We left Kaza very early at 6:45, but before we could move on we had to make a stop by the petrol station. Stupid us…….. We could have stayed an hour more I our bed because the petrol station opened at 08:00…… Later on this delay was going to be in our benefit.
Again the landscape was beautiful. The first part, the road was good and we enjoyed the riding. We were warned that the road out of the valley was as bad as the one to get in to it, but in a different way. But until so far nothing strange seems to be the matter. That morning I looked at my Iphone and saw it was Friday the 13th…… Normally I’m not very suspicious about that, but I had a strange feeling in my stomach. And yes, on a totally straight road (no tarmac) we passed a donkey. Marika first. The donkey was a bit afraid, but when I passed it freaked out and jumped in front of my motorbike. I had to hit the breaks hard and couldn’t stop the sliding….. Donkey saved, Mirjam bruised… Especially my ribs….. Later on we say, that the frame of my panniers was bent…..
But, we went on and stopped by the first check point. When we leave in the morning, we normally eat some fruit, mango’s and bananas. And after an hour or 2 we stop for a real breakfast. So we did at the checkpoint were Marika asked for her fried eggs. The man didn’t know how to prepare it, he only knew omelets, so Marika went into the kitchen to fry her eggs herself… What a mess in that kitchen. Sometimes it’s better not to know where your food comes from.
After the break we headed for the top of the pas. On the way up we met about 10 4x4 cars driven by women and immediately we started to cheer to each other: girl power! It gave me strength and we started the climbe. At the top of the pas there were 4 stupa’s with the nice colorful Tibetan flags and we met 2 English and 2 Dutch people who were traveling with a Indian doctor.
And then the decent. We were warned for this part. The first water crossing came up soon and at the beginning we met 2 Indian guys who already did that part. It was worse then expected…. Because of the rainfall that morning, the water crossings were enormous…. To make matters worse I fell in that first water crossing………. Still more than 7 to go….. Marika stood up to her training in Iceland and passed without any problems.
Friday the 13th stayed with me and I hit the ground another 3 times that day. Lots of bruises, especially on my ego… My motorbike didn’t come out that well and needed repair. The glass of the lamp was broken, blinkers damaged, frame bent, mirror broken…. So we decided to drive on to Keylong. At 19:00 we arrived at the hotel Marika already was familiar with. A big help, because the owner helped me out to find a good mechanic to repair my motorbike. And that was what we did the next day. I drove my badly damaged bike to Chuni, the mechanic and he fixed the bike both my way and the Indian way. A new glass and a fitting mirror were hard to find so the Indian way of repairing was the only solution. And so I’m driving with a car glass and a strange square mirror, but it’s working!
UP to Leh. Not possible in one day so we tried to reach Sarchu, a tent camp. For me a very exciting day, because I looked up to go into the highest mountains of the world. The Spiti valley and his way out was already special (unless all the crashes) but this was the part I looked out for from the beginning. And it was more then expected. Amazing the scenery…… Can’t describe it. The mountains changed in forms and colors. The tent camp was a real experience. Very cold, but something you should do. It’s so quiet and the stars are amazing. You can see the milky way….. Marika and hiked to the gorge that is just beside the road. You have to know it’s there otherwise you look over it. At the back off the tent we heard some strange sound and saw the cause of it: 2 big, marmots were sitting there. Huge they were.
We met the 2 German ladies, Heidi and Suze who we already met in Keylong and on the way to Sarchu at our lunch break and had a nice evening with them. They were, especially after the ride to Sarchu totally impressed with our performance. Always nice to here. For us it is still normal what we are doing, although we also are starting to believe that it is something special…
In the camp there was a Indian family, who lived partly in Singapore and the sister was specialized in meditation techniques. I asked her to do a meditation later that evening and she did. I practiced with her (and her family). A very special experience…..
After a cold cold night we went on to Leh. We passed a few passes, the Nakeela Lee (4800m) and the Lachalung La (4900m) without any problem, only nice views. After an spectacular decent we arrived in Pang our lunch break. Another small place with tents in where you can also sleep and serves food. I ate my beloved Tuckpa, a noodle soup. And we left for our destination, Leh.
The road was, as always, under construction, so after a nice asphalt road we came in a part with lots of diversions….. in the sand…… and we don’t like sand….. Not nice with our heavy bikes and all our gear…… But we managed to get through. The hardest job was to ride up front. Marika missed a diversion and had to turn her bike in the big mess. Off course she did well. Later on I tried to look for a path with as less deep sand and stranded in an area with big tracks from trucks…. I fell…. It was impossible to ride there, but we did well in the sand and to be honest we even started to feel a bit proud of ourselves.
We reached the Tangla. The worlds 2nd highest pas (over 5300m). Amazing views as ever. We made pictures as usual and wanted to leave, but my motorbike didn’t see to work well…. I gave full throttle, but I only came forward very slowly…. After a while the problem ended… Luckily Marika had the same problem. Must have been the height…. In the descent we had to stop for another road block because of some blasts. We walked up tolook at it but then we saw that we could move on. We tried to walk back asap, but at over 5000m that is an impossible job. I had a spitting headache and only wanted to go down.
In the evening we stopped at Lato a small place about 100 km from Leh. At the side op the road we saw a man sitting in the sun at a nice terrace before a small street restaurant. Vinnie. On the way with 2 Australian men, that stayed behind because of problems with the height. There also was a small guesst house, Tibetan style, with beautiful rooms: plain, colorful with mattresses on the ground and a WC and bathroom outside the house. Hot water had to be cooked. We drank tea, beer, rum , atew and had a nice conversation with Vinnie who has a few resorts in the middle of India nearby a national park (with tigers!). Sounded great. He also had contacts in the medical branch (ayurvedic). Very interesting for my bussiness to be started.
The way to leh was full of different landscapes. Leh it selves lies into a valley. All the way from Keylong to Leh we saw a lot of military bases, but Karu, on the way to Leh, it was a whole town….
A few kilometers before Leh there is the famous Thiksey Gompa, a big budist monastery. Amazing again. There was a singing meditation session going on when we arrived, Very special. I was totally impressed…..
We already heard that the Dalai Lama should arrive in Leh the next day (the 18th) and that we could see him passing by. I was thrilled by the idea. He has a house nearby Leh, we passed it.
IN the afternoon when we arrived in Leh, we first went to Marika’s friend and colleague Gailson Who just had started his own travel agency. He was totally surprised and very proud of us that we made it with our bikes. Because he knows every road in the whole region we were specially flattered with his compliment. Gailson helped us to find a nice place to stay, not very easy, because it was very busy at that time. We can’t stay everywhere because of the bikes. They need a safe place to stay. And again we managed to find something nice, with garden. Only the mattresses were very hard and we asked them to change them the next day. My poor bruises…… Marika and I split up the next day: I went down to see the Dalai Lama pass by, Marika stayed in bed some longer. I waited and waited and heard that it would take another our before he’d arrive. So I asked for a lift up to the hotel. The evening before we met Khan, the mechanic, that supports the groups that Marika guides and he said that he would repair my front suspension with the leaky seals. The Indian way of course because we didn’t have spare seals with us. I should meet Khan at about 09:30 but Marika hadn’t seen him yet so I decided top go down to the Dalai Lama. The people down the road were dressed up in Tibetan costumes. There were so many people… The street were covered with banners, school children with flowers etc. This already was worth seeing. When I was down I saw him just passing by. What a timing. Before I already met 2 nice English Guys, who were traveling also for al longer time and on my second way down to the main road I met a German guy, also traveling and like the 2 English Guys working in other countries as there own. Special meetings….. Interesting conversations.
When I was at the hotel I wet up with my motorbike to meet Kahn. Our suit were at the laundry so I had to do without it. Must have looked strange: woman in dress with motorboat, helmet and gloves riding a heavy bike strait through Leh… Kahn repaired my se3als so that they can’t leak any more. Great! He also washed my biked, helped by a guy at the garage and even polished it. My bike gets spoiled to much. I never do that, but he looked like new (if you don’t look at the bumps in the tank…).
I wanted to send my topcase home, so started a search for the post office, helped by an Indian Guy who was send with me by a s
Hop owner. That Shop Owner I met while he was looking at my bike and promised to help me wrap the topcase. But after a long walk through town it seems a no no…. The post office didn’t want to send a plastic case with laptop and there was no international courier. I had to really watch out because the guy who walked with me was not so very reliable. It was the frist time I India that I had that feeling and the first time that someone said bad things about other people because of their background, religion. He was from Kashmir and Kashmir was the best. I don’t like that attitude….
Marika didn’t want to come with me to see the Dalai Lama, but she did anyway. She had a ride from another friend on his motorbike and also arrived just in time to see him . She also went to Kahn for a bike wash and had a great time with Gailson, who drove on her bike. A big wish!
We had dinner with Khan and Gailson and ended our visit with nice Tibetan food…….
We both were a bit sad to leave Leh for many reasons. Marika feels at home there. If possible she would like to stay the whole summer and start her own business. She has already some nice plans!
I felt sad because I knew we would leave the high Himalaya ranges…… Leh was a big goal for this trip for me. I don’t like Leh it selves that much, but the thought of leaving this area was strange. The weather was a bit sad as well and the first few kms were really ugly: army bases everywhere.
But suddenly the landscape started to change. We passed the point were the Zanskar (river) meets the Indus and the 2 colors are coming together. We drive on and on to Kargil, the destination for tonight. When we arrive at Kargil we were shocked by the sight of it… A total different town. Nothing left from the serene Tibetan style. We were entering a new part of India….. It was dark dirty and the atmosphere was gloomy…. We decided to drive on.
After Kargil there only are small villages and we were getting tired so I decided to stop at a nice looking house. We asked if we good sleep somewhere and were kindly invited to their house, were we could stay in the guest room. Such an amazing experience that was. We finally were really in contact with the way people live there. So different as we do. We sat together with the whole family, 19 members: grandparents, children and grandchildren. Marika Gave the children balloons which I brought with me after a tip from Leonard, my boyfriend (and sometimes husband if that is more suitable somewhere). We got a nice cup of tea and later on a nice diner: rice and vegetables, served in our room by 2 of the men. They stayed until we were finished and left. An experience never to forget!
The next day we headed off for Srinagar. It already started with bad roads. But after a while the landscape began to be so amazing. I had goose pimps al the way. For me this was maybe even more beautiful than the part before lay: amazing rivers, green parts, glaciers, all spectacular…. In the valleys colored tents….
We had to cross one pas to decent to Sgrinagar. The way up, no problem, but the descent was bad…. Mud, stones, water narrow, lots of traffic from the other side, mostly smelly trucks. Here we noticed how much we had learned during the past few weeks. We both didn’t have any problems with the very bad road conditions and past trucks at the not hill side just half a meter from the abyss. No problem at all. We were so proud of ourselves!
Finally we arrived at Srinagar were we found a nice hotel nearby Da Lake with good parking facilities, soft beds. Not the cheapest, but after a good conversation just above our price range. We can use the PC.. and that’s what we did today and yesterday. Had contact with our agency who arranges the Irani and Pakistani visa. Tuesday the visa should be arranged. A delay of one week for us…… Just see how we are going to fix that. But first…. Diner at the Da Lake!