September 2, 2012
Woke up early in the morning, washed up, and rushed to get to the taxi. We were promised a Scorpio by the tourist guy, but we instead got a Sumo. There was a young couple from Mumbai, and a Mallu woman from Delhi sharing the taxi with me. Once everyone arrived, we hit the road by 6:30 AM. We took the highway towards Manali until we reached Hemis, and from there we headed into the mountains. We were to pass the third highest motorable road in the world, Chang La on this trip. The roads were pretty bad, and the ride was pretty bumpy. Even while sitting in the middle row of the car, it felt like I were in the back. But thankfully I had good company, and we managed to make it a fun ride.
We reached Chang La at around 9:30, where we stopped for breakfast. The place was pretty cold, for it was at 17585 feet above the sea level, and I just had a thin sweater on me. I was shivering like crazy. We went into the small shack and ordered some tea to make us warm. I was initially hesitant, but also ordered some maggi to keep me full during the rest of the drive. The scenery was as beautiful as in the rest of my expeditions. We stopped on the way to see some Yaks and sheep. The day turned out to be very cloudy, and we were hoping for them to clear soon, for the beauty of Pangong is to be seen with clear skies.
We finally reached the lake, Pangong Tso, a little past noon. Our driver was kind enough to take us to the corner of the lake where there were not many tourists. Captain Bhatacharya, a friend of Sanjay’s in Kashmir, had told me that this is one of the best places in the world, and it’s possible to get hypnotized while here. Every word of his turned out to be true!! It was just magical. What we see in 3 Idiots is nothing compared to the actual beauty. The clouds gave way for some bright sunshine, and the lake looked stunningly beautiful. I was absolutely mesmerized by it. I just can’t explain or put it in words. The experience was unbelievable!!
The best place I’ve visited in my life thus far!!
I pulled my jeans up and attempted to step into the water. It was freezing cold. I managed to walk in till my knees, and it got better after a while. I spent quite some time playing in the water while enjoying the surrounding beauty. There was no count on the number of pictures I must have clicked. Every sight looked new and beautiful. The driver gave us two hours to spend by the lake, but we must have spent more than three. The lake changed colors so many times in this time. The blue was just beautiful. I just didn’t feel like leaving the place. Argh, I so wish I could go back now again!!
We somehow managed to drag our asses into one of the restaurants nearby to grab a bite before we headed back. All four of us ordered together for some roti, Paneer Butter Masala and Dal, and the food was pretty decent. When we got out, it got cloudy again, and we spent 30 more minutes by the lake side before we got back into the car.
We were driving back, but my heart was still at Pangong. Man, it’s the best place I’ve been to thus far in my life, and I don’t thing I’ll find anything more beautiful. I was suggested to do a two days one night at Nubra, but I would have so loved to do it here instead.
Tip: Chuck Nubra if you have to, but do spend a night at Pangong. Trust me, it’s totally worth it. There are a few tents nearby which need to be pre-booked in Leh. How ever expensive it is, take it, for you will not regret it!!
We stopped a couple of times on the way back to click some pictures. I guess I ate more than I should have, and because of the bad roads, I felt a little sick mid way through. Thankfully I was fine by the time we reached Leh at around 8:00 PM.
I was to find a shared taxi towards Nubra Valley for the next day, but the people I met in the cab suggested that it was not a worthwhile trip. It would have cost me a little more than 2000 bucks, and the fact that they didn’t make it sound enthralling made me chuck it. I still wanted to go to Khardung La pass, which is one the way to Nubra. Our taxi driver suggested I rent a bike and do it myself. Hmmm.
September 2 happens to be one of my favorite days in the year, and a visit to Pangong made it even more memorable. I realized I’ve been spending quite a lot in the recent past, but to celebrate the day, I headed off to Chopsticks, one of the best restaurants in Leh (I did a little research and found out about all the good places to eat at in Leh). I ordered for Singapore Noodles, hoping it would be something spicy like what we get in Hyderabad, but it turned out to be vermicelli noodles. I was a little disappointed for I wished to have something spicy, but it tasted good nevertheless.
Before I went back to the room, I reached Himalayan Adventures and booked a bike for the next day. They didn’t have the Impulse, so I instead got an Enfield Thunderbird for the same price (Rs. 600/-). I was dead tired by the time I reached the room, and I had a long, beautiful day to blame!! Pangong Tso, I’m gonna come back soon!!