Day 9 Pangong Lake - Chushul - Leh

Pangong Tso to Chushul to Leh

Disclaimer: All the photos posted for this day have been captured by Sunil sir. I had many pictures for the day but I lost it somehow. Big thanks to Sunil for clicking such nice snaps even though going through the hardships of the M-Top
More pics clicked by Sunil:
I have watermarked the pictures just to save piracy and not to take away credits from him for the pictures.

Next morning we woke and again our aim was to start early and cross that stream on the way which made us stay overnight at Pangong only.
I and sunil sir decided to change the engine oil and the oil filter mainly because of the treacherous ride the previous day when the bike was almost running above 6k RPM.
I drained the oil and tried opening the oil filter, to my surprise the oil filter was totally broken in pieces. First the metal strips enclosing the sides of the filter came then the filter net and then the other things came out. This thing was telling loudly what the bike has suffered conquering the M-top. Luckily we had the extra oil filter with us. I installed the new filter and also filled up the fresh oil and we were good to go.
We started by 6.30 or so and we reached the point from where we had to return back. This time of the day there was not a single drop of water and we could cross the stream or rather call it the rocky path quite easily.
This part of the trip in point of view was the most beautiful. The road for around 40kms or more was running beside the Pangong Lake. We reached Spangmik and we had to show the permits in the check-post. We continued further. Our main plan was to visit Chushul en-route and reach Hanle the same day by evening. We stopped at various places to take pictures and one of the places Prabhu decided to take a dip in the Lake.

Three comets along side the beautiful Pangong Tso

Sunil Sir's steed. Wow! what a picture Sunil Sir. I am cursing myself why didn't I stop and took a photo of my bike
Prabhu went into the lake and others decided to move further and Prabhu and Chetan would join us later. We were continuing and the terrain was slowly changing from lose rocks to sandy and dusty roads. Getting away from the lake and entering the desert kind of the area with the sun scorching right over our heads. After about half an hour we noticed that the guys hadn't joined us yet which made us worry a little. Already Chetan and Prabhu have had the history of falling down (no hard feelings guys) in lose gravel and sand, we feared that one of the guys has had a fall and he might need help as the Jeep was with us which had the spares and back up things. Since we had to clock a lot of kms that day and we had already spent a lot of fuel in climbing M-top we decided that one rider and the jeep should go back and check what happened. Hence Sunil sir and the jeep went back and Mohan and I waited. After about 20 minutes or so everybody came back and then when asked about the delay, Prabhu told us that his clothes has flewn away due to the heavy wind and he had to run and chase his flying clothes for a long distance which made him tire a lot. To add to that when Prabhu was able to get back his clothes he noticed that the waves of the lake has soaked his tank bag which had the camera and other stuff. He had to check if everything was okay and as well as catch his breath after the chase (it is not at all easy to run, chase at the altitude of 16k feet)

All the riders taking rest

Some posing

Anyways everybody re-grouped and again started towards Chushul. At around 1.30PM we reached the village Chushul. We asked the locals if we can get something to eat and also if somebody could sell us some fuel. Luckily we found a place where they sold petrol (750ml for the price of 1 litre) and we filled up our fuel cans and started looking for a place to eat. We reached a playground where a cricket match was going on and there a person said he'll prepare Maggi (yes yet again maggi, this was only thing we ate on the way :) ) and omelet. We didn't have anyother choice so everybody agreed.
While we were having our lunch the local police station guys had come and they started enquiring about the permits and other stuff from our jeep driver Rigzin. Since we were getting close to the China border this thing was normal.
We showed our permits to them, they checked it and asked us to come to the police station. We were worried that what went wrong and why are we being called to the police station.

We reached there and they told us that our permits are not proper and they can't allow us to pass further through the village.
Note: Please give special attention to the information below if you are planning to visit Hanle via Chushul from Pangong otherwise like us you won't be allowed to pass Chushul.
There are two routes which lead to Hanle:
1. Leh - Karu - Hanle - Chumur
2. Leh - Pangong - Chushul - Tsagala - Nyoma - Hanle - Chumur

Our plan was to take 2nd route and reach Hanle.
The problem with our permits was that we had two permits for 10 continuos days with on permits stating our travel from Leh to Pangong lake to Chushul and the other permit stating from Leh to Hanle and Chumur. This meant that we should have taken the first route.

Don't know what it is, en-route Chushul
The police men said even if they allowed us to pass through Chushul towards Hanle, the military and intelligence guys would stop us and then it'll be a problem for them (Chushul Police guys) as well as us as this very close to the border. So better go back to Leh and then take the other route.

They told us that had we entered the place called Dungti or Tsaga or Nyoma between route from Chushul to Hanle, they would have allowed us to pass through and we wouldn't have to go back.
We were so disappointed that we would have to waste another day because of a small mistake in the permits. But nothing can be now we had to go back but there was one more concern and that was going back which way, we can't take the Pangong Tso route once again as it was noon and the in-famous Paagal Naala would have been over-flooded by now.
The police men suggested another way to reach Leh and they told us that the road was very good.
The route was via Parama, Shayok (I am not very sure on the names) which will take us to Tangste and from there again climbing Changla and finally Leh.
Hence we decided to take that route and reach Leh before night. We asked the police guys if we could visit the 1962 Indo-China War Memorial before leaving for Leh and they agreed and they showed us the way to the memorial. Since we were running short of time we couldn't spend much time and also the heat due to direct sunlight was taking its toll on us, after some pics we decided to push off for Leh.

Some photo session with the kids. Whenever we used the stop the kids will surround us asking for chocolates

The trishul peak once belonged to India, now it is under control of China

The 1962 War Memorial
The alternate route was a pleasure to ride. Very well tarred roads even through some places at high altitudes like 17000+ ft. We truly enjoyed coming back to leh through those roads.

Back to Leh

Not every tourist is allowed to pass through Parma check-post. But since we had the permits for the place, we were allowed to go ahead.

Parma check-post

While crossing Chang La first time a day before, Sunil sir had spotted a frozen lake and he wanted to take snaps of his bike and the lake which he couldn't due to time shortage. This time again when we were crossing Chang la he took the deviation and went to take snaps with the lake. Prabhu followed him and went along with him. Chetan and I continued on the normal course as one of my concerns was that I was running out of fuel and taking a deviation would have meant expenditure of more fuel.
Some pictures that Sunil clicked:

Along the way we stopped at a place where some ice was left and we took some pictures of our bikes along side the ice and continued ahead but unfortunately I lost all the photos that I took for this segment. My bike's fuel indicator was indicating that I am left with only 2 liters of fuel and we are still some 50kms from Leh. As the bike's efficiency had drastically come down in the mountains (some 20 KMPL), I knew my fuel will get over before reaching Leh. Then I decided to go in idling while declining through the mountain which I agree wasn't the best and safest things to do but I had no choice other than this because the jeep having the backup fuel wasn't anywhere near to where we were and it was getting dark. Anyways I wouldn't do it again if in a similar condition as it can be very dangerous.
We all regrouped at Karu and started towards Leh. We had tea and called our respective homes and a surprising news was waiting for all of us. There were serial blasts happening in Bangalore and it seemed like a terrorist attack but eventually we came to know that it was some political problem. Damn! you politicians. I called up my brother who was in Bangalore to check if he is ok. Everything was okay and he told me there was nothing to worry. Likewise everybody called up their loved ones to check if everything was okay.
We started again and I told the jeep driver to go slow and follow the bikes as any time the fuel can get over and the jeep should be there for backup. And thats exactly what happened with me, 20 kms before my bike ran out of fuel and as planned I stopped the jeep and got the backup fuel. Upon reaching Leh we once again filled up our bikes for the next day. By this time we had decided to leave out Hanle and visit other places
Next day was a regulation or rather customary visit to the highest motor-able road, The K-top: Khardung la (Alt:18380ft).

An eye opener from Captain Johann. A must read:
Lessons learnt from 1962 Indo China War

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