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Old 09-25-2009, 06:17 AM   #61
rogerdodger OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flash412
The horn on those big Tata trucks will about make you shit your pants when you swing around a blind curve and the oncoming Tata taking up the entire roadway beeps. They sound like a cross between squealing brakes and a ululating scream of terror.

GREAT videos!

Though it was in our original plan, we didn't even attempt Rohtang Pass last April due to a recent snowfall.
Haha that video will be coming up later!
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Old 09-25-2009, 06:18 AM   #62
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ow man, slow connection is taking forever for the vids to load to youtube. Be back later and do the next installment.
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:37 AM   #63
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Just did that same trip up to Rohtang two weeks ago. Except that I came around a blind curve, saw a jeep in "my" lane and went American. Hit the "brake"--which simply upshifted the bike--and swerved to the right. Of course, the Indian driver did likewise and we met. I took out his headlight, crumpled his fender and promptly departed airborne. While I lay motionless in the ditch, taking inventory, one of my Indian friends assured the driver that he had killed a very important man and had better get going before the police investigated. That saved me from paying for the repairs to his jeep, but the Enfield was totaled--a loss of $600. Fortunately, I was all geared up and uninjured except for some bruises. India is a great place to ride but it has its challenges.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:31 AM   #64
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Wicked

Repairs to jeep:

Headlamp: INR 300 (USD 6)
Position lamp: INR 50 (USD 1)
Body panel repair with paint : INR 700 (USD 14)
Straightening fender with large
sledgehammer: Probably thrown in for free
Laundry for driver's trousers soiled
during Kamikaze enfield attack: INR 40 (80 cents)

As per Law, bigger vehicle is ALWAYS at fault , I'll bet the jeep driver was happy to get out of there.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:30 PM   #65
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Gus and I rode for the rest of the day in perfect sunshine arriving at Keylong around 4pm



A small town nestled on a mountain side and surrounded by snow capped mountains. This market town is closed off from the outside world by snows and landslides for 5 months of the year. Keylong is known as the last stop for petrol before Leh 350km away. Most people on bikes make this a night stop at any of the comfortable guest houses. As Gus and I rode through town we met a couple of bikers and asked them if they had found a good place for the night. They lead us back to the guest house they were in where we met a group of 2 swiss cousins and 4 Israelis. In the morning it was the usual tinkering of bikes.




Two of the Israelis had bike problems and were going to stick around in Keylong for the day. The others left, and Gus and I, who had ridden straight past the gas station 10 km back the day before, headed back to fill up. Missing the gas station turned out the be a stroke of luck. After getting gas and heading back through Keylong, my clutch cable broke. We found the mechanics shop and also met up again with thee Israelis Chen and Don. The mechanic hadn't shown up yet, But I was carrying a spare clutch cable, part of the list of spares Id inherited when I bought the bike. Don and I set about changing the cable. New one in and a couple of tugs on it... and it broke too! Eventually the mechanic showed up rummaging through the piles of crap found another clutch cable. By the time this was fixed it was gone midday. Since neither Gus and I were on a schedule we decided to hang around in Keylong for the rest of the day and get a fresh start in the morning.

Gus wanted to hang out at the guest house and smoke pot with Chen and Don, so i took off to explore. Walking through the town there was a commotion coming from a large arena. I made my way through to find a good viewing spot and asked a local what was going on. It was the try outs for applications into the womens district police force. The guy I asked was also a policemen. I joked that these would make good wives, fit and with a good job."Oh no" he said "very bad wives, they want to be boss of everything".


There were 4 positions available and it was down to the physical tests. The 4 girls that could jump highest would get the jobs. Some were jumping in their national dress, some had track suits on.





One girl stood out from the rest, easily clearing the bar every time. Eventually the others fell and she was left, but the police wanted to see just how high this girl could jump. The crowd was going wild every time she effortlessly cleared the bar. Soon it was close to shoulder height and the crowd looked on breathlessly as she ran for what looked like an Olympic record.






After the event, I met Gus for lunch then he wandered back to the guest house for more pot, and I took off on foot for a neighboring village and monastery on the other side of the valley.


It was a good hike and as usual I got a little lost, but eventually found my way up to the monastery. keylong from the other side of the valley.


Kids here are always so sweet, but you have to be careful taking pictures of them. A lot have been corrupted and will ask you to take their picture then beg for money. These kids were just happy to see their image in the screen on my camera.


On the way back down the hill to Keylong I met these ladies that asked me to take their picture.



The woman in the foreground is a teacher and spoke pretty good English, She asked me to take down her address and send a copy of the picture, then they all chimed in with "me too" "yes 5 copies please" It wasn't until Leh that i found a place that could print off the pictures and I sent them their 5 copies plus the one of the kids. Its nice to think of those pictures pinned to the wall in their little stone houses, something to look at in those 5 months of isolation thinking about when the summer suns will come again. It was fun too sending mail to someone local in India the woman was quite surprised in the post office. I think the stamp cost 5rp.

The next morning Gus and I loaded up and headed out. The Israelis liked to party late into the night, so they were still dead to the world. Gus and I rode out of town and had our first big river crossing. Gus hasn't been riding long and had trouble with his bike, But locals are always on hand and eager to help out.





A little further down the road and all of a sudden I'm getting the wobbles as my rear tire goes flat. Ok now I had spare tubes, but Id made the decision that carrying a pump was going to be too much and Id figure out how to fix a flat when it happened. So here it was the reality that now we would have to figure this all out. But just as im pulling my tools out to take the wheel off here comes Chen and Don. We get the wheel off load it onto Gus's bike and I ride it back into town. The wheel had ripped the valve stem right out, so no salvaging this tube. New tube in for 60rp and pumped up and Im back on the way. After putting the wheel on it seemed only logical to ride on with the Israelis. So now we were a party of 4.




rogerdodger screwed with this post 09-25-2009 at 09:37 PM
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:20 PM   #66
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Now we were a "gang" it made the ride a lot more fun. We were getting into some amazing country, climbing higher and higher and crossing streams from snows that had laid on the mountains for hundreds of years.
This one kinda caught me out as Id been playing with the camera then saw how fast it was going. Id hate to ruin the camera at this early stage.





The traffic seemed to go in ebbs and flows, sometimes nothing and then we'd have a whole convoy come past, or worse have to pass.





The times with no traffic were amazing. It wasn't even that cold. i was partly disappointed that we didn't have huge snow banks to negotiate like Id seen in other posts from people passing just weeks before. It just shows how dangerous this place can be, today sunny and calm, tomorrow a raging blizzard that closes the road and traps anyone on it.





I was often waiting on these guys, but it gave me the opertunity to get some good drive bys.



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Old 09-28-2009, 04:09 AM   #67
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tap...tap...tap...is this thing on?
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:19 AM   #68
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6 months?

You lucky bastard!

Outstanding, keep it coming...

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Old 09-28-2009, 05:10 AM   #69
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Great write up so far Rodger. You didn't happen to run into 3 Americans and a former Brit out there by any chance?

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Old 09-28-2009, 09:47 PM   #70
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At the top of Bara Lacha La we stopped to take in the view.





Don fired up his espresso maker, a process that repeated itself many times while i rode with these guys, as did the lighting up of splif's. This meant we could never ride more than a few k's without a stop for coffee then a stop to pee. Not too much of a problem since we wernt on a schedule.

We made it to Sarchu the tent camp town.


The first tents you come to are the fancy ones with private room and attached indoor bathroom. These go for as much 2000rp a night. We kept going until we came to the proper Sarchu tent village, which is made up of dhabas for the truck drivers and cheap bastards like us. A dhaba is a cafe which serves food and has a open room with mattress on the floor for you to crash on. there's no bathroom, and out back from the tents was the smell of piss and piles trash and human poop. Its sad that no one puts in some sort of bio toilet to try and keep the place clean.


That evening I fired up my lap top to take some of the videos off the camera memory card that was now full. The woman and a couple of other Dhaba owners came in and huddled round the screen as I showed them some of the videos, they got even more excited when I showed them pictures of New Zealand and Thailand. These are nomadic people living between Leh and Sarchu and the have never seen a ocean. After the slide show I stepped outside to an amazing sky of stars. it was probably the most beautiful night I remember, with the moon illuminating the massive walls of rock all around.

My camera battery was now completely dead. Sarchu has no electricity. In the morning some of the fancy bike tour company's rode past us, coming from their fancy tents. Each bike a sparkling new Enfield each rider fitted out with every bit of western safety gear possible. Some waved, some ignored us as we sat raggedly at our little scruffy dhaba. We finally hit the road at 9.00pm and promptly stopped about 3 km up the road when Gus's chain fell off. That fixed on we went for what was the hardest days ride of the crossing. There were the Gata loops, a series of loops that took you up over a pass then down into Pang another camp village where we had lunch. Then over the next pass and into the desert sands of Pang Moore plain. Here there was often no road at all and you just had to plow through the sand. After this came the climb up to Tanglang La. Near the top we encountered a landslide, but there seems to be a bulldozer parked on permanent duty here, so it was only 30mins before we get the all clear to make our way through the boulders and loose earth, after waiting yet again for Don to pack up his coffee machine. The bikes were all running a little rough over this pass. Most of the time we were shifting between 1st and 2nd. Sometimes it felt like the bike was going to give out completely, but no they kept on chugging on. As we started down from Tanglang la I was finally getting sick of these guys dawdling along. I could make good time, but then have to pull over to wait on them to catch up. I rode on down to Rumtse where the road was in good condition. It was now 5.00pm. I'm old, these guys are young. As much as I'd enjoyed the Dhaba one night was enough, I was ready for a hot shower and some luxury. They arrived in Rumtse and wernt interested in carrying on to Leh. I'd spoke with a guy earlier in Pang, who told me 20km out of Leh was Thiske monastery, which had a nice guest house run by the monks of the monastery. He'd also told me the road from this point in was in perfect condition. I told the boys "nice riding with ya but Im off and set off for Thiske". It was the most fun part of the whole ride with new black top road, winding along through a beautiful valley with a rushing river at my side. I arrived in Thiske covering the 50km in about 1hr. unheard of usually on Ladahk roads. Got cleaned up and met some Dutch cyclists that where also heading into Leh the next day. We got a treat too as the chief minister for Jammu Kashmire was about to arrive at our guest house for dinner. Great fun watching the security forces search for bombs in the under growth. Jammu Kashmire is on the boarder with Pakistan and there is a real threat that someone would try to off this guy. He is also India's youngest Chief minister and a very forward thinking guy.

The next day I walk up the hill to the top of the monastery for a look around and listen to the blowing of conch shells for morning pray.


I spent the day at Thiske and got the bike cleaned up. Then rode into Leh and settled in for a decent rest.

In Leh I met the Swiss cousins and the other Israelis that I'd first met in Keylong. Others showed up too that I'd met in Manali. This is becoming such a popular route and since Ladahk is only open for a few brief weeks, it makes it a sure thing that you will run into the same people over and over. So it was no huge surprise that on my first day as I walked around Leh a familiar voice called out to me.

I'd walked down an alley where a crowd had gathered to watch a snake charmer work his magic on some poor drugged out cobra. I don't approve of what these guys do to these snakes so i was about to pass on by when another charmer of a different kind of snake called out my name. It was Honey. I couldn't believe she was even saying hi to me, we hadn't parted on good terms, but this was how Honey had been before, one day a raging storm and the next being sweet as pie. She mumbled something about meeting up later, but I had no intention of getting wrapped up in her web again and said "bye" and headed on my way.

My guest house was just at the base of Shanty stupa and I made it a morning ritual to hike the 300 odd stairs to the top. No mean feat at 3500meters. Every step took your breath away, but the view from the top is worth it.




Its also a great place for people to practice their morning yoga.


I explored Leh, rested up, ate great food and of course had the bike worked on.


Mohan is the best mechanic in Leh. The previous day I had been eating dinner with the Dutch cyclists when we were joined by two Indian army captains that had also ridden Enfields across from their base in Srinagar. The captains had given me the name of Mohan and when I told Mohan these captains had recommended him, it made a huge difference to the service I got. Nothing like name dropping when the need arises.

Dino and Mike the Swiss cousins, and I, hatched out a plan to go over Kardong La and into Nubra valley. We loaded up and set off.


10 minutes later Mike's gear box totally spazed out I opened up the box, but there was a clip broken and so we had to head back down.



My pull with Mohan got us straight in and fixed up and by 12.00 we were heading up towards the pass again.





Yes thats a cyclist!





Kardong La was a bit of an anti climax. It was a complete zoo with bikes and taxis, but worse its clear that this isn't the highest motorable pass in the world. Everyone we spoke to who had a GPS confirmed that this pass is actually lower than Tanglang La. Its still a nice view though.





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Old 09-28-2009, 09:48 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddBrit
6 months?

You lucky bastard!

Outstanding, keep it coming...

If you get back and check my other posts, you'll find this is still part of my year and a half travels!
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:50 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by dragoon
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Sorry been fighting with a really shitty cold, plus too another trip up Rohtang La just for kicks!
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:52 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by King Bongo
Great write up so far Rodger. You didn't happen to run into 3 Americans and a former Brit out there by any chance?

Well Im a forma Brit myself, and I know i saw me there! but no I dont think I saw any Americans at all. Oh a couple but not on bikes, which I find really surprising. Whats wrong with you lot?
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:50 PM   #74
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looking good keep it coming

remind me not to try this looks painfull
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:20 AM   #75
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It's quite unbelievable to see these pictures with NO snow. Or even the huge snowmelt craters on the road which can be more than a foot deep at the shallowest point.

Even if there is no snow, the rock patterns on the mountains caused by snow erosion compensate.
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