Finally on the road to reach the so hyped Ladakh. Had no clue what was in store for me in the next few days.
Having heard a lot about Rohtang pass being a difficult terrain that could have snow walls, started the journey from Manali. Aim for the day was Keylong / Jispa to halt for the night.
Halting at checkpoints, getting papers checked all along the journey simply adds to the experience and thrill of being on this high altitude roads.
Didn’t come across any high snow blocks at Rohtang Pass, and luckily the roads were in pristine condition to cruise at a good speed.
Took a short halt and saw a bunch of Israeli oldie bikers. About 20 of them, all on bullets with 2-3 Innovas carrying all their luggage. Was happy to not be covering these roads in June / July when there are multiple groups of 100s of bikes and cars causing traffic jams.
This was somewhere before Koksar. Met another solo biker, Thomas, who rode all the way from Kerala on his Yamaha RX100. He had covered Spiti and was on the road since almost 45 days.
The downhill patch towards Koksar was in a very bad condition, full of slush and mud. To add to that there was a hold up as all the vehicles had to stop to let the oncoming army trucks go. Landed up hitting the belly of the bike at least 4-5 times with a loud ‘thud’ noise. Luckily nothing happened to the bike.
Took a lunch break at Koksar after finishing the checkpoint business. Spoke with Thomas for some more time.
Had to take another 10 min halt at a section where there was a truck holding the way up. Many of the patches here were quite bad, couple of them were nice and smooth.
By evening reached Jispa and called it a day. Landed up pitching my own tent here at Himalayan Homestay & Greenland Camp with the help of a few workers who were constructing a campsite of sorts.
Went to their dining area for the evening. Met up with a load of different travelers and we all got to talking. Some of them opened bottles of spirits for themselves. One great combination that one of the local folks there made was crushing Wai Wai noodles and mixing onion, tomatoes and boiled eggs with the masala. It was the perfect snack.
Next day started at around 9 AM. Thought of halting today at Sarchu or depending further on the road and time constraints.
Met up with a few fellow bikers who were from Delhi. There was also one couple traveling together on one bike. Kudos to them and their love for travel.
Quite a few patches were bad. Few stretches were smooth and one could enjoy the view. Reached Sarchu around 3PM and decided to go further and halt somewhere ahead for the night.
Could feel the tiredness kicking in. Later ahead met a bunch of sardar cyclists who were riding all the way from Manali, with a varied age group of 20 to 50. Always inspiring to see such a motivated bunch of people.
Reached Pang by evening and decided to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life. After an exhausting day, pitched my own tent at a location which is at the altitude of 15,000 feet. The place where after walking 5 steps one would be out of breath.
Ate some food and went to sleep at 8PM. Woke up at around 10PM with such devastating pain on the left side of my abdomen. Couldn’t fathom what is really happening. Was in the tent all night, without any sleep, rolling away in pain, not knowing what to do or what the problem is.
Next morning at 6AM went to the local tent and had some warm water, which the body rejected and puked it all out. At around 7AM the local doctor came, who gave me some medicines for the vomiting and took some oxygen for 15 mins. Still remember his words ‘Go to Leh, don’t stop at any of the passes. You will be alright.’
Somehow wrapped up the tent and loaded the bike and left for Leh. Didn’t stop anywhere near the plains or Tanglang La, just kept going on towards Leh. At Gayo, saw a small clinic and halted there to rest for a bit and put some more oxygen in the system.
Further went ahead and took the next break at Upshi where a few Maharashtrian army men were dancing away celebrating the Ganesh Festival. On the last stretch to Leh, somehow the sleeping mat flew off. Went behind a few KMs and could find it. Must be my sheer bad luck. Reached Leh and luckily found Tenzin who took me to the guesthouse he was running, Broadview Guesthouse.
Went to bed at around 7PM and woke up again at around 5AM with unbearable pain. Due to circumstances, had no other option but to get onto the bike and take myself to the local hospital. On admission they recommended an ultrasound test. Which resulted in the conclusion that the spleen is inflated and there is a blood clot of sorts. Maybe to them it was a regular case to people who and up over exerting at high altitudes.
Tenzin helped out with the flight tickets and sending the bike via cargo along with the luggage. Can’t thank him enough for being such a helpful person to someone who he doesn’t even know at all.
Being in the hospital for 1 night was also quite an experience. The people who were on the beds, their friends and family. Everyone was such a helpful bunch. One Aunty shared some Tibetan bread and tea. One monk had brought his friend for some problem. Few folks from Bombay were here for their friend. Many of these people and all the experiences can’t be penned down in words.
Got into the flight next day early morning in a wheel chair. Had to avoid walking and putting more stress on the blood clot. To add to my luck, the flight had some technical issue and the aircraft with all the passengers was stranded at the airport for a good hour and a half.
Upon reaching Bombay was taken straight to the hospital by the worried parents. The good news was that luckily no major vein or artery had been affected. Was still kept under observation for a few days to recover.
Learning from the journey is to never underestimate mother nature and never to push oneself too hard.
Yet to conquer the lands of Ladakh and Spiti. Will surely be back there next time.