Punjabi songs blasting from their bikes 🙂
We drove through Tsokar Lake passing hot sulphur springs, sulphur that was in mounds in the surrounding areas that added to the varied landscape.
As we were driving through, we saw a beautiful Falcon Eagle, Nomadic Tibetan tribes taking their sheep to graze, beautiful strong mountain dogs that could kill any animal, proudly overseeing the landscape in packs. It was magical. The backdrop and every person, animal, bird was adding it’s character to it.
Ladakh is so varied that on one hand was the Tsokar lake with bursts of green and really fine silt and sand on the other side. There were really no roads and you just had to make do with what was best. And here is where we got stuck.
Our car’s tires got stuck in the fine sand and we were in the middle of nowhere. No sight of anyone around. And just us trying to push the car out was not working, instead it was digging in deeper.
Help is around when you least expect it. Ladakhi Locals carrying their loads, cars carrying other tourists with local drivers, stopped, helped and waited with us. I saw humanity .
Nobody was in a hurry to push off unlike in cities where people really don’t have the time nor care. And you realize how strong mountain people are when 3 young boys just picked the back side of the car up and got it out of the sand.
After all that adventure we stopped at a nice chai place in a huge tent and it was so good to have that delicious ginger chai. The women were so friendly, so strong and as I peeked inside the huge tent, they actually had a resting place next to it for travellers with rugs, blankets and all! Very tempting to just go and lie there.
Out came the khakras again and we shared it with the women and they liked it asking lots of questions on it. And yup I did click pictures of our Hero Zakir Jackie Shroff for which he posed nicely,see for yourself.
By this time we got used to our Hero’s driving, him going Bang Bang Boom on every road, just tapering down for sometime and then again driving fast. I guess we were too blissed out to argue or tell him anything more.
There were army camps everywhere and I can tell you this, some of them so remote and uninhabitable you wonder how the hell are they doing this?? We take so much for granted don’t we?
We drove through Himank, Gia village as we passed pink purple mountains with gushing blue brooks. What a sight it was. To actually see Mountains in different colors and to listen to the sound of water. We stopped near the brook and just looked at the colors around us.
Even now when I close my eyes, I can imagine myself being there.
We reached Upshi, which connected us to Indus river again and stopped for a delicious lunch of Momos .
We were nearing Leh to our small guest house but I was not at all tired. I was so refreshed, so full of energy and added to that I was gonna meet my friend back in Leh.
As I stepped into the same old neat guest house room, I was so thankful. After camping, this was a luxury!
Now let me tell you what my dear friend did.
What can I say about her? She is a biker, DJ, a no nonsense person, blunt to the core, adventurous is actually mildly put and yup she was riding along with 7 other girls from Mandi, Manali all the way up to Kardungla – the highest motorable pass in the world. All this in a 110 CC TVS Scooty.
It was part of the TVS Scooty campaign that selected 8 girls nationwide and ride for 15 days, be on the road and travel across Ladakh. I was so proud of this gal!
Antara Pal you did it!
Check out the FB page https://www.facebook.com/Scootygals/?pnref=story.unseen-section .
Do check out their youtube videos – Himalayan Highs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKndu2VJL2s&list=PL_CHLAg1gUd9nMxj3oGGYb7qS0wrA79OH
It was no easy task to ride a Scooty along this tricky mountain passes! Respect. Sheer Respect!
So off I went to see her and you know that feeling right when you see a loved one who is from your home city and you connect and speak in a language no one gets it.
Antara was rolling her eyes when I was drinking coffee saying dude, we got to drink!
And yup another cool gal rider Megha chakraborty joined us and it was a riot! Finding a table in Gesmo cafe, we sat through beers, Yak Cheese Chicken Pizza and laughed, yelled and sang.
What was meant to be just 2 hours because they had to attend press meets,the closing party and all that shindigs turned out to be 4 hours of pure fun that comes from having great friends and company.
Happily drunk, Happily Happy I went back to the guest house as my gal and her pal went back to the hotel to drink more, officially of course!
What are the chances that you stumble upon a close friend in one of the most remote regions in the world and have an awesome time?
It was an Incredible day…