Start of the day (21 August 2018)
I and Pankaj were awake inside the tent since 5 AM in the morning, waiting for the sun to rise. The wind had stopped. The temperature improved with the rise of the sun. As compared to the dreadful night in Sarchu, the morning was pleasant and beautiful with a clear sunny day. The water was still freezing cold.
We went for a walk around 8 AM. After crossing the road and walking some distance, we reached the Tsarap river. The views of the river and valley, and the mountains from here were very beautiful. Around 8:30 AM we returned for the breakfast. Since we had to ride only 120 Km today, there was no hurry to leave. At the breakfast we inquired about how others managed the last night, almost everyone said that they could not sleep. Later, Fuel was topped up in the bikes and after completing the ride briefing, we left for Tandi around 9:30 AM.
Sarchu to Baralacha La
The distance from Sarchu to Baralacha La is about 32 Km. The road condition was bad. The road was narrow, barely some small good patches, otherwise there no road and loose gravel on the road. There was almost no traffic, however at a narrow turn suddenly a couple of oil tanker trucks came at high speed and blew a loud horn, which broke the silence in the valley and caught us off guard.
After about 1 hour, we came across a large water stream, which was about 200 m wide. This water crossing had lot of water, flowing at high speed, multiple deep points and stones. This was the largest and most dangerous crossing that we had encountered on the entire journey. Manish and other riders had already crossed the stream. Manish was waiting at the other end of the crossing and providing instructions to cross the stream. Only Pankaj and I were left to cross the stream, with Pankaj ahead of me. Pankaj and I asked and Lalit and Chandrakant to get down and cross the stream walking. We then crossed the stream by maintaining momentum of the bike. The time on the clock at this point was 10:40 AM.We continued our journey and reached Baralacha La at 11 AM.
Baralacha La to Zingzingbar
Zingzingbar is about 22 Km from Baralacha La. This road was also broken at most of the places and had several sharp turns. This place only has only 2 or 3 small cafes that sell tea / coffee, chips and biscuits etc. We stopped here for mountain tea and biscuits. The altitude of Zingzingbar is 4320 m. It is located in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It started raining here, so we put on the raincoats and at 12:15 PM left towards Darcha.
Zingzingbar to Darcha
Darcha is 22 Km from Zingzingbar. Now the mountains have become green once again and several small streams could be seen flowing through the mountains. On the way we crossed a couple of water streams. This stream had made the road very narrow and on the other side of it was a deep gorge. We reached Darcha at 1:00 PM, and stopped at a Dhaba for lunch. This Dhaba seemed popular with truck drivers. We ordered rajma & rice and dal and roti. I ate roti, with butter and salt and some rajma and rice. If you are traveling in Himachal your best bet for good food is rajma and rice and parathas. Today, after 4 / 5 days, we had a proper lunch.
Darcha to Tandi
From Darcha we left around 1:45 PM for Tandi. We still had to cover about 40 Km. The road condition had improved, however at some places maintenance work was going on. BRO gets hardly 5 months to maintain this road, then rest of the year the road remains closed.
The landscape of barren Himalayas had fallen behind, and the hills here were lush green. This was the season of monsoon. God made the Himachal Pradesh himself – and made it very beautiful with rivers, green meadows, and mountains. A lot of farming is done is on the slopes of the mountains, and we could see fields of cauliflower. August is the season of apples too and we saw large heaps of fresh apples by the side of the road, ready to be shipped.
On the way we crossed Jispa and Keylong. Now the Bhaga river was flowing by the side of the road. Keylong is the administrative centre of the Lahaul and Spiti district. Around 3 PM we reached Tandi. Elevation of Tandi is 2573 m from MSL. Manish and other riders were waiting for us. There was a fuel pump in Tandi. We topped up fuel in the bike for the last day of journey tomorrow to Manali.
Drilbu Retreat Cottages & Tubchiling Gompa
From the fuel pump on the Leh Manali highway, we had to take an uphill narrow road for a couple of kilometers to reach Drilbu Retreat Cottages. The cottages were at a height of 400 ft from the main highway. Upon arrival we ordered tea and coffee and onion pakoras. The staff allocated us our cottages.
The location of this place is excellent; a score of 5/5. These cottages are located on a hill, and from here we could see the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers. This river is called the Chenab in Jammu & Kashmir. Tubchiling gonpa was in the premises of these cottages. All the cottages were in a row and made of bamboo. One should visit here to experience the beauty.
Hot water was available at the cottages. We took hot water bath, which we could not do in Sarchu in the morning due to freezing water in the tents. After getting ready, stood by the side of the hills, and saw the beautiful views of the nature at its best, and the confluence of the rivers, and took some photographs as well.
Then we went to the Tubchiling Gompa. This monastery is a few centuries old and used by the villagers. It is made using stones. A statue of Lord Buddha presides in the monastery. The visit to the monastery was a very calming experience.
Songs around the world @ the camp fire
Today was the last night and dinner of the group together. The next day we were going to finish our ride in Manali. To commemorate the ride, ROML team had organized a party with a campfire here.
A memorable evening for all of us with drinks and dinner by the side of the campfire. Lalit spoke about traits of everyone of us that he observed on the tour. Pankaj, Lalit and Chandrakant sang some Hindi songs, while Wayne, Teja, Sebastian and Rodney presented some English songs. Everyone talked about their experiences and about the high and low points during the tour. I felt that one common thread that united us during this journey was the love for riding.
End of the day
At the end of the campfire the atmosphere became very emotional. We hugged each other, wished a good night and returned to our cottages. What an evening it was. No barriers of countries, or language. One thread common among all the Pursuit Of Happiness, the joy of the Himalayas, those colorful landscapes and the joy of riding. I kept on reflecting on the journey of last 10 days and went to sleep around 12:30 AM.