Start of the day
The bus reached Chandigarh around 4:30 AM, delayed by almost 2.5 hours. An accident on the road, rains, and bad road had caused the delay.
Will I be able to board the flight?
I was now worried about being able to reach on time to Delhi Airport. The scheduled departure of my flight to Mumbai was at 11:25 AM, which meant I must reach the airport before 10:40 AM. As the bus moved towards Delhi with the sun rise the traffic on the road started increasing. The bus again stopped at a Dhaba around 7 AM in the morning for tea / coffee. Google Maps showed about 3 hours to reach Delhi. One good thing that had happened was I had got network and good internet speed. So, I did a web check-in and informed the airline about a likelihood of delay in reaching the airport. Around 9 AM we had crossed Kurukshetra, Ambala, Panipat and Sonipat, but were still more than an hour to Mandi House Delhi. From there I would have required another 30 minutes to reach the airport. The traffic on road had increased considerably. It seemed certain that I will not be able to board the flight. I inquired with the conductor of the bus, who advised to get down at a place, on the outskirts of Delhi and catch a taxi from there. As per them that was the best chance for me to be able to reach the airport in time.
Delhi to Mumbai
I got down from the bus at 9:40 AM, in just a minute said goodbye to Pankaj, Lalit and Chandrakant . They were also worried about the delay. I immediately boarded a cab and asked the driver to rush to the airport and help me reach before 10:30 AM. From this place airport was about 34 km away and Google Maps showed traveling time of 1 hour.
The taxi driver made best of his effort, driving at pace and luckily the traffic was moderate, except a few places. I made in time to the airport and went straight to baggage drop. Then on everything was normal. Refreshed myself for a while before boarding the flight. Flight landed on time at Mumbai airport, at 1:30 PM. From there reached home at 2:30 PM. Everyone was happy to see me back.
Sayonara फिर मिलेंगे !!
In these last 13 days, we lived a completely different life. A group of 10 riders from different parts of the world came together. We rode about 1500 Kms, and passed through 10 high altitude passes, 4 of which were more than 5000 m. Met the Indus, Shyok and Nubra. Saw two beautiful lakes and the sand dunes of Nubra. I could ride a bike comfortably after 15 years!!
India is very beautiful, diverse and incredible. We witnessed the extraordinary effort of BRO (Border Roads Organization) to maintain the roads in difficult terrain for Ladakh. Salute to them ! Salute to the Indian Armed Forces ! If another chance comes for a ride in Ladakh, I will like to ride to Karakoram pass.
We saw the simplicity, hospitality and welcoming nature of ordinary people of Kashmir and Ladakh. There are hardships, but the people are welcoming and warm !! To me Kashmir and Ladakh are very beautiful and I will definitely go back.
I thank Wayne, Teja, Sebastian, Baskar, and Rodney. They made this journey more exciting. They each brought a different perspective to the journey. The nights at Sarchu and Tandi (songs and stories around the world) will be remembered for long.
Ride of My Life team (Kanika, Manish and Gaurav) planned this tour carefully, taking care of all the aspects of the ride. Their safety first approach, really was very helpful. Manish our tour leader, shared his experiences and made us comfortable at difficult times ! Thank you Team ROML.
Chandrakant , Pankaj and Lalit made the experience complete. This journey is a dream come true for all of us. Each one of us had thought of taking up this journey, at different points in time. But we did it together !! I am now hearing call from Sandakphu,Teesta, Zuluk, Gurudongmar and the Siyang.
Good Bye, Sayonara, फिर मिलेंगे !!