Monday, June 25, 2007

Mission Ladakh Zanskar Siachen 2007 - Day 10

Sasoma – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder – Khalsar – Khardung La – Leh
Sun's first rays play with Siachen's snow - from Sasoma
The morning happened quite early. By now, we were well acclimatized and habitual of waking at 4.30 AM :-) Tea served was amazing, again. We clicked few pictures of the surroundings but truly speaking, the beauty cannot be captured with any Cam. The In charge there told us about the nearest Airport in Thoisse and the Military Hospital there ahead of Hunder.

We retreated back to Khalsar and when we took the turn to Diskit, the road was beautifully created in the Shyok valley. Vast expanse of plains on either side of the road ended when the road started climbing the mountain because Nubra takes a U-Turn to meet Shyok and the valley narrows again.

The terrain changed dramatically. I was waiting to see the Desert but I realized that Diskit was supposed to be before the Sand Dunes, where we stopped for Breakfast. Again, I guess, we were quite early there to our dismay but luckily, one guy reluctantly agreed to serve us. I had 2 Plain Paranthas for the same rate as 1 Omelette, which others had. It was quite filling. Meanwhile, our CMP Officer went on cribbing how we could have had a good breakfast at Khalsar.

We proceeded till Hunder and on the way, got to see the majestic Sand Dunes. We took the U-turn for the Desert there from before Hunder and went till the Jungle in the middle of the Desert. There was nobody to be seen. On observing carefully, all the Bactrian Camels and their owners were resting inside the Jungle – on enquiring, they said, Indians can’t afford the rides so we didn’t come outside. The rate was 150/- for 5 minutes. On bargaining, they had come down to 10 minutes but not any less. I was fuming, absolutely.
Tribute to our Rajasthan trip - and missing comrades
We enjoyed the sand there. Hari tried to capture many terrains in one frame, while we paid our tribute to the Rajasthan trip and our other missing comrades Kannan, Ravi and Swamy. We decided not to go ahead till Thoisse and go back to Leh.
I tried to capture all terrains in One click - Grass - River - Snow - Dry Cliff
On our return, we reached North Pallu, again for Lunch. And for a change, I met a very rare species there – A Baniya Army Officer. We had a good chat and a good lunch :-) We thanked them profusely and left by 2. This time, when we reached Khardung La, the Sun was on the opposite side and we got down to click another round of pictures. Also, the Souvenir Shop was open and I got inside to buy something. Coffee Mug was out of stock; hence I got a Beer Mug, on much pondering. Meanwhile, I had invited Hari to click all the not-for-sale memorabilia of the Place inside the Shop.

JK Tourism's Logo shows the bias against Ladakh - Just a Shikara and that too Sweet Blue!
Terrible Marketing Myopia!

Ribbon-Cutting at Khardung La in 1973

We reached Leh well in time and found Javed there. Today was the day, when we were supposed to finalize whose Car we would take for Tso Moriri and Manali. Pangong Tso trip had been changed to a single day making us come back to Leh.

We got out to the market and started trying Uncle’s phone but it was either unreachable or no reply. Eventually, I decided to go to his home. We reached there and Aunty told us that his cell phone must be silent otherwise there is no problem. And yes, it had been silent. Well, Uncle explained all the future plans ahead and the place to do billing the next day, after we return from Pangong Tso. He told us that the rule with the Army hired Civil Taxis is that they would take 50% of the return journey. We calculated the distances and told that Leh to Manali via Tso Moriri is 610 km and return would be 475 km. So Total Bill would be for around 850 km and hence, it was decided that we would go ahead with this plan.
They offered to have the meal with them but we had to refuse them as the Julie Aunty, back home, had prepared special dishes for us. It was well past 9 when we got back, and found a new member there. It was my friend’s friend – Oliver – a Frenchman, who teaches Skiing for 8 months in French Alps and runs this Guest House in partnership for 4 months. We had a good chat over the delicious meal, although, Aunty and Uncle looked bored simply because we were talking in English. We wondered – how they talk with Oliver for the rest of the time. I made the call to Javed, explaining him that we would not take his Car for even the final time. Inside, I was very guilty of taking back Business from him but I couldn’t have helped it.