September 5, 2012
I was supposed to report at the taxi stand by 8:00 AM for the taxi. On my way, I stopped at a German Bakery and grabbed a ready-made Veg Cream Cheese Sandwich. The bread was hard, but the stuffing was decent. I was picked up in a Xylo, and was joined by a young lady from Delhi, a German Couple, an Israeli and two Brit Indian women for the rafting trip. All of them seemed fun, and so I was getting all excited.
The rafting was from a place called Chilling, on the bank of river Zanskar, to a place called Nimmo, where Indus and Zanskar merge, a total stretch of 28 kms, which would take about 3 hours to cover by raft. We reached Nimmo at around 10:00 AM, and were asked to suit up. I wasn’t told that a wet suit would be provided, so carried extra pair of clothes which turned out to be unnecessary. There was a small tent where we could change into the suit. In hurry, I initially manged to wear the suit back to the front and made a fool of myself :P. Then I was asked to wear a windcheater over the suit and a helmet. We had an instructor on board our raft, and there was a gonna be a safety kayak travelling with us. The instructor, Kali, was a super fun guy and the safety Kayak guy, Himal was even more fun. Both of them hailed from Nepal. They gave us basic instructions, what to do incase we fall off into the water and stuff. And then we got into the raft. The water was freezing cold (as one would expect). We were told that this was a level 3 rafting stretch but on this particular day, the current wasn’t too high, so it could be rated less. The initial few minutes were spent on the basics. Rafting with the flow was alright, but against seemed a little difficult.
The scenery around was beautiful. We were surrounded by high mountains on both sides, and it was magnificent. I so wished to capture the beauty, but my cam was sitting in my bag in the car.
About 30 minutes through, we passed through a pretty heavy current. I was sitting second to the right of the raft, my leg loosened a little from the lock position, and I fell back into the water when a tide hit me. The feeling was just awesome!! Cold water rushing through every part of your body, your hands and legs going numb for a second or so, the adrenaline pumping in, it was just so bloody amazing. When I got into my senses and opened my eyes a couple of seconds later, I realized I was right under the raft. I waited for it to move away, and then made me way up. I immediately got into the safety position without panicking. Hemal came and pulled me onto the kayak, and we slowly moved towards the raft, and I got back in. Those 5 minutes is one experience I’l cherish forever.
We had super fun in the raft, spoke on various topics. Kali thought the Delhi girl was my wife and started asking all weird questions like where we first met and all. It was not until a while did we realize that he thought we were married. He also thought she was one of the Brit Indian women’s daughter. Super fun!!
We stopped at around the 14 km mark for about 10 minutes. The currents were down after this stretch, and it was easier to raft. About 2 kms before we reached the end point, Hemal came and pulled everyone into the water (when the water was still). I swam a little before I got in, but the Israeli guy just kept sailing. He sailed for more than a kilometer before we could reach him. He went super numb by the time we pulled him in.
We reached Nimmo and changed into our clothes before we took a small drive to the restaurant, where food was arranged for us. We were initially served tea and coffee, and thereafter, lunch was served. All this was included in the rafting price of Rs. 1600/-. There was Dal, Aloo Gobi and Rice. The food was pretty decent. Once we finished lunch, we were dropped back in Leh, at around 4:00 PM.
Tip: Try to bargain a little on the rafting price. More than bargaining, try enquiring at a couple of places before you get the best price. On our trip, people paid from 1200 to 1800 for the same rafting trip.
The previous day, I went to the HPTDC center on Fort road and booked a seat for the bus to Manali for the next day. I went there and conformed on my seat before going to the room to get some rest. At around 7:00 PM, I got out to find a place for my last meal in Leh. I roamed around the place to find a good restaurant, and finally zeroed on a pizza place next to Lamayuru (not sure on the name, probably Summer Harvest). I ordered for a Veggie Pizza with my choice of vegetables. It was served in about 10 minutes and turned out to be really good. Crispy and cheesy, just the way I like it!!
I got back to the room, packed my bags and was all ready to leave the next morning. After a fun-filled day, it was time to hit the bed.