First part of the trip, click here.
- Fourth day
we started off from Hotel Chaman just as planned. An early morning start to avoid the traffic at Rohtang Pass. This is quite funny actually. All tourists who come to Manali go to Rohtang Pass for what to have a view of snow. Though it was clearly raining throughout. From reports we heard that it starts raining in evening from 7:00pm or so and continues till wee hours of morning. We did experience the same too. This brought with it landslides at Rohtang Pass. Tourists go till Rohtang Pass reach the top click photos and return to Manali.
Few kms from Manali, there was a big patch of mud on the road from last nights rain. I took my arm to signal others to slow down and thud I had a fall. It was second fall and the worst fall. I did not check how bad it was. But my upper right thigh was paining real bad and so was rest of the thigh. I still managed to ride not showing discomfort. Any signs of discomfort would make all others to stay put. Close to Marhi the bad roads started. Seems there were roads there and laid fresh. Due to landslides it was completely covered with feet high mud and converted to slush. It was making riding difficult and an experience. At many places the bike skid what with so much of luggage behind. At worst parts I asked my brother to take the bike out for me. Keeping my leg hanging gave such a pain. Getting onto and out of the bike was getting worse each time too. There were few stretches where the sludge was real bad. With lack of food and heavy pain on thigh it was only worse. A Japanese guy was also travelling the same stretch and a special mention about him. He was not only alone in the ride, the leg rest was also broken and he had to support his leg keeping it on brake pedal.
At one point after Marhi when we were standing by the side lot of traffic was moving up slowly. Due to the slush, traffic had come to halt too. One of the truck guys asked if we wanted to eat. Another truck guy called me inside and there was mini house inside. They were cooking sabji and offered alcohol and nicotine. They were completely equipped.
5kms before Rohtang, unfortunately my bike stopped and refused to start. Same was the case with my friends bike. The clutch plates were gone, burnt out.
Lesson 2: Keep clutch plates also in stock.
There were GREF (General Reserver Engineers Force) officers who had come to the place in the morning for servicing their bulldozer. After knowing that we spoke Tamil, one of the officers Rajasekar came to us and enquired on the situation. There were two possibilities, either take a truck stop go up to Keylong or take a truck to Manali. Decision has to be made in less than 5minutes time. This was also second real-time soft skill training on decision making capabilities.
The first was team work when everyone had to help in pushing each bike out of slush. This way we pushed all four bikes out.
Taking into account all possibilities, I tell them we would go down to Manali. They load our bikes into their truck. We start off from here by 6:30pm. By 8:00pm we leave Marhi after a brief halt for tea. First sip of tea from morning for my friend and myself. Till then we both have had about 3 pieces of wonder cake and a banana. When we reached Manali it was 12:00am, yes midnight. GREF officers went into the hotel “Royal Inn Palace” on Rohtang Road and woke up the hotel staff talked out for room for us. Then they helped in getting down the bikes.
GREF Officer1: Kyon Rohtang aata hai tourists. Idar kuch bhi nahin hai. Baraf nahin hota hai. (Why do tourists come to Rohtang, there is nothing here, no snow)
ME: Kisi ek tourist se poochna idar kyon? (Why dont you ask a tourist why Rohtang)
GREF Officer2: Neenga en Sir Leh ellam vandu kashta padureenga. Naanga thaan inga kashta padurom. (Why do you come to Leh and suffer, we have no other option)
ME: Adan, neenga kashta padureenga nu naanga anubhavika thaan. (We also want to experience the tough times you face out here)
GREF guys real friendly guys, they even offered to take us around town looking for dinner which we politely turned down. We did not want to trouble them anymore. All this and they also refuse to take single penny. They do not allow you to even pay for their tea.
At 1:00am we walked out of hotel and found a restaurant shutters going down with the owner still eating. We explained our story and got a bread omlette for two of us. First meal in the entire day. And the feeling of bread omlette going through the pipe cannot be explained but only experienced.
We did survive the entire day without eating and still managed to lift our bikes up and down and to sit uncomfortably in the truck. In all we had lost all our energies.
- Fifth day morning
, we are now two days behind schedule. While we should have been riding from Keylong on this day we were running to the nearest workshop and got new clutch plates fixed. This time we took additional ones to stock up for later usage.
Rest of the guys moved from Koksar to Keylong on this day and decided to stay put for us to join them. Beyond Keylong there is no network communication and would make it difficult.
By evening, we got our bikes serviced, had good heavy lunch of almost 7 rotis per person and rice. Still we were feeling hungry!! Also got sometime to check my leg. I was limping down the stairs and was able to climb up or go down only one step at a time. My upper thigh had a big clot of blood which was why it was difficult to move it freely. Applied moov ointment and some hot water. Was walking up and down the stairs like a limp, one step at a time. It would take another 4-5 days for healing but cannot relax.
In the evening, we go around town hunting for a truck who would take us to Keylong. We do not want to risk again at Rohtang pass. Moreover my leg would not allow for an easy passage also. On second thought we go to “Bony Sony Motors” in Old Manali. We talk with him and a truck is arranged for us within 15minutes. Thanks to mobile network communication is so fast these days.
Old Manali is a place to go for. You will find maybe zero Indian tourists but you will find only firang tourists. What is there here? Nothing a lane full of shops with boards calling for trekking, skiing, and other adventure activities. No wonder you dont find Indian honeymoon tourists out here.
There are other things to see in and around Old Manali.
- Sixth day
, morning 4:00am. We both are ready. A phone call to Sonu. 4:30am we are on the road on truck to Keylong. While on the truck we actually realise how difficult it is to sit inside cramped for space and with a paining leg. We stop at Marhi for tea and Koksar for breakfast, maggi with eggs. Wow, so great the taste was. Actually maggi’s tastes so damn good in those places.
Just when entering Keylong, my phone rings. Anita calls from Bangalore and enquires where I am and tells me about the situation ahead. Cloud Burst in Leh. Thanks to her for the warning.
We are welcomed at “Nalwa Guesthouse” with claps all around. And there is no current in the village. And looking out from the guesthouse towards Monastery up on the mountains and the mountains beyond is a view just beyond words.
Three days behind schedule is what actually made us survive, looks so at the end of the day. If there were no delays GOD knows where we would have been and in what shape. Like they say, “Everything happens for ones own good”.
Post lunch we strategise our next plan of action. Now that the route up to Leh is closed for another few more days, the next option is to go down via Rohtang Pass. But a strike of wave and we decide to do the Spiti Valley. Let us go somewhere we have not gone and also make a different tour, so what if we did not get Leh’ed.
We meet a lady with German accent who enlightened as to why cloud burst happened in Leh. China took over Tibet and they cut all the trees over there for development of road & rail infrastructure. Due to this, unprecedented rains are observed all over the Himalayan range in India!! We were about to laugh but the topic got changed to MNS in Mangalore and women oppression.
Night was complete entertainment. We walked into a restaurant for dinner. Two guys started talking with me. We built up a nice conversation and where laughing all over. Another table of diners were very serious and didnt smile still. Now we asked for fork and got to know its hindi name. Then I sing loud “Kaanta lagaa aa aa”. The entire restaurant started laughing including the serious table. The lady who was making food also burst out laughing. Everytime we asked for fork, they would give and sing kaanta lagaa.
Around 9:00pm the current came and we all started clapping and shouting. The place looked very lively in just few hours.