26/9/14 – Day 1

OOOhk !!, so here I start upon this long awaited journey of mine to the land of dreams, Leh. This dairy note consists of 62 pages. So read this only if you are willing to read it fully. To be frank, don’t praise it unless you have fully read it and liked it. I have written this in a very general manner unlike in any writer’s way. Ok, lets continue. This trip means a lot to me as after this, I shall be taking some crucial decisions in life.

So, the morning of 26th I woke up, and I had two things in mind, one was the journey which was about to start that afternoon and the other was the Mu Sigma written test. I immediately chucked the 2nd thought and started the day. Got up and went to college to write the exam, only for an excuse to meet up my friends. The exam was quite hilarious as I couldn’t solve any of them properly. Anyways, no regrets. I thought, a petty written test for a job in a monotonous software company is nothing when compared to the upcoming tour to one of the world’s paradise. I think that we should never leave a chance to travel. After all, for me, travelling is above all and this is one message that I want to convey to my readers.

“You may have born between 4 walls but you are meant to explore all dimensions of life. Go and explore and let go your handcuffs of burden. ”

So, after meeting and seeing off all my friends, back home, packed my bags and meanwhile, Aarti gave a great news of her GRE score. So, with a happy and contented mind, we left to the airport. I almost forgot all the flight procedures as it was almost an year since I boarded a flight. We checked in and flew off to Chennai.

First Picture of the trip :D
First Picture of the trip 😀

Now, you guys may be wondering, ” Wait a minute !, Why the hell are you going south when you are supposed to go to north ?”

Holdeyy !! My dad lives in Erode, a town in Tamil Nadu. So we had to start our journey from there.

So with full spirits high, we went to Chennai where me and mom visited IIT Madras. It’s a classic old college with best greenery everywhere, built alongside Guindy National Park. We can see a lot of deer’s crossing the roads. Kartik, doing his PhD in IIT Madras is one awesome guy. Greeted us warmly with cool drinks, after a quick 1 hour flight and we headed straight to his hostel.

His hostel, well was surprisingly small but reminded me of my 1st year hostel. He served us sweets, snacks, and we gobbled them like nomads obviously. After that, we walked around the campus and headed to the railway station where we were supposed to go to Erode. The classic Madras station was iconic. The old style of buildings, the trains coming inside the station hall, it was the perfect historic era style. And while I was observing all this, I realized that I forgot my cap in the car. I was dejected to know this. Mom yelled at me for my carelessness. I was one of my favorite caps. And yes, I utterly love caps. Luckily, the driver had it safe with him.

Coming back to the journey, we boarded the train and I was completely exhausted standing for 2 hours. I fell on my berth and slept like a pig. And the Day 1 of my journey ends here. Let’s go to Day 2.

27/9/14 – Day 2

It was 6am in the morning when I opened my eyes and found myself on the lower berth of Errcaud Express. Immediately, I recalled the Day 1 and resumed my day 2.

Mom was narrating how the night in the train passed by. In India, these days, it’s a must to find babies in public places. And yeah, there were a couple of noisy babies here too. She told the scene of all the disturbance that was created last night, since I don’t remember even a shit when am asleep. It was like waking up from the dead for me :p

Finally, Erode Junction was sighted while I was hanging from the train’s door. I find hanging from the door of the train amusing, seeing the nature, grabbing in all the cool breeze, the best part of a train journey. As I was standing and watching the brilliant nature, the sun looked like a red ball and was parallely coming along with us. And then, river Cauvery came, it was beautiful. Keeping those pictures still in mind, with a fresh mind, I got down in the railway station and dad received us with his unique, ever charming smile. I was happy that the family is now together.

Dad first introduced me to his driver, Joseph. We shook hands and he drove us to dad’s apartment. By the way, let me tell you something about Erode. I know that you can refer it in Google, but I want to give a traveler’s view. Erode is a small town in Erode district. It is really famous for the textile industry. Also known as the hub for textile industry in South India. The weavers are known to have the highest paid occupation in Erode. People wear the iconic lungies which look beautiful. People wear clothes which are woven in power looms, mostly Khadi cloth. Now you can Google about Khadi :p

So, we reached dad’s apartment met the watchman, maid who took good care of the dad. It’s also our duty to pay equal respect to the people who help us in our daily needs. The apartment was nice and cute. Dad showed me all his new appliances and finally we had a sumptuous breakfast from Trichi Café. The vadas were beautifully made and was truly ‘finger licking good’.

Dad showed me his office and workspace and it was totally ‘awesome’. It was just like a dream workspace. The furniture, the grandeur was scintillating. Met the staff members over there, stayed for some time, took some snaps and headed back to the flat.

With Dad at his workspace
With Dad at his workspace

Time to head over to the next destination, Coimbatore. Joseph drove us till there. It was a short one and half hour road trip. Though I kept my adventurous spirits high, and was watching the road, I was falling asleep and then decided to listen to some good music. We rode all the way from Erode to Coimbatore in just an hour. Pretty cool stuff. Just as we were about to reach the airport, mom and dad decide to have some curd rice. I was least interested in that business. Reached the airport, checked in bla bla and the wait for the plane started from there. Around 45 minutes after, boarded the plane to Delhi. Well, it was a long flight from Coimbatore to Mumbai and a one hour halt and then seedha Dilli. Luckily, we were in an Air India flight were some good food was to be served. Yes fooood ….. But to my utter disappointment, it was horrible. And a thumbs down over there.

The family en route to Delhi
The family en route to Delhi

In between, mom proposed for a night out in Delhi airport till our next flight at 5 am. In the morning. Now…… this was going to be some sheer adventure stuff. Yep , kind of.

Now, I was writing all this till now in the 1 hour halt in the plane. Perfect time pass rather than sleeping or freaking around. Don’t prefer predicting the future.

5:30 pm – In the aircraft.

Ohh god !!! Baby alert again. Why this every time ??? Like there are babies everywhere and ….. Yeah they look cute, but they are hell noisy yaar. Signing off for now.

7:30 pm – 10100 ft above the ground, flying over Rajasthan.

Conquering the clouds :D
Conquering the clouds 😀

Well, had some awesome snacks this flight. Awaiting for landing in Delhi.

The moment during night flights are the lights that show up down the ground. Whenever we pass by a city, a thin road is lit with lights and ends up with a splash of lights. With such a nice scenic beauty, the city of New Delhi lightened and the approach for landing was made.

The Indira Gandhi terminal is totally world class. It is truly, a spectacle in architecture. You have everything setup literally. With over 62 gates for domestic departures and a lot more. We came out of the airport and the car came eventually. The driver literally raced away in the wide roads of Gurgaon and the guest house finally appeared in front of us. The SBI guest house. Had some real good dinner and slept for the next day where we were to go to Leh.

Day 3 – 28/9/14

2:30 am – The most irritating wake up call one can ever receive.

Dozed off with sleep in the bathroom, somehow left for the airport, the early morning drive, the feel of Delhi airport…. Simply awesome.

Delhi Airport .. Gorging burgers early in the morning :p
Delhi Airport .. Gorging burgers early in the morning :p

5:15 am – About to take off for Leh. Recollecting some good memories with the Illahi song in mind to have a charged up attitude. Further updates coming up.

And yeah, forgot to mention the worst part, the seat belt sucks in this flight. The maximum length fits me a bit tightly. Just hate this -__-

6:00 am – After a 15 minute taxing and takeoff, we are now overlooking the Himalayan range from 10000 ft above the ground. Gosh, the window itself feels so chilled.

Cruising over the gorgeous Himalayas
Cruising over the gorgeous Himalayas

It was such a great feeling to view the snow capped Himalayas. As the aircraft turned, paving it way towards its destination, the hills and the mountains got itself a golden shade after the initial sun rays of the morning fell on the snow. It was such a privileged sight to watch on. On one side, I have no regrets that I came through the air route after seeing the top view of the Himalayas.

Leh’s airport was maintained by the Indian army and it was in between the Ladakh hill range. We were proud of ourselves that we could reach the top most and the last civilian airport in India. This was one of the smallest airport I have ever witnessed. As we stepped out of the plane, we felt the chill of Leh. Winds were flowing at good speeds and the temperature was 12 degree Celsius. Quite cold.

So we put on our jackets, stepped out of the airport, met our guide and set to go to the hotel. During the transit to the hotel, the guide, Mansoor explained how tuff is the hill side life and I also expressed my dream to come here on a Royal Enfield. Yes, one fine day, that will happen.

The Family at the hotel In Leh
The Family at the hotel In Leh

We received a very warm welcome in the hotel. They presented us a white shawl with some traditional embroidery. I felt really happy. Mansoor bhai made us to sit in the hotel’s garden, served us tea and clearly told us not to step out of the hotel today. They have left one day just to acclamatize with the atmosphere in which we have less oxygen. I didn’t give a damn about that but as I climbed 2 floors in the staircase, Haalat kharab ho gayi thi (Doola teeripoyindi), sach me. I couldn’t breathe properly and had to lay down on the bed. So as my my mom and dad too. We took this seriously and decided to stay back and enjoy the hotel. Had some kickass breakfast, had some serious career discussions with dad, had lunch and wrote all this from the scene of the morning flight. Off to explore some sights from the hotel with my binoculars. Hope to get some good view.

9:00 pm – 10 deg celsius , writing this from the hotel balcony.

The afternoon went cool with some exploring stuff. Me, like a soldier (feel ke saath) went up to the terrace of the hotel, adjusted my binos and started observing the hills. Well, not much came into view except the brown rocky hills which were filling the landscape. On every hill, I saw a guy standing and hovering around the place. Well, didn’t excite me much except that What the hell is he doing over there ? Came down tot e room and dad told ” Cmon, lets explore Leh gullies.”

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OK …. We walked down to the street where we came across a market place. Saw some awsome vintage RE. That tempted me a lot. Living on 11000 ft above sea level was indeed difficult. You take a walk down the street and you have a chest pain already. Drink some water, you feel good. So. Following that drill, we strolled for some time and when we came back, the guide gave us a smile in such a way that “ab pakde gaye tum log”. So we had to confess that it was tough. The itenary for the remaining days was set. Mom was having a headache so we aided her with some medicine.

Our hotel !
Our hotel !

Afterall, Travelling doesn’t mean you let go of your health too. It is equally important to take care of ourselves. Better the health, better the fun or even better perhaps.

Anyways, we decided to rest again and woke up at 6:00 in the evening. Lots of sleep made me feel sick. We waited for the dinner call while watching some kickass Ajay Devgan action in Singham.

The dinner was ready and was really refreshing. The walk in the hotel garden after dinner felt like heaven. I gazed upon the stars, strolling in the chilled wind with all your jackets on, couldn’t grab a better moment. Choti Choti khushiyaan.

Well, as I looked upon the next week of fun, I felt that its gonna be some awesome time.

Ladakh, my dream, finally, happiest feeling.

Day 4 – 29/9/14

8:00 am – After a sleep of 6-7 hours during the day, night sleep went horrible for me. Felt really sick. The coziest bed was like hell for me. All I could do is just lie on the bed and wait for the sunrise. Finally jumped out of the cozy world, geared up for the day while the temperatures were going ballistic. Pretty coolldd ….

After having a light breakfast, we set forth to have a good sight seeing.

4:30 pm – Hotel

Ohh …… My Godd !! What a day of sight seeing. And as I sit back and write this down, I can still feel the feeble chest pain. That’s quite a story. We always think that we can rule over nature and body carelessly but in the long run, they impact us hugely. I thought that I can get over this weather easily but took a good toll on me today. Well, started off today on our sightseeing ……. OK leave that health thing for a while and let me tell you people what all we did today.

At the stroke of 9:00 am, the driver was at the lobby. And we started off with a positive note from the hotel, our spirits high, for exploring the Ladakh district. As we were in the outskirts of Leh, the stretch of mountains, the barren land and the road in front of us, made us sit back and watch the sights with serenity. It was like getting lost in the beauty of a hot girl and not caring whats happening around you. Don’t worry, I got some OK snaps and will be sharing.

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We headed to hemis monastery in Shey village, around 35 kms from Leh.As mentioned above, the journey was awesome, mind blowing , what not. After reaching the monastery, suddenly while climbing the stairs, a heavy chest pain started, I wasn’t able to breathe good, my heartbeat increased like hell and my mind was completely puzzled. I observed my mom and dad were happily climbing on and then I realized that I still couldn’t adjust with the high altitudes. Well, somehow, with some will, I managed to climb 30 stairs. Yes, 30 stairs and I was completely down, with headache and rapid breathing. I realized, my body is not what I think in my mind.

Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery

The hemis monastery was built in 13th century AD, yes very old one. It was like all other monastries in the world, the calm atmosphere with the slight beating of the drums filling the air with spirituality and mountains surrounding you in all directions.

See, another tip for travelling effectively, in fact 3 tips:

Feel the location

Feel the location

Feel the location

No matter what, at the end of the day, you have to enjoy the travel, explore new things.

Aerial View from Hemi's monastery
Aerial View from Hemi’s monastery

Well, back to the tour, the next destination was another monastery and this time, I literally backed off and instead had some observation time with my binos. All the locations were filled with firangis and Indian guides, proudly explaining them, India’s heritage.

Next, we headed over to an interesting location, a school were the shooting of the movie, 3 idiots took place. Better I call it the Rancho’s school because people call it like that. The location was beautiful again. Amidst of all this, my beloved chest pain, the spoiler took me back from enjoying the location. Yet, keeping the remaining spirits high, we explored the school.

The Rancho’s school or the lurk White Lotus School was a school run by donations. With over 712 students studying over there, the school has won 7 international awards for their eco friendly initiatives. The whole school is run by solar power which makes it really cool. Dad donated a small amount. Want to see how the school looks ? See 3 idiots :p the school was also in between a chain of mountains.

Rancho's School
Rancho’s School

We drove to our next location, called the sindhu ghat. The Sindhu ghat is the ghat for the worlds oldest river, the Indus river. We were lucky enough to touch the water of the river which existed in their first ever civilization, The Indus Valley civilization. Spent some time in enjoying the nature and finally, we left for lunch.

Dad at the banks of Indus river
Dad at the banks of Indus river

There was a classic café which served Chinese, french, German, and of course Indian.

Shit !! The lights went off !! Gosh these power cuts !!

So, coming back, after the wonderful Chinese lunch, we left for the Shanti Stupa. The glory of the Buddhist stupas is always wonderful. And after having such a good lunch, the grievances doubled. Even if I walk for 5 meters, I was facing some problem. I sat for a while, got some motivation and started to climb the legendary 100 meter slope, I conquered the summit at last :p. I felt ashamed of myself. There’s nothing I could do but rest.Thanks to the low oxygen levels and my sexy body. Feeling a bit dejected, we decided to go for a museum where no hard work was required.

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But, it wasn’t a normal museum. It was THE HALL OF FAME, The Kargil War museum of THE INDIAN ARMY. The museum was dedicated to those brave soldiers who served our mother land and sacrificed their lives happily in the service of the nation. The museum gave us all the information of the brave soldiers, their activities. Weapons, their biggest missions, their institutes, the training phases of the Indian Army in the past. With a patriotic background music humming in the museum, it gave a sense of pride for our jawaans in the army. With the patriotic feel still in minds, we had hot tea and headed back to the hotel, marking the end of the sight seeing day and now, marking the end of my today’s documentation.

And just a hint of tomorrows action, Nubra Valley ……. Campfire …… tents ……. 😀

Day 5 – 30/9/14

6:50pm – At Nubra Valley, chilling inside a tent.

Well, the morning was very very nauseating. It was like a 100 knives pouncing on you in the cold. Yeah, that was an irritating wake up at 3:00 am, quite painful at 5 deg Celsius. I slipped into my blanket and watched TV until my eyes grew red and were about to pop out. I mustered some sleep and woke up again at 7:00. Again, the same headache was spoiling my fresh nascent mood. Keeping the poker face, I got ready and had a medium breakfast. What came next was totally ballistic.

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As we started to drive to nebura valley, we didn’t expect that the whole route would be full of mountains. As we drove up and up,, the oxygen levels started dropping down. My headache was going high, real high. I was feeling drugged. Those 125 km of hill drive got me into serious trouble, trust me. 16000 ft and the body of Vineet Ganti started to fall out. The scenery was however mind blowing. Felt like heaven. There was only one thought lingering in my mind and that is to make myself fit in 2 years and come down and challenge ladakh again in the Royal Enfield. But looking into the present situation, its like calm down and sit tight champ. I was seriously thinking about this.

Meanwhile, the ghat roads, the bumpy smooth pebble rocks were taking the shit out of us. This was going totally unexpected. But after 4 hours of road tailing, we reached Khardungla top (pass), the highest motorable road in the world. 18000 ft above sea level.

Ooo Yess !!
Ooo Yess !!

An irony to remember that — Vizag MSL – 5-10ft and here ….. 18000. Period. I think you people can guess the situation now. As we reached the point, it was clear that there was very less oxygen. Very very less. When I got down the car, I recollected the the scene of Di caprio in The Wolf of Wall Street where the Lemonn drugs act on him. But the case here was that I was unable to stand. I was moving around the spot like a drunkard trying to stand steadily. My head was out of control, I couldn’t withstand the less oxygen. It was totally a drunkard life at that moment. I somehow found my mom and dad and managed to give a pose at the 18000 ft placard. I was moaning around like a drunkard struggling around for some oxygen. Finally, got back into the car and that fell sooo happy.

Keeping all that shit aside, we were feeling proud that we achieved a small milestone. Me, still trying to recover from the oxygen shock, slept through out the rest of the journey waking up for every brake around the corners.

The valley finally appeared and the scene gave me 50% recovery. The valley looked like a paradise, with a stream of blue, light blue water, the small buildings in the huge barren land, the brown hills which looked like a 3D painting, everything seemed like a moment, a spectacle just framed for us.

And finally, we reached the camp. With 3 tents set aside or infact in between the galore of the hill range surrounding us and giving us a blessed view. The tent was really good with good beds, a fully equipped bathroom which comforted us a lot. But we were about to experience the 0 degree action.

The tents at Nebura Valley !
The tents at Nebura Valley !
Outside view from the tents !
Outside view from the tents !
A wonderful sunset outside the camp
A wonderful sunset outside the camp

Off to dinner, cya later :p

After that epic journey, we decided to rest in the tent. With my headache still lingering, we went for some sight seeing. I took some panoramas out of my little photography skills. Dad and mom donned some traditional Ladakhi dresses and we clicked some pictures to mark a memory. The scene around was enthralling which made me click more and more snaps. I enjoyed the moment to the fullest and the headache slowly faded to an extent. We saw some tradition ladakhi dance which made our happy hearts more happier. The cool breeze, the mountains, the valley, the traditional music, what more do you need to make it the moment of the day.

Dad and Mom donned the traditional Ladakhi dresses
Dad and Mom donned the traditional Ladakhi dresses
Camel Rides !!
Camel Rides !!
Traditional Ladakhi dances
Traditional Ladakhi dances
Nebura Velley Panorama. No filter used. Natural color of the sky.
Nebura Velley Panorama. No filter used. Natural color of the sky.

After we returned, I started writing this and had dinner pretty early. God, the soup was soo good.

Another moment of the day while I stepped out of the tent.

  • 0 degree weather
  • Half moon falling on the mountains bringing out a silhouette
  • The sky filled with starts , millions and millions of stars.
  • The sound of the crickets and the sound of silence.

I wish I could capture the moment but keeping it in mind feels much better.

Now, for the first time in my life, a camp tent night. The most unique experience in my life till now.

Inside the tents
Inside the tents

Day 6 – 1/10/14

5:00 pm – At nebura valley hotel

After a nice beating of the cold in the camp, we decided to move to a hotel to keep ourselves alive. Yeah, the night went worse more worse again. My deep sleep was disturbed somewhat at 1:00 am in the morning and from then it was just impossible to sleep. Zero deg Celsius, sleeping on the floor on a mattress, all my woolens with 4 layered clothing, 2 big size blankets, in fact it was just an overload of clothing. I could hardly move and that added a huge disadvantage. Around 3:00 am, still fighting for some sleep, 2 small Himalayan mice were inside the tent. The search started then using a torchlight as it proved to be a perfect time pass. I finally decided to sleep on mom and dads double bed without blankets. Well, I was too lazy to do that too. And that resulted in freezing of my legs. I realized that I woke up at 7:00 am, with utter frustration. I managed to warm up my legs and step into the washroom. The headache was literally killing and I finally had the thought I should never have in the entire trip. Wanna get back home and breathe some oxygen.

After having a feeble breakfast, we started upon a never ending journey bidding good bye to our tent. We drove for around 3-4 hours and went to a hot spring. The bath was really refreshing but still couldn’t help me out with the headache. The headache was killing the heck out of me, and I was beging to feel that I got some disease kinda thing. Moqbool, the tour driver took us to a monastery. There again, mt biggest enemy in life came across ” STAIRS !! “. “Pichha Lite amma !!”, I said to my self and stayed back but had some great view with the surroundings. I took out the skull candy and thought of refreshing my skull with some good music.

Well, this cold was not letting me write at all. My hands were trembling and bla bla. Anyways, so after that, we had some wonderful momos. It was a muslim restaurant and the momos tasted perfect. I was perhaps the lightest lunch of the tour.

The scenery was however awesome. We drove back to Diskit, and checked into the hotel. After a short nap, the headache was slowly recovering. Felt a bit good after travelling for 200 kms with the legendary headache and oxygen problem.

Meanwhile, on the roads, I could see a lot of bullet riders with all the equipment and riding on with passion. Whenever a Royal Enfield came across the road, dad used to taunt ” So when are you going buoy ? ” Well, looking at the present situation, its gonna take a lot of preparation and planning. Step by step.

The hotel was pretty decent, lot better than the camping tent in terms of comfort. Wait wait …. Before arriving at the hotel, we went to diskit monastery of buddha. Diskit is a village which is like the center of nubra velley. So the buddha’s statue was around 150 meters high. The beautiful colors painted on gave it a complete glory. The temple also gave us a complete view of the mountains of the Nubra Valley.

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Dinner time… Cya later.

The dinner was refreshing as usual right from the hot soup till the kheer.

Okay, to be frank, I had no mood to write today. My headache is spoiling everything.

And yes, the the headache was really spoiling everything. I had four sleepless nights all together. Yes, I couldn’t literally sleep for 4 nights. Every night I used to sleep at 9:00 and wake up coughing at 12:00. And I kept on coughing for three hours till both mom and dad woke up. I used to sleep on my mothers lap and moan for my recovery. I was badly missing the oxygen. The nights were horrible, the mornings were still worse. When you don’t have enough oxygen in your body, you tend to have severe headache, you become half unconscious and you tend to lose your body control. You lose 75% of your energy. You just want to sit and keep your head up wherever possible.

High altitude sickness can occur to almost anyone. But the root problem is overweight, your body demands more oxygen if you are fat, but unfortunately, that cannot be done if you have less oxygen like in here. Now, I shall be discussing one of the worst phases of my tour. People may take it easy but it can happen to anyone.

It all started on day 6 – 1/10/14. If you have read the whole article, then I mentioned that I was having heavy headache and I was not in a mood to write anything. In fact am still breathing fast to write this. Yet, that night, we had our usual dinner paratha, paneer etc. After a very limited dinner, I wasn’t able to walk properly to my room. The steps seemed like Mt Everest to me. After every 5 steps, I was standing for 5 minutes. Well, it took me around 15 minutes to reach the first floor of the hotel. As soon as I entered, I was exhausted and was breathing as far as possible. Headache was heavily lingering and chest was paining like hell. I had nothing to think, my mouth was getting really sore, I was blank. I somehow slept on the bed, just hoping that I will grab a good sleep tonight. But things were not at all going good. My sleep was killed at 1:00 am. I was dejected. I started to cough loudly. Still coughing …. Coughing until my mom woke up and I slept on her lap for some relief. Mom was equally sick but dad was alright.

I was missing my home, my friends, my city. With such pain, the missing n all, a drop of tear ran across. There was still half of the tour to be covered. There was still the pangong lake to be visited. There was still the candid shot to be taken at the Pangong Lake which I dreamt of. The tour was incomplete and my sick health started making it fading away.

We still had to get to Leh. We had to cross the Khardungla top again and the roads…….

Day 7 – 2/10/14

The morning was again blank. The cough, the chilled weather, the oxygen, the headache all were rocking my brain off. Dad suggested to go to a hospital now and get me checked. The situation got that worse. I wasn’t able to do even the most basic movements. Even if I did, I would end up in tiredness.

Just then, after an hour, Moqbool came to the rescue. He told us he had oxygen cylinder in the car. That gave me some feeble smile. Headed straight into the car. And finally, the mask was put on and relief came after 15 minutes. I was feeling sad that a guy like me, couldn’t even get accustomed to low oxygen. A msk was put on and I was breathing that gas which I breathed for 20 long years. The same old oxygen.

Meanwhile, mom and dad had their breakfast and we set off the legendary journey to Leh. I still put on the mask, lying on the seat, eyes closed and only concentrating on the breathing. With every breath, I felt some change in my body, especially my head. The headache started to die down slowly and after 30 min, everything was looking normal. And told Moqbool to take the cylinder off. He did so and after reaching or while reaching the Khardungla pass, passing through the rocky roads and curves and after the car was rocking us from left to right, started the headache again. The journey was only half done. 75 km was more to cover. I put on the mask again but this time, the rocky road had put me into more trouble and headache. The oxygen showed no effect when compared to the horrible mountain roads. The only way left was to sit calm till Leh comes and go to a hospital. As we descended the hill, Moqbool took off the oxygen mask and kept it with him. Oxygen cylinders are rented fro 1000 rupees per day. So, out of his generosity, he cared to give me free oxygen in order to survive.

The next destination was the Leh government hospital. Unlike other government hospital, this one was fabulous. Just a 2 storeyed building spread in a vast area will all the facilities. By the time we reached Leh, we were getting black and blue. I was completely down, doing whatever being told, going wherever I was told. We took the consulting form of just Rs 5 and rushed to the physician. Meanwhile, we forgot that it was Oct 2nd, Gandhi Jayanthi, a national holiday and the doctor was to leave for a half day. Luckily, we visited him as the last patients. After examining both of us, me and mom, he told me to admit me in the hospital. Admit ?? Bloody hel !! My O2 levels in the body was 63% which was very very dangerous and I was told to put under the O2 mask for 2 hours. I thought 2 hours was not a big deal. I couldn’t even walk till the ward and dad rushed for a wheel chair. It was getting really dramatic. Every step I took, I was getting weaker, the vision was getting blurred, all of my positivity flushed into air and the last move before getting on the bed was getting on the bed ( Not an MJ move :p). The mask was put on and the wait started. 2 hours later, no improvement in Oxygen. Ok, half an hour more, little improvement. An hou more, some level.

It was  slowly getting clear that I have to spend the night in hospital. Mom preferred hotel but the nurses were insisting for hospital. After a long discussion and dilemma, it was decided that I would be staying in the hospital. The first time was wehn I was 10 months old and after 20 long years am back to the hospital just for reduced O2levels. I was trying to be completely patient as a patient and was looking at the ceiling like a moron. No TV, no entertainment, nothing. Just me and mom lying on our beds and dad sitting on a chair, watching us.

Every one hour, the sister used to come and check the O2 level with a oxymeter. All I had was a good bed, a mask connected to a huge O2 cylinder. While I was lying on the bed, I was having many thoughts. I was thinking of how to get fit and challenge Ladakh again, I was clinching my fist hard with determination while I was getting such thoughts. I was thinking of driving with my bike all over Vizag, beach road with my Desert Storm, like a boss. I was missing my home, my startup, my research work, my lovely friends and those lovely times I spent with them. All this, just breathing and looking at the celing. Meanwhile, the O2 cylinder got emptied and a new one was installed.

I could still never know why Vizag is so important for me. Its like everything and every thought of mine is connected to the city. I cluttered so many memories in just 3 years, made some life changing friends, experiences and what not. The college, OMG, what a place man, and all this was going to end this year.

And I continued to breathe with the O2 levels improving. Our travel guide, Mansoor came and gave me good support, some good dinner and soup. Although, I couldn’t eat much of it as I had nothing going inside my body. All these thoughts let me a bit down.

The night was still to pass. Mom got herself admitted too as she was also not so good. There were four more cases like me and the masks were put on them too. Mom started to interact with them and I realized that I was the youngest patient. People who were as my age were looking after the patients. Sigh ! ….

Slowly night came and I slept happily for the first time in the tour. Thanks to the O2 mask. Ladakh proved to be the most dangerous place for me, bringing me till the hospital bed. Came here like an excited tourist, an enthusiastic traveler with full fuel but ended up in a hospital fighting for oxygen. We never know when things around you will fall apart. Preparation and planning is a must else you end up with problems you have never expected.

But you know what, after all this that has happened to me, I still kept up my positiveness that I will recover and will complete my dream tour. I didn’t give up. I wanted to explore. And there was no one stopping me. Not even the most severe health.

Lucky me, with the support of many people from mom and dad, my guide and driver, the doc, the nurses, I was able to recover real soon.

Day 8 – 3/10/14

To my surprise, when I woke up, I found my self in a hospital. Then, I recollected the previous day. I recollected in a flash how I ended up on the bed, with my mask still onto my face and breathing looking at the ceiling.

It was 6:00 am in the morning. There was pin drop silence, except for the snoring. The bed was real warm and my butt was aching since I slept in an angled position. I kept gazing at the other beds. I was in a government hospital taking in O2 in Leh in ladakh in Jammu Kashmir. 12 hours were crossed and the improvement in the O2 level was pretty good. Now, I was eager to get discharged but still we had to wait for the doctor. I was 7:am and I was not willing to get out of my bed. I hadn’t took a bath since 2 days and this counted the third. So, lying at my bed with the same thoughts. 8:00 am, a nurse came and checked me up, put more O2 and told to wait till 10:30 am till the doc comes. Meanwhile, dad comes from hotel and also the other concerned persons of the patients. They stared chit chatting among each other and whenever I uttered a word, they looked at me like an alien. 10:30 … 11:00 … 12:00 no sign of doc. Frustrations growing up, parents worried. Nothing to do but wait.

At last, at the stroke of 1:00 pm, the doctor arrived in style, checked me like for 5 seconds, gave my medicines and told ” tera chutti hogaya “, you are now discharged.

For 24 hours, I was in the Leh govt hospital fighting for 75% minimal O2. I was discharged at 77%. I could hardly move my legs, I was looking like a jerk, fully exhausted but fresh with oxygen. The car arrived and we drove off to hotel. Dad and mansoor had made all arrangements for bringing down the room to 1st floor. I climbed the steps real slow and entered the room, still thinking of the hospital and the before sufferings I faced. It all happened. Now, the only thing I could do was lie on the bed and watch TV.

I suddenly told, ” When are we going to Pangong Lake ? ” Dad like my positivity and gave me a thumbs up, mom spoke nothing.

In the evening after dad and mansoor had a talk, it was decided that pangong lake will be a 1 day trip with no stay. After that, watched movies late till night and slept happily for the first time in the hotel during the trip.

Day 9 – 4/10/14

Today’s morning was a wonderful one, showing my classic laziness of not getting out of the bed. I woke up at 9:00 with Moqbool, mom, dad waiting fro me. And at 9:45, we started the sightseeing. I was now alright but still feeling the kami of O2.

We drove off 30 km from Leh to a location where 2 rivers Sindhu and Sangam, the tributaries of river Indus met. The location was really good with mountains and a river bank with fresh water, two mountains converging into a v shape and it was perfect for panoramas and photos. The fresh air gave me a little josh to click photos.

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I collected some awesome rocks and we headed to the magnetic hill. The magnetic hill was sciencealicious. As we parked our car near it, it started pulling us towards the hill. The phenomenon was quite surprising. Cant explain the scientific reason now.

Personally, I didn’t want to get myself strained today so me and mom decided to stay back for the rest of the sight seeing day.

We went to a gurudwara, Pathar Sahib which was maintained by the army. We went to a kali mata temple, Leah palace all of which was covered by dad.

The came the most important part ” chaala mukhyamayina karyikramam :p ” …. LUNCH !!! At gesmos café. I wish I could do a check in over here. Whenever you come to Leh, don’t miss the food over here. You get a lot of variety of food here. And don’t miss the traditional momos. You will remember the taste for life. So, had a biig burger, lemon cake, fried rice and all of them were awesome. Its foood baby !! :D. After packing some cakes, we headed to hotel at 3:00 pm.

I was writing this from 3 – 6 pm, the Nebura, hospital an all and now its time to have some apple pie. And yeah, tomorrow is the final day of our tour. Heading to my dream, Pangong Lake.

Day 10 – 5/10/14

Yes, and today was the final day of the Ladakh tour. The last day started off on a brilliant note since I woke up with no tensions, no pains, nothing. I got ready in a jiffy and I was excited our next destination. The final one. The 133 km long lake sharing between India and China, the beautiful Pangong Lake. The challenge was to cover 150 + 150 kms up and down with the chang pass of 17546 ft. yep, and this was to be covered in one day. Cause on 6th (yay ! my bday), we were having our flight back. The journey was started at 7:00 am and 155 km was to be covered. The morning chill made us shut all windows and we were having some delicious packed aloo parathas.

On the way, the scenery was soothing. The mountains were looking lit up and they looked as though they are stacked up one after the other in a 3D plane and the shadow on them, made them look more fantastic.

The road of the shey village was decorated by yellow trees on both sides giving way to our gaadi and giving a yellow ambiance. The gats were tough giving us a spin but I was enjoying it today. With each hairpin, a new view came in front of us and gave us a perfect Himalayan grandeur.

The long stretch of road after the ghats was indeed an eye candy. The nature, the yaks, mountain goats. Horses and the light brown grass was simply heaven.

At the stroke of 10:30, the Pangong Lake was sighted. My mind was blown at the royal blue color of the lake. It was looking so magnificient and entralling. I was literally going bananas by watching theview. I had never seen such a beautiful sight in my life. The blue water, the red mountains and the sky, it was truly a paradise on earth.

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This was the lake where the last scene of 3 idiots was shot. That movie, gave this lake, a lot of craze.

I rushed to a spot where there were no tourists and had my dream candid shot clicked. I was happy, a lot. We spent around 2 hours near the lake and started our return journey. We came down a lot faster because of the less traffic and Maqbool raced us down to hotel in just 3 hours. And that marked the end of the tour.

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Now, at the hotel, the only wait is for my birthday tomorrow and the flight in the morning and then, back to my Vizag.

A note for the readers

From this tour of Ladakh, I learnt a lot of things. First of all Ladakh is a test of endurance. It will test your physical capabilities to the fullest. You need to be fit enough to face it else you find yourself like me. I experienced many first times, had a very very unique experience, had my ups and downs but continued my travel no matter what. The nature kept motivating me to move forward.

Ladakh was absolutely beautiful, touches the heart of any sachha traveller. The calm, the serenity, the solitude is just spectacular. You feel completely taken away to a different world, you feel the place like close to heaven. You feel like exploring every second.

You feel like hugging everyone by feeling the atmosphere.

You will fall in love with the place, the  weather, the people, quickly.

Health should be taken care a lot. Oxygen is the biggest problem in Ladakh. Due to high altitude terrain, O2 levels drop and differ a lot. You have to get acclamatized to the weather. For me, it happened on the second last day of my tour. The root problem was overweight.

The girls in ladakh are so so beautiful. The highlights are their straight hair and small eyes.

The camping part was really exciting, a totally new experience. The only fear remains in entering of some wild animals. Luckily, we got away with rats :p

Tough my headache and O2 problem were the spoilers of my tour, I managed to seize every moment. Remember, the nature heals you 50%

Ladakh will squeeze you from in and out. Go only if you are ready to accept anything that comes. If you are resistive, you will fall into trouble.

Well, the hospital was never expected. It might have turned out to be a night mare but I stayed patient and positive and determined to complete my tour at any cost. And it happened and am thankful for that. Never curse the nature like the bad roads, less O2 etc. You will feel the journey worse.

Have a good and a fit body. Work a lot on cardio exercises. You will need then the most over here.

The final destination, the lake, made my day and my tour.

Guys, never leave a chance for travelling. I ditched 2 of my campus placements for this :p (don’t try this ) Hadnt I went to the tour, I would have missed the shrilling nature. I wouldn’t have realized that I have a weak body.

I wouldn’t have got a free night stay in a hospital.

I would have definitely missed my FB cover pic of the Pangong Lake.

I would have missed a life changing experience.

It is important tough, to balance all aspects in life. Have to et back to work. Bring it on baby.

If this story was a spoiler for you, never think like that, the real joy is in going there and experiencing it. So go and get your back packs ready.

Thanks for reading till the end. You are the most patient and involving and interesting persons in the world. Feel proud of that. So when are you heading off ?

Yours loving friend

Vineet

11 thoughts on “The incredible journey to Ladakh | The land of dreams

  1. Vammoooooo… Intha pedda article a anukunna but chaduvuthunte time ela ayipoyindho theliyadu… It was like a suspense movie mixed up with humour, sentiment, fighting with nature, etc,etc… I wish Indian airlines would increase its seat belt size… 😉 I love the whole article and the way you described it… Wish you a many more happy journeys in future…

  2. lovely article…the way you described your experiences was just awesome and a pinch of humor in your writing added essence to the article ! ..kudos to your positive energy.. :p keep going n good luck my friend !! 🙂 😀

  3. Seriously….One thing that everyone face is that coming to office and sitting idle if you are not having any work is one of the most boring thing…. This article helped me to get me out of that situation for a bit of time…..

    Well done brother…..really good to read this and feel that stuff

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