Kinnaur and Uttaranchal
Soon the scenery starts to change, lots of greenery appears and pine forests. There are wooden buildings and the air smells of pine wood. I feel transported back to Kashmir in 1989. (Kashmir didn't have this smell this time round, I don't know why.)
There is a man standing on the side of the road excitedly pointing his finger at my bike. Ah yes, I know, my light is on. 300 m further there is debris on the road and more coming down the mountain. It's a landslide in progress! One rock takes out part of the stone barrier on the side of the road. This is serious. I turn back and take some pictures. People are gesticulating for me to come back; as I do they lower a rope with a red flag they have put across the road behind me! Not a landslide, they started work above the road before closing it.
From here on I have to keep asking the way, as the road splits several times and there are no signs, as usual. I pass Rekong Peo, a big town, but take the wrong road to Kalpa. Never mind, as I wind my way 900 m up the mountain side nature puts on an amazing light display on the flank of Mt. Kinnaur Kailash. I pick up an Israeli as passenger who seems to know a good hotel to check out. When I arrive there in the mountain village of Kalpa I find parked in the front of it the Enfield of Eddie & Co, who I surprise in the dining room. They have ridden two days in almost continuous rain. The panorama of Kinnaur Kailash and the valley below from the hotel's lawn is just awesome.
5/8 I decide to put my feet up for a day and stay here. Eddie and friend set off for Delhi, their holiday is nearly finished. Short excursion to Roghi, a neighbouring village along a road carved out of the vertical cliff face. I pick up a hitchhiker, who behaves a little strangely, until an English speaker tells me he is drunk and drags him off the bike.
I explore an interesting wood and stone hamlet I spotted the night before and Chini, the village below Kalpa. There, I bump into Siou and Jaques again.
The sign says "Judicial Lockup". Note that they don't put a lot of trust into the stonework to stop inmates from escaping!
6/8 It's raining in the morning, but it stops before I leave. The main road, however, is a mud bath. Especially as I miss a turn and end up on a dead-end road up the Sangla valley, passing through a dam construction site.
A short delay while a slip blocking the highway is cleared
10/8 From here on the roads are a lot better, sometimes perfect even. It's almost like a roller coaster ride with all endless corners, going up to 1500 or 2000 m, where it's cool and down again to only a few hundred where it is hot again, all this amid pretty lush green scenery. A very tasty lunch at a dhaba (truck stop), all I can eat for 60c. When I check out a mango tree that they pointed out to me and point out that there is no fruit on it one man fetches me two mangoes.
The border is locked and my bike doesn't fit through the gate all the locals use. The formalities on both sides are very quick, I've never had my carnet processed so quickly. I meet Joshua and Loreen on strange contraptions. They look like mountain bikes that had a moped engine fitted to them. You can buy them from China and as they are below 50cc they don't have to bother with registration, carnets and the like. They do have to pedal uphill, though, and their legs and faces are covered in what looks like oil grime. It would have been a perfect day, but unfortunately, I lost them on the way into Mahendranagar. But, there is but one road East and I'm sure to bump into them again.