Trekking from Kaza to Langza and Komic

2014-09-29 at 10:28

Time to hit the mountains! Lothy of Spiti Holiday Adventures did write us the list of guest houses and the next morning we started the trek. Four years ago I went up the mountain behind the temple to get to the first village. This time he told us to take the road round the mountain. We where on the street for a few minutes when we hitched a ride all the way to Langza. I do not really recall traffic in the mountains but it looks like everything does change here as well. So it was a lazy day of not really walking a lot.
We did check into our home stay and they did not remember me. I remembered grandma for sure. Last time when we where here it was her birthday and there was a party in the evening.

Trekking to Langza
Langza did not change too much – a few more buildings. Makes me wonder how they make the money to afford all of this. A new house and lots of children? They can not “make” more farm land. Strange!

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Grandma – still active round the house

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Lunch

Trekking in Spiti Valley
The kitchen sink – in the living room

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Grandma is in charge of the heating material construction. Animal dung rolled into convenient balls so they fit into the small oven in the living room. She forms it and dries it in the sun. Later it gets stored on the roof till they need it in the winter.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Another new house

They told us that there is a horse race from the lower part of town up to the temple. So we went to the temple. There where lots of people gathering down in the valley but no horses. After an hour or so we decided to walk back to the house again. That race never took place. Guess it would be nice to take a few pictures but that way the horses had a nice afternoon.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Where are the horses?

Trekking in Spiti Valley
On the roof of the temple

Trekking in Spiti Valley
His car – his sister has her own car so they do not fight.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Little sister was happy to dance in the evening sun

Off to Komic

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Who knows – I might be back one day again. Next time I will bring a few pictures from this trip and the last one to give to the owners of the home stays.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Our home stay in Komic. I did stay here 4 years ago as well. The room with the open window was ours. Great view of the mountains!

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
View from our room

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Close to the harvest season so there was no time to collect dung for the grandmother here.

Trekking to Komic

Trekking in Spiti Valley

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

2014-09-22 at 21:07

Good Morning Viet… err India!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

Sweet dreams – sweet dreams of something I do not remember any more but it was sweet for sure. Helena and Jathin did secure an early lift out of the valley towards Batal to catch the first bus that makes its way up from Kaza towards Manali. So it was some stuffing, puffing and movement in general and it was way to early to wake up. So I did try not and it worked not. I was sure that they would say Adios before they take off but they did not. So there was no hugging and “Have a save trip” and “See you again baby”. Instead it was another nice dream. Why not?

Since Miky and me had only a “I will help you to find a ride” from the other camp site organizer we had no idea when to get up. But somehow about 8 one gets a bit nervous as it is a long hike to the road and we wanted to make it to Kaza the same day. So I popped the head out of the tent. Miky was awake so I could go easy and pack the bag – which is not really fun. Than there was coffee or what the boss of the kitchen sold me as coffee and some food and another coffee and then good news. A couple was going to drive to Manali and they would give us a ride. Since that was the only car it was even very good news!
Turned out that they had a new Toyota and that this one was made in Thailand. Globalization me thinks. Still it was the best ride on that trip – at last the in the newest car – that is for sure!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Our heros! They had breakfast and left – thank you again!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Inside the restaurant

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
It doubles as shop – so lets take a look at the inventory with the eyes of an investor. On the left they have the light that has to burn all the time. Some laundry detergent, toilet paper, glasses, light bulbs and what not. But than – that big display full of Lays and Kurkure. PEPSI that is. Than we take a look into the drink section: COKE and more Pepsi! In the middle of nowhere with limited shelf space and after all that years he has his shop here. I imagine he knows what his customers do shop for. So that is where i would spend my money – great dividend stocks on top of that! Than he had a lot of Nestle sweets like BarOne (if you ask me the best chocolate bar you can get in India!) and KitKat at the counter. Not to forget the Maggi soups that merged with Nestle in 1947. Sorry Cadbury chocolate fans. Your choice of chocolate sucks and the stock sucks as well. Here you go: Mondelez International. We close that box right here before I get to many angry mails about my choice of chocolate or stocks.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

After some tasty food we had to find transportation. There where some locals that did wait for the bus to Kaza which is the biggest city in Spiti Valley. Also the owner of the restaurant did confirm that there was no bus so far today. Good news! Still we wanted to go right away and not wait for god knows how long. It did rain a bit on the way from Chandra Taal and the wind was cold. There is not really a lot of traffic so we had to wait a while. Than two trucks slowed down. We did ask them for a ride. Since there where two guys in each truck we had to split. No problem. This time I had less space and less music in the truck. I can handle that!

Trucking into Spity Valley

I was in the first truck since I wanted to make some pictures. And if the trucks are close the second is in a cloud of dust usually. Also you have the back of a truck in most of the pictures. At last the one you shoot straight out of the front window. So Miky did climb the second cabin. Lucky me – I just did not know now. My truck was bigger but had more power or it was a better driver? Anyhow we moved a bit faster. I would say we made an average of 18 km/h while the other truck did 17 km/h. Yes again – that is a bit faster than 10 miles per hour.
Which is not fast at all. Still better than standing in the cold wind or waiting in the restaurant for a bus that might not come at all.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Nice view without a truck in front!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
More nice view

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
At one time my truck did stop and the guys where walking from house to house to ask for whatever. Since they did not speak English I could not really communicate with them and had no clue what was going on. After about 45 minutes Miky finally arrived. His truck had a flat and they had to change the tire. And it was raining of course when they had to do that so he was not really a happy cat. My truck did not go nowhere that day – we found out because the guys in his truck did speak a bit of English. They where nice and I could squeeze in to the truck as well. Off we went for the last few hours before Kaza was in sight.

Our Truck
Reaching Kaza after all that slow trucking was so nice – took me a while to recognize from where we came in since last time when I drove in with the bus we came from the other direction. We did stop a bit after the “highest petrol pump in the world” at the temple. So it was only a short walk down to the guest house. The friendly owner did recognize me and was so happy to see me. And I was so happy to get a room at the place. He has a new solar shower so we did try that one before we walked for over the new bridge into town for dinner.

How to make a baby cow happy

First you should find a baby cow – than you can try. I was lucky – on the way to the centre of Kaza was usually a baby cow standing around and it was pretty bored.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Than you have to go over there – not to fast – and talk to her – slow and not to loud – in English. Guess it does not really matter but some languages sound quite harsh and I only speak English and German. Than I try first to get close from the front. Somehow it works well when you let them sniff at your hands. Next try to go sideways and stroke the neck.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Hmmm baby cow relaxes

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Happy baby cow – it did work again!

Lets go for a shave than…

Lets go for a shave than
Since I was on vacation I did treat myself and visited the local barber shop

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
80 Rp Sir! Local price! Sure – guess I did pay double at last. Anyhow – if you ever have the chance to get a shave in India. Go for it. Watch where most of the locals go – that is your place!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
I had a few shaves all over the world so far – the ones in India where the best. I was never cut – which is the most important thing for me ;-)

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Looks good. I did not give a tip since the boss was getting the money but I did send them 2 tea from over the street. Guess they did like that as well.

A day trip to Kibber and Key Gompa

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
After making baby cows happy and having a shave and lots of cheese cake and really good coffee from the “German Bakery” like the one you see in this picture it was time to take Miky to the local sights. After breakfast we walked out of the town towards Kibber which is a small village up at 4270 meters in the mountains. I was never there so I had no clue what to expect.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
We stopped the first tractor and they where happy to take us till they had to drive down to the river to fill their trailer.
Than we walked a bit till the second tractor stopped. Very happy with the short wait for our second ride we climbed on the tractor. There was a girl from Kibber on it that did speak English so when the tractor stopped after a few minutes she told us that the guy did something wrong and had to drive back. So we walked with her for about 15 minutes. We passed a few locals that rested at the side of the road. They invited us to sit for a while so we took a short rest as well.

Take a rest with the locals
They waited for the bus that should pass here “soon”. Everybody is waiting for something in India all the time. But waiting for these buses in the mountains is really boring after a while. And it can be hours or minutes – one never knows.

Take a rest with the locals
After 10 minutes and some small talk we decided to move again. And what was just crawling round the corner after 1 minute of walk? A truck going all the way up to Kibber! We stopped it and they where happy to take us up the mountain. The truck was full of small stones they like to use for road building. So it was heavy and the ride was smooth – compared to the bumpy ride in the tractors.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Some random house we passed.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Somewhere along the way a few minutes before Kibber I took that picture of a village on the other side

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A few houses in Kibber. We where not really impressed with what we saw so we went to the first place on the right for a lemon soda and a salad. A friendly couple from the Dutchland was taking a drink there as well. It turned out that they rented a car and wanted to go Comic or somewhere. Since we are some kind of lazy day trippers I asked them for a lift and they did drive us all the way to Key Gompa. Now what to say – they did go there in the morning so they drove 10 kilometres more just to drop us there and had to drive all the way back to the other junction again. Thank you!!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A tourist that was looking for the beach in front of Key Gompa.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A friendly monk did give us a big tour of the gompa and he showed us even the old sleeping room of the Dalai Lama. The new one is in the making since the Dalai Lama wants to visit next year again when he is in the valley to open a new monastery. 4 years ago another monk did show me the gompa – but not this room. But than again another room that this one did not show us this year. Very interesting don’t you think? Hmmm maybe not!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

Key Gompa in Spiti Valley
Key Gompa in Spiti Valley – looks quite impressive from this site. It is 4166 meter above sea level so if you come by foot and have to climb up all the stairs you better be fit!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
On the way back to Kaza we did meet the guys that gave us a lift up to Kibber again on the road. Too bad they did drive the wrong way – up the hill and not down to Kaza.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
We had to walk quite a bit since there was next to none traffic and the few little cars that passed did not take us as they where full. A French tourist that had a drink in the same café in Kibber did pass us in a big taxi jeep that he rented. Do you think he did stop? Nope! Merde!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Finally another tractor – and we where back in the race. I had a good ride all the way till about 2 clicks outside of Kaza.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Since our tractor went up the hill we had to switch to the blue tractor that you can see here behind our first one. It has a roof and if you are not super small you can not sit straight. Really uncomfortable – almost makes you want to stop the tractor and walk the rest of the way. He drove us all the way next to the gas station where we said “Thank You!” and walked back to our guest house.

From Keylong to Kunzum Pass and than to Chandra Taal Lake

2014-09-18 at 20:40

After our nice but short night in the worst dorm ever (see the blog post before) we walked down to the Keylong bus stand. The bus left on time – in the middle of the night.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
The bus did stop at a tire shop. I was afraid that something was wrong and that it would take a long time to fix it. Turned out that the guys only wanted to say Hi real quick and we where on the road again. Still hoping to be in time for the next bus connection.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Quick tea stop somewhere – did not see a single tree since Leh – no clue where they got all the wood and if they burn it like that every morning – no wonder there are no trees.

Lots of fun workers at the junction

After a few kilometre that took hours the driver dropped us at a junction. There was a tent and actually 2 tables and chairs. Great – at last we had some tea. And it was only about 30 minutes till our bus should be here.
Than we had some food and i had a coffee. Mike did boil some water and did wash his hair. The Polish do find useful things to pass time – that is for sure. There was a Border Road Organisation camp a bit further down the road. Since it was morning about a hundred or more workers started to walk towards the road to get into their transporters that would ship them to their work place. Some did start to crush big stones right next to our breakfast place with small hammers. An army of ants if you will. And next year they start all over again after winter did mess up with the repairs again.
That got a bit booooring to watch after some time as well. Of course after about 90 minutes the second bus from Keylong did pass. The driver and conductor (which I managed to bribe yesterday) did wave from up the road. Great – we could have slept a looot longer.
Since nobody knows when and if the bus would ever come it was time to take matters into our own hands. We moved from the tables and did try to hitch a ride. Which is not so easy since there is next to no traffic. After a long while truck driver number 3 told us that his friend is here in a few minutes and that we could ride with them after their breakfast. So we broke our team into 2 and got into the trucks. A long and very very slow ride towards the Kunzum Pass was waiting for us.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Inside our ride: Jathin feels the temperature with his tongue! No idea how he does it and i could not prove his claim since i had no thermometer to check.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Lunch break – here we were reunited with Team 2 in the other truck. Hitching in the truck gives you a good view since you are hight up and have a front row seat. We did an average of 18 km/h or 11 miles/hour so one has plenty of time to enjoy that fine view. You have a lot of space as well if you only have one driver and no copilot. But there is the problem with the music! I dunno why but our driver had a killer sound system and where I wanted to put my shoes he had a big sub woofer. All super so far – only his taste in music was a bit different from mine. Too bad. Good thing that Jathin was with me and they did talk most of the time so he did turn the music down most of the time as well.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Happy to take a leak and get some food – me too!

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
These places look all “Same Same but Different”

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Many hours later than expected our trucks did stop at Batal where a few simple restaurants serve hot food and refreshments.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
This is where we run into problems. Our driver had one smoke to many and was suddenly very very tired. So he did fall into a deep sleep and it looked not very likely that he would start his truck for the next few hours. Since we have to hike down to Chandra Taal lake from Kunzum and it was late afternoon already we had only two options. Stay over night in one of the restaurants or find another ride. The bus did not overtake us so it would come at one point – or not. The minutes go with the wind and clouds. A couple from Israel did rode in with a complete fucked up shock absorber. No way to go further. So we had at last somebody to drop our advice and thus something else to do than watching clouds. After a while 2 guys with a big Force van pulled in and a bit of back and forth and 250 Rp later we continued towards the pass.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
This is how it looks when you sit in the back of a Force van and look out of the front window. Just if you never been in one before that is. If you look at my pictures you will notice that they have the same strange green tape at the steering wheel as the truck driver. Makes me wonder if the plastic at the wheels in India is such a crap that it does not last long or if they think it is better? I have to ask next time. If you know – please let me know in the comments down!

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
I was not really sure if we ever reach Kunzum Pass but look – we made it!

Kunzum Pass is 4551 meters (14931 feet) above sea level and it is the gateway to the Spiti Valley if you come from Lahaul Valley. All traffic will drive from the road around the stupas and the bus stops here for a break.
When i was here 4 years ago there was a lot of snow at the Shigri Glacier which you see at the picture above. Global warming?

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
This is a picture from 4 years ago. If this is the future there will be no more snow in a few years. Not nice to take pictures and very bad for all the people who depend on the water.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Wind powered prayer wheel

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

We went up to Kunzum because from here it more or less only downhill to Chandra Taal lake. At last that is what a Spanish hitch hiker told me. And of course it is not really true. There is some up and down as well. He was hiking from our lunch stop to another rest stop and somehow he did not realize that this is a 6 hour hike or something. In the middle of the day and hot sun? Lucky that our truck did stop. Anyhow – I had to switch the flip-flops with boots, get all my stuff into my bag pack which was than at last 10 kg to heavy and we did start to hike.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
This is how I look with all my gear and wind from left. No clue why people can not manage to take a picture of me without cutting my shoes – hmmmm.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
I hope you did enjoy the pictures without me bla bla bla all the time? Great. Well here is angry Miky from Poland again. No clue why he is unhappy all the time? Even with his hair nice and fresh washed. Please note that he sports shoes, trouser and shirt from SALEWA – they do give him that stuff for free. If you have to give away free stuff – contact me please. I will wear it myself or find somebody that will! Thank you!

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake

The sun was about to go down. Even the sheep wanted to go home. Since there is only one path we had to share. They had 2 dogs with them and they where not happy with us strangers in paradise.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
They dogs keep a respectful distance at last.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
The goats where friendly and more interested in visitors.

Finally we did reach the camp site before Chandra Taal lake – the sun was gone and it was not really friendly outside. The wind was now not only strong – it was cold. After a bit of negotiating Helena, Jathin and me did share a tent for 700 Rp. Mike had his own tent and after dinner I went and did sleeeeeeep.

That was fine till the other guys came into the tent. Helena was in the middle and decided somehow that she need way more space as there was. She managed to steal half of mine and I can tell you right here: I do not really like to sleep in a tent!

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
The bathroom in the morning. Everybody has to brush his teeth at the same time. I was a bit upstream and took a bath. He he – I wonder if they tasted the salt from my body? In my defence I have to add that I was there first and since I was naked I did not want to wait too long to go into the water. The water is freezing up there so it did not really took to long. After it up to the tent again and we had some breakfast.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Our kitchen tent on the right. It doubles as shop where one can get hand knitted socks and snacks as well.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Than we went to the lake. The sky was not really nice that day so it does look a bit dull. Well who can know that before.

From Keylong to the Kunzum Pass and Chandra Taal Lake
Actually we where lucky. Next morning the wind did start early and it was raining as well. But that has to wait till the next blog post!

The Road from Leh to Keylong

2014-09-17 at 14:00

After a few days in Leh we had enough from the endless noise of Leh. All the tourists that need a Royal Enfield to go from their guest house to a restaurant and back, all the cars that go up and down and in between the military trucks and what not. Also Helena and Jathin where running out of time. Since you need an expensive permit to go to Nubra valley and then have to get on an organized tour we decided to go to the Chander Taal or the Moon Lake since you can walk there from the road and do not need a permit.
That requires a two-day trip on the mountain roads of India. The first day is a piece of cake since you only need to book a bus from Leh the day before or simply show at the bus stand in the middle of the night. We had our seats and tickets and a friendly taxi that put us in front of the bus in the middle of the night. Money well spend since we could sleep about 1 hour more.
The bus left more or less on time – great. It was another hard day on the road. But the landscape is really nice. Here are some pictures for you:

Still in leh
We did pass a few military installations and picked up some soldiers with guns. That gives you that really “save” feeling. One of them was sick for most of the drive. Hmmm how can you kill the enemy when you have to throw up all the time?

Snake of PotHole
I name you “Snake of PotHole”

The Road from Leh to Keylong
Big sky and nice colours

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong
Stupa at the second highest pass in the world

Temple at Taglangla Pass
Temple at Taglangla Pass

The Road from Leh to Keylong
Mr. Miky does the tourist pose

The Road from Leh to Keylong
The other side – this is where we will go further

The Road from Leh to Keylong
Our ride – the good old Tata bus. Hard to kill and hard on your spine.

The Road from Leh to Keylong
The inside of the temple. I was the only one to take a look. Strange!

The Road from Leh to Keylong
That middle of nowhere feeling

The Road from Leh to Keylong
I gave the driver and the conductor a Coke at the breakfast stop. That was the best bribe ever! I had seat number 2 and 3 for myself for the whole ride – from dust till night! And the last few hours they put me on seat number 1. That was an upgrade from business class to first class! And there where many passenger that climbed the door and wanted to sit at number 2. Only in India!

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong
At first everybody will keep driving till the vehicles face each other. Than after a few seconds everybody starts to wave hands – in the vehicle and then out of the window. If the other vehicle is a truck or a bus than it takes some time. If it is a car usually the car has to back up. Since the car drivers should know that after a while it really puzzles me how they drive right in front of the bus all the time. And all the time we could save if the drivers would only stop where the other one could pass. Incredible India!

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong

The Road from Leh to Keylong
There are lots of rivers that come down the mountains. Sometimes it makes you wonder how the small cars can manage them. With the truck or bus it is more easy because of the big wheels.

The Road from Leh to Keylong
Finally we arrived at Keylong. We did find out that we have to catch the 5.30 bus to a junction so there where only a few hours to sleep. A few drunk guys did try to sell us rooms. With the usual how much and how far i decided to go with one of them. He wanted 70 Rp. I showed him 5 fingers – he stared at them for a second. Than i told him 50 and he did agree. I even gave him my bag to carry – and a 20 Rp tip. He was happy and smiling. Turns out that our room was a shitty dorm. In fact the worst dorm ever. Which was fun again. For a few hours that was our new home.

%d bloggers like this: