India - Part 2


21/6 The muezzin next door with his screeching voice wakes us very early again and we are soon on the road. It's a beautiful blue sky day and stays like that, so we get to see all the snowclad peaks for a change. Just after lunch we arrive in Rangdum, the first Tibetan settlement and our stop for the night. There are only a handful of houses, but three eating places. We are at 4000 m altitude, so we take it very easy here.












22/6 The track gets very rough from here on, but there is almost no traffic. I pick up a passenger, a schoolboy, who I give a lift to his school, which is adjacent to Rangdum Gompa, the first Buddhist monastery we visit. A monk shows us around and Gilles takes some photos. We cross the Penzi La at 4494 m. From here we make it to Padum, where we check into the Mont Blanc guesthouse. It really is a family affair, they sit down to eat with us at dinner time. People here are very friendly. We meet Jo, a French lady who has hiked here from the South on her own. Quite a feat.


 I arrive too late and the top of the Penzi La to stop the cattle beast from devouring the prayer flags.




23/6 Gilles takes Jo on the back of his bike and we ride a few km to Karsha, where we visit another gompa. My bike has a bad day, it doesn't want to idle or run at slow speed. I guess the idle jet in the carb is blocked.





24/6 Work day: Gilles' starter motor is making some grinding noises, so we take it apart and lubricate it. On seeing all the unpacked tools my bike gets a fright and decides to run properly again, so I don't need to take the carb apart after all. 25/6 The chain guard extension that I had made in Sharjah has broken in two places. The local mechanic can't fix it, he has hardly any tools, so I get him to remove it and throw it away. Too bad.



26/6 All too soon we have to leave Zanskar and we ride back to Rangdum for lunch, marred by a severe migraine. After Rangdum the sky darkens and finally it starts to rain a little. A couple of stream crossings carry a lot of water, in one of them the whole track has turned into a river over about 10 m, which makes for hair raising riding, but we make it through OK. Obviously, it has rained more than a little higher up in the mountains. It supposedly never rains in Zanskar, except of course when Peter The Rain Man arrives. In Parkitchik we check into the "Alpine Hut", which is occupied by a large school class, but we get a good night's rest anyway.

Indian road hazard

27/6 Blue sky and we enjoy the ride back to Kargil, where we check into the same hotel and recover our excess luggage that we left here.