Zanskar Since February, when we started planning for this trip, the name Zanskar would constantly haunt me. Tales about a remote land, rugged, cold, unexplored and with roads in absentia were everywhere. The need for extensive preparation with respect to equipment, fitness and mental strength accompanied those tales. I had googled images of Zanskar to get a fair idea of what lies ahead. Sejal Sheth’s travelogue helped a lot however preview pictures don’t really do justice to actuality. This being my first motorcycle journey ever, Zanskar being on the list was both a laurel to be added and a cautious note at the same time. 8th August 2017. We left Kargil around 10 AM, destination Rangdum. We stopped at Riverside Café just outside of Sankoo village for breakfast. We hugely recommend Riverside café on this route serving delicious food and the most amazing coffee to be enjoyed with sights of the Suru river flowing by. With Breakfast done, we continued towards Rangdum and passed an Army memorial on the way. Nelson had been on this route years ago only to turn back just outside of Sankoo due to the horrible condition of roads back then. I remember Nelson being hugely annoyed this time because we were witnessing just paved roads. So were all the apprehensions about Zanskar going to be confounded? I wondered as we rode along. I didn’t have to wait for long for an answer. Just suddenly, the paved road vanished, and it started to look like this. We then stopped an army outpost to document our vehicle registration numbers. With the documentation done, we were ecstatic that we were now truly underway. And knew that loads of off-roading was up ahead. We stopped for some water and noticed children playing in an adjoining field. Me and Nelson had carried some goodies to be given to children on the Zanskar route and here was an opportunity. Now what we did not know (we found out about this when we were returning and stopped at Riverside Café again) is that the space we had parked at Riverside café had dozens of nails lying around. As luck would have it, one of those nails got embedded into my rear tyre. I was going through a puddle just after seeing off the kids and suddenly lost traction on my rear tyre. I immediately realized it was a flat tyre and struggled to push the loaded bike out of there. By the time I was done getting the bike out, I was breathless, confused and struggling to keep my breathing down. AMS had set in. Allroy and me offloaded the stuff from my bike while Nelson and Ajay who were far ahead turned around to check on us only to find us with a flat tyre. This was it. Time to put all the puncture practice done leading upto the trip into action. Ajay, Allroy and Nelson worked on the tyre while I lay down trying to get my breath back. With the puncture done, we moved on. For reasons unknown, each time I would get hit by AMS (I got hit twice on the trip), riding on, would in fact improve it. Maybe I am one of the weird ones. We stopped at this cut off bridge in Parikchik that takes you to the Nun-Kun peaks for some tea. That’s the Nun peak in the background. Nun or Kun? Kun or Nun? One of them for sure. The road ahead was no road ahead. Streams, rocky terrain, mud, gravel, almost everything was thrown at us all at once. I drool when I begin to explain what a joy it is to ride the Royal Enfield Himalayan on these roads. It is well and truly built for this kind of terrain. It is sheer pleasure and a faithful companion to have on this kind of terrain. I particularly enjoyed going through streams on the Himalayan. The tall front end would make it all seem so easy and enjoyable. My special moment on this day was when Nelson rode upto me and put up his thumb and shouted ‘Superb riding’. That coming from Nelson had me singing with joy upto Rangdum. Finally, we made it. And treated ourselves to some delicious Sabzi, Dal and Chapatis at the La Himalaya Guest house and Restaurant possibly the only eatery in Rangdum. We put up our trip sticker on it’s entrance. Next, it was time to find a lonely, suitable spot to camp for the night at Rangdum.