Monday, September 6, 2010

Surfing the Himalayas from Leh to Manali


Lift at the back of army car.
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From Leh I wanted to go South to Manali. After the floods the road was open but it was much longer than the old road, since the floods destroyed 20 km of the old road. There was detour which make the road much longer and much more bumpy.
This would mean two days for 12h/a day in a "roller-coaster" bus (instead 16h by the old road). I almost decided to go by this bus but on the way to buy a ticket I met Maciek from Poland. We immediately agreed to try to hitchhike together to Manali, preferably on the big lorry - TATA next morning, which would be a bit slower than the bus, but would be more comfortable and I would have for sure more space for my long legs.

Dall on our shoes.
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Next morning we met shortly after the sun rise and tried to go in the direction of Manali. Unfortunately none of the big trucks was going in this direction. I guess the the quality of the detour did not allow the big lorry to go this road. But nevertheless we decided to go and with 4 different cars: with Tibetan Monk, bus, with solders, on the lorry full of sand (which was like surfing in Himalayas),

Missing road.
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we managed to get to Upshi to the place where the detour to Manali starts. Than we changed our plans and decided that it is much nicer to hike around the old, destroyed road to Manali than to drive so many additional hours in the bus. So from Upshi we departured in direction to Rumtse (around 31km). The road was very beautiful and for the first 5 km we were lucky to get a lift with the army truck which was bringing the food for the road workers. Well... they did not manage to get all the food, since quite a bit of dall, which was in a simple bowl end up at the floor and our shoes because the road was really bumpy. The work on the repair of the road was in

This was luckily not our TATA.
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progress, and if in India someone says that there is no 20km of the road, this literally mean there is no 20km of the road. In our case in the place where there supposed to be a road there was a river. So the way involved quite a bit of climbing around the non-existing road, over the river. Luckily at the end of the day we manage to reach Rumtse.


In the morning there were two vehicles going through the nearest high pass, and we managed to get the lift with them. After the pass we noticed a large group of Nomads tents in the valley. After short conversation with Maciek we decided to stop and try to stay with Nomads for next 24h. Our driver was a bit surprised, but we hiked across the valley to Nomads, communities who use to travel place to place for livelihood. The group consisted of 14 Tibetan families and 22 Ladakh families, and each family has around 200-400 animals: goats, sheep and yaks. We stayed with one family in their tent, eating their food (rice with the soured milk from goats and yaks, and chapati - Indian bread with yak butter) and drinking lot of black tea, czaj or Tibetan tea (tea with yak butter). Sour milk was delicious!!! We also played some card games with them, we managed to teach them the game called in polish "Makao", which they enjoyed a lot in the end.

Nomad's child and Maciek.
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In the evening all the animals were fetched back from the meadow to the neighborhood of the tents. It was an ocean of animals around the Nomads tents. The goats were stripped/milked and after dinner and the last "Makao" game, we went to sleep in the Nomads tent. And this was for sure the coldest night in India. Actually one of the coldest in my life. We were on the altitude 4500 m in a very big tent, with quite a few holes. I was waking up a few times in the night with the idea to jog around the tent and hoping for the sunrise. Luckily sunrise happened and shortly afterward the Nomads woman started the fire in the fireplace and offered us delicious black tea. In the morning they stripped/milked goats again, as well as this time also yaks. The animals were taken to the meadows and we departure to continue our journey to Manali.



It took us only one hour to reach the road, where we stopped a car for a short ride to finish our detour trip. We stopped next to the tea tent where many big TATA were going to Manali, and one of the driver of empty petrol lorry agree to give us the ride.


This was our TATA.
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Did I ever complain about the quality of any kind of road? Did I complain about Srinagar to Leh road? Did I ever complain about the quality of polish roads? If I yes, I hope I will never complain about this in future, because all roads that I experience till now were smooth like a German motorway in comparison to the bumpiest road ever to Manali. Luckily we were sitting comfortable with the stretched legs in the big TATA, enjoying breathtaking views of Himalayas. After the whole day of driving, in the evening, when our driver was very tired, we stopped for the night. We were going in a convoy of three petrol lorries, and our driver was so nice that he went to sleep in another car, so with Maciek we had the whole lorry for us to sleep. We started in the morning and in 4 hours we reached Manali.

Here I was flushed with the green color and amazing waterfalls. In this moment I realized how dry the area that I spent last few weeks were.

9 comments:

  1. W Manali musicie pójść do tybetańskiej knajpy, jest w połowie ichniejszych "Krupówek", po prawej stronie ulicy schodząc w dół. Fantastyczna miejscówka! A opowieść piękna, czekamy na kolejną relację!

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  2. i'm missing my Himalaya!
    Good luck! Mikołaj!

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