Table of contents for Ladakh Calling
Next morning, with a feeling of accomplishment at heart we started our return journey and the target for the day was “Sarchu”. Our first halt for breakfast was at “Rumtse” & we clicked some beautiful pics on the way to “Moore Plains”.
It was a sunny day & “Moore Plains” looked so beautiful under the clear blue sky.
We reached “Sarchu” well in evening & this time we managed to get a “Dhaba Tent”. To our surprise the tent was quiet warm from inside & we got enough blankets and bedspreads as well. What an experience it was to stay in a Dhaba tent.
As the evening came down our bodies started feeling the thirst. Imagine at an altitude of 14000 feet in the middle of that cold desert where an average person struggles for his survival & where there is hardly any sign of vegetation, a “Theka” (Liquor Shop) was made available by a local contractor.
Seeing such a temptation Deepak straight away went out & bought a bottle of B.P but, we were feeling a bit uncomfortable. This time not with AMS but with the presence of a Bengali family in our tent . Our “TT” Surya gave some valuable health advice to one of the aunties in that family as she was not feeling well & was not able to breath easily.
Later we realized the reason for all that “TT-pana” when Surya explained that he liked the daughter of that lady & was trying to impress her with his knowledge which gave us (Deepak & me) few more reasons to pull his leg for quite a long time. Any ways, we made a small wall of blankets & whatever was available with us (like tank bag sleeping bags, riding jackets etc) to make it a private party. I made the drink for all of us & I remember excited Surya spilled the first drink on the area where we were supposed to sleep. A mouth full of Gaalis was just dedicated to Surya.
We had few rounds and made ourselves comfortable, as our bodies had already undergone the acclimatization process & got well-adjusted with these heights in the past 12 days. This time we had a good sound sleep at “Sarchu”
Day 13 (4th July 2010) – Sarchu – Keylong (112 Kms)
Next morning came up with a wakeup call & with a cup of hot tea. We had couple of rounds of tea & biscuits and then got dressed up in our gears, tied our luggage & we were off for “Keylong” via “BarlachaLa”.
After driving for few odd Kms we all started thinking of the same patch where our “Rambo” showed his valor. This time we were prepared to take on the challenge but the thought of riding entire day with numb feet was trying to capture our brains.
The moment we made contact with that spot, to our surprise, it was all clear & dry & there were no signs of water ever on that place.
This is “Ladakh”. As someone rightly said “Ladakh is different everyday”. It never remains same for days.
We quickly reached the top of “BarlachaLa”. This time it was a sunny day & we managed to get some clear photographs at the top.
We stopped for breakfast at “Zing Zing Bar”, for your information there is no BAR as such :), it’s just the name of that place & I captured a few good “Random Clicks”.
There we also met a group of turbanators on their bullets who enquired about us after seeing our number plates as one of them, named “Angad” hailed from Faridabad, who later on joined our NCR Royals club.
From “Zing Zing Bar” it was more a downhill journey & our bulls were easily cruising through. By the time we reached “Darcha” it was 12:00 Hrs. We had a cup of tea with hot maggi & pushed of quickly. It started becoming cold with moderate rain. “Keylong” was just 8 kms away when it started raining heavily. We took a halt under a tree shade & after few minutes of (SuGa) break we resumed our journey. It was 14:00 Hrs when we reached “Keylong” & managed to get a decent room on the road side & parked our bikes just in front of our room.
Deepak & Surya enjoying the weather.
It was 2pm & we had nothing to do, so we dozed ourselves with beer from a nearby shop & watched the old movie “Padosan” on a local channel. We enjoyed that movie till late evening.
Day 14 (5th July 2010) – Keylong – Mandi (230 Kms)
Next morning with quick breakfast we started our journey without deciding for our day’s target. The idea was to cover the maximum distance and reach back home as early as possible as Yash (my 02 yr old son) was not well & was desperately missing me from last 14 days.
On our way back we came to know that it is raining from past few days in Manali. So we prepared ourselves for a very very wet & cold journey ahead. Again we had a tough time crossing “RohtangLa” in that sludge & rain. We drove well during initial hours with few good (SuGa) breaks. We crossed Manali at 14:00 Hrs & soon reached in the outskirt area of Kullu.
All drenched, we decided to gather some heat inside our bodies. We stopped near a road side Theka & decided to get some drinks. We explored all corners & identified an open area behind the shop.
Lots of people were doing river rafting on Beas River & we enjoyed the scene from the top. Our equation was 1 bottle 3 persons & it was all over in 20 minutes. You can see our soaked clothes & smiling faces. We spent quite a good time there & zoomed ahead for Mandi. After reaching Mandi we took an avg. hotel room on the main road and spent our evening talking about the weather.
Day 15 (6th July 2010) – Mandi – Delhi (610 Kms)
Next morning we were all set for reaching back home, sweet home. From here the journey was more into the plains & there was hardly anything to impress us. But, the CHALLENGES kept coming our way testing our nerves & ability to tackle them.
As always I was leading the team and suddenly I saw a big boulder coming in my way as I was following a state roadways bus too closely. The bus passed over it quiet easily & I hardly had any time to react and change my direction to avoid a collision. I hit straight away into that big boulder & my bike took off. For a moment I thought I am gone & immediately after a few meters of zigzagging I realized I still have the control. Here the piece of advice is never follow a vehicle so close that that your eyes miss the horizon, where the sky and meets the road. That is the gap one should maintain while following. This all happened with a lightening speed. Both Surya & Deepak, for a moment, had their heart in their mouth. I did not stop there to discuss anything about the incident with them. We just raised our thumbs to each other & we continued our downhill journey, now more carefully, till we reached the flat terrain.
By the time we reached “Kirathpur” it started raining heavily but we continued our journey till we reached “Chandigarh”. We had our lunch at “Chandigarh” & accelerated to cover the last 250 odd kms.
As I said above CHALLENGES kept coming our way. By the time we reached close to “Ambala”, for the first time in our life, we saw flood. I hope you all remember 2010 floods in Punjab & Haryana. The highway was submerged and it looked like it had never been there. We called back homes & told our families about the situation. Our families advised us to stay away from flood areas till the highway gets operational.
But we thought differently & looked for a bypass route which connects directly to “Shahbad”. After driving for hrs in continuation it became dead dark & we realized that we were in the middle of nowhere & only ones on those country roads. It was a scary moment for all of us & the time was around 22:00 Hrs. We were not sure which direction to go & how far. We were still far away from the main highway. Soon we reached to a point where we could not see the road any more & it was all mud & nothing else as there was some road construction work going-on on that road. I remembered that famous quote “You are not lost till the time you care where you are”. We were little skeptical and were just thinking in our thoughts what to do… when a truck driver came and guided us with the directions & informed that the patch is a little difficult to cross as there is huge amount of mud in the middle but motivated us to take this challenge by saying “that the road afterwards is smooth and there is no flood & also the highway is hardly 25 Kms away”.
We took that challenge on a positive note as we were confident about crossing it without much difficulty as we already had experienced the same at “RohtangLa”. We all managed to cover a few meters of it but found it difficult, as our fully loaded bikes struggled to move in that mud and the tyres were slipping too.
We applied the same idea as we did at “ChangLa”. We pushed the bikes one by one and finally came out of that patch. As per the words of that truck driver we touched “shahbad” by 23:30 Hrs. We were happy to see the highway but the situation was not very impressive. There was a huge traffic jam on the highway till “Karnal”. It was 01 O’clock in the morning & we were all wet and feeling tired, sleepy & hungry as the tough day had taken out all our energies. We decided to have some “Pranthas” at our favorite joint “Jhilmil Dhaba”. The moment we reached at that dhaba we had all the appreciations from the people around for our valor & the owner of the restaurant gave us special attention.
While having our dinner I gave two options to Surya & Deepak, either to stay at “Karnal” itself or continue our journey & try to reach Delhi by 4 or 5 am. After a round of argument with Surya we convinced him that we should continue our journey to avoid the pain of again unloading & loading the entire luggage and changing our wet and muddy clothes too.
We had our dinner & continued on NH-1. After driving for few odd Kms I started feeling sleepy on the saddle and we stopped near a Dhaba to relax and to take a quick nap & then continue our journey. The quick naps became more frequent & more longer after every 3-4kms.
We continued this way for the whole night till we reached back home. After such a looonnnnggggg ride and after spending so much time together in the last 15 days it was hard to break off. As a law of nature everything that starts comes to an end. So with a tight hug & with all promises to keep we moved back to our places. It was just a fitting end to the most “CHALLENGING JOURNEY” of our life.
The real essence of the journey was “THE SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT… by passing through challenging times with likeminded people”. We enjoyed all the things we expected from this trip & also enjoyed the unexpected but still “Yeh dil mangay more”…
It’s been 4 years now & still I see those places in my dreams where we visited. The kind of challenges we faced on our way. This journey has embossed its memories somewhere deep inside.
This is all for the time being & I hope your calling will come soon…
Vishal Chopra signing off
See you on roads…