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Published: July 12th 2017
Thikse to Pangong Tso
The next morning I rose after sleeping very badly to discover that I had trapped a nerve in my back and could hardly walk. No more bike riding for me. I sat in the back of one of the 2 support vehicles for the last 2 days. This was not as bad as it sounds as I was able to take a lot more photos and quite enjoyed it. Just like driving a section in my trials car! The road led up to Chang La, the 3rd highest pass in the world and down the other side to a green valley with lots of lakes with wild horses, cows and take feeding there. Eventually the road rose over a sample pass separating the rest of the valley from Pangong Tso.
Pangong Tso is a lake between the Ladakh and Karakorum range of mountains. Tso means lake in Ladakhi. Pangong is very unusual in that it is very deep, very cold being fed by glacial water, very big, and very blue when there is a clear sky. It's surround by snow capped mountains which reflect on the water. It is also unusual in that it has no outlet to the sea so is a little salty. The lake is 160km long, two thirds of which is in China, or at least, the land claimed and administered by China! After several photo stops we arrived at the little village of Spanmik. This seems to consist primarily of tourist tents. Ours were very luxurious, or appeared to be at first. The beds were very comfortable and we had glass windows looking out over the lake. There was a lovely shower cubicle with marble tiles and porcelain loo and very modern sink. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, things had not really been finished off. There was a 6 inch gap around the bathroom window, a lovely new duvet but no cover, and worsed of all, absolutely no hot water so the showers all remained unused given the choice of a flanel or showering in icy melt water! The food was also very average and they had forgotten to get any soft drinks or bottled water. This was astonishing. Everywhere in India the is is fresh bottled water for about 25p. Quality is guaranteed and when you are really thirsty, it tastes great.
After a good night's sleep it was back in the support jeep. The bikes all went a little further down the dirt road while Kate, who was still not right, Kristen, our American doctor and I headed off for the beach on the way back. It was bizarre walking on the beach. There were yaks all dressed up ready to be photographed, locals with piles of traditional Ladahki clothes to be photographed dressed up in, food and drink stalls. Just like a British seaside scene, a bit! There were migratory birds who had flown in over the high passes to feed on the lake during the brief season when the lake was not frozen.
Eventually the bikes returned and we made our way back over Chang La and some very rough river crossings, back down onto the main Manali to Leh highway, returning to our hotel and, for most, the end of the trip.
That night we all went out for a last meal together and this disparate group of people who hadn't met 2 weeks before had a really nice dinner, very lively, chatty but tinged with sadness and a lot of emotions that this was the end after all we had been through. Of course we all agreed to keep in touch. A website has already been set up so we can swap photos and video. Can't wait to have a look at this. Unfortunately, as I may have already mentioned, the internet is so atrocious here that it took me 3 days to post a single photo on Facebook!
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