Day 13+14, 29.9. + 30.9.2011 Leh Ladakh
I reach Leh on the 28.9. about 5 p.m. and look for a guesthouse. I find only crappy places or they are fully booked. I was told the best place to be in Leh is around the “Main Market”. On my way there, I hear two guys calling me. I turn my head around and can’t believe it: It’s Helly Frauwallner and Stefan Rosner from the Austrian Rally Team! They are here for the Raid de Himalaya 2011, the highest rally of the world.
Just a few words spoken, they ask me where I’ll stay. As I have no plan yet, they tell me to come join them. We go out for dinner talk about their upcoming race. Helly is very interested in my journey too, so I talk much about my adventures in Iran and Pakistan. In return, Helly tells his adventurer’s tales about “Tour Nordlicht 2007″, “Rally Mongolia”, his trips in South America and his race at Paris-Dakar 2009. If you are interested to learn about it too, point your browser to http://www.helly-frauwallner.at
Stefan Rosner participated at the Raid de Himalya 2010 and won the 3rd place! Excellent result for a rookie! At this year’s edition he manages the Contiger Rally Team Austria and produces a video with his company BOMB THE BEAT FILMPRODUKTION.
Enough to talk over some beers at a bar! :)
A photo shooting with the Austrian Rally legend and his team is a must!
Helly is keen to test ride BigBertha: “Tom, that’s a bloody big bike you’re riding in the Himalaya’s – impressive!”:
We have breakfast together before the team hits the road again. They have to go back to Shimla, where the Rally will start on Oct. 11th. I’m thrilled to be here in the Indian Himalayas during this one of a kind race. I spend a few hours on my room to make plans for my trip around Leh. I still need to go back to Amritsar / Whaga border to extend my Carnet de Passages. Also, I need to be back in Delhi by Oct 21st. How could I possibly see some parts of this exciting Raid de Himalayas? We shall see.
In Leh, I also must obtain some “inner-line permits” for the Nubra Valley and the Pangong Lake, as these are the disputed territories with Pakistan and China (Tibet). I walk around the main markets, but the tourist offices tell me that they’ll need a minimum of 2 applicants for the DC office. Finally I find one agent, who promises that he can get it done until next day.
I want to see a “Gompa”, a typical Tibetian temple, but find it very hard to walk uphill. Leh is “only” at 3500m above sea level, but the recent altitudes at +5000m seem to have weakened me physically. Later I will find out that almost everone struggles with the conditions at the arrival in Leh. You need a few days of adjustment. So I decide to have lunch at a random place and order a chicken cheeseburger. I hear some German words from a table next to me. It turns out that these guys, Simone and René, are from Austria and they came on the same route to India via Iran & Pakistan, 2-up on a KTM 990 Adventure!
We spend hours of talking about our experiences and further travel plans.
A couple at the next table seems to follow our talks and get involved. They are overlanders, too! What a gathering. They went with their truck through the Stans and Siberia, but brought their vehicle back to Germany. They couldn’t find a cost-effective way to enter India. After a rest in Germany, they decided to continue their trip via public transport. Goal: Australia!
Many stories told, we go to sleep but well meet tomorrow for breakfast again.
30.9.2011, Leh Ladakh
I meet with Simone and René for breakfast at the “Happy World restaurant”. The rear break pads of their KTM 990 Adventure are seriously worn. René wonders if he can make it to Nepal without replacement. We check if my spare break pads might fit. They seem to have exactly the same shape, but the ones for BMW are thicker. We check on the Internet and our bikes need two different part-numbers indeed. That’s not too surprising, but it was worth having a check.
Meanwhile, two Swiss girls join our table and we have a fun morning. The breakfast gets extended to lunch, but after coffee we all decide there is more to do in Leh than just chatting: Let’s have a power-nap! :)
I take the guys 3-up (Asian style) to their guesthouses:
I decide to finally do some sightseeing in world-famous Leh and want to see the “Shanti-Stupa”.
View to Leh from there:
I really enjoy the place. It’s very peaceful.
Upon my return to the bike, a bunch of guys are hanging around it. They point to my rear tire and say: “Puncture, Puncture!”. Indeed, there is a metal part, which certainly doesn’t belong there. However, I’m not very keen on getting this fixed in front of many spectators, so I return to my guesthouse.
WOW, that’s a serious nail!
That’s my first puncture on the entire journey from Austria to India – over 27.000km!
Great opportunity to test my kit. As my BMW R1200GS uses tubeless tires, I brought the POCKET Tire Plugger from Stop & Go. They have a quick tutorial on YouTube.
That was a quick fix. I was done in about 5 min. Here is the result:
While having my kit out, I decide to also change the tire valve and do some other maintenance like checking the gear box oil.
Tomorrow will be an early start. I’m planning to cross “Khardung La”, the highest motorable pass of the world!