Travelogue | Experience of a Lifetime!

I’ve been wanting to add some spice to my life for a long time and I needed some adventure in my boring routine life. That’s when I came across a post on CouchSurfing, about a motorcycle trip to Ladakh. This caught my attention, but the price turned out to be a little steep for my pockets – 28k for the 15-day trip + additional 25-30k for bike, petrol and other expenses. But I got caught up in the idea, and I had made up my mind that I wanted to visit Ladakh at any cost.

After a little thought, I decided why not plan a trip on the same route as the motorcycle ride all by myself. So, using their itinerary, I planned a hitch-hiking trip – Hyderabad – Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla – Dharamsala – Manali – Leh and back. But then I did a little more research, added more locations, took routes to avoid altitude sickness, and finally came up with the following. My planned itinerary can be found here.

Hyderabad – Delhi – Amritsar – Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Keylong – Manali – Dharamshala – Shimla – Kalka – Delhi – Hyderabad – a total of 6000+ kilometres!!

I decided to take a train till Jammu, and hitchhike thereafter. I planned the trip initially for about 20 days, but later increased it to 24. Even with 24, I wasn’t able to do justice to places like Dharamshala and Shimla, and the plan of hitchhiking had to be dropped. I still planned to keep the budget to a maximum of 20k.

My parents suggested I take someone along to keep me company. The thought was tempting for more than anything, it would help keep my budget down; but the fact that I would have to depend on someone else throughout the trip made me reluctant. However, I hesitatingly asked a couple of my friends and cousins if they’d like to join me. Thankfully (evil grin), no one could make it!!

I booked a train directly from Hyderabad to Jammu on three different trains, with halts at Delhi and Amritsar. Since I booked all 3 trains together, it cost me 1500 bucks, saving 500. I also booked my return trip, and the toy train from Simla to Kalka.

Tip: When on long journeys, book trains from starting location to final location. As long as the distance between the first two points is 500 kms, you can break your journey as many times as possible. This gets you a better deal on ticket prices. You will have to go to the booking counter to avail this option.

Apart from the train reservations, I made no further plans. I decided to drop in at every place and take it further from there. I started from Hyderabad on 23 August and returned on 15 September.

I packed my backpack with a sleeping bag, a shawl, three sweaters, a sweat-shirt, rain coat, gloves, couple of jeans, one shorts, one kurta, two shirts, five t-shirts, and undergarments. Trust me when I say I was over-packed (I’ve learnt my lesson!!).

Tip: When on such long trips, pack as less as possible. The lighter your bag is, the better it is. A friend on the trip suggested a best way to do this: pack your bag two days before the journey, unpack it the next day and repack, this time only with the things you need.

Here, I shall try to give you a detailed day-to-day travelogue of my 24-day trip.

Day 1: Hyderabad – Delhi

Day 2: Delhi – Amritsar

Day 3: Amritsar

Day 4: Amritsar – Jammu – Srinagar

Day 5: Srinagar 

Day 6: Srinagar (Gulmarg) 

Day 7: Srinagar – Kargil

Day 8: Kargil – Leh

Day 9: Leh (Monasteries)

Day 10: Leh (Magnetic Hill)

Day 11: Leh (Pangong Tso)

Day 12: Leh (Khardung La) 

Day 13: Leh

Day 14: Leh (Rafting)

Day 15: Leh – Keylong

Day 16: Keylong – Manali

Day 17: Manali

Day 18: Manali (Paragliding)

Day 19: Dharamshala (McLeodGanj

Day 20: Shimla – Kalka – Delhi

On the whole it turned out to be a great trip and the best experience of my life thus far!! Once back, I so missed the journey that I felt weird sleeping in my bed. The trip did burn a big hole in my pocket (it cost me Rs. 30995/-), but was totally worth it!!

Places to stay in Leh:
Hotel Lung-Se-Jung,
Fort Road, Adj. Rafica Guest House, Leh
Rent’s start from Rs. 400/- per day (If they quote higher, bargain!!)
Ask for Room No. 105 for it comes with a TV (This is the room I stayed in).

Indus Guest House,
Malpak, Leh
Rent’s start from Rs. 400 and go upto 1200 per day.
Very neat place, has free Wi-fi!! I’d recommend making a prior reservation.

Oriental Guest House,
Fort Road, Leh
Rent’s start from Rs. 300, but with shared bathroom.
Quite a few people recommended this place.

Travelogue | Day 20: Shimla – Kalka – Delhi

September 11, 2012

Reached Shimla at around 6:00 in the morning. Asked people for directions, and walked to the Railway station in about 30 minutes. Brushed my teeth at the station and was wondering what to do next. The Toy Train to Kalka was at 10:30 so I had about 3 hours to kill.

So I decided to head out again onto the streets. Everything was still closed for it was not even 7:00. I managed to find a small roadside hotel serving hot Poori, and settled down in there for a while. After roaming around the deserted town for a while longer, returned to the station. Sat in the waiting room and read a book, and did some time pass before the train arrived. I got in and settled in my seat.

I was expecting this train ride to be fun, and initially it was, but soon it got boring. Again, the view and landscapes were more or less mediocre and I kinda dozed off after a while. The view kept getting worse as we headed down the mountain range, and as we neared Kalka, there was nothing but garbage and filth next to the train track. It was actually pretty disgusting.

The train reached Kalka at around 4:30 PM, and my next train to Delhi was at 5:45. Did some time pass at the station and watched TV on the platform while  waiting for the Shatabdi Express to arrive.

This train was very well maintained and one of the best trains I’ve ever been in. I actually felt like I was on-board an aircraft rather than a train. It also moved pretty fast. The compartment was pretty much empty and I therefore had the liberty to sit with my legs stretched out. They served some pretty good food mid way through and we reached Delhi earlier than the scheduled time, at around 9:30 PM.

I initially had a couch in Delhi, but the girl I was supposed to Couchsurf with had to travel on emergency to Mumbai. She said she’d be back in a day, so I had to again find a place for myself in Delhi for a night. This time around, I asked a rickshaw guy to take me to a decent place, where I could get a air-conditioned room for around 500 bucks. He took me to a couple of hotels but everyone quoted around 1000. Unable to find an A/C room in my budget, finally zeroed in on a regular room for 500 bucks in the better part of Paharganj.

I had a quick shower before hitting the sack.

Day 19: Dharmshala (McLeodGanj)
Day 21 – 23: Delhi

Travelogue | Day 19: Dharamshala (McLeodGanj)

September 10, 2012

The bus was supposed to reach Dharamshala or McLeodGanj at around 5:00 AM, but it ended up reaching way before time. I didn’t realize the difference between Dharamshala and McLeodGanj until I reached; Dharamshala is the town and McLeodGanj is the suburb hillock on which His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides. Anyway, Andreas decided to part ways here and went along with the girl he had met in the bus, and the task for me now was to find a room for myself.

I roamed around the empty streets in search of a room, and a few guys offered me one for around 300 bucks. I thought it was too expensive for a day’s stay, for I was travelling to Shimla the same night. After walking through the by-lanes, I found a small hotel which offered me a room for 150 bucks. The room was pretty neat, and after check in, I dozed off till about 8:00 AM.

I had a quick shower and decided to go visit the monastery near Dalai Lama’s residence. I had to walk quite a bit before I finally reached the place. Having visited so many monasteries, this one was quite ordinary. But having nothing else to do (His Holiness wasn’t in town), I sat in there for a long time. I then headed back towards the room and stopped by at a small cafe called Mom’s Kitchen for lunch.

After hogging on some good food, I took a bus to the nearby Bhagsu Waterfalls. It was about a 30 minute ride, and this place looked very different from rest of McLeodGanj. There was a long steep walk to reach the falls from where the bus had stopped. I was pretty tired but somehow managed to reach the top. The Waterfall wasn’t big or anything, and again, having witnessed amazing landscapes through my journey thus far, it felt quite ordinary. I sat there on a rock in the water for a long time before heading back down to take the bus back to McLeodGanj.

I was unsure whether to head back to the room to take a nap or roam about a bit more. But my legs gave up pretty soon and I chose the nap. I woke up at around 7:00, roamed through the streets and had a quick bite before walking to the bus stop at around 9:00, for my bus was at 9:30 PM.

And this is when I realized that my bus wasn’t from McLeodGanj but from Dharamshala. I had to rush down to the other bus-stop, and luckily a found an auto on time. He charged me a bomb (100 bucks), but I had no alternative. I reached the Dharamshala bus-stop to realize that the bus was running late. It left for Shimla at around 10:00 PM, and I think I fell asleep as soon as I got in to the bus.

Day 18: Manali (Paragliding)
Day 20: Shimla – Kalka – Delhi 

Travelogue | Day 18: Manali (Paragliding)

September 9, 2012 

Again woke up late. It was still drizzling outside, so I was in for another lazy day. Went to the bus stand and booked a ticket to Dharamshala for the night from Manali. Andreas was joining me on the trip. He had no itinerary in place, and was exploring all the places he could. I also booked my bus ticket from Dharamshala to Shimla for the next night.

We had a late brunch in a small cafe near the hotel, and lazed around the cafe for a long time. The weather cleared up, and at around 3:00 PM, decided to go give Paragliding a try. Andreas wasn’t interested in gliding, but he said he would give me company, so we got into an auto and reached the spot.

We had to take a Gondola (Cable Car) to reach the top of the mountain from where the gliding began. There were two levels of gliding, but because of the weather, the second level (longer ride) was closed for the day. Including the Gondola ride up, the operators were quoting a price of 1000 (500 for the Gondola and 500 for Paragliding), but I managed to negotiate it for 800 bucks. Andreas decided to just take the Gondola ride to the second level and walk down the hill.

The Gondola ride was good, and after about 20 minutes, I got down at the first level while Andreas continued the ride up. I was asked to wait for a while before my turn came, so walked around the place, took some selfies and ate Maggi at the small cafe. I was walked down through the jungle to the spot from where the gliding started, and after putting on the gear, I was flying along side the operator.

Honestly, I expected the ride to be spectacular, but it wasn’t. The view wasn’t anything great, and I had already seen landscapes which were much more beautiful in my journey so far.

After reaching the bottom, Andreas and I walked around a bit before heading back to town in the same auto. Our bus to Dharamshala was scheduled to leave at 7:10 PM, and so, soon after reaching the room, we had a quick bite and started our walk to the bus stand.

The bus was more or less empty with just 5 passengers. Andreas found a Swiss girl for company, while I dozed off pretty soon through the bumpy ride.

Day 17: Manali
Day 19: Dharamshala

Travelogue | Day 17: Manali

September 8, 2012

I woke up late to a beautiful view from the verandah. I was so tired that I just wanted to sit and relax in the room all day. And more or less, that is what I did.

Maya left for Delhi late in the afternoon, and it was just Glenda and Andreas and I. We roamed around Old Manali for most of the day; had a good lunch at a nearby cafe. While Andreas went back to the room, Glenda and I explored the place a little more. We wanted to go try Paragliding, but was it was raining/drizzling, and we were told that the gliding might be closed for the day. So we postponed the act. There was a beautiful pathway through a park which connected old and new Manali, and we walked through it a couple of times. We had some snacks in the town, and on our way back, came across Water-Rappelling.

There were a couple of guys who were conducting rappelling across Beas river, right next to a small bridge. He was charging around 400 bucks (as far as I remember), and Glenda and I decided to give it a try, given that we didn’t do anything exciting through the day. Glenda went first and she loved it, and so did I. I actually wanted more of it for it was too short a ride. The guy stopped me midway through and made me swing, which resulted in me drowning in the water till my waist. The water, as expected, was ice cold, but the entire experience was super fun.

Back to the room, stuffed with all the junk I ate through the day, I skipped dinner. Glenda also left for Delhi, and it was just Andreas and I left in Manali.

Day 16: Keylong – Manali
Day 18: Manali (Paragliding)

Travelogue | Day 16: Keylong – Manali

September 7, 2012

The bus was to leave at 6:00 AM in the morning, so I woke up at around 5:45 and got fresh. There was breakfast available in the canteen – bread, butter and jam. Grabbed a bite and got onto the bus which left at around 6:30. Again, wanted to enjoy the landscapes, but dozed off soon.

We were told that the bus would reach Manali at around noon, but the road on this stretch was pretty bad, and it was also raining. This made the drive long. I woke up at around 11:00 and clicked a few more pictures. At around 12:00 PM, we reached Rohtang Pass, were the bus had to stall because there was a landslide ahead, and the army had to come in to clear the roads. The landscape here was amazing, so clicked a lot of pics. Ate some Maggi and did some time pass for almost 2 hours before the bus finally got back on track. The roads ware still messy, and the drive was scary.

We finally hit the outskirts of Manali, from where people were Paragliding. It took a few more minutes before the bus finally reached he New Manali bus station at around 3:00 PM.

Once we picked up our bags, most of us started walking towards Old Manali. The Czech girl (Maya) led me, the Indian lady from Mumbai (Glenda) and the Swiss guy (Andreas) to a small guesthouse on top of a hillock. Beauce I had already made arrangement through Couchsurfing, I bid farewell, and moved further to find my couch.

My host was a local guy (Biplob) who seemed nice on phone. He was to meet me at a restaurant on the Old Manali road, and gave me directions to the same. Finding this restaurant was quite a task, and tired me out because I had to walk up and down a hill a couple of times before I finally found him. He was with a bunch of foreigners and gave me a key to a room located somewhere in the interiors. He gave me odd directions and asked me to find the room myself. After a couple of great Couchsurfing experiences, this really felt weird. Anyways, I walked through small bylanes for another 10 minutes to find a place called Double Dutch, which happened to be a guest house. I found my room and it turned out to be a proper guest house single bed room. A little curious as to why I was being offered such a room, I called Biplob and asked his if I had to pay, and he casually said yes, 150 bucks per night. I was surprised for Couchsurfing hosting is supposed to be free. Annoyed, I decided not to stay, and walked back to the guesthouse where Maya, Glenda and Andreas were staying.

There were 3 available rooms at this place, all occupied by my fellow friends. I asked the uncle to arrange something, and he managed to clear out their personal room on the second floor for me. For 250 bucks, it had a double cot bed, television and hot water. The best part was the beautiful view of the mountains from the verandah.

We were all very tired, but it was too soon to call it a day. So Glenda, Andreas and I ventured out to find this hot spring in New Manali. After another long walk, we finally wound this small hot spring in a residential area. There was a tank around it to store the water, and people were taking bath in it. It actually looked pretty filthy. A little disappointed, we started our walk back.

Dead tired by now, all four of us decided to order a meal at the guesthouse. We ordered for roti and Rajma, which tasted mediocre. After chatting for a while, it was time to hit the sack!

Day 15: Leh-Keylong
Day 17: Manali

Travelogue | Day 15: Leh – Keylong

September 6, 2012 

Woke up at 4:30 in the morning, had a shower, picked my bags, and walked to the bus stand near the post office. I had booked the front window seat of the HPTDC bus, and had paid Rs. 1500/- for it. A Korean woman was sitting next to me, and there were people from different nationalities accompanying me. The bus took off from Leh at around 5:15 AM. I wanted to sit up and enjoy the beautiful landscapes, but was still too tired and dozed off soon. We stopped for tea in a small town on the way at around 7:00, and after getting back, slept till past 10:00.

When I woke up, I started enjoying the beauty around me and clicked a few pictures. A little after 1:00 PM, we reached the second highest motorable road in the world, Taglangla pass. We stopped here to click a few pictures. It had snowed the previous night, but most of the snow had melt by the time we reached the pass.

We were hoping that the bus would stop for lunch sometime soon, but it was not until after 4:00 PM did he stop. And that too, he had stopped at a location where there was nothing but bun and tea available. Everyone on the bus asked him to move further and instead stop at a better place. At around 6:00, we stopped at a place which had quite a few food stalls. Had a cup of tea, which tasted very much like Hyderabadi tea, and then got back onto the bus.

At around 8:00 PM, we reached the HPTDC guesthouse at Keylong. We were told that we had to share a tent put up outside the guesthouse with few others. There was also an option of renting a room in the guesthouse by paying 300 bucks per person. I decided I was gonna stay in the tent, and was put in one with a Brit, an American, a German and a Swiss. Dinner was served in the guesthouse a while later – there was rice, dal, subzi and roti. Over dinner, I mingled with a lot of people apart from my tent mates. I became friends with a Czech girl who was trekking all by herself near Leh, and an Indian woman from Mumbai, who has taken a number of trips by herself in the recent past. We discussed politics and various other issues before we finally hit the bunk past 11:00 PM.

Day 14: Leh (Rafting)
Day 16: Keylong – Manali

Travelogue | Day 14: Leh (Rafting)

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.

Day 13 : Leh
Day 15 : Leh – Keylong

Travelogue | Day 13: Leh

September 4, 2012 

This day in Leh is one of the most unproductive and lazy days of my trip. Got up late, really late and somehow manged to get my ass out of the room past 10:00 AM. Walked around the city a bit, and then stopped at Neha Snacks on the Market road for some breakfast. I ordered for a Chole Poori. I’ve heard some good things about this place and so my expectations were high, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Poori was very good, not oily, and the Chole was yum. They even served extra aloo curry. These guys apparently serve yummy Aloo Patties in the evenings as snack. Hmm.

Roamed around a little more and checked out all the markets in town for about two hours. And it was time to hog again. So went to Lamayuru restaurant on Fort Road to try their Indian food. I had Stuffed Tomato with Roti. The curry was awesome. The gravy was rich and creamy, the tomatoes were ripe, and the stuffing delicious. Happy tummy.

I went back to the room and slept till about 6:00 in the evening. I again had to force myself to get out of the room. This time I headed to the Leh Palace. The walk up was exhausting, and there was nothing much to see in the Palace. There was a photo exhibition on, but there were no lights at the place. I managed to see a couple with the torch on my phone. I sat on the top for a long time, clicked a few pictures, and then went on to hog again.

This night, I decided to try Tibetan Kitchen, apparently one of the best restaurants in town. The place was packed but I managed to find myself a table in the corner, right next to the entrance. There was a lot of choice for meat lovers, but no so much for vegetarians. I asked the waiter for some suggestions and we finally zeroed on Veg. Sabaclev (That’s what I remember the name to be). I was told that it was a Tibetan bread sandwich, stuffed with cheese and veggies.

The place got fuller as I waited for my food. The Sabaclev arrived and was served with Tomato chutney. It turned out to be delicious. The bread, or roti was crunchy, and the stuffing inside was tasty. It was the best food I’ve had in Leh.

Once done, I headed back to the room, and slept. I managed to book a seat for myself for the rafting the next day before I got back.

Day 12: Leh (Khardung La)
Day 14 : Leh (Rafting)

Travelogue | Day 12: Leh (Khardung La)

September 3, 2012

Now that I didn’t have to catch a taxi or anything, I got up leisurely at around 9:00 AM. Got ready and headed off to get my bike which was all ready by the time I reached. I was contemplating whether to have breakfast or not, for it was almost 10:00, but stopped by at the restaurant next to the bike place (the same place I stopped at on the other day) to have yummy Cheese Toast. Once done, I was on my way to Khardung La pass, the highest motorable road in the world!

I wore a sweater over my t-shirt, and a sweat shirt over the sweater. I had a pair of gloves on, but I forgot to carry my muffler (I was too lazy to go back to the room for it). I had an extra sweater in my bag, just in case. Khardung La is about 40 kms from Leh. The initial few kilometers were plain road, nothing great. It wasn’t even cold or anything, and I was getting suffocated. After about 20 kms, where I had to submit my permit, the ghat road started and it got cold. My hands and arms were protected, but my face was freezing. I managed to tie the extra sweater I had in my bag as a muffler on my face and took off further.

Now starts the fun part. About 5 minutes from the point where I cover myself, it started raining, but since it was so cold, the rain drops turned into ice before they hit me. My clothes were getting wet and I started shivering for the cold was getting worse. The bike started to skid, and the roads suddenly became empty for most people stopped on the side because they didn’t want to drive in this weather. But I kept going, on and on, till I reached 18,379 feet (disputed) above the sea level. The feeling was wow, but my whole body was too numb to realize its surroundings. I parked my bike and rushed into the shack. It was as if the Gods were waiting for me to take protection, for the moment I got into the shack, it started pouring cats and dogs outside. I felt so god-damn lucky!!

I ordered a black tea, and used it to warm my hands and get into my senses. My phone got wet, which was my primary concern, so dried it off before I settled in the place. Five minutes though, the rain stopped, and the whole place was covered in close to 2 feet of ice. I got out and clicked some pictures and enjoyed the beauty. It was magnificent, and I felt awesome. It wasn’t an easy ride up, and I felt great for I did it without any problems. I was shivering, but still manged to roam about the place a bit. I got back to the shack and ordered for maggi and another tea.

The roads got pretty bad, and people stalled their taxis and bikes on the road. Army troops were helping public move their vehicles. But I had to go down somehow for I was freezing. I needed to go down. I put all my gear up, and started off slowly. I rode in the path the trucks had made, so as to avoid the ice as much as possible. The bike still kept skidding, so I had to avoid using the brakes as well. Trust me when I say this, it was the most difficult and adventurous ride of my life thus far. One wrong move, and forget hospital, you wouldn’t even be able to find my body!! The first 5 kms were really bad, and then, it was normal. Uff.. one hell of a ride.!!

The ride down seemed longer than while going up. I lost one of my gloves mid way through, so turned around and went looking for it for a while (which I couldn’t find), so this made it even more longer. I finally reached Leh at around 3 PM. I roamed around the city a bit on the bike, and stopped at a sandwich place in Changspa to grab a bite. I ordered for a Veg Sandwich with some Mushrooms and Onions. What they served was exactly the opposite of what I had imagined it to be. They served something similar to a Subway sandwich, with cold veggies and cheese, without proper dressing. I was so disappointed, for it even cost me 80 bucks.

I came back to the room, watched some TV and slept for a while. Late evening, I got out, returned the bike, and then went to dine at Dolphin Bakery on Fort road. It was a garden restaurant, and I ordered for Veg. noodles. I asked him to make them spicy, and they turned out to be yum. I was so craving for some spicy food. Once done, I bought a huge chocolate doughnut and ate it on my way back. It was alright, not so great.

I had planned to go rafting the next day, but I was too tired from the ride in the morning. I was initially planning to finish rafting the next day and take the bus to Manali on day 14, but the bus I wanted to take, the deluxe bus run by HPTDC runs only on even dates. So I had to wait till Sept 6 for it. I had one free day, and decided to just stay in the room doing nothing the next day.

Watched some more TV before calling an end to the second most thrilling day of my life.

Day 11 : Leh (Pangong Tso)
Day 13 : Leh