Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 3: First Excursion: Pangong Tso at Leh & Laddakh

 We started really early since it was a 4 hour drive to Pangong Tso. We had to take a hard decision of leaving my brother and his family back in Leh so my brother could rest and recover from the fever!

This drive is NOT for the faint hearted. Even if you have minor motion sickness, I recommend Dramamine. Eat light and definitely fluid up!!
This drive was probably the worst drive of our entire trip in Leh! For only one reason: It is too 'curvy':
Case in point:

We crossed Chang La Pass (17590 ft. above sea level) and second highest motor able road in the world. Oxygen is really thin, so besides some quick pictures, I don’t recommend stopping here at all. My father got really light headed and we rushed down the hill so he could get more Oxygen.
But I definitely managed to get some pictures for sure!

All of us became pro's at getting 'O2 stats' checked out everywhere. This is the most important stat here. Don't take it lightly. Remember what I said: Acclimatization is a real thing!

The views on this drive are breathtaking, no doubt, but you need a really experienced driver to maneuver these cliffs. Both my daughters slept on the way up and down, since they were feeling very 'woozy'
Here are a few drive pictures.

Of course the minute you see the lake, the Tso, all your travel woes are washed away. It is simply astounding. The reflection of the clouds and the surrounding mountains on the take is like looking in a natural Mirror. The lake gets its color from really high limestone content in the water and hence the lake is also "Salty" We tasted it of course!

The locals claim, this was the original sea before Africa and Asia split (remember Formation of our planets) and hence the high salinity of water!

This lake is 35% in Indian Borders and rest in China. Incursions are common and hence a higher Army Control here. There are patrol boats in the water all the time. Again, since we were with the Indian Army, Sudhirji, the Army Jawan accompanying us and keeping us company helped us to get an exclusive boat ride in the Pangong Lake on Army Patrol Boats. Needless to say, due to security reasons, I cannot take or post any pictures of this. But this was definitely a mesmerizing blue and drive in the boat!!

Here is V pretending to ride one of the 'Dingy' boats!

Getting Maggi at this altitude of 14570 ft. is amazing. 

Knowing that our drive back was equally tiresome, we all took it really easy on lunch. Since 3 Idiots was recently shot here, most of the cafes are themed after this movie. I didn’t want to leave, but I definitely wanted to be off the steep drive in Day time. With a heavy heart we left.

Right outside the Tso, we stopped by and saw the local animals: Goats, Horses  and we had a poser, so of course we took some more pictures.

Sudhir Ji, was recanting stories of how avalanche in these areas is common in winters and hence the roads are closed for all public. But Army needs to do what Army needs to do. We saw 3 Army trucks in the cliff below struck by an avalanche. It was so disheartening, Lives lost!

On the drive back, Little Lady got really motion sick and started throwing up. Sudhirji stopped by an army medical area; we got all our O2 checked. My dad grew weak and needed O2, all taxis/ rental cars are equipped with it. Yeah, I know, it sounds scary, through the trip we realized this is really normal and as long as you are pro-active and take care and take it easy, its fine.

Don’t be macho- listen to your body and really ask for help.

I made the mistake of carrying Little Lady in my arms from the car to the medical station (20 ft. walk only). This did me in really well! I was huffing and puffing and due to lesser oxygen due to 'exertion' I was also a little low for the rest of the drive back.

When we returned back to the guest house, we all just passed out on the bed, exhausted!!! Though I was still dreaming of the lake, my body had no energy left. Trust me, as soon as I returned from Pangong Tso, I had claimed, no more, let’s just stay local!

But after a delicious and light dinner, and loads of Limca later, we sat with our Army hosts and planned the next few days: a 2.5 day trip to Tso Moriri and the India-China Border.

And then I re-looked at this picture and reminded myself No Pain, No Gain:

A good night's rest and ample encouragement from our Army hosts, we agreed and excitedly prepared for our drive!!! Trust me, tonight.. I really felt like why we are torturing our bodies…..

But this picture more than made it for me

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