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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:31 pm
by spacey1
The track gets a little more interesting along the climb up to Taglang La. The road seems to have developed boils. The blisters are everywhere. Keeping one's eyes open is essential.

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With enough lead on the troupe, I have time to park and go for a walk across the stream. There is more than just the riding. There's stopping and smelling the roses... er... air, water, mountains. Fresh and invigorating :lol:

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Tip-toeing daintily across the stream, not wishing to get my feet wet of course... I turn around and :shock: there's a dog! Is it friendly? Does it have rabies? Is it hungry? A million thoughts rush through my mind. But the dog just stops a couple of metres away, acknowledges my presence, has a drink, then disappears as silently as it appeared!

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OK, the gang has arrived. It's time to 'wander' back to ol' 5151 and catch up again. Just want to say that a quick sprint on foot is definitely not on the cards :P

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Again, ever upwards, taking in an aerial view of the valley and streams that I just walked across.

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Dougie stops and poses. Truthfully, it's a rest break. Rushing around is not in our vocabulary any more, on foot anyway. The thinning atmosphere is seriously making it's affect known. The 5,400 metre Taglang La is not far now.

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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:37 pm
by spacey1
So here it is! 5,400 metres, give or take... Not the top of the world but reasonably close :lol: Everest is 8,850 metres. Everest base camp is 5,550 metres. Quick maths... :roll: we are closer to the top of the world than sea level now.

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The view across the Himalayas is, as you would expect, spectacular. The pass is a bit of a tip though.

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Prayer flags abound up here. The colourful flags decorate the barren slopes, and are symbols, blown by the wind, of peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.

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And there you have it. Taglang La, purportedly the second highest motorable pass (5,328 metres) on the planet, Earth that is, for all you martians reading this... This statistic is disputed of course, as is the fact that the highest motorable pass is Khardung La to the north-east of Leh. It's all in the semantics and interpretation isn't it. Anyway, we're high, higher than I've ever been before... on the outside of a jet airliner that is :P

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FYI: It's not particularly cold up here. I'm only covered to avoid exposure. You get sun-burned pretty quickly. I grew a beard to combat same and keep my face and neck warm. Probably wasn't necessary. However the beard always kept my face cosy under the neck scarf/buff :P

Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:29 pm
by spacey1
There's only one way from here, and that's down those awesome hairpin turns to Leh...

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The Manali-Leh Highway is represented here in an altitude map. The motorcycle tour is well planned to ensure that participants don't gain altitude too quickly, which can have devastating effects (including death). It is reported that it is possible to complete the 500 kilometres (approximately) in 11 to 14 hours.
The tourist schedule of three days allows a steady climb rate during the day, then descending to a lower altitude to sleep each night. That's the rule... for survival, ergo living... and I'm a fan of that :)

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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:51 pm
by spacey1
One last breathe-taking view of the high alps before...
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Descending into the sprawling mountain metropolis of Leh at 3,500 metres. We are now in the state of Ladakh, literally, the Land of High Passes. Ain't that the truth...
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That means we made it safely 8) across one of the most dangerous highways on our planet...

Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:02 pm
by spacey1
Now parked up at our hotel, the much-admired Royal Enfields have settled in for the night. We've dumped our gear. Again, us 'oldies' (I'm remembering 'crazy fast old guy') are up on the third floor... :cry:
No breathe left to carry gear and bags up three flights of stairs. That's the affect of 3,500 metres. Gladly, there are porters who eagerly cart our luggage about like packets of biscuits. They're honest hardy folk up here.
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Looking around Leh from our hotel, thoughts of where-to-from-here?

The Shanti Stupa is a must-see...
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The Thiksay Monastery is another. The Shey Palace is on that list.
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The bazaar is recommended. Great for a hair-cut and head massage.
Pashminas and silk rugs are made in this region and nearby Kashmir.
Leh is, after all, on the list of the 100 tidiest towns in India. That's definitely a recommendation :shock:
With Leh as a base, a trip up to the Pangong Lake is not-to-be-missed. It's around 160 km away. An overnight stay at the Eco-Village on the lake to soak up the beauty of the region. From Pangong Lake, there is a short-cut to the Nubra Valley, a desert region and the prospect of camel-rides. The Khardung La (5,359 metres) to the north east of Leh is purportedly (there I go again) the highest motorable pass on our planet. So much to do, so little time... ? now where have I heard that before???

Now if you've been watching closely, you'll notice the proliferation of trees, mostly poplars, all around Leh. It was not always like this. Leh used to be a dry, dusty, windy place, completely desolate except for a little green-ness along the river. About a decade ago, a mass tree planting was instigated. The chosen tree was the poplar. It explains why all the poplars are all about the same height 8)
This has really made a difference to the town. The outskirts of Leh are completely desolate. The tree planting has encouraged a green landscape around the town, and steadied the influence of the wind and the associated dust.
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:51 pm
by spacey1
With a rest day in Leh, prior to our ascent to the Pangong Lake and the Nubra Valley, a handful of us acquired a driver and a mini-van to show us the sights.

The first obvious insight into the Leh Ladakh region is the stark contrast between the lushness of Leh and the harshness of the surrounding mountains. The tree planting was truly visionary. It changed the nature of Leh.

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Urban expansion inches ever closer to the unforgiving mountains.

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There are real space limitations here. Nothing artificial about those buttresses.

Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:27 pm
by spacey1
The Thiksay Monastery is on our hit list this day.

Words of advice on the way to the Monastery...
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This is the place to spin a significant prayer-wheel with a magnificant view. Makes one feel a little closer to heaven... :P
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Visitors should be aware that almost all holy sights in Ladakh involve the inevitable climbing of stairs :shock: The altitude, combined with the heat in enclosed spaces make this quite a chore. Shoes must be removed. Your holy socks will be seen by all.
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If the casual observer hasn't noticed by now, it becomes rather obvious that we are in the Land of the Buddha.
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Dotted across the landscape are stupas. What's a stupa? Well, a stupa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics, usually the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns, and are used as places of meditation.
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The mountain sign, 'Lamdon' denotes the Leh Lamdon School, founded by the Dalai Lama Trust of India. Also note the stupas dotted across the landscape.
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:08 pm
by spacey1
Next stop, the Shanti Stupa.
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It's that way, if you haven't noticed the sign...
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I remember that first time I saw 'maggi' noodles advertised at a rest stop during the ride up from Manali. My immediate thoughts whilst salivating uncontrollably, 'Food with real flavour! that probably won't kill me'.
A little prayer doesn't hurt from time to time... I'm currently in an appropriate place for a little praying... :roll:

You will see Buddha here, in many shapes and forms.
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The Shanti Stupa depicts the Buddha and the many stages of his journey to Nirvana.
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After defeating the Devil, Buddha reclines in Nirvana. Sure looks pretty good to me... Just saying :|
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I'm warning you now... monkey jokes will not be tolerated :|

Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:28 pm
by spacey1
The Leh rest day is behind us now. Time to leave the safety of our hotel and push upwards to the ChangLa and the Pangong Lake.

The crushing tectonic forces still challenge my senses and imagination 8)
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The last glimpse of the lush green valley...
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Blistered from tectonic pressures and heavy traffic, the road starts to deteriote again.
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Random piles of rock are evidence of broken-down trucks or buses. Rock piles are used to chock the wheels to avert a downward plunge to the stark valleys below. The repaired vehicles simply drive away, leaving little reminders to keep riders / drivers on their toes. :shock:
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Out in the distance is our route snaking across the mountains. Looks like there are a lot of shortcuts for the observant. We'll be over there in an hour :P
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The sweep truck passes me again. Someone has to capture the ride. That's our mechanic Ashish peering out the passenger window. He's an ace...
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:49 pm
by spacey1
There goes that bus. Pity those poor buggers (cabbages :cry: ) on the way to wherever (The Greengrocers, no doubt) piloted by some uncaring maniac (delivery driver :roll: ).
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Time ol' 5151 had a rest. The road ahead 8)
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:24 pm
by spacey1
Another icy cold nalla to cool our tootsies. Nice when you find local vehicles balancing on a rock. You'd think they'd have more sense... It does, however, add to the excitement of the journey :shock:
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One of our crew decided to park in the middle. Lucky that rock was handy to keep the boots dry :|
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Here's the our intrepid Port Macquarie vet having go. Go hard, go wet?
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And here's the boss doing his best to wash his boots. Wonder where his passenger has gone? I guess wet feet can be a shared experience too :lol:
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:12 pm
by Swampy
Fantastic Spacey............Keep them coming mate 8)

Swampy

Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:13 pm
by spacey1
Jullay (Hello), it's the ChangLa. That's snow out there. Still not as cold as you would imagine.
More words of wisdom from BRO.
'Mountains are Pleasure, if you drive with Leisure'. Thank you Bank of India for sponsoring this road safety message.
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:02 pm
by spacey1
ChangLa, another high mountain pass altitude 5,360 metres, features a cafeteria. Very civilised... 8)
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Bumped into a bunch of riders from the BMW Motorcycle of the Phillipines. Like ourselves, up here sampling the thin air and the Royal Enfield experience... :P
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He was jolly enough to help out with the photo tasks... Note that I'm wearing our club tee-shirt... just saying :roll:
Love the Kathmandu gortex trousers. They feature a zip on the leg that allows the trouser leg zip to be opened from the top down to keep cool... This keeps the muck off your boots and riding trousers :P
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More wise words from good ol' BRO:
'The Price of greatness is Responsibility'
and
'Nothing great is ever achieved without Enthusiasm'.

When I mentioned civilised, it was 'tongue in cheek'. In this panorama, you will notice lots of people walking away from said cafeteria. They're all trying to find a bit of privacy for toileting. That sheet of galvanised iron is the 'Ladies'. :|
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Re: Himalayas: Manali to Leh and beyond + PIX

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:43 pm
by spacey1
Moving right along, closer to our destination this night at the Pangong Lake.
As in life and real estate, it's location, location, location. Up here, every turn spurns another reason for a road-side stop.
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Our crew is happy for the break.
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Yep, a thumbs-up for a break. Sadly no internet connection here either... those poor facebook friends...
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The path forward. Ol' 5151 patiently waiting to move along...
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