|Kalpa to Nako|
The morning started very early for me, Beni and Suku- since we decided to get to the mech as early as possible. Aiming to reach the mech by 7:30/8, we started off with Suku on 1st gear and his left feet resting on the crash guard. This descent was slow and I & Beni found ourselves fighting gravity with our brakes. We finally reached the mech and had to wait till he came to the shop. The fix that he devised for Suku's bike was awesome- since he would obviously not have the footrest assembly of the new Pulsars, he instead installed the gearshift lever of an old Bajaj-Kawasaki bike and had a welder weld a fabricated iron rod onto the bike's frame, finishing it off with a rubber grip from a Enfield! It seemed rather strong and Suku was ready to go.
After letting others know that we were ready, we made our way up and decided to have breakfast somewhere. Parathas with omlettes and achar- again! I have started drinking tea and eating eggs in order to put off this boredom of the same food everyday but this is also getting repetitive! We saw the Israeli couple ride by while we sat in the restaurant- they really seemed to be on the same track as us!
The trip felt very surreal when I called up my girlfriend- while I was in the middle of tranquil Himalayas with very few people around and lovely hills in the backdrop, she was, quite uncharacteristically, at a TGIF in Queens amidst what sounded a roaring crowd! This dichotomy was stark and at that moment I was glad to be where I was and even thought that I could live here! Being a city dweller all my life, however, I knew that this was a far stretch!
We all started off soon enough despite a short threat of drizzle. As we made our way down, Suku and Dev had an incident where Dev's bike ran over the boot that fell off from Suku's bike- thankfully, nothing else happened. We were accompanied by army trucks on our way and that sort of slowed us down but very soon we broke away from them when we came across his bridge over the river. Bijoor san and Suku were caught behind a army truck, so we waited for them. After the bridge, we saw one of the most amazing roads we had seen in the whole trip. Wide, smooth roads cut on the side of the mountain sweeping for as far as the eyes could see. I was the last to leave the waiting point but I couldn't help but rip on my little bike and rip it did! I felt that the Enfields were huffing at the hint of a bit of speeding as I was passing them.
|The first bridge we came across|
Very soon the good roads mixed with those under construction and filled with rocks and rubble. However, since I had already a good pace, I was about 10 minutes ahead of the rest which meant I could just stop, have a nice bit of rest and rehydrate myself in the dry heat till the others showed up. Soon after, we all were again placed close to each other, stopping intermittently for taking photographs. The landscape had dramatically changed to an arid rocky desert right next to the Sutlej. This was followed by miles of barren mountains with the occasional patch of green.
We got some good news at Jangi checkpost that the roads were open after Nako and Sumdoh and that the Malinga nullah was calm for the moment. Dev was excited enough to want to try and do it today but I guess, the pace of our trip was much slower so we would do that crossing tomorrow. Today, there has been a increase in the number of kids we wave on the road and that also helped bring in a somewhat indescribable feeling of being in the middle of something exciting in our lives. This is it!
We started to look for lunch at around Puh where the roads became miraculously smooth- it was right around where the BRO (Border Road Organization) has its station, hence! We were directed a little ahead on the roads- enroute we saw the same bikers we had seen in Chitkul. They were waiting for fuel apparently as two of their members had passed us earlier on near Jangi. We saw the same Splendor and Samurai in their midst but hunger took over and we continued ahead. We had some "Tibetan" food finally- mutton momos and chowmein. The food was okay, nothing to write home about. A whole troop of army personnel had come over too for making calls or fixing some flat- not sure. The other bikers passed us while we were midway through our lunch- they seemed like they were in a rush!
We passed a loopy road cut on the same side of a mountain that were referred to as the "Kazigs" - seemed like the Himachal equivalent of the famous Gata loops of Ladakh. After that, we all paused together at a place called Kah at a height of 3600 metres- what was remarkable that it was a very small village in the middle of rocky barren mountains and there was one apple orchard rolling down a mountain slope, fed by one of the mountain streams through channels! The view was breath taking and it only kept getting better as we approached Nako. The roads were also nothing much to complain about except for the occasional broken patches. by 6:15-20 pm, we were in Nako. The first sight that we saw was of the other bikers and many other foreigners- mostly Israelis as we learned. Our Israeli duo (brother and sister as we had found out earlier from the mech at Reckongpeo) from Chitkul were also there.
|Everyone contemplates at Kah!|
|We wondered if that could be rain!|
|View from the balcony! ;)|
|Photo session begins|
|As long as the light lasts...|
Trying to stick to the motto (of "The point is to travel, not to blow money") gifted to us by Mr Singh, we tried to find the cheapest good place to stay in- we did. It was 300 for each room and each of us had a great view. A little photo session from our balcony, we went for dinner of vegetarian "Tibetan" stuff-mostly noodley stuff. Finding a working phone was futile and we were officially out in a "remote area"! The loos made me feel like Shaquille o Neal- the doors were so small and the toilet was a mix of western and Indian- basically one squatted and hovered over the "bowl" while they did their business! Bumped my head on the door obviously and got a huge bump too!
This town was busy- there were many trucks which had come to pick up the local produce of famous Nako peas (priced at Rs 45/kg!) and there were many foreigners milling around too. We spoke with a few of the Israelis to find about conditions on the other side of the Malinga. A few of us even saw the little famous Lake Nako but were terribly disappointed so the rest of us just turned in for the night. The other Pegu boys had just bought a stick of 'stuff' but were too tired to even roll one and retired nearly immediately- backache, muscleache et al. It's amazing how much they seemed to be suffering while the rest of us were doing much better!
Anyway, tomorrow is the big day of crossing the much feared Malinga nullah and crossing the Sumdoh area- once we go through that, we should be in good state- that's what we have been told. So, there's a lot of anxiety and excitement.
Total distance covered= 113 kms approx.
Total cost= Rs. 450
[Breakfast= 80 + Lunch= 60 + Water= 60 + Dinner=100 + Stay=150 ]