Day 8 Leh Durbuk (Tangtse)

Day 8 (July15, 2012) Leh to Pangong and the plan was to stay there only and next day come back to Karu or Upshi.

We started the day by 6 or 7 and got the bike ready. Checked out of the hotel to start for our journey to one the most beautiful lake probably in the world, The spectacular blue colored Pangong Tso located at an altitude of around 15,000 ft.

Filled up the tank in leh and continued on the Leh Highway which also goes towards Manali.

We filled up again after reaching serthi, this is the last filling station on the Leh Manali route. The next one is situated in Himachal Pradesh at the place called Tandi about 368 kms from this place.

We filled up all the extra fuel cans that we were carrying with us. By this time I was noticing that the bike's tyre pressure is less and decided to get it checked at karu. The pressure was indeed less and I asked the mechanic if he can check if there is any puncture in the tyre. He checked and told, it doesn't look like there is a puncture.

We continued ahead towards Pangong lake. Roads were nice and smooth till the place called Zingral.

After Zingral the roads started to deteriorate, usual with high passes here in Ladakh, once you reach to the peak of the pass the roads aren't great.

Lose rocks, ice cold water streams, etc were common. Moreen had to get down from the bike a couple of time and cross the stream on foot as we didn't want to take chances crossing on the bike all loaded.

It was a good chance for moreen to capture the monster crossing the stream. And she did nicely.

Soon we reached Chang La top. It had started snowing slightly and it was a magical experience with sun coming down and snowing as well.

As we parked the bike near the checkpost where we get free tea, we noticed that the tyre pressure was very less and on further checking I found that there was a puncture, actually it was a previous puncture that opened up due to the terrain.
For this very reason I had made a mod to connect an electric tyre inflator to the bike's battery. I fixed the puncture with the kit I had and filled air.

Seeing our electric puncture at work one more person who was driving a scorpio asked for my help as he also had a flat tyre. I told him that pump has been modded to fit my bike's battery with a coupler that is attached to the bike's fuse box and it might not work for his vehicle.

But we still tried a lot to make the inflater work with his jeep but it didn't work. The guy was having his family with him and he wasn't feeling very good due to the altitude we were in.

We asked him to take help from the other jeep drivers who were around. I also met an xBhp group of riders one of whom I had met long back. He shook hands greeted each other and decided to continue.

But when were about to start I noticed that the air was still leaking from the puncture that I fixed. I used one rubber strip to seal the leaking air.

We waited for sometime and continued ahead and started our way down the Chang La pass to the other side.

After some 5-10 kms down the route the rear again started leaking air and this time the whole rubber seal that I had inserted had come out and was losing air very fast. We had to two packet of rubber strips in the puncture kit and we had used up 3 of them already

This happened just before a big water stream. There were a lot bikers around trying to cross the stream. A group of bikers had crossed the stream from the other side and I decided to ask them if they can give us one rubber strip. They gladly agreed and gave us one. We fixed the puncture again and I crossed the stream with Moreen clicking pics of me crossing.

After crossing I parked the bike and decided to help Moreen cross stream. Meanwhile from the Pangong Lake side there came an imported SUV (looked like well sponsored one with all the stickers on it) and the guys were asking how was the bike doing in the terrain etc and they asked if they can take a picture of them with the bike. I answered their questions and let them take the pics and specifically told them not to sit on the bike and they said ok. I rushed to help Moreen who was finding it a little difficult to cross the stream. One of the guys, despite I asking them not to, sat on the bike and he dropped my helmet on the ground which broke the visor. The guys rushed to SUV and left from there and I realized that this happened only when Moreen and I came back to the bike. We had to waste around half an hour to just fix my helmet.
This was totally uncalled for and I was very angry on those SUV guys who were ignorant and didn't heed to what I said. If you are reading this, Not appreciated guys!!

We continued ahead but the puncture wasn't holding up at all and it opened up couple of times more and it was the time that we got worried. We were not able to go further neither we could go back as it wasn't possible with such puncture to climb the ascent again.

We met a group of bikers from Maharashtra who were also heading towards Pangong Lake. I was able to ride the bike without load on it i.e. I alone could have ridden the bike without the puncture coming out. Hence those bikers took Moreen and some of the luggage with them to a tent were some local guys were selling tea and snacks. The local guys told that there is a village, Durbuk, 10 kms from that place where I can find a person who can fix the puncture.

We decided that I will go alone and get the puncture fixed and meanwhile Moreen will put up our tent at that place only so that we cold spend the night there itself as it was pretty late now, Pangong Tso was still 55kms from this place.

I went to the village and enquired the mechanic if he can fix the puncture but he said that the puncture hole has become too big to fix it with just the rubber strips, we would have to take out the wheel and fix it from inside or else we would have to put a tyre tube inside and inflate the tyre. None of the solutions were not possible in the village. The mechanic had a Mahindra bolero jeep and I asked him if he would help me getting Moreen and the luggage to this village so that all of us are together and then we would decide what has to be done.
This all was happening with no phone coverage in the area except for some place BSNL services were available.

The mechanic whose name is Norboo agreed to help and we went and picked Moreen from the place where I left her. It was evening when we reached the village and now we had to see where we can spend the night. 10kms from the village Durbuk was another village, Tangtse where we would get homestays but I didn't want to leave the bike and go. Hence we decided to stay in Durbuk only. We asked Norboo if we can get a place where we can at least put up our tent. Norboo suggested that we should stay with his brother, Pinchuk, whose house was just next to where his shop was. Norboo fixed the puncture with the kit that he had and I parked the bike at Pinchuk's home.
Pinchuk was hesistant as his house itself was under construction and his family was managing everything from one room. But then also Pinchuk cleaned up one room for us and gave us blankets and everything necessary to spend the night. And his family welcomed us in their home. They prepared tea for us even made us dinner. It was such a nice gesture that I was overwhelmed and thanking our stars that we got such nice people who helped us out.
Pinchuk told me that he would us getting back to Leh also and he would use his Jeep to transport us as well as the bike to Leh the next morning since it was already dark.

Durbuk village had some mobile coverage and I had spoken to JD who works for Ducati India and enquired about a new rear tyre if it is ready available. JD said yes he can arrange one for me. And I had decided that I would go to Chandigarh and get a new tyre in case we are not able to fix the puncture in Leh as well.

It was an eventful day for us with lots of worries of how do we reach civilisation when we were stuck in the middle of no where. But fortunately there were people all along who helped us out. Now that we were in a safe place where we can spend the night we slept and decided to figure things out the next day.

It was an overwhelming experience staying with Pinchuk's family who were so nice to us and made us feel at home.

I was sad that we couldn't complete the day's planned journey just because of a puncture. The bike itself was running so beautifully, it was just the old puncture that opened up due to the terrain. But anyways we got to experience some totally different and awesome. These hickups are a part of this whole adventure and sometimes things turn out differently...

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