Coming back to life - Zanskar, August 2017

Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
The next morning, we had Leh in our sights. We stopped yet again at the Riverside café just ahead of Sankoo. Bet all of us just loved the food there. A few plates of Egg fried rice and some coffees later, we were ready to go.

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
We stopped for a tea break at Mulbekh town. After a short break, we were on the road again. About ~170 Kms later, we reached Khalsi. Khalsi, is a small hamlet settled along the Srinagar-Leh highway, with a beauty of it’s own, and of course, possibly having the only wine shop on the way to Leh. We found ourselves a comfortable place to say, got some unlikeable food from the local restaurant and soon got to the point. I still remember the view from the room balcony, seated below a peak, that was perched under a sky full of stars.

Next day, Target Leh. As was the case when we would ride in a group, I would start lagging behind with possibly an increased sense of nervousness about not doing something wrong or getting in the way of someone. The guys asked me to take off as soon as all were ready. And take off, I did. I stopped only when I saw this sign. There was no way the guys would miss me standing here O:)

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
Returning back to the Khalsi-Leh ride. I remember as a teenager, reading about travelogues by then riders, who were courageous enough to venture into these remote lands on a motorbike, capture the sights and sounds and introduce the vision of motorcycle touring to India. Having myself been here in 2001, I had never imagined that I would ride these roads. After having ridden the long straight patches leading to Leh, flanked by army installations all along, sheltered by clear blue skies, I now know exactly what the trip means to a biker. It deposits a lifetime of memories, one that you would share forever and long to come back to again and again and again. A memory that one will reminisce each time the trials and tribulations of a mundane urban life stop making sense.

So we had a 5th member joining us at this leg of the journey. Nelson’s wife Zenobia was due to land the next morning. Nelson went about grooming himself to avoid being labelled a Mexican robber with his looks otherwise. I have silently admired Zenobia’s will and passion and Nelson+Zenobia’s camaraderie with which they do these trips. It’s commendable. Ajay and Nelson picked up Zenobia early at the airport and from then on, silence would remain shattered. This Zenobia naa, she doesn’t know anything. Mad she is.

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
We were put at the LehLing guest house on the 14th August 2017. A beautiful place to stay run by a husband and wife. Leh nights were thoroughly enjoyed with music, drinks atop the rom balcony overlooking beautiful snowscaped mountains. The local cuisine was amazing and so was the zing around the town. Independence day preparations were in full swing with helicopters and planes flying sorties around the mountains surrounding our hotel. We shot this Hero impulse mounted with aluminium boxes, fully sorted to ride the mountains.

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
15th August 2017, we left for Pangong. Not much of independence day celebrations on our route. We stopped midway for breakfast and at this junction, it was possible to completely skip Pangong and head for Tso Kar and then onward to Manali. With the difficult experience of camping at Rangdum in Zanskar, spirits weren’t too high about camping at Pangong. We had to decide if we wanted to do Pangong. And we did Pangong. Today, I am so glad we did the route.

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
We were passing through Chang-La and I got hit with AMS. We stopped ahead for lunch and about 30 minutes of rest later, I was all set to go. The ride to Pangong was beautiful, marked with patches of pools, green grass, mountainous roads and clear blue skies.

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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
We reached Pangong around evening time. We didn’t go all the way upto Spangmik and found some tented accomodations much before Spangmik. They were just perfect. Nelson even managed to find a parking spot inside the tent for his bike. We walked around the lake a bit, got some clicks and soon it was time to get to the point. We were served some delicious Egg fried rice here.
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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
For whatever reason, for the first time on the trip, Allroy had to wake everyone up after falling asleep for another round of drinks. Well, we had to oblige.



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Yogesh Yadav

Travel is the healthiest addiction.
Next day, we had to take on Chushul. Ajay had been on this route before and had said it’s going to be tough ahead. The plan was to reach Mahey and find a place to stay. That wasn’t going to be possible. Chushul was a different animal. Long stretches of desert, tyre marks going in all directions, the sun beating on you but it being cold and windy at the same time. And not a human in sight. Personally, I loved this part of the trip. For the first time, I had the courage to stand and ride with the shoulder holding good. And Boy, that was too much fun.

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