15th July, 2008.
Route: Hunder – Diskit – Khardung La – Leh.
Distance Covered: ~126km.
The day of camel safari.
After another lazy start to the morning, we were at the Dosa Corner canteen operational in the Army base at Hunder. Had a round of Dosa’s and Idli’s after so many days of eating Butter-Toast, Maggy and Parathas.
Hunder, a small village in Nubra Valley, is the last point in Nubra Valley where tourists or visitors are permitted. Beyond this point is the army area, the valley further leads to Siachen, the world’s costliest and highest battlefield. Hundar is one of those rare places on earth where you can see in one place the splendid beauty of a desert with Bactrian camels (two-humped), sand dunes, rolling mountains and snow peaks. We reached hunder by 9.00 am; spent some time took some snaps and then it was time to move on. All of us except Madhavi took camel safari. Madhavi wanted to have her snap taken riding a camel but before she could seat on the camel properly, mary, the camel got up; madhavi had a mild fall. My camel called dum-dum was the laziest camel while mary, the only female Bactrian camel, was always in the hurry. The day and experience ranked one of the best in the trip.
When we were returning from the Diskit monastery, we saw a kid dancing on some laddakhi song and a person video recording it. The plan was to reach Leh as soon as possible and ride non-stop, except lunch break. We were riding at much higher speeds, partly we had seen all these roads while coming to Hunder and partly the weather was too hot today. Somewhere on the way a guy riding a scooter overtook all of us; but more or less remained in reach with the group; we were surprised to see somebody riding scooter so fast on such roads. Scooter is the most preferred 2-wheeler of the people around the Leh region(because of stepney).
The check posts at Khardung La are called North Pullu and South Pullu. The climb to the Khardung La, while returning from Hunder is from the North side, we reached Khardung village and decided to stop for lunch. The guy, riding scooter along with us, also stopped, later, after introductions, we realized that the guy is actually a lyricist, singer, music director, music video director, and producer of Laddakhi songs called Thinless Dorjai. Later he took few video shoots of us riding on Khardung La.
The climb this time was little difficult as the road from the north side is worst and to complicate matters further we met the army convoy coming from Leh. As if this was not enough we met another army convoy after crossing the one coming from Leh, this going towards Leh. It meant riding behind the Convoy on the watery roads (result of melted ice because of hot day) of climb to Khardung La pass. Riding behind the slow moving, thick smoke emitting army convoy is not easy. Though army people had been helpful through out the tour so far, when it comes to convoys they do not give side to overtake so easily on the mountain routes. We managed to cross convoy at the top and started immediately, without spending much time at the top, as it would have meant riding behind the convoy again; anyway's we had to again overtake nearly 20 more army trucks on the downward journey to Leh. We directly stopped at a place 8-10km from Leh where an army truck had fallen in the valley few hours before. The way that truck was crushed, it was a horrifying site. We reached guest house at Leh by 5pm.
After evening snacks at the German Bakery, roamed in the Leh market, Sudhakar and Manoj did last minute shopping and returned to the guest house.
Tomorrow would be the day of return journey.