Monday, 17 August 2015

Day 10  Leh to Kargil. ( 230  Kms)

We leave at 7am but already the narrow streets are clogged with fume spewing vehicles so it’s a major herding cats” exercise trying to keep everyone together, including a fuel fill up stop , and on the right road to Kargil. The road is good (if only it were like this most of the time) and so we cover a fair bit of ground before a chai stop at Nurla.

The only high pass is at Fotu La (4120m) 13500’ but is as well that I have the liner insert in my jacket because it starts to get very cool at this altitude. 

and then down

Somewhere beyond here, I go down again on a corner covered with loose gravel. Probably too much front brake but this time I land on the right side which is better. Enfield doesn't fare so well and I take out the front light.  

A lot of people don’t realize that despite the temperature being low, the solar radiation at altitude is very high and you can and up getting a very painful sunburn.  Inside a helmet, it’s necessary to slop the sunscreen on your exposed face and use lipbalm.

There's plenty of this:

We get to the tent camp at Kargil about 3 and the guys who run it are very welcoming, serving a local drink - but as becomes apparent, there are some things that need to be attended to before they can attract people who want a reasonable level of comfort. The beds are a sheet of ply with a thin palliase layer on top and VERY hard and the water supply to the attached ‘bathroom’ is non existent.
For some reason, the ride boys are responsible for one of the evening dishes - a mutton based dish but I notice that there is a bowl containing about a fifty cloves of garlic and a lot of chillies. The 10kg of meat is parked on a log and there’s a combo act with a chopper and various hands reducing the mass to manageably eatable pieces. The ‘food handling techniques’ preparing it are fairly non existent so maybe the spices and the boil over a wood fire got rid of the bugs.
I’m too scared to even try it, the boys having warned me that it might be a really good idea if I kept away from it.  It’s things like this, that impress me, because they resist the opportunity to have a bit of “fun” and “burn“ me,  because there is no curd in the kitchen.  

I get a lot of ragging during the night about Team Australia’s performance (crash- and so all out) in the points table and so I have to convey the idea that the psychological pressure, as the team’s only rep, is enormous. Again I realize how good these guys have been and made efforts to include me.  However a lot of the time when they’re all together there’s a very loud frantic Hindi dialogue with lots of laughter going on. In spite of this, going with a Indian group has been a good choice and when I’ve crashed or needed help, the care has been great.

The Line of Control is only a few hundred metres away and the area has been in the past, over run in the past by Pakistani insurgents, but the heavy presence of the Indian army seems to be keeping the incursions across the line to a minimum. It all seems very safe and quiet now but apparently not, as I read in the paper, when we get to Srinagar.

The Indian army is appearance wise, very impressive, the guys being slim and wearing smart uniforms and looking professional. I know that looks aren’t everything but even on a good day, Aus soldiers can look as if they’ve climbed out of a dumpster. Their bases, many in Kashmir, are absolutely devoid of any of the rubbish that generally litters the Indian landscape.  

No comments:

Post a Comment