My trip to India last summer – Part III
I know I haven’t been consistent with this but something is better than nothing, right? Since I’m publishing this on Diwali, Happy Diwali! 🙂
The next morning we left for a trip to the border between India and Pakistan. A town called Turtuk very close to the India and Pakistan border. On our route we had a lot of water shortage therefore we had to stop wherever possible to fill up the bottles so that we wouldn’t have oxidization problem at high altitudes. The road to Turtuk was a very beautiful sight. There were small rivers which were flowing from all the glaciers that had melted from the top of the mountains, and were running through the valleys. The sound the water made was simply amazing.
After arriving in Turtuk, we found a guide who was going to show us around the small village. He showed us how the people lived in that part of the Himalayas and how the agriculture was in that area. On our way from one end of the village to the other, we saw around 10-15 different types of apricots – never in my life have I ever seen so many different varieties of fruit in one place. As we reached the other end of the village, we got to know some background information about how the India-Pakistan war had affected the local citizens and the village. I still remember this place the most – out of all – for some reason. It was just a really beautiful place and it expressed what the Himalayas were all about. Our stay for the night was back in Nubra Valley, so after sightseeing around Turtuk, we started to make our way back for the military hotels; while hoping that we don’t get stuck in a land slide, late at night.
We spent most of the next day travelling back to Leh so that we could leave for Pangong Lake the next day. Most of the time on the journey, we played Antakshari and other time as sleeping. The toll of a long trip was getting to us. As we reached Leh late at night, the food was prepared for us by the military personnel and we could rest.
The next morning, a bad news hit us – the road from Leh to Pangong Tso (Lake) was closed down because of land slide. This meant that if we did leave for Pangong Lake, we could have been stuck there for most of the day and had to come back to Leh to spend an extra day there. So everyone insisted that we stay in Leh for that day and go sightseeing around. I was really pissed off by this decision as we had planned to live in a tent near the Pangong Lake for the night – but I couldn’t get it my way. We visited the school which is shown in the movie 3 Idiots to see what was really special about it, however, I was still pretty pissed so I didn’t bother going in. After visiting there, we went to a monastery which was also at a high altitude and required a lot of climbing. As we reached at the top of the monastery, most of us were out of breath because of the lack of oxygen. The view from there was amazing, however. It was worth the every heavy breath that we took. We took our time there to see what people were doing in the monastery as a Buddhist festival was coming near. We got to wear one of the jackets which the people there would wear in the winter – they were really heavy! As we stayed there for longer, we got used to the conditions there and made most of what we could for that day.
The next day, we finally left for Pangong Tso – the lake I had been looking so forward to! We travelled through another pass which was pretty high up and made our way there. On our way, we experienced some small land slide. It was going to take a long time to fix, so we asked our driver what we should do. Our driver had a friend who had the same job as him and was with a different group of tourists on the other side of the landslide. So we thought, why don’t we just swap the buses, and so we did. We took all our luggage from the minibus and went to the other side of the landslide to get on the other minibus. This was the first time since the second day that we had all the windows for our bus (since two of them broke because of landslide and people throwing rocks at us). After travelling for a while, we got stuck in another landslide – however it was much smaller than the other one so we waited for it to clear – where we saw a motorcyclist do some tricks in the river nearby. It was pretty cool to see. Ladakh is called a paradise for motorcyclists and this guy made us see why people loved it so much.
As we got closer to Pangong Lake, we could see some water up in the distance, it looked really blue! And we knew we were there. We told the driver, please take us ask close to the lake as possible – and he took it literally. He drove us all the way in to the sand that was covering this lake. We then stayed there for three – four hours and after realised what our driver had done. People from all around the lake came in to help us push the bus out of the sand. The tyres of the bus could not get any grip and kept sinking every time the driver would accelerate. As we had a military personnel with us, he immediately called his colleagues to get some kind of vehicle to tow us out of there. This was going to take a while so we though, why not keep trying and see if we can get it out of the sand. And after about 45 minutes of pushing and digging the sand, we finally got the bus to move. It was the most relived I had felt.
As we all got ready to go back to Leh for our final days stay, we saw the machine that the military personnel had brought to get us free, however we just told them that it was all cool and started to go on our merry ways. That night was the last night in Leh, so we all stayed up really late, telling each other stories, gossiping and so on.. It had been an amazing and memorable journey so far and we didn’t want it to end.
The next day – our last full day in J&K – we decided that we would travel to Sonamarg and stay there for the night as we didn’t want the driver to do the Srinagar – Sonamarg journey again (after all the rock throwing experience we had on the first day). We decided we would go to Sonamarg and hire two cars which would drop us to the Srinagar airport the next morning. With this all said and done, we set off on the roads of Leh for what would be the last time. This was also the last time the military was going to help us in our journey so we took down their numbers, and told them that if they do come anywhere near my home town, to be sure to visit us. On our way back, we were reliving all the moments from the start of the journey and seeing what we had missed out the first time we went on these roads. Everyone was getting sad that we were leaving such a beautiful place behind. When we reached Sonamarg, we had to find the hotels to stay in as we had not planned for this earlier in the trip. We went all around the town to see what places would be the best and decided that since it was the last day, we might as well stay anywhere. And so we did.
The next morning, we had to say goodbye to our driver. He had become a great friend of ours. He told us many stories, history about the place and even joked around with us. It felt weird that in just 10 days of a trip, we had gotten to know each other so well that we felt sad for leaving him. As we took the final group photo, we waved goodbye. We had two cars which we hired to go all the way to Srinagar airport. In our car, my chachi and her sister started crying – most likely because they didn’t want the trip to end but they also wanted to go back home too. It was amazing. We had a small journey and we discussed what we liked and what we didn’t like about the trip and made sure we would do a similar one in the future. After arriving in Srinagar, we saw a completely different city than we did on the first day. There were people outside! People were on the streets, there were cars on the roads and it was a completely different city. When we got to the airport, we had to do some extra screening since the area is very sensitive to bomb attacks. We then went into the airport and boarded the flight. This marked the end of our Srinagar/Ladakh trip which was absolutely amazing.
The trip isn’t over yet though. I’ll write that in another post! 🙂