From Keylong to Kunzum Pass and than to Chandra Taal Lake

September 18, 2014 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

September 17, 2014 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.