Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate the events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. The below-expressed views, opinions or analogies are personal and may not be in line with the widespread conceptions. Please go to Motorcycle Diaries -> India: Ocean To Mountains (or Click here) to check out the previous events.
Date: 17th August 2016; Route: Pangong Tso – Nubra Valley
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more” – Lord Byron
I had a horrible night; I wasn’t able to sleep due to cold and the food that they served at the camp. Though the tent was able to protect us from the chilly wind, it couldn’t withstand the frostbite. Funny thing was, last night we were making fun of people who were farting in the close by tents and as you know, Karma is a bitch. And it bit me in my ass too. Yes, now you know what I mean when I said I had a horrible night. I was dropping nuclear warheads in that region. When I woke up my face was as if I licked a lemon, bitter and pale, but I made lemonade out of it and decided to check out Pangong Lake.
And I was stunned. Despite the fact that I had seen it in pictures and movies, I didn’t expect it to be the way they portray it. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. I could see the reflection of the blue sky in the crystal clear water, I felt like taking a dive but when I checked with one of the inhabitants, he said it was not allowed. And I have a thing, I like to defy people, when someone says “it’s not allowed” or “don’t do it”, that’s the first thing I am gonna do (yeah, I am an idiot at times). Even on that day, I had the craving to take a plunge. But I quenched my thirst as soon as I touched the surface with my bare foot. It was damn cold, so I controlled my emotions and satisfied myself with a ton of snaps. I wanted to stay there until the afternoon so that the temperature would be back to normal and I could fulfill my wish to take a dip.
The problem was the route to our next destination; it’s a stretch where we will not find any help or fuel for instance. It belonged to no man. And yesterday when we were talking to few guys at the camp who had come from Nubra valley, said: “There was no road for few KMs and whatever left off was submerged in water”. Which was expected since they rode after sunset! I was hoping it to be better in the daylight. So we had to cross it before 6 PM at any cost, and we headed straight out to Nubra.
When we checked about the road condition with few of the Army men at Durbuk, they said: “No one has arrived from Nubra this morning.” They advised us to proceed with caution. Things were better at first. Roads were okay and we also noticed few SUVs coming from the opposite direction, which was a good sign. Bur after few KMs there came a point where there was a swamp as big as a cricket ground and we were not sure in which direction we should ride for Nubra. I saw few workers carving a stream to make way for the water in the middle of the marshland. So I parked my bike few meters before the muddy ground and went on to check with them. When I asked for the directions, one of the guys just pointed his finger to my left. Though I was sure that he pointed in the right direction, we decided to follow the trails of the vehicles which had passed before us. The key was to maintain a constant speed, not too slow that we had to put our feet down to balance the bike and not so fast that we would go skydiving. (And it’s always preferred not to make any abrupt maneuver while crossing a land with reduced traction.) We had a tough time riding through the slippery mud and the rocky streams, which was, in fact, the easy part. The hard part was just about to begin; the road under construction was garnished with loose gravel which was not hard-pressed by the Road roller. That caused my tire to dig in as if I was riding straight into the ground. I had to push my motorcycle back and forth to pull out the tires every time it got stuck; and that 200 meter’s stretch had worn me out.
We decided to take a break after that and found a roadside eatery where we met a couple; the gentleman was from Delhi and the lady was a German. She was a nice woman and he seemed like a nice guy, at least he was not faking his accent like the guy who didn’t know Sunny Leone. We had a good time conversing. Then they moved on to Pangong and we took our course of action. The roads were much better after that. We reached Hunder (Nubra Valley) by 5 PM and checked into a hotel at Diskit. Though I was eager to catch up on the lost sleep, I had ample time to listen to some splendid music after 18 days, oh god that made me feel a lot better.
P.S. Just to clarify, Lord Byron has nothing to do with Game of Thrones 😛