Day 15, 01.10.2011: Leh – Khardung La
The highest motorable pass in the world - 5359m altitude
… and the day I lost my left pannier.
I meet with Simone & René for breakfast. Originally they planned to join me for the ride up to Nubra valley, but changed their plans last minute. They feel like running out of time on their itinerary and want to proceed to Srinagar. That’s sad, but understandable. At least we get a photo done:
So I take off solo to the famous Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world. From Leh it’s about 40 km to the pass itself and 118km to Diskit, my destination in the Nubra valley. The road is in perfect condition, so I can enjoy the view down to Leh:
There is a police check post, where you present your “inner-line” permit as well as your passport. These guys are very helpful and friendly and the process is easy. You drink some chai have a chat, take a few pictures and think you have just another great day. Well, this is the last picture in which my left pannier is still there, but first things first.
The remaining road to the pass (some 13km) is bumpy gravel, but you get rewarded soon. That’s a smoother part of it. It’s unbelievable to ride at the peaks of the these mountains, the top of the world:
“You are driving up to the highest motorable road in the world and not a short cut to heaven!”
I better take these warnings serious! Up here you ride on the edge of a steep precipice:
Shortly after I reach Khardung La @ 5359m altitude. Let me tell you! It’s quite an experience to ride your bike up here!
On the way down from the pass, the road gets worse.
The terrain really keeps you busy, you literally have to stop to enjoy views like this:
Suddenly I hear a strange sound, but think it’s from the roadworks or so. Some 15 min later I figure that I lost my left pannier. I turn around immediately and search the road, but have no luck until I reach the pass again. I notify the army guys there, but I’m being told that nobody dispensed anything. They notify the check-posts around and advice me to go back to the last police check point to report the case. A motorcyclist on a Royal Enfield helps me with translation. He tells me that if an Indian truck driver or an Army guy found it, he would be very tempted to open the box and try to sell the content. He will think that he just found a big treasure and I might have very little chances to get it back. BUMMER!
I rush back to my bike to go down to the police check-post. A group of bikers want to take “snaps” with me, but I’m really not in the mood for a chit-chat. Later on I will learn that these are the G.O.Ds, the Group of Delhi Super Bikers, but for now I just have my lost pannier on my mind.
As I arrive at the police check post, the guys already had been informed about my problem, but also there is no sign of my valuable piece of equipment! There is an Army base nearby. I see the convoy of Army trucks that I came across after I obviously lost my pannier, but these guys are not very helpful and don’t allow me to search the trucks. Frustration!
I keep searching around and speaking to various people, but can’t do much more than leaving my contact information and go back to Leh. In the guesthouse I bang my head against the door. After some chai with my host I go to the internet café, but I am told: “Internet down, come back tomorrow!”.
This doesn’t seem to be my day! There is a restaurant nearby, where I order pizza to compensate the frustration. A group of trekkers from Austria join my table. At least I have a nice conversation on this miserable day.
Later I go for a coffee and meet a guy from Mumbai. After he listened to my story of the day, he says:
“Be resilient to find your box. Don’t worry, it’s the best part of a journey loosing things and finding them again. That’s why you travel. Otherwise why would you travel? You can’t travel all this way and loose nothing!”.
“So you think, it’s the best part of traveling, just to loose stuff and be in trouble?”, I’m asking.
“To fall down and get up again is the basic philosophy on such a journey!” is his response.
“But what do I do if my bike breaks down and I’m missing just this small sparepart?” is my next question.
“Than you need to trust Indians, Indian mechanics!” he replies.
The conversion continues. He quotes movies and a story from Ted Simon, his preferred traveler, but I understand his message: Stay positive and everthing will be fine!
“You must be more happier, that you lost your luggage and you can drive easy now, if you don’t have much stuff to carry!”, he goes on. “What I mean to say is you become free in a sense that you have the basic essentials, not materialistic and diagnostic things and stuff, which you can manage without. You need to stop worrying and start traveling. It will be good.”
Wow, what a speech to end this day! ;-) I guess he is right and this is just another lesson to learn for me. Don’t try to be prepared for everything. Let things happen to you!
Anyway, here is how BigBertha looks like as of today. From now on it will be even more fun to balance her through the dirt ;-)