Leh to Pangong

29 Dec

I know the title says Pangong but we didn’t know we were headed for Pangong until we were 3/4 way there.

We booked for both Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley with this agent from Mountain Breath. He did our permit for us and charged us Rs500 each. Actually I knew we can do it ourselves at the DC office and it wouldn’t cost so much but he said that there might be long queue and troublesome so he would do it for us and we agreed. I kind of regret, not because he didn’t do a good job but because we could have saved some money and I knew about it. The agent, didn’t catch his name, was a very nice person who explained to us quite simply how things would be like and told us the prices of the trips we plan to take. He showed us the guide book which states clearly all the prices of trips you wish to take in/out/ around Ladakh. He followed quite closely to the price in the guide book. We told him that we would go for whichever he can find other people to share the taxi with.

When we went to visit him to collect our passports after he helped us make permits, he told us he found 2 other people to go to Nubra valley.

In the morning, we packed up and checked out of the guesthouse. We told them we were going to Nubra and would be back the following day.

We met our traveling companions soon after near main bazaar. It was Fransisca, a Swiss lady, Jeremy, an American boy, is and the Ladakhi driver. Couldn’t catch his name either as he was also a Buddhist as can be seen from the picture in his car. He is from Sakthi a town quite close to Leh. We passed it on our way to Pangong. He was a really good driver. He drove on till Chang La Pass which is the 3rd highest motorable pass with the 3rd highest cafeteria in the world. It was snowing lightly as we climbed to that pass so it was super cold even with the jacket on. The cold wind was like biting me 😦 the driver though didn’t have anything on except his short sleeved cotton t shirt and a pair of jeans and he seemed fine.

I thought we would pass Khardung La Pass and not Chang La Pass. I brushed the thought away because I thought we would be going to Khardung La next before ending up at Nubra.

After stopping at another place, I saw a sign which says Pangong Tso and then we stopped at another booth where we had to pay the entrance fee Rs10 each and the ticket stated Pangong. When confirmed with the driver, it was clear that we were headed for Pangong and Nubra valley from my limited knowledge of Ladakhi region was on the opposite side of Leh.

Fransiska really wanted to go to Nubra valley as someone told her that she had to go there and she would like the nature and the camels and all the other wild life there. Even when we reached Pangong Tso, she didn’t know we were not going to Nubra valley. She thought it was nice that we stopped by this beautiful blue water lake before continuing on to Nubra. We showed her the entrance ticket and she was bewildered. She blames us being in India where things like that can go wrong.

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We had our lunch at the 3 idiots restaurant and she joked that we were the 4 idiots.

We were supposed to stay the night but since Fransiska and Jeremy weren’t meant to be at Pangong, they would rather go back after lunch. I wanted to stay because we were supposed to watch the stars at night and we travelled many km for 5.5 hours to Pangong. I don’t think I could take another 5 hour drive back on the same day.

After some time at near the lake, we went to tell the driver, who was clueless and he spoke little English, that we wanted to see the guesthouse and then decide if we want to stay.

The guesthouse which was called Pangong Inn, was just a bed in a room and the toilet was a huge cemented area with a dirty toilet bowl in the corner and a sink with a bottle in it in the other corner. There is no light in the toilet in the day or at night. What?!

So we voted; Jeremy wanted to leave, Fransiska was the nicest, she said she didn’t mind staying if I wanted to stay, the husband wanted to leave so we left.

The husband wasn’t feeling too well so he sat next to the driver. Half way through Jeremy was feeling sick. We stopped for a while. He sat next to the driver. I had my bouts of carsickness but I always had a candy in my mouth or was distracted while talking to Fransiska. She was a pleasure to talk.

We went all the way back and to the agent’s office where he explained that it was his mistake and that Jeremy and Fransiska didn’t need to pay if they didn’t want. Fransiska would sort it out with the person she paid. Jeremy havent paid at all so it was all good for him.

Both Jeremy and Fransiska were in Leh to work for a period of 7 weeks. It was part of Fransiska’s job as a teacher in Switzerland. Fransiska really wanted to see Nubra valley before they started work on Monday.

Actually the Buddhist people in Leh have Tibetan sounding name if I’m not wrong and they are more difficult to catch than Chinese names. Our agent for Pangong was buddhist.

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