Toughest day of the trip. Most km we have to cover. Riding 350km in a mountain like terrain crossing 4 high altitude passes of more than 15000ft, crossing water streams is not an easy task on any given day. Start you day early at 6AM and expect that you will reach leh by late night around 8PM.Highlight of this day is Baralacha pass, Sarchu, Naki La pass, Morrey's plain and Tanglang La Pass.
Tryst With the Shepherdess of the Glaciers in GyaThe final destination of my trip was Gya, one of the earliest settlements of Ladakh. A picturesque village close to Tso Kar lake and just off the Leh-Manali highway, I stayed with a lovely family in their home.I explored the village on foot, and in the evening, learned how to make momos and tingmo.
The next morning Varun and I boarded the 4am bus and according to the Himachal Roadways website, the bus was supposed to take 16 hours to reach Leh. Ankur on the other hand took a tempo traveller that cost thrice as much and took about the same time. It seemed like a fair trade-off, money for a little comfort, but boy were we so wrong! After a 16 bus ride, instead of pulling into some Leh bus-terminus, the driver stopped the bus in the middle of nowhere and announced that he’s calling it a day. We must have looked confused but he couldn't care any less. When the busload of passengers started throwing questions at him he simply responded, “the educated people who run the transport department think that one man can drive this bus all the way to Leh in just 16 hours - I’d like to see him try!” before vanishing for the night.This pit-stop along the Manali-Leh highway had a few roadside tented Dhabas that doubled up as a night-halt facility (basically, it was like a dorm tent where you pay INR 200 per person for the night). The lovely hosts soon had their hands full with AMS (acute mountain sickness) claiming one passenger after another. Well, it all makes sense when you consider the fact that we had started the journey from 6000 ft (Manali) and were supposed to acclimatize for the night at 11000ft (Leh). This pit-stop in the middle of nowhere was at a whopping 15500ft!We both could feel the altitude - Varun threw up his food and I barely slept. Maybe that’s why we didn’t mind when the bus conductor woke us up at 5am to resume our journey!
DAY 2 - Monastery HoppingIdeally, on this day too we were supposed to rest. But we rented a beautiful Royal Enfield ( Rs 1200 per day - excluding fuel) and went along the Leh Manali Highway. There are many beautiful monasteries along this way.We visited Thiksey, Hemis and Shey monastries along this route. Each one prettier than the other. At this time it was super cold in the morning and night. But burning hot noons - take precautions accordingly.Close to Hemis Monastery you can enjoy this Zipline. They charge about Rs 800 Per person