[Trip Report] Budget Trip To Ladakh

#1 Sep 27th, 2018, 21:58
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#1
Ladakh - The Land of Cold Desert is a dream destinations for most travellers and we are not an exception. However considering the cost involved and other reasons, we still kept that wish of ours buried deep inside our hearts. But suddenly, considering our growing ages, Avik was the first person to convince us to approach Ladakh now, as we might not be able to approach it soon once we are surrounded with other social or family needs.

It was around November and since then we started looking at various blogs and gathering informations. Avik was still busy serving his onsite tenure back then. Finally things started materialising once he returned during December. Unfortunately Dilip Da had to back out due to some critical family related issues. Although we tried all possible methods to convince him, but all went into vein. And thus, we were in search for a couple, who are budget tourists like us and shares the same mentality. Fortunately, due to this blogs of mine, I came across Ayan, whom I met once during one of my Photowalks, showed his interest.

Finally things started falling into places and we came up with a draft itinerary that could be followed. I started calling up few drivers to get an idea of the rates, which I gathered from various blogs. Surprisingly it seemed that we could easily fit it within our budget, roughly, that we had previously thought about - which is 60k per couple (i.e. 30k per head). After discussing various possible options, of when would be the best time to travel, we fixed our dates 28th July - 12th August. Although Avik emphasised, that we cut out one day from our tour, as it'd really be hectic to join office next morning right after returning for a 16 Day long trip.

Itinerary

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man - Merak - Kakstet - Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you'd need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it's very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

Although August is considered as Monsoon, however Ladakh being rain shed region, we thought of giving it a go. The main idea was to travel during lean season, when tourist inflow would be low, so that we can bargain and get great deals on spot to stay well within our budget. This seemed to be the best possible time, considering we are not in mood to compromise much on the weather which would allow us to experience beautiful landscape of Ladakh.

Finally on 31st Jan 2018, we booked our flight tickets, fixed the vehicle (Rigzin) and transferred the advance. And then considering the long waiting period, we even stopped waiting for the D Day!! Later around 4th of March, we booked our Bus tickets for Manali - Delhi Volvo Service from Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC).

As the days started nearing by, our excitement level got boosted and a WhatsApp group was formed to keep track of all the discussions and ongoings about the trip. A week before the D Day, we payed a visit to Metro Cash & Carry. Our idea was to carry the breakfast and dry foods which can be consumed during the journey and as evening snacks, on our own, as far as possible to keep things within the budget. Although the visit to Metro Cash & Carry was more of a fun than simple shopping. It was more of a pre-trip meeting with lots of fun (or khilli as we say in Bengali).

Spending the remaining days were like counting each and every moment.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg :

Finally the D Day arrived!! Allow me to take a moment out to introduce you to our group, which consists of Me, My Wife - Suparna, Avik, His Wife - Sushmita, Ayan and His Wife - Moyitree (although I mostly call her by her pet name - Piu).

Our home being furthest from airport, we decided to stay off the night and watch some movie instead. As anyway, we'd have to get up by 2AM, as we had plans to leave by 3 O' Clock in the morning. We had our flight to Delhi at 7:05 AM with 4 Hours layover at Delhi. Luckily, going against by my anticipation, we reached airport within 45 Minutes. Soon Avik, Sushmita, Ayan & Piu arrived gradually. Although Avik & Sushmita had a different flight which was earlier than that of mine and Ayan.

Me & Ayan went for a smoke before checking in our luggage. The security check in was smooth and quick and soon we were inside the deperture bay. It was nice experiencing the dawn, watching the flights take away, over a cup of coffee. Me & Ayan went for another smoke to kill the remaining time. Surprisingly, Ayan got a call, that our flight has been preponed, and we are the last one remaining. We were literally asked to rush to the gate in order to board the flight.

As we boarded the flight, people were looking at us like, we are some kind of aliens. Even though we were following the deperture board closely, we were not sure how the flight got preponed, and that too everyone was aware of the same except us. Anyway, glad that we didn't missed the flight.

Next 2 hours, Me and Suparna went for a small nap, whereas Ayan and Piu constantly kept watching through the window. They being first timers, they were super excited regarding their first flying experience!!


Soon we landed at Delhi, the capital of our country. Although I had been to Delhi earlier, twice, due to official reasons, however neither time I had a chance to explore the city. The first time in life we decided to have our breakfast at KFC!! Not because we couldn't find other options, but because, one of my friend who had recently been to Ladakh, informed us that we'd have to survive on veg food post Leh. So we decided to cherish our love for chicken for as long as possible!!


In between, I got a call from Sushmita, reminding me that both of them are on prepaid mobile connection and won't be able to contact us once they reach Srinagar. Glad that she called, else I completely forgot about the same. I asked them to wait at the Airport only, and keep an eye on the arrival board and meet us at the luggage bay.

Our deperture for Srinagar was from T2 terminal whereas we arrived at T1. After enquiring with the officials we came to know about free shuttle service for the passengers arriving on one terminal and have connecting flight departing from another one. Airpot Authority of India runs their own shuttle service for free between the terminals at Delhi. Other passengers too can use the service for a nominal ticket price. We, instead, were issued an free ticket after showing our respective boarding pass. It took us around 30 minutes to reach T2, which passes through T3 in between.

NOTE : Airport Authority of India (AAI) have their free shuttle service for passengers arriving at one terminal and having deperture from another terminal. While at airport ask for the same to any officials and they will be able to guide you.

Soon after reaching T2, we went ahead for security checkin, however this time I was stopped by the security officials, as I was carrying an L Key which belonged to my camera. According to the officials this was not allowed in hand baggage, so either I have to leave them out here or I can be allowed to go back and put it in checkin luggage. Definitely I couldn't loose them to the security officials, so I went back again to put the same into checkin luggage.

Soon we were inside the departure bay. After some refreshments, we went ahead for a smoke. Again, surprisingly, we got a call from Indigo Officials, that we were the remaining ones to board the flight. Even we were shocked, right before few minutes, we were right on time. We still had an hour left, so we thought to reach the boarding gate well within 15 minutes. But now, we seemed to be the odd one out again. However this time, we were spared from that odd alien glance, as 2-3 more tourists were still left out!!


Finally we embarked on our journey towards our destination - Srinagar. We were very excited to fly to Kashmir!!

We had our hotel booked at Srinagar in advance. Before few weeks of beginning our journey, we decided to book hotels at Srinagar and Manali i.e. the first and last day of our journey, in order to avoid much hassles. As we thought, we'd anyway be tired and might lack such excitement to run for it. And these two being well known towns, had lots of deals at MakeMyTrip and Goibibo. Like this hotel of ours at Srinagar, we bagged in for Rs. 260/- per room!!

Although Avik suggested to move ahead to Sonamarg on the first day which would have two advantages over staying at Srinagar is (1) Sonamarg is more beautiful with green valleys overlooking the mountains, and (2) we'd be a bit ahead which would help us to reduce long journey on Day 2. However hotels at Sonamarg was out of our budget and we couldn't find a single hotel within our budget and thus we grabbed the above offer of Rs. 260/- per room at Srinagar.

It took us around 30 minutes drive through Jannat (as Kashmir is commonly refferred) to our hotel. We noticed lots of schools throughout the way. Also the houses are beautifully decorated with flowers, so are the street lights. Well, co-incidentally, the name of our hotel too was Jannat Guest House. The owner, Mr. Bilal, is very friendly and welcoming. He showed us our rooms. Although the room is bit small, but what more can you ask for Rs. 260/-? If it'd have been fairly priced, the rooms are no less than Rs. 800/- - Rs 1200/-.

We took up our own sweet time to get freshen up and ran downstairs to a restaurant - Annapurna Bhojanalay, just beside the hotel for lunch. It was already 3:30 PM by then and we were hungry like hell. Although it was a complete veg restaurant, but we were so hungry that we were not in mood to go out and find something. Unfortunately, the food quality was not that good, but when you are hungry like hell, even bitter tastes better!!

Sun sets late in this part of the country and thus we still had a lot of daylight left, and thus we thought of exploring the town. Although we knew we couldn't cover the sightseeing points, however our main wish was to visit Dal Lake. The owner have their own tour and travel business, so we negotiated hard for a Sikhara Ride which we could fit in our budget. This being low season, they didn't had much option other than to agree with our rates finally.

The lake was just 10 minutes walk from the Hotel. Finally we embarked on the Shikara and the ride began!! Not all parts of the lake were beautiful, but yes we enjoyed the ride overall. We were shown some 10 points which comes over a Shikara Ride at Dal Lake. However the most annoying part was, every other minute, you'd be approached by the vendors and if you don't buy anything they would pass on some comment. However let me give you a tip, considering the political situation at Kashmir, best is to avoid them if you are not interested, don't even try to reply them back, as that would make the situation worse.


Finally, you'll be ridden through market where according to the tie-ups you'd be stopped at specific houseboats where you'll be approached for buying authentic kashmiri garments. You can again either choose to ignore them or fall into the trap. Well it's not a trap though, if you have an eye to determine the quality and talent to bargain it down to whatever you feel is the justified price. Me and Avik choosed to stay at the boat, whereas Ayan, Piu, Sushmita & Suparna went ahead to check things out. Piu bought a Salwar Suit for her, for which we mocked Ayan for a while!!

Well, the trick is, they would continuously request you to check out the things and that you won't need to buy things if you don't like them. And few would even boast about some talent they are born with. So you need to decide, either be friendly and fall into the trap or be sweet and avoid. However don't be rude and hold your breath and keep patience!!

Finally, to keep our boatmen happy, we accepted the proposal of having Tea. He rode and parked the shikara near a houseboat. After enquiring possible options, we came across Kahwa, which is a local drink. It's actually prepared by boiling saffron, cinnamon & cardamom. It is served with honey and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. I must say it was heavenly. Like something great we had in years. We were so pleased that each one of us ordered another.

Finally, after being dropped off, we took a stroll nearby, before proceeding towards our hotel. We noticed a lot of Dhabas and Restaurants nearby and was regretting our lunch at Annapurna Bhojanalay.

In between, we got a call from Rigzin (our driver), that Karim Ji would be coming to see our hotel. He's the person who would drive us till Leh. Actually, Rigzin already informed us while booking, that there are various territorial restrictions in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. So he cannot provide us pickups from Airport, for that we either have to contact our hotel or better opt for Pre-Paid Cabs at the Airport itself. Again, vehicles registered at Leh are not allowed to pickup tourists from Kashmir, thus the same would be completed by another vehicle which belongs from Kargil. Finally we collaborated with Karim Ji and he came up and spotted the hotel and informed us that he'd be here tomorrow by 6:30 AM.

Later at around 8:00 PM, we googled out few possible options for Dinner nearby and thought to explore. Although all the options we found didn't matched our budget. And literally we were like going to a restaurant, checking out the menu and leaving. Although in Kolkata or in any major cities it'd be considered a shameful act, however here we were in tight budget and no way we could consider checking out menu as a shameful act!!

Most of them were getting bored, however Me and Sushmita kept looking through. The idea was to have kebabs, within as low as possible budget, without compromising on the quality. Just before people were about to leave, I found a restaurant where we could have our dinner. And I can guarantee that next 2 hours could have been translated into a comedy film. I'm not sure, whether Kashmiri's are aware about food habits (or should I say intake capacity) of Bengali's or not, but the waiters were shocked to see us kept ordering roti's and kebabs. It was like they bring us 5 roti's and a kebab and he couldn't even sit for 2 min, we were ordering next.

I'm defiintely sure, they might have thought, these guys saw kebabs first time in their lifetime!! Although we decided to tip him well, for the hard working service he gave us!! Finally we returned to our hotel by 10:30 PM.

I'm not sure about the rumours and news that were being constantly shown regarding Kashmir. But I'm happy to say, we felt really safe and felt no issues. Although most of the locals there, were very sad to inform us that, most of the news that's shown are most of them exaggerated. It's not like everything is false, but definitely it's exaggerated too much. Our families were more happy to know that we were safe. They were the first one to react negetively after knowing that we are visiting Kashmir.

After chit-chatting for a while, we decided to call off the day, as Karim Ji would have arrived by 6:30 AM.

Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru :
We woke up by around 4:30 AM and got freshen up one by one. We were carrying Tea Bags, Sugar Cubes & Maggie for breakfast. We bought an electric kettle too for this of our purpose. Although we skipped preparing Maggie on the very first day and quickly made our arrangements for Tea & Biscuits. We were also carrying a whole bag with dry foods for snacks to munch on throughout our journey. So we fixed on a hand bag where we'd keep few cakes, biscuits, cashew nuts, dates etc. on a daily basis and will keep refurbishing the same. The cost of buying bottled mineral water on a 15 Day trip for 6 person can be huge. And thus we bought in Zeoline, a water purifier liquid which would allow us to refill the bottles whenever and wherever required. A drop of the same in 1 ltr. bottle is sufficient and make it safe for drinking.

Soon we got ready and our vehicle arrived. Finally we loaded our luggages and embarked on our journey through the beautiful meadows of Kashmir.

It took us around 2.5 Hours to reach Sonamarg. As previously said by Avik, Sonamarg is beautiful & picturesque. We halted at a Punjabi dhaba for stumpotous breakfast. We decided to make it stumptous as from next day, we'd be having Maggie that we bought!!


Soon we embarked on our way to Drass. We stopped here and there in between for a smoke & refreshment. And finally we reached Zozila Pass by around 10:30 AM. We were warned by the driver to hurry up, as he noticed an Army Convoy coming up from the other side. Considering the condition of the road, we were warned that if any vehicle gets stuck in between, we'd also be stuck with them which would hamper our plan for the day. And unfortunately the same happened.

After loosing around 30 minutes, finally we started again. The journey was becoming strenuous due to the heat which was like 30 deg C - 35 deg C. It took us 2 days to understand few things -
  • Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin.
  • However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  • Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  • In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
Well finally by around 12:30 PM, we reached Kargil War Memorial. One needs to register with Aadhaar Card number. A common practise throughout the region that I noticed, is that, Aadhaar Card is preffered for the permits and registring at Army Camps. Although they do accept other ID Cards like Voter ID Card, however Aadhaar Number is given more preference. First we were asked to visit a hall where they were showing a documentary about the lives the brave hearts lost to keep us safe and sound. I must say, the documentary was really emotional and a matter of pride in the same time. It brought tears to our eyes. It's always a proud feeling to see a person in uniform. A feeling of respect by default appears within your heart.


After spending for around an hour there, we started for Kargil and reached within 1.5 hours. First thing we did is hopped over a restaurant for lunch. It was already 3:00 PM in the afternoon and by then and we were really hungry. Unfortunately we couldn't find any good option for Non-Veg within our budget, and thus we decided to settle in for a Veg Restaurant instead.

It was already 4 PM and after several discussions between Me, Rigzin and Karim Ji, we decided to stay at Kargil instead. As proceeding further would not be possible with the remaining daylight. Well that's a flexibility you can have if you keep your plan flexible and don't come with your hotels booked. Based on your liking of a place, you can extend or reduce the number of days to stay and all.

While booking with Rigzin, we already informed him that, we'd need his help in order to find hotels within our budget. Accordingly, he recommended few hotels to me and Karim Ji. Finally, after bargaining hard, we settled in at Hotel Suru View. As the name denotes, it offers a view of River Suru flowing in it's full fledged flow from the balcony. The rooms were really spacious and nice. We opted for 2 rooms, for boys and girls respectively.

Later after discussing with Karim Ji, we settled in to take us to LOC. It was a great drive through the beautiful landscape of Kargil. One can rent Binoculars for Rs. 30/- per person to check out the Indian and Pakistani Bunkers. Although the border and POK is visible through bare eyes. Unfortunately, consdiring the significance of such place, it's not allowed to click any pictures there, and thus I won't be able to produce any views of the place. You need to personally make it there to experience the same with your eyes.


After spending some time there, and having Kahwa (which was not as good as we had in Dal Lake), we returned to our hotel. Later Avik went for a power nap, girls started chat-chatting amongst themselves whereas Me & Ayan went out for a small walk along the village.

Later, we decided to have our dinner at in-house restaurant and the food was quite good. It seemed like, luck is not favouring us during Lunch, as both the days we had to survive with whatever is available and however it be, whereas, Dinner is always being great!! Later we spend more than an hour, chit-chatting amongst ourselves beside the River Suru which is accessible from hotel compound, till the staffs called us, as they would be shutting down the gates.

Even though after that, we went ahead to the balcony and kept enjoying amongst ourselves till 11:30 or so. Later we hit the bed and called off the day.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.
Reviews :
Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : We booked this hotel from MakeMyTrip for Rs. 781/- for 3 rooms. The property, rooms and the washrooms where quite clean and well maintained. The rooms were a bit small although, what more can you ask on that budget? The rooms were made of wooden structure and were quite warm and comfortable. The owner Mr. Bilal, is a very warm, welcoming and nice person. They have their inhouse Travel Business named Shawl Tour & Travels. They also have family run ethnic gift shop where you can get authentic hand woven clothes, bags etc. The Dal Lake is just 10 minutes walk from the hotel.

They don't have any in-house restaurant, however there's a restaurant just beside the hotel - Annapurna Bhojanalay. Although we didn't liked the food much, however it served the purpose, as we were very hungry. Instead I'd suggest to look at the Dhaba's and Restaurant's nearby.








Hotel Suru View, Kargil : Well, we reached here based on recommendation by Rigzin and found it to be quite warm and comfortable. We just loved the view of Suru River from the balcony. Infact I'd say we got best possible option. The whole property, rooms and washrooms were very clean and well maintained. The rooms were quite spacious too. The staffs were really well behaved. Infact one can enjoy the tranquility of Kargil listening to the flow of River Suru.




Costing :

Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : Rs. 781/- (3 x Double Bed Room)
Shikara at Dal Lake : 1100/-
Hotel Suru View, Kargil : 2400 (2 x Double Bed Room + 2 Extra Mat)

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali - Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali - Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU - DEL - SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali - Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL - CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts :

Mr. Bilal, Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : +91-94190-03743. You may check their website at Shawl Tours & Travels.

Mr. Iftikhar, Hotel Suru View, Kargil : +91-84910-88563 / +91-1985-232128 / +91-94697-30678

Mr. Mehraj (Driver, Pickup from Airport - Hotel) : +91-99064-52409. He drives a black Innova with registration number JK 01V 4961.

Mr. Karim (Driver, Srinagar - Kargil, arranged by Rigzin) : +91-94198-43494. He drives a red Xylo with registration number JK 07 3336. He's very friendly and co-operating.

Mr. Ibrahim (Driver cum Co-Ordinator, Srinagar - Kargil Route) : +91-94695-30951 / +91-84928-12250

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#2 Sep 27th, 2018, 22:06
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#2
This is 2nd Part of the series Budget Trip To Ladakh. To reiterate again, we are on our 15 Day trip to Ladakh following the below itinerary (roughly).

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil – Batalik - Dha / Hanu Village – Lamayuru - Leh : B

Today we woke up at around 5 O' Clock in the morning. Although we took our own sweet time to get ready as there was not much of a hurry. From Today onwards we had planned to survive on the breakfast that we brought ourselves and thus we quickly prepared Tea and Maggie accordingly. Whereas Ayan and Piu decided to survive on puffed rice with water (Jol diye Muri) due to some digestion issues occurred because of some fried chicken that we bought from outside last night!!

As per discussion with Rigzin Ji, Ibrahim (vendor / boss of Karim Ji) came up to collect a part of amount for the vehicle. From today onwards, Rigzin Ji was about to drive us for the whole tour. However he decided to send Bakir (a young chap) instead for our tour. From the very beginning, I was insisting on that Rigzin should be there for us because of all the amazing reviews I read about him. Thus I felt a bit upset and worried.

Although Rigzin assured that, Karim Ji was about to drive us to Leh and from there he had plans to take up the trip onwards. However, as he got busy with another guest, he decided to send Bakir for a trial. He assured that Bakir is a very good person and driver and that we'd definitely like him. If not, he'd definitely fix it up.


Well, all these changes in plans bought us some time and finally we loaded our luggage and embarked on our journey at around 8:00 AM.

Well frankly speaking, Bakir reminded us of Raj - our driver in Bhutan. It took us no time get friendly with him. He told us stories about his Girlfriend, who's still studying while he decided to leave school and instead took up driving. Well, every moment, Me and Suparna thought "Isn't he exact carbon copy of Raj?". His way of talking and tone was exactly same as Raj. Bakir seemed to be very simple in terms of the peoples we often come across in cities. Whenever we cracked some adult jokes or sort of that, he had a hard time understanding the same. Although previously we thought it might be because of the language barrier issues, but later gradually we realized that's not the case though.

Well within no time, we were glad that Bakir is going to stay with us for the rest of the trip!! Even we started calling him Achu (Brother in Ladakhi Language). Rigzin would be more than happy to hear the same from us!!


Our first stop was Batalik which is known for it's Indo - Pakistani War because of its strategic location between Kargil, Leh and Baltistan. Although there's nothing much to see here, but one needs to stop to register at the Army Base Camp in order to proceed further. This is required for paying a visit to Dah Hanu Villages. I must inform you that, this is not the usual Srinagar - Leh highway. Instead we took a de-tour, as we had plans to visit Dah - Hanu villages, as we heard a lot about these villages - because of their Indo-European appearances amongst the womens of Dard people (Indo - Aryan). Also one must note that, tourists are allowed to visit only these two villages out of other villages in Brokpa district. Well, you must be surprised to know that, Polyandry (a women can have multiple husband) is common amongst the people of these villages, grooms pays dowry to brides and womens have the right to divorce.


We reached Dah village by around 11:20 AM. Dah Hanu villages being situated at lower altitude than Leh, a lot of cultivation of wine-grapes and cherries as well as apricots and walnuts can be found here. Well unfortunately, as Achu informed, it seemed to be holiday season there, thus most houses of the village were locked and we hardly spotted 2-3 peoples there.

However we couldn't control our desires of having those reddish apples and appricots. Achu gave us a green signal that we can go ahead and pluck those from the trees ourselves without getting into any issues. The road through the village is itself very beautiful. We took our own sweet time to walk through the villages before Achu joined us with his vehicle again.


This part of the road is in a devastating state unlike the the usual Srinagar - Leh Highway and thus the whole ride was very bumpy. However riding by the side of Indus River kept us engaged throughout the route. Finally after driving through the challenging route we came to the intersection where it meets the usual Srinagar - Leh highway!! What a sigh of relief it was. It was like "Smooth drive ke liye man taras gaya tha"!! :P

Our next halt was a brief stopover at Lamayuru which is commonly referred as Moonland.




It was already 2:45 by then and we were really hungry. So we decided to have our lunch first before proceeding to Lamayuru Monastery. Although due to the scorching heat of sun, we mostly stayed under a shade whereas Ayan & Piu explored most of it alone.

Although as per our draft itinerary, we had plans to stay at Lamayuru / Alchi / Uleytokpo today, but most of the team members wished to move to Leh instead, which would buy us another day to stay at Tso Moriri. Although Ayan wished to stay at Lamayuru instead, because he being very passionate about Photography, spotted a place from where he wished to click a shot with entire Lamayuru Monastery and the Moonland. However a walk to that place and back would have required around 2 hours.


It was already being 4:30 PM, and we had to took a quick decission based on voting, as the drive to Leh is another 3 hours with sightseeings in between. Although Ayan was very upset to miss the shot. However a brief stopover at "The Road That Leads to Heaven" made him smiling again!!


Next, we took a breif halt at a viewpoint from where one can experience Indus - Zanskar Confluence.


Next stop was Magnetic Hill. Here if you park your car, it'd seem to move uphill on it's own due to defiance of gravity. And thus the name "Magnetic Hill". Although we experienced it ourselves, but in internet there are various articles including Wikipedia which states it to be an optical illusion. It states that, the road is actually a downhill road however due to optical illusion it seems to be uphill. Well I don't want to go into any technical or scientific argument, but it's really fun watching the cars and bikes moving on it's own.

[/url]

Next was Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, but we choosed to skip the same as we were not much interested and most importantly it was already around 7:00 PM and we had only more or less an hour of daylight left to reach and find a hotel at Leh.

Well when you are travelling with a flexible plan, that have it's own advantage and disadvantage both. If you can't make it within daylight, your options starts dwindling and so your bargaining capabilities. Thus it's very important to reach with few hours of daylight left to explore all possible options.

Finally by around 7:45 PM we reached Leh. Achu drove us to a hotel according to our budget. A few rounds of oiling and buttering and we got it within our budget!! Me, Suparna, Avik & Sushmita decided to manage in a single room whereas Ayan and Piu decided to have a seperate room for themselves.

Right after settling in our rooms, I spoke to a hotel staff regarding the permits. He took me to a tour operator nearby where he quoted Rs. 1500/- per person for all the destinations. Though I negotiated it down to Rs. 1100/- per pax, however I thought of checking with Rigzin once. Unfortunately Rigzin got very offended that I approached a 3rd Party when I'm travelling with him and assured that he'd do it at much lesser price than that I have been quoted. I felt sorry for this of my behaviour, as I should have asked him first.

Later we choosed to explore the market. The market is just 2 mins away from the hotel but we didn't had much time left today. So instead we decided to have our dinner first. Well, we tried guessing the tariffs by the appearence of restaurants. Finally one of them seemed to be within our budget and we thought to pay a visit and check the rates.

The rates were perfectly fine. We were glad to find an option without much lookaround!! And the best part was, the food itself. It was simply fingerlicking and heavenly. Although the restaurant specializes in Chinese and Thai Cuisine. However you can also trust their Indian Cuisine too. We decided to visit the same place tomorrow again as no one was in mood to explore in terms of fooding considering our previous experiences at Kargil and Srinagar.


Later after coming back to our hotel, we kept gossiping and chit-chatting till late night, as tomorrow was planned as a rest and acclimatization day with Leh Sightseeing for which we could start late.

31st July : Day 4 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits :

Today we were really happy to stay in bed till 9AM and took our own sweet time to get ready and prepare breakfast. Avik was affected with cough and cold which resulted in a slight fever. This is when we learned the hard way about constant changing climate of Ladakh. The days are warm and it feels very irritating throughout the day as you'd feel like the sun is burning a hole in your skin. However from around 4:30 - 5:00 PM onwards, climate changes drastically and if you are not covered specially your head and ears, you'd be affected easily. Once the sun is down by 8:00 - 8:30 PM, it starts becoming chilly specially at high altitude regions. Definitely along with that, the thin layer of oxygen at high altitude plays it's own game.

At around 10 AM, Rigzin payed us a visit. Although in his late 40's, but still jovial and humorous. He was really happy that our trial went well with Achu and he confirmed that Achu would be staying with us for the rest of the trip. Although he previously informed us that Achu might not come today, as he'd need to fix his power steering and some regular maintainence needs to be performed before he begins on a long journey. But unfortunately, he couldn't manage some other vehicle for the day, as today being a religious festival for the Buddhists, most of the people were on leaves. We were glad to have achu back!! But Rigzin requested us to co-operate with him and possibly release him by 3:00 PM so that he can go back and do required maintainance before embarking on our journey through the land of high passes.


After chit-chatting for a while, Rigzin collected the documents from us and noted down all the points that we are planning to visit (which is actually all the possible points where one can get permits :P) and left. We payed him Rs. 700/- per head for the permits. Although the amount would have been much lesser if we were returning to Leh after each point which would have allowed him to make specific permits for 1-2 Days respectively. However, in our case, we were asking for a long 7 day permit which is the upper limit and thus the charges were anyway higher.

Well, soon achu arrived and we decked ourselves and started for our first point of the day - Shey Monastery. However before heading to Shey Monastery, we asked achu to take us to a medical shop where we can consult a doctor regarding the fever of Avik. However after reaching there, we couldn't find any consulting physician there and we were asked to visit during the evening when physicians were generally available. However several Army officers and the pharmacist himself suggested that this is due to change in altitude and because of we kept window open post afternoon when the cold breeze is most effective. Co-incidentally, even Rigzin was there!! They all advised that each one of us should start drinking 3-4 lts of water every day which is the solution of 90% of the problems at high altitude.

Anyway, finally we drove to Shey Monastery by around 12 noon. Personally, I have seen a lot of monasteries while on my tours to Sikkim and Bhutan, such that I really lost interest to explore them further. Thus, Me, Suparna, Avik and Piu choosed to remain downstairs in a shade due to scorching heat of sun, whereas Ayan and Sushmita went ahed to explore.


Later we moved ahead to Rancho's School - the 3 Idiots School. One is not allowed to enter the school premises without an official accompany. However as achu informed, the school was closed due to summer holidays and thus we couldn't find anyone to accompany us. Instead we spent sometime at the cafeteria nearby for a while and left.


Our next stopover was Thiksey Monastery. Again, Ayan and Piu choosed to went upstairs, Sushmita and Suparna waited in the car itself chit-chatting and gossiping with achu, whereas Me and Avik choose to take a walk to get some good aerial shots of the monastery.


Next we went ahead to Hall of Fame. Here one needs to buy a ticket of Rs. 100/- per head. It was already 2:30 PM by then, and frankly speaking, we couldn't survive the heat anymore and thus we decided to move to Shanti Stupa instead. However on our way, we thought that, there's no point to go to Shanti Stupa now in this scorching heat of sun and we were anyway feeling hungry. So we asked achu to drop us to the same restaurant we found last night, instead and that after that we'd instead go to hotel and take rest and during the evening we'd try to find some cab and go to Shanti Stupa.

After having our lunch, we went to hotel and went for a small afternoon nap (Bhat Ghum) of which Bengali's are infamous for. Later we woke up by calls from Ayan and Piu. We were surprised to find out that there's no public transport in Leh. After discussing with the hotel staffs we managed a vehicle for Rs. 500/- for a round trip to Shanti Stupa.


Later in the evening, we explored around the market and bought necessary medicines that we felt would be short (as we were anyway carrying a lot of necessary medicines from our hometown itself). We also thought of keeping an Oxygen Can handy which can be quite helpful in case of emergency.

Later after hopping through some shops in the market, we decided to move to same restaurant for dinner. Although we got ourselves late today while hopping through market, such that our hotel got closed!! Anyway, without much delay, we thought of calling off the day as we had to start very early tomorrow.


The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.
Reviews :

Tongspon Guest House : Situated right 2 mins away from the market, we just loved our stay at Tsongspon. The staffs are very friendly and smiling always there for your needs. The entrance of the property is well decorated with various flowers which bring in a charm of Ladakhi Homes. The whole property, rooms and the washrooms were really well maintained and very clean. Although they don't have a in-house restaurant, so you have to eat outside, however they can provide basic Tea & Coffee.






Costing :

Tongspon Guest House : Rs. 4400/- (1 x Double Bed Room @ Rs. 1000/- x 2 Days & 1 x Double Bed Room + Extra Mat (for 4 Pax) @ Rs. 1200/- x 2 Days)
Rigzin (The driver who drove us to Shanti Stupa) : Rs. 500/-
ILP (Inner Line Permits) : Rs. 700 x 6=Rs. 4200/-

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts :

Tongspon Guest House : 01982-253196 / +91-97975-74481 / +91-94198-00933 / nwrigzin@gmail.com

Bakir (Our Achu, The Driver, Very friendly young chap, Works for Rigzin) : +91-94696-66401 / +91-70514-45539. He drove a white Aria which belonged to Rigzin, under registration number JK 10A 4036.

Mr. Rigzin (The driver who took us to Stanti Stupa) : +91-94697-31211. He drives a white Maruti Suzuki Eeco under registration number JK 10 6530.

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#3 Sep 28th, 2018, 09:35
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,135
  • iamsomnath is offline
#3
Excellent report and what a place !!!
#4 Sep 28th, 2018, 11:19
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamsomnath View Post Excellent report and what a place !!!
Thank You Somnath Da
#5 Sep 28th, 2018, 18:29
Join Date:
Jun 2018
Location:
Pune
Posts:
15
  • silentcurrent is offline
#5
Nice detailing. Ye Dil Mange More !!
#6 Sep 28th, 2018, 19:46
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by silentcurrent View Post Nice detailing. Ye Dil Mange More !!
Thank You
#7 Sep 28th, 2018, 19:52
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#7
This is 3rd Part of the series Budget Trip To Ladakh. To reiterate again, we are on our 15 Day trip to Ladakh following the below itinerary (roughly).

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh – Khardung La – Hunder / Diskit :

Today we woke up by around 5:30 AM in the morning and were done with our morning chores within an hour. However we took our own sweet time to prepare the breakfast and have it. It's just been 3rd day that we were preparing breakfast, but this preparation of Tea and Maggie every morning felt too monotonous and boring. However considering our budget we knew we have to continue the same.

Later at around 8AM Rigzin Ji accompanied Achu to handover the permits. Rigzin Ji was kind enough to get the necessary photocopies too. I quickly took a glance through them and was glad to find out that we had got the permit for Turtuk and Hanle. Well, getting permits for both of these places depends more on luck. We had to pay a large portion of our agreed cost to Rigzin Ji and were asked to pay the remaining balance to Achu after dropping us to Manali.

After chit-chatting for a while finally we started our joruney by 8:45 AM. Well, today we had plans to cross Khardung La which is famous for being World's Highest Motorable Road. Truely speaking, this is the day we were most afraid of, because of all the horror stories regarding low oxygen and AMS that we had heard before, in various blogs and YouTube.

Willpower and determination concurs all. People do not lack strength, they lack will. Thus we decided to stay mentally strong. And anyway we started taking Coca 6X twice daily from Srinagar onwards and had Diamox handy in case we needed it. And in worst case, we knew we are carrying the Oxygen Can too.


Once you start driving outskirts of Leh you'd notice the greeneries are dwindling away gradually. It took us around 2.5 hours to drive to Khardungla. In between we had to stop a while for the documentation procedures and to submit the permits. Also before reaching Khardung La, we were stucked in a traffic congestion on narrow one-lane.

Once we reached Khardung La, achu warned us not to spend more than 15-20 minutes at such high altitude else it can be a risk for us. Avik, Sushmita, Ayan and Piu went ahead to a gompa nearby, whereas Me and Suparna choosed to visit the local summit sign and click some pictures instead.




The journey upto Khardung village was mostly uneventfull as most of us were feeling a bit uneasy due to severe headache. Thus we started smelling camphor which gave us a bit of relief. Let me give you a tip here, always carry camphor and popcorn while going to high altitude. It comes to a great rescue in such cases.

Also I must mention that, there are army hospitals right at Khargung La, where you can visit in case you are facing severe issues. They are equipped with Oxygen Cylinders and necessary medications for the tourists.

Although we were not feeling hungry due to the uneasiness, but Achu advised us to have some food, else we'd feel more weaker. Finally anyhow we completed our lunch and started proceeding.

We reached Diskit Monastery by around 3:45 PM. Due to the scorching heat of Sun, we choosed to stay in a shade nearby, whereas Ayan went ahead to click some pictures.


Hunder and Diskit both are the major towns of Nubra Valley, so one can choose to stay at either of the place. Although after discussing with achu, he suggested us to stay at Hunder instead. It's just 7KM and took us around 30 minutes to drive to Hunder. Achu drove us to a homestay named Shayok Guest House and we loved it at our first glance.


Again, as usual, a bit of buttering and bargaining, and we were settled!!

The homestay itself looked like a honeymoon suite with breathtaking view of the mountains. Being situated beside Shayok River, one can hear the splashing sound of the same which is pleasing to ears.


The girls were very tired and thus they hit the bed, whereas we boys went upstairs to the balcony and pulled a chair together!! The rest of the evening we spent chit-chatting amongst ourselves.

Well, one thing I must mention here is that, post Leh, electricity is mostly based on solar and thus at all places after Leh, you'll get electricity in between 7PM to 11 PM to charge your necessary items. And another important thing to note is that, all the hotels / guest houses post Leh, offers rooms with Meal Plan (Breakfast & Dinner). Although you can choose to take room without the meals, however I'd strongly advise against that, considering the lack of other possible options.


Although specifically at Hunder / Diskit, there's a small market, but considering the remoteness of the place, they mostly prepare food based on head count if ordered in advance. Well, situation can be different during peak season when there are lots of tourists around. However the rooms with meal plan are generally cheaper and most viable option than taking rooms only and having food outside / seperately.

Well during the evening, the weather started becoming chilly and thus we decided to go to the room instead. Now that we were feeling hungry, we thought of having the famous bengali snacks i.e. Muri - Chanachur (puffed rice with bombay mix). Later a hotel staff came in to enquire if we needed WiFi to make calls back home and we grabbed the opportunity. However the connection was very slow and we can understand the reason behind it, considering the situation of infrastructure there. Although after trying a quite few times, we could successfully connect with our family and informed them that we might not be able to connect with them regularly and asked them to not to worry in such case and that we'd try to connect with them wherever possible. Although we had already informed them all these before leaving Kolkata and again at Leh, but you know how parents are like!!

Finally at around 8:30 PM we were served dinner. Girls were still sleeping and thus we had to woke them up. We just loved the dining place. It's like authentic ladakhi style. However unfortunately, the food was not that tasty. We thought, it might be their cooking style and we can't expect more than this at such remote place.


Avik couldn't take that anymore and choosed to have puffed rice with water (jol diye muri) instead. Later we were chit-chatting for a while, when Avik informed that he's not feeling well and having stomach ache due to digestion issues. Well the lunch we had at Khardung village was very bad and even the place was very unhygenic. Infact almost all of us faced more or less issues including achu himself due to that lunch of ours. However in case of Avik, he seemed to have developed some kind of food posioning instead.

Sushmita got very tensed and considering the situation, we decided that I'd move in with Ayan and Piu at Girl's room whereas Sushmita and Suparna will be here with Avik at Boy's room. Sushmita and Suparna decided to gave Avik a medicine (something related to gastric, I'm not much aware of the medicines though).

Well we didn't had much to do later that night and thus we called off the day and hit the bed.

2nd Aug : Day 6 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit :

Today again, was a rest day for us and thus we slept till around 7:30 AM. Yes, 7:30 AM is considered late, considering the fact that most of the days we had to woke up by 5:00 - 5:30 AM. After being done with our morning chores, we were served breakfast by around 9 AM.

We came to know that Avik had vomiting last night and that Suparna and Sushmita was awake till late night while we slept. Considering the situation, we decided to take him to a Army Hospital nearby, however Avik denied and asked us to relax as he was feeling fine now. It's good that he had vomiting, else it was becoming uneasy for him. We too thought that, as he already had vomiting, the issue is now solved. We had no idea what was going to happen next.

After having our breakfast, while looking out for achu, I found that he's still asleep and thus I had to woke him up!! While he got ready, we chatted for a while. And finally we started at around 9:30 AM.

Today we had plans to make a day trip to Turtuk. Turtuk is a village which comes under Baltistan and was a part of Pakistan until 1971. After that India gained controlled of 4 such villages of Baltistan region. It was around the year 2009, after which Govt. decided to allow tourism to Turtuk.

Considering this strategic change, tourism is very limited and so are the permits. And you'd be amazed to know that, Turtuk is the last village after which Pakistan controlled Gitgit-Baltistan begins. Turtuk is also the gateway to Siachen Glaciers. And thus you'd be able to spot all those brave-hearts of whom we have only heard of, in TV or internet.

Well, we all know (or might have heard sometime), that Gilgit-Baltistan is the most beautiful part of (undivided) Kashmir which is unfortunately now under Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). And you'd know how much true is that, if you visit Turtuk (as it's a part of Baltistan). A village located on the bank of Shayok River offerring a breathtaking view of green valleys feels like heaven.

It took us around 2.5 hours to reach Turtuk. It's a small village enfilled with beauty. One can also choose to stay here, as there are lots of homestays around the village. However considering our plan, we'd have to travel a lot in order to reach Pangong Tso tomorrow. And thus we decided to stick to the plan and return to Hunder.

One must be there to embrace the nature's beauty. It's like god have created this place on a spree!! However my pictures doesn't justify the beauty of the place.


Achu asked us to follow him to the old Royal House which is now considered as Museum. Well, it's actually not a museum as such, however it being a royal house, have the weapons which belonged to their heriditary. A person - who is the current king himself, explains who and how invaded the village and the whole heriditary of him. He also explains the story of moving into Pakistan and again back to India. Unfortunately I don't remember anything!! However the royal house is situated deep inside the village and I just loved the walk through the village.

You can still find Balti peoples here in Turtuk. The locals here are very nice and smiling however kind of afraid. Whenever I tried clicking some pictures, they would turn away their face.














Finally after spending some time around the villages, we went ahead to a nearby restaurant for having lunch. I just loved the location and appearance of the restaurant. Strategically palced in the bank of Shayok River overlooking the mountains and the beautiful valley, what can be a more great place to eat?

Finally we started back at around 2:30 PM. The journey back to Hunder was mostly uneventful except an instance where a lots of kids approached our vehicle for chocolates and upon giving them a handful of chocolates, the locals started yelling at us, as due to this of their behaviour they might get into an accident.

After reaching Hunder, achu drove us to Sand Dunes as we wanted to experience camel ride. Here in Hunder, unlike the common ones, one can see bactrian camel mostly. The packages were of 15mins, 30mins and 1 hour. We took the package of 30mins which costed us Rs. 350/- each. We were allocated a ticket and a token number and were asked to wait till our turn comes up.


Suparna refrained from going for a ride as she felt afraid of felling down or whatever, however rest of us proceeded. And once we began the ride, we thought 15 mins would have been more than enough and we might have took wrong decission by choosing the 30 mins slot. However the ride was fun and enjoyable. After that, we spent around an hour there clicking pictures and later achu drove us back to our hotel.

Rest of the evening we chit-chatted amongst ourselves over a plate of Muri - Chanachur (Puffed Rice with Bombay Mix). Today we requested the staffs to allow us to have later dinner if possible and they agreed.

Later at around 9:30 PM, we were served dinner. Again the food was not that good however surviable. Post dinner, we chit-chatted for a while and later we called off the day and hit the bed, as tomorrow we had to start early.

However this article would be incomplete without our Coca story which we named as "Coca Kando" (Coca Incident). Well it's like, every morning and every night the girls would comeup to their husband to give us drops of Coca 6X. And it used to taste so raw that we all used to avoid it. Well going by these, we even created a song based on the tones of infamous "Sonu Viral Song". However unfortunately, I won't be able to present it here on a public forum considering all the foul languages we used for the same.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.

Reviews :

Shayok Guest House : Truely speaking, my vocabulary is very limited to justify the beauty of this place. We being the only tourists enjoyed the whole guest house. The room were no less than a honeymoon suite. The entrance is beautifully decorated with flowers with a shade in the garden to have a cup of tea while embracing the beauty of mother nature. The whole guest house, rooms and the washrooms were very clean and well maintained such that we kept our shoes outside. The dining place is one of the best I have ever seen. It's designed like actual Ladakhi Style dining, which helps to guests to get a taste of their culture. The staffs are very nice, humble and always smiling. They are very helpful and in case you need anything they just a call away. However we didn't liked their food much, though it might be an issue with our taste buds as we are not used to different kind of cooking styles.








Costing :

Shayok Guest House : Rs. 8000/- (2 x Double Bed Room @ Rs. 2000/- x 2 Days). The price includes breakfast and dinner. We stayed 3 pax in each room.
Tickets at Turtuk Museum : Rs. 300/- (Rs. 50/- per pax)
Camel Ride at Hunder : Rs. 350 per pax for 1 Hour Ride.

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts :

Shayok Guest House : +91-94694-57784

Bakir (Our Achu, The Driver, Very friendly young chap, Works for Rigzin) : +91-94696-66401 / +91-70514-45539. He drove a white Aria which belonged to Rigzin, under registration number JK 10A 4036.

Mr. Rigzin (The driver who took us to Stanti Stupa) : +91-94697-31211. He drives a white Maruti Suzuki Eeco under registration number JK 10 6530.

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#8 Sep 28th, 2018, 20:00
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#8
This is 4th Part of the series Budget Trip To Ladakh. To reiterate again, we are on our 15 Day trip to Ladakh following the below itinerary (roughly).

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso :

Achu already informed us last night that we'd have to start early today, as we'd be going to Pangong Tso through Agham – Shyok – Durbuk – Tangste. And that, we'd have to cross 3-4 water stream, and that the water level rises gradually as the day preceds. Thus we needed to start early morning as much as possible to avoid the road blocks and getting stuck.

We woke up at around 5:00 AM in the morning and gradually got ready. Although we decided to leave by 7AM, however the hotel staffs informed that they won't be able to provide us breakfast before 7AM. They also informed that, there's nothing to worry, and that they have already discussed the same with Achu last night and he's aware of the same.

They further informed us that there's nothing to worry as the water level is generally low these days and we won't be having much problems.

In the meantime, Sushmita came up and informed that Avik is having loose motion and she's having her gut feeling that something is not right. We were sure by then that Avik has developed some serious kind of food posioning. While we were discussing of taking him to an Army Hosital first before proceeding towards Pangong Tso, in the meantime our breakfast were served.

In the meanwhile, Ayan and Piu joined us and informed that, Ayan has got some issues on his back due to the Camel Ride yesterday and that he's not able to sit properly due to pain. Well the most funny part is, he choosed to have his breakfast standing instead.

After having our breakfast, we payed up the bills and left after bidding goodbye to all the staffs for such a wonderful stay by around 8:10 AM.

Well, now we had 2 patients and before further proceeding towards high altitude it's best to have a round of consultation. There are lots of Army Camps of the brave-hearts who serve at Siachen throughout Nubra valley. Achu drove us to one such camp. Noticing us civilians, they came forward and guided us accordingly. The doctor confirmed that Avik really have developed a serious kind of food posioning and gave him some medicines and ORS. Although we were carrying our own ORS'es, however the doctor informed that Avik should consume that specific ORS or something of same composition. And unfortunately, the ORS'es that were carrying and that we generally get in market are not of that kind.

They even asked him to go to the canteen and get some Curd and Banana too. When they went up there, the attendant himself informed that the Curd they have right now is 2 days old and thus expired. And that the new lot would take around 3-4 hours to get delivered. Noticing all these Sushmita exclaimed "Half of the condition will be cured by the behaviours of these brave-hearts".


Well we spotted 2 Bengali officers too who guided us accordingly regarding Ayan. They gave some ointment to Ayan and some medicines too. BTW did I mentioned all these were for free?

All these took a while and finally we started by around 9:15 AM. A few minutes of drive took us to a place where there was no road. Achu informed us that this is the 1st river that are crossing. Although the river seemed to have dried up totally and there was no water. Achu informed that, all the water streams that we are going to cross are from glaciers. And as the sun starts rising high, glaciers starts to melt and the water level increases. Thus people starts early morning in order to cross those paths.

The patch in between was in a devastating state. And achu used to drive very fast and thus whoevever used to sit at the last row would definitely ended up hitting their head multiple times throughout the journey. And his speed of driving increases with the beats of remixes that he used to hear. However not a single point of time we felt insecure. Instead his command over the steering wheel is something to praise for.

And man, I tell you, the remixes he used to hear, is another story of it's kind. He loves all kind of "dhinchak music" and thus his full collection were comprised of Punjabi Remixes of which we gradually started feeling irritating. First of all we didn't used to understand a single word except "Munda" (Guys) and "Kuri" (Girls). And surpsingly all the songs are surrounded with those two words mostly. And secondly that kind of catchy beats of remixes started giving us an headache!!

Well, we mutually decided with achu that one day he'd play his playlists and next day it'd be our turn!! Although when our turn used to come up, he'd have again started playing his playlists after listening to ours for few hours. He used to say, "aisa gana chalega to mujhe nind a jayega" (if you play these type of songs, I'd get sleepy)!! The party songs that we used to play were too old for him!! Well it didn't took us much time to realize that our taste is music is compeltely different!!

At around 1:20 PM, we reached Durbuk, and achu gave us a halt for lunch. We went ahead to a dhaba nearby and ordered our lunch. Well after our experience at Khardung Village, we got very cautious about our lunch. Even the staffs at Shayok Guest House informed us that most of the vegetables takes days to come up to this point and thus they are never fresh. So they informed us to have only such foods which are cooked right in front of us like Maggie, Bread Omlette, Fried Rice etc. Although rice would have been boiled in advance, however there's nothing to worry about that as that being a staple food here, generally gets sold always. However they specifically asked us to avoid curry's like Mix Veg, Muttor Paneer etc. at any cost as there's no way to justify if they are fresh or not or even when they were cooked.

While we were just chit-chatting after having our meals, a vehicle suddenly came up from nowhere and co-incidentally we noticed Rigzin Ji coming out of it. We were glad to see him again. He was returning to Leh from Pangong Tso with some tourists and they too happened to stop by for their lunch too. We pulled a seat together and chit-chatted for a while before we parted our ways.

After driving for around an hour or so, Achu asked us "Kuch Dikha?" (Did you noticed anything?) and we were like "Kya Dikhega?" (Well, what are we supposed to check out?) trying to see here and there what he wanted us to see. And then achu exclaimed "Are samne dekho na" (Hey man, see straight) and we just freaked out with joy to have a glimpse of a giant blue lake - Pangong Tso!!


The accommodation options at Pangong Tso, are around the Spangmik village which is right on the bank of Pangong Tso. It took us another 30 minutes drive to Spangmik by the side of Pangong Tso. Well here too one needs to cross 2 river streams and on a instance we noticed the flow is very high and lots of vehicles are waiting there thinking about how to cross the stream. However achu like a hero, took the vehicle a bit backwards and then with full accelaration drove through the stream!! Noticing achu, other vehicles started taking their vehicle backwards too!!

Finally achu drove us to a homestay nearby, however we wanted to stay in the camps / tents instead. But achu informed us that camps / tents would be out of our budget. However after requesting him, he took us to the camps / tents right at the front row. He asked us to check them out if we can manage within our budget.

Well, truely speaking, although we were aware about the exorbitant prices of those camps (specially the ones at front row) from internet. However I still had a positive feeling considering it to be a lean season and we could hardly spot much tourists at Pangong. Me, Avik and Ayan went ahead and started out bargaining. Well I would consider this as the best bargaining we ever did in our lifetime. A lots of hand-shakes, hugging and butterring and finally we got it!!

We were glad to go back to the vehicle and inform the girls that we made out at the first row itself!! Even achu got shocked for the price we bargained!!

After putting our luggages into the camp, we pulled the chairs together and kept on adoring the beauty of the place and the lake itself. We heard a lot about Pangong Tso and it's beauty however checking out pictures at internet and experiencing the same standing right in front of it is a completely different experience.

Within a while, we were called for evening Tea and Biscuits. Although Avik again, started feeling a bit of cold so he skipped it and went inside the tent. Later after having our tea, rest of us went ahead to the Lake. Ayan & Piu went ahead for clicking pictures whereas Me, Suparna and Sushmita was just walking around the lake adoring it's beauty.


Later we came back in the evening to notice that Avik has been developing fever. Without wasting much time, we requested Achu to drive us to the Army Hospital which we noticed while coming to Spangmik. While Suparna, Ayan and Piu stayed at the camp instead, me and Sushmita went ahead with Avik. Achu first drove us to a medical center nearby, however we couldn't find a doctor there. And the medical attendents there mistakenly thought that it was because of AMS as that's the common problem amongst the tourists staying at Pangong Tso. Although we tried hard to make them understand that it's not because of AMS instead, it's because of the food posioning, however we failed. Thus without wasting much time and energy, we requested achu to drive us to Army Hospital instead, as that would be the best option.

The Army Hospital was around 9-10 KM's drive from the camp, however as we started proceeding, we noticed that the stream that we crossed few hours ago has turned vivacious and washed away the portion of the road. We got tensed and asked achu to not to take any risk instead. However our achu again like a hero, turned the vehicle around with full accelaration and passed over the stream!! Although we were praising of what achu did, in the meantime we were wondering if this is the case now, what would happen while coming back? Achu asked us not to worry, as the Glacier doesn't melts once the sun goes down and thus post evening most of the river stream dries up.

Within next few mintues we reached Army Hospital. Sushmita and Avik explained the whole situation starting from the lunch at Khardung Village to the doctor there. However after listening to everything clearly, the doctor exclaimed "Bangali?" and we were like "Wow!!". We never expected to find a Bengali person at such place ever. He happened to belong from Barrackpore and is posted here for last 2.5 years. Well, now the communication got much easier!!

After examining him for a while, the doctor informed us that, there's nothing to worry. The medicines prescribed by the Army Hospital at Nubra Valley are perfectly fine and that he's developing fever because of the effect of the same only. He also explained some medicial terms and reasons which I hardly remember!! However he gave some medicines and assured us that he'd be fine. We thanked him a lot for all the help and such a friendly gesture and left.


Well going through all these took us a bit long and thus after returning we found them to be tensed. We told them the whole story and specially about that road that got washed way because of which we were stuck for a while.

Within a moment, we were called for dinner. Although veg, but it was so tasty and heavenly. We were glad to have some good food after 2 long days. After having our dinner I still choosed to wait there as I was charging the battery of my DSLR at the dining. The owner was watching some movie and I joined along!!

However at around 11:00 PM or so, Sushmita came up and called me. She looked very tensed. Well, unfortunately Avik was developing more fever instead of the same being cured. Sushmita got very tensed and started crying, although we tried consoling her that there's nothing to worry and we all are here. We couldn't decide what to do, to wait and watch or to take him to the hospital again. But if we need to take him to the hospital again, the big question is how? At such remote place, we couldn't figure out what to do. And Sushmita started cursing this decission of hers of coming to this trip.

Ayan, being a doctor, I called him up for his opinion. Finally we decided that doctor have already given him a medicine for fever and it might take up some time to effect. So we decided to watch tonight and we'll take him to the hospital tomorrow with the first ray of the sun, if thing's doesn't goes as expected. They gave him some paracetamol too I believe.

Later considering the situation of Avik, we decided that Avik, Sushmita and Piu should sleep at one tent while we 3 would take up another. As the lights went off, I got very excited to experience the Milky Way with bare eyes. In Kolkata or in other major cities this is a rarest (infact impossible) view due to all the light pollutions. I always dreamed about doing astrophotography and this was my chance.


While Suparna feared of sleeping alone, she choosed to stay awake along with us, however Me and Ayan indulged ourselves into astrophotography. Later as the clock striked 12:30, we experienced another rare view i.e. rising of moon. We all have experienced sunrise sometime or the other in our life, however experiencing moonrise was something very unique.

We kept on clicking star trails and milky ways till around 2:30 and then we choosed to call of the day and hit the bed.

4th Aug : Day 8 : Buffer Day at Pangong Tso :

Well today was a rest and acclimitization day before we further move ahead and thus we planned to sleep till late morning. However at around 7AM, Sushmita came and woke me up informing that Avik is still sufferring with fever. I got ready and went ahead to call achu to take us to army hospital again, as depending on the situation we'd have to go down in case things detoriate.

As we were about to leave, the staffs came up and informed that our breakfast is ready. Finally we woke up Suparna and others and informed them about the situation of Avik and left after having our breakfast.

Noticing us, the doctor came forward and asked us about our whereabouts. We informed him about the high fever and even told him that we couldn't decide what to do at that time of the night so we gave him a paracetamol. Although he appriciated the act of ours however informed us that he's there 24x7 and we could have come up at night itself. Well after examining the condition, he informed us that, everything is fine and there's nothing to worry and that this high fever is because of the effect of medicines on that infection. He asked us to wait and decided to run a drag of saline to finally cure any issues.

We being tensed, asked him whether we should move down and go back, however he denied and asked us not to worry and to continue with whatever our plans are. While Avik was lying around, we chit-chatted for a while. In between some of his senior officers came in and offered us prasad. Later he even bought us a large pouch of Tropicana Grape Juice and asked us to have the same while feeding Avik some of it!!


Finally as we were about to leave he again offered us a large pouch of Tropicana Mango Juice, however Avik being showing his humbleness denied the same. And for that, only he knows how much we mocked him after leaving the place. Anyway, the doctor was like a God for us. He even asked us to visit during the evening or night if things turns up otherwise and he'd push him another round saline which would completely cure the problem.

The doctor was too humble to even offer us his phone in case we wanted to speak to our family back home. However we couldn't connect due to the connectivity issues except Avik.

Finally we returned back to our camp by around 1:00 PM. Well as I explained before, all the homestays and hotels post Leh comes with Meal Plan (Breakfast & Dinner), however they don't offer Lunch, as most tourist tends to go out during the day and Lunch is mostly done while on road at some Dhabas.

In the mean time, Rigzin called at achu's mobile to ask us about our whereabouts and suggested us to move down in case things turns up urgly, as in Hanle we'd not get Army Camp nearby. We assured him that, we have consulted the doctor at the Army Camp and things would be fine now. However if problem doesn't solves by tonight, we won't be moving ahead to Hanle. Well I guessed it correctly, that achu might have got tensed by us making the rounds of Army Hospitals again and again, might have reached out to Rigzin which is his duty. And Rigzin being caring about his guests, had to call us up.

When we returned, we noticed all of them to be in a deep sleep. We woke them up and informed about the whole story and then Suparna started mocking Avik for denying the Mango Juice. Later achu drove us to a restaurant nearby where we had our lunch and then he drove us to the Shooting Point. Well the Shooting Point is a touristy place (a point actually) beside Pangong Tso where the last scene from the movie 3 Idiots was shooted and also few shots from Jab Tak Hai Jaan.


The place was full touristy, with seats as like 3 Idiots and the Bikes from Jab Tak Hai Jaan which comes at a premium though!! However the water is crystal clear at this point and thus one can experience the reflections of mountains over the lake. Few Yak's are decorated nicely, however forget about a ride, just clicking a picture would require Rs. 30/-.

Although I wished to click a picture of the Yak, but Rs. 30/- didn't seemed justifiable to me. Instead we spent some time there and returned back to our camp.

Later during the afternoon, we went ahead to the lake and spent some time waking around the same. Finally we clicked few pictures of ours in various poses and came back to our tent.


I tried doing a timelapse, however considering the charging options, I couldn't take risk and do it for a much longer time.

Later during the evening, as the sun started hitting the horizon, the sky turned yellowish and it was such an amazing view that it can't be described in words.


As we didn't had much to do, we went ahead to the dining hall and started gossiping among ourselves. In the meanwhile, the owner came up and asked us that we can use the phone to call our family back there if we want to. This is something free service for tourists staying at the camp. We grabbed the opportunity, however it took each one of us a long time to get connected due to connectivity issues.

Finally the dinner was served. After having our dinner, we choosed to stay there and kept on gossiping as we were charging the batteries of our DSLR's!!

Later we went outside to try astrophotography again just in case to make sure we don't miss the shots and our chance. Avik being fit today joined us outside, chit-chatting with us. After clicking some shots, I gave the tripod to Avik as he wished to click some pictures of the moon's reflection over Pangong Tso. However ubnfortunately, he was out of luck today, as the sky was mostly covered with clouds, and thus the view of yesterday didn't re-iterated today.


Well tomorrow, we had to travel a long way and again had to start early. Thus after chit-chatting for a while, we called off the day and hit the bed.

NOTE : (1) There are various medical centers throughout Pangong including the Army Hospital which operates 24x7 considering the popularity of the place after 3 Idiots which raised the inflow of tourist. The most common problem is breathing issues due to the same being situated at around 14,270 ft. However if you can acclimatize well, that shouldn't be an issue. But in worst case, you have necessary medical options in case of any emergency. (2) Nights are really chilly and thus don't try be a hero / heroine and take necessary precautions / protections.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.
Reviews :

Royal Camp Pangong : The camp is situated right in the front row, so you can have clear unobstructed view of the lake. The camps are of really great quality and well maintained. They provides 4 blankets which is more than sufficient to manage the chilly nights. Infact you'd feel using 2 or 3 is more than enough. The washroom is attached which is a great plus point. However they would provide hot water only for an hour in the morning at specific time and all the guests are expected to take bath during that time.

The meals (breakfast and dinner with morning and evening Tea) are served as buffets in the dining hall and I must say, it's heavenly and fingerlicking. However please don't consider it as of your hometown considering the altitude. Although post Leh, you'd only get Veg foods. So for die-hard Non-Veg fans like us, it's a bit of an issue. But this is not specific to this camp, it's throughout all the places you'll visit after Leh.

Last but not the least, the staffs are always smiling and very helpful. What else you can ask for.










Costing:

Royal Camp Pangong : Rs. 10,000/- (2 x Tents @ Rs. 2500/- x 2 Days). The price includes breakfast and dinner along with morning and evening Tea. We stayed 3 pax in each tent.

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts:

Royal Camp Pangong : Tsering Tundup - +91-94198-34234 / +91-96978-37702 / royalcamppangong@gmail.com / www.royalcamppangong.com

Bakir (Our Achu, The Driver, Very friendly young chap, Works for Rigzin) : +91-94696-66401 / +91-70514-45539. He drove a white Aria which belonged to Rigzin, under registration number JK 10A 4036.

Mr. Rigzin (The driver who took us to Stanti Stupa) : +91-94697-31211. He drives a white Maruti Suzuki Eeco under registration number JK 10 6530.

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#9 Sep 28th, 2018, 20:10
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#9
This is 5th Part of the series Budget Trip To Ladakh. To reiterate again, we are on our 15 Day trip to Ladakh following the below itinerary (roughly).

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
5th Aug : Day 9 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle

Today we woke up around 5:30 AM in the morning and quickly got ready after getting over with our morning chores. However we choosed to skip bath considering the shortage of hot water. Later around 7:30 AM we were called for Tea & Breakfast. Shortly after having our breakfast we bidded goodbye to the staffs for such a wonderful stay within such wonderful budget and left.

The route followed along the bank Pangong Tso, however this side of the lake is kind of different, as contrary to the deep blue colour, it's mostly bottle green and crystal clear and transparent. Pangong Tso is around 600 KM although only 40% of the same is in India which measures to around 130 KM roughly and remaining 60% is in China.

However, this side of the lake is a delicate region due to the LOC between Indo-China. The opposite side of the lake is China and my vocabulary is limited to explain how close the border was. However as Achu told us, one cannot cross the border through these regions, it's mostly the local villages though. We took a breif halt for enjoying the beauty of the lake for the last time before bidding goodbye!!


Well, we'd always remember the ride for next 2 hour or so, as literally there were no road and we were driving through the pebbles in between a secluded desert. In between we had various adventures because of which it was a fun filled ride for us. At one instance there was a large lake in front of us and achu couldn't figure out how to cross the same. Thus he started driving on another direction to find a way to cross the same. And finally we found some marks of tyres following which we crossed the lake. Well, I must mention again, it's totally a desert region, with views of mountains at distance having no road neither any marked ways. So practically one really needs to have prior experience, as the drive is completely directionless!!


In between, we came up across some animals freely running through the desert and we couldn't identify the same. It looked like a horse but wasn't exactly a one. Upon asking Achu he informed us that locally they call it a Zebra. However we couldn't believe him in this case. In the meanwhile we noticed a person was standing there out of nowhere with a tripod like device. We stopped there and went ahead to the person and upon enquiring we came to know, he's a field worker of some security company based in Srinagar which have it's head office in Pune or somewhere else (I forgot). That device is a GPS Data collecting device which can collect all the data in the range of upto 4 KM's. We felt really curious, however after speaking to him, it seemed that he's a mere field worker and have been trained to operate the device and that's it. He knows nothing more than that. However we were very curious that how he reached here in between a desert out of nowhere and how he's planning to move out. Upon enquiring him, he further informed us that, there's a vehicle which keeps dropping him and his team members at specific distance and the vehicle would come again and pickup all of them after 4 hours, as the device takes around 4 hours to collect and record all the data.

Well, it seemed a bit fishy, but then we thought, due to it's strategic placement, Ladakh is known for heavy military presence all over the area with almost every turn requiring seperate permits. And the jawans keeps patrolling throughout the region now and then. Thus it's almost next to impossible for them to avoid their preying eyes. Considering the same we thought of moving ahead!! However before we left, he seemed to be a local, thus we asked him, whether he have any idea about these animals throughout the desert. He confirmed that they are horse indeed, but they are Zanskar Horse and looks a bit different than the ones we generally see.




Next after driving a bit further, we came up over a highway with deserts on both the sides as far as our eyes can see. On another instance, our car got stuck in the middle of the desert. Finally after trying sometime, achu asked us to get down and push the car to help him out. After trying the same for several times, we got scared, as we were really unable to get out of the situation even after trying really hard. Then achu came up with an idea and informed us that, this way the car will get more stuck into the sand, as it's dried up. So he asked us for the water bottles that we were carrying. He emptied some water over the sand near the tyres to turn them into semi-solid and moved back to streering wheel and asked us to push the car again. This time we suceeded!!


We were glad to get out of the situation and then we started proceeding again. This part of the road was beautiful and heavenly. Green meadows, a small river stream, zanskar horse running by the side of stream and all these overlooking the mountains at distant. Well we were like "Wow!!", it felt like we were in Switzerland. If we haven't travelled through Loma - Nyoma bend, we'd have never known that such beautiful palces exists in our country. However you have to live with imagination of how the place looks like by my description (which is not upto the mark I know), as I won't be able to produce any pictures as the same is an restricted area prohibiting photoghraphy due to the same being Hanle Checkpost.





Next part of the road was very smooth and I slept throughout that part. However when I woke up I overheared other people laughing about some kind of roller coaster ride. Although I couldn't get the context at first, but later Avik, Sushmita and Suparna asked me to just wait and watch. Well it took me no time to understand what they were talking about!! The road actually is a highway and being very smooth, although uneven, goes a bit up and then down again and as achu was driving fast, it felt like a roller coaster ride.

Although the whole route being very remote there were no shops throughout the way and thus we didn't got any scope to have our lunch in between. However thanks to the snacks that we were carrying!! Finally we reached Hanle by around 2:45 PM. Achu drove us to a homestay and we went ahead for enquiring. A lady came up noticing us. We informed her that we'd need 2 rooms, a dorm for 4 pax and a double bedroom as Ayan wanted to have a seperate room.

Well, next 15 minutes, we did a lot of bargaining and requesting that we being budget tourists won't be able to afford the quoted rate. Finally the lady agreed. We being very hungry, we asked her if she can provide anything for lunch, but the lunch hour being over almost nothing was left. But she informed us, she can prepare us khichdi if we are okay with it and that it'd take her around 15-20 mins. We were more than happy to get khichdi after a long time!!


Well, while she prepared our lunch, we offloaded our luggage and went ahead to the rooms. The 4 bedded room was great, we just loved it. Generally the scenario is different with us, as we 4 always loves to stay together unlike other couples. The room was very cozy, comfortable and warm. We loved the place and the road that we travelled. Hanle being offbeat, we hardly noticed any tourist here except a group of 4 people who was there for birding. Ahh BTW did I mentioned that Hanle is a paradise for bird watchers?

Soon, we were called for lunch. Believe me, I don't know to express in words, but no matter how much I praise about the Khichdi, it would still be considered less. It was so fingerlicking and heavenly that we ate like we got something to eat after a week. It was definitely a stumptous lunch and we thanked the lady a lot for offerring us such great food. She instead pointed to an old person standing there and told us that "Thank him, he's the cook". We like hugged him for serving us such a great food. He was very happy by this of our behaviour!!

After taking rest for a while, we thought of going for a walk around the village. We went ahead towards the valley and then we caught up with some kids playing around the village. Luckily we were carrying chocolates and we were happy to offer them the same. However they were more happy than us for recieving such a surprise.










Later we came back to our homestay and left for a trip to Hanle Observatory. Well if you are not aware, then, Hanle Observatory which is also known as Indian Astronomical Observatory, which is famous for housing the world's 3rd highest optical telescope. The observatory houses several optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes.


However the weather being cloudy, we couldn't wait much and moreover the observatory was closed anyway. Avik being an avid bird watcher requested achu to take him to places where he can capture some birds on his camera. Achu drove through the valley and asked him to get down at one point. Ayan too went ahead with Avik and then achu drove us to a point nearby and parked the car hoping that they would walk to the car and in between they would get lots of birds.

However as times passed by, there were no signs of them. Finally as we started getting bored, we asked achu to drive back and take a look. We noticed, they didn't proceeded a single step from the point where we left them. And thus upon boarding the car we started mocking them. However they informed that they went up the hill and got an Eagle.

Later achu drove us here and there, however we couldn't understand whether achu was trying to take Avik to another place or just mistakenly took wrong turn. Finally after sometime, we drove back to our homestay.


Upon reaching, the lady came up and asked us to have evening Tea. Well the thing I always love about homestays is the attachment with the hosts. All of the family members gathered together and we started discussing various aspects, starting from their way of life, the Hanle Village, Hanle Observatory, Birding and all.

Later around the evening, it started raining badly and electricity went off. Although within few minutes they started solar . Thus we choosed to stay within the room and chit-chat among ourselves. Suddenly Avik remembered that he completely forgot about the Milkshake that the doctor gave him at Army Hospital (again for free!!). Well as the trip was coming to an end, we choosed to have it instead.

Later around 8:30 PM we were called up for dinner. It being raining outside and Hanle having no connectivity, achu too joined us today. Else most of the days he's busy speaking with his girlfriend!! The whole family was there and it was a great experience to spend some time with them.

Later we went ahead to our rooms respectively and without wasting much time, we called off the day, considering tomorrow we again have to cross such glacial streams, which in turn means we have to wake up early morning tomorrow again!!

6th Aug : Day 10 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)

Today we woke up at around 5:30AM and got ourselves ready within an hour. However again all of us chose to skip bath because of no availability of hot water at such early morning. Considering the altitude, temperature and the unwanted rains it could turn up too risky if we'd have gone for chilled water. Later we were served breakfast at around 7:00AM.*Post breakfast, when we went ahead to pay the bills to the lady, she gestured us to wait as that birding group was already there paying up their bills. Later when we went ahead, she smilingly said "aap logo ko bahut kam karke diya na isliye" (Well, I gestured you to wait because yesterday I have lowered the rates for you guys)!! Finally after paying up all the bills, we thanked her and all the family members whole heartedly for such a wonderful stay and heavenly food. Soon, we*loaded our luggage and left by 7:30 AM.

While driving through the valley, we noticed a Rainbow appearing in, which made us very excited to spot such a rare sight. Soon, it started raining badly, which made us a bit tensed about our luggages loaded above. Although they were covered by a tarpaulin, however we had prior experience of our luggages getting wet at Pelling. Right at that moment, Avik, Sushmita and Trisha exclaimed "Abar sei rollercoaster" (The roller coaster road is back again). Well, while coming to Hanle yesterday, I slept throughout this part of the road, so this was my chance to experience the roller coaster ride that I missed yesterday!!

Finally after driving through the roller coaster road we came up to the same checkpoint from which we took the diversion instead towards Karzok which would lead us to Tso Moriri - Our destination for the day.

Well the journey afterwards was mostly uneventful except that we halted 2-3 times in between for releaving ourselves. Soon we came across a small lake and achu exclaimed again "Kuch Dikha?" (Did you notice anything?). This time we noticed a small lake in front of us. But it seemed a bit dull and very small considering the stories we heard about Tso Moriri. We asked achu if this is Tso Moriri and if yes then let's go back to Hanle again!! However achu denied and said "Yeh to chota lake hai, Tso Moriri ka baccha hai, Tso Moriri age ayega" (No no! This is a small lake instead. We are yet to reach Tso Moriri).


Listening to this I asked him back "To iska Maa or Baap kaun hai?" (Who is the father and mother of this lake then?). He replied "Tso Moriri maa hai or Pangong baap" (Tso Moriri is the mother and Pangong is the father) going by the gender of general naming conventions. And out of fun I blurt out "Ohh to Pangong ne ake Tso Moriri ko thok diya?" (So Pangong made out with Tso Moriri?) and listening to this he burst out of laugh and covered his face with his hands out of shyness!!

After spending some time by the lake we started proceeding towards Tso Moriri. For next few turns, to excite us, achu started taking various shortcuts and driving faster through the streams to make the water splash. And soon we could notice a huge blue lake - Tso Moriri.


One needs to drive quite a bit by the side of Tso Moriri to reach the main town. However this end of the lake seemed to be the home for various birds. Avik being a bird watcher went down and clicked few shots before we moved ahead towards the town. Upon reaching the town, we noticed, lots of people have gathered together by the side of the road in their cultural attire. Achu enquired a local person there and we came to know that, some reknowned Lama is going to pay a visit due to some occassion and thus the whole town have gathered here to welcome him.

Achu drove us further and stopped by a cottage nearby. Me, Avik and Ayan along with Achu went ahead to check out the same. The cottages were really nice and seemed very cozy and comfortable, however unfortunately they were not in mood to bargain and we couldn't agree with their quotation. Moreover we didn't like their attitude towards the guests. They were like "rehna hai to raho nahi to jao" (If you want to stay, stay, else go, don't waste our time). Thus without going into much argument we left. However as we were about to leave, one of them taunted from behind which made Me and Avik went back and it lead to an heated argument.

Well, having fixed rates is not an issue, but one should have welcoming attitude towards their guests, no matter they ends up staying or not. Next, we walked in to a camp beside the cottage, however we couldn't find anyone there to speak to. It seemed that all of the staffs went to the gathering.

Achu drove us to another camp nearby and asked us to check them out. We went ahead and checked out 2 camps one after another, however again, we couldn't spot a single staff throughout the premises.

Well, now we were getting a bit tensed as we checked out almost all the options available, however we couldn't find any staffs at any of the camps due to their ongoing cultural festival. We went back to achu and asked him whether there are any homestays around and if we can go there. Achu nodded positively however informed us that, homestays are all within the town and we won't be able to drive there due to the ongoing cultural gathering.

Achu pointed towards another 2 camps and asked us to check them out. Well those seemed to be our last hope, else we'd be stuck till evening until the gathering is over.

Although first one seemed a bit shady in comparison to the other one, however noticing the 2nd one, we could easily guess that it won't be within our budget considering the rates here. So we went ahead to the first one only. Glad that this time we could find the staffs there. Well the owner seemed to be a local unlike the one at cottage who seemed to be a Punjabi / Hariyanvi going by his dialect.

Well, frankly speaking, the property and the tents were really clean and well maintained, however, although I can't express it in words, something didn't feel right. I can't say it to be unhygenic, however it was kind of saturated or damp. I reached out to Avik and Ayan who was there with me for an opinion and both of them approved considering the non-availability of any other option.


Finally a few rounds of bargaining and we got it within our budget. Although lunch is generally not included in the meals, however considering it to be just around 12:30 PM and we didn't had our lunch, the owner agreed to prepare something for us without any extra charge.

We went ahead and informed the girls, and as expected they expressed their dissatisfaction towards our decission of staying here. However we tried making them understand that there's no other option left for us to explore, but the same went into vein. Fianlly we unloaded our luggage and went ahead to the tents.

Soon we were served tea. Well unfortunately a heated argument started between the girls and us regarding our choice to stay here over the cup of tea. They had no complains regarding the cleanliness of the palce or anything as such, however their main concern was the tents doesn't seems to be of good quality. And if it's rains, of which the probability is very high, considering the cloudy weather and that it's been raining since yesterday afternoon, these materials might not be enough to stop the water from pouring in. Although I agree, we knew, these tents are nowhere close to the quality of tents we got there at Pangong, but we didn't had much option considering the scenario.

Noticing us having argument over something and that achu couldn't understand a single word, he left, informing us that he'd be back by lunch and then he'd drive us to a view point nearby the lake.

After achu left, to proove their points, the girls took us to the tents and spotted that the extreme corners of the tents are still wet which means it's been raining here too and that these tents are incapable to stop the same from getting in. Well, considering we have already checked in, and that they are preparing lunch for us, we cannot leave right now, as that would be very rude thing to do so. At last, mutually we decided to stay here for the day and leave tomorrow to Tso Kar.

Finally we were called up for lunch and unexpectedly going by the expectation, it was really great instead!! Unfortunately, we couldn't spot achu anywhere, and thus after having our lunch, we chit-chatted for a while. Later, Avik and Sushmita decided to go for a walk towards the lake, whereas rest of us decided to take an afternoon nap.

Later we woke up at around 4PM and found that Avik and Sushmita both are present in their tent. Upon asking them, they informed that they went ahead towards the lake, however came back after sometime due to latrine emergency. Still we couldn't spot achu anywhere. We were really counting on him so that we can go by the lake and the view point he was taking about. We are kinda getting bored leisuring around there by the camp. Thus we decided to go for a walk together. However as we were about to start, it started drizzing and thus without taking any risk we quickly made our way back to the tents.


Soon it started raining heavily. Suddenly we noticed drops started pouring in from the corners. As the beds were placed towards the corners itself, we hurried and moved it to the middle. Although the corners of the bed already got wet by then. Meanwhile we noticed, the floor matress too is getting waterlogged. Noticing all these the girls started panicking as expected. Me and Avik quickly pushed the bed further towards the middle and put our luggages on the bed. And soon we realized that the case would be same at the tent Avik is staying. Me and Avik quickly grabbed an umbrella and made our way to his tent. We noticed the condition is more or less same as of our tent. Finally we returned to our tent after pushing the bed towards the middle and putting all the luggages over the bed.

Actually the problem was, the tarpaulin cover was only there on the upper side and lacks any cover on both the sides, thus in case of rainstorm, the walls of the tents gets wet. All four of us sat quitely. Well, it really turned into an adventurous moment!! However considering the high altitute and temperature, this kind of adventure is not really good for health though!! The girls were still stressed out. Noticing them Avik assured them not to worry, and that, if required, we 4 would spend the entire night on one tent keeping all the luggages on another tent over the bed. It's just a matter of one night and we'd easily overcome the same.


Later after around an hour or so the rain stopped and we went outside. Hearing our voice, Ayan came out and upon asking him, it seemed that the situation is same at his tent too. Noticing the owner, whom we used to call Uncle, we reached out to him and explained the situation. He came in and took a look and suggested us that, we could take up the tents on the other side. Technically those seemed to be of better quality with more protection. As when we went ahead to check them out, we found them to be intact after all these, which gave us all a peace of mind.

The staffs helped us moving our luggages to shift us to those tents. We started looking out for achu however we still couldn't spot his vehicle anywhere. Meanwhile, Ayan came in and informed us that Piu is sufferring from mild breathing issues. We asked him to give her a dose of Diamox and in case it gets worse we asked him to inaugerate the oxygen can.

Considering the worsening situation and achu being not there yet made us furious. Well, he promised that he'd be back within an hour or so, however it's been around 6 hours and still we couldn't spot him. We asked Ayan to be with her and we 4 went ahead to look out for achu. As we were about to start, Suparna proclaimed, pointing towards a car that it might be of Achu's. However the car looked a bit different thus without wasting much time, we went ahead looking out for him.

We went through the other camps nearby incuding the cottage where we had a heated argument before while looking for accommodation, however we couldn't spot him anywhere. On our way, we were wondering what if we have choosen to stay in the next camp, which we never went to bargain. Just to check out our intution, we went ahead and asked for the tariffs and we were quoted an whopping amount of Rs. 5000/- for 2 people with meals. Well if one quotes Rs. 3000/- it can be bargained down to Rs. 2000/- or less, but you can't really expect to bargain down a quote of Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 1500/- or so, considering the exotic location.

Well, after looking out for achu for quite some time, we lost all our hope and instead decided to take a walk towards the lake. The lake, as we visually experienced, seemed to be mystic realm of colours. Finally after spending quite some time there, we returned back to our hotel.


Noticing us, Ayan came up and informed that Piu is doing good now and there's nothing much to worry. Rest of the evening, we spent by the river stream, behind the camp. Soon we were called for Tea and later we gathered together at one tent and spent the evening chit-chatting amongst ourselves.

Later at around 8:30 PM, we were called for Dinner. We went ahead and noticed achu sitting there. I got very furious and directly charged him of not returning and leaving us at this secluded place alone. However he pleasingly said that he was there from the afternoon waiting for us to take us to the lake, however we never came and he thought that we wanted to take rest instead. After having a heated argument for next few minutes, Trisha interrupted me and asked him whether that car with a violet backlight parked beside the road, belongs to him or not and surprisingly he nodded positively.

Well, the story is, we noticed that car since we came out after having lunch. Even Trisha pointed towards that same car when we were about to go and find achu. However it's been 10 Days that we are travelling with him and never noticed that. Achu interrupted us in between and informed us that, he went to wash his car and came back before our lunch. However as the vehicle seemed to be new we couldn't identify it.

I felt really bad for charging achu like this. I know these people are generally very dependable and not like us, city dwellers. However, due to misunderstanding it came up to this. I apoligised to him for this of my behavior. Next, we had dinner together and again, unexpectedly the food was really great.

Later achu informed us that, he won't be driving us to Manali. Instead Rigzin has fixed a new driver who would be picking us up from Debring and continue the tour onwards. We were very upset to hear the same and together we decided to speak to Rigzin tomorrow morning.

Later we went ahead to uncle, as while booking, we informed him that we'd be staying for 2 nights, however considering the situation, specially about Piu, we decided to move out tomorrow. Well I must mention here, that this camp, might not look exclusive like the other ones nearby, but don't undestimate the food and service they provides. And the behaviour is something to praise for. The person, might be a bit poor, however his behavior is something that impressed us. Unlike the cottage which might have been more comfortable, but who knows, with that behaviour towards their guests, they would not get irritated for any help that we ask for.

Later we gossiped for a while before calling the day off.

7th Aug : Day 11 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar :

The plan for the day was to drive to Tso Kar which is a mere 3 hours drive, so there was nothing to hurry. Thus, we started our day a bit leisurely. Gradually we realized the tour is now coming to an end which made us a bit sad. But what made us more upset is achu would be leaving tomorrow.

At around 8:30 AM, the staffs came up asking if we needed hot water for our morning chores. Although they won't be able to provide us hot water for taking bath, but basics can be done. Later after few minutes, they came up with morning Tea. The day seemed to be another dull day, as it was still cloudy. Well, it seemed like, our luck is not going by our side for the last leg of our trip.

Later at around 10:00 AM, we were called for breakfast. After completeing our breakfast, we left towards our destination for the day - Tso Kar, after paying up all the bills and bidding him and all the staffs goodbye. Well, frankly speaking, we couldn't thank them enough for all the help and everything they have done for us. Although the beginning was messed up, but rest of the stay was really cozy and comfortable.

First, achu drove us to the view point that he mentioned yesterday. While we clicked few pictures of ours in various poses, it started drizzling again. Thus we quickly made our way into the vehicle.


The rest of the route was mostly uneventful, except that achu again started taking those shortcuts, which made us excited!! Meanwhile, it started raining badly again, which made us a bit worried about our lugagges that are loaded on top of the vehicle.

In between, Achu connected us with Rigzin, and I requested him to make him stay if possible, as we have developed a bonding while travelling with him for last 10 days. However Rigzin informed us that, he got lots of tourists at Leh and that he'd need him to cater them too. He further informed that, he's glad our tour went fantastic with him and he respects our emotions. However he have a business to take care of which feeds his family and achu both.

He assured that, although for a short period, but we'd definitely love the next driver who'd be completing the remaining trip. But requested me not to hold him as that would really affect his business. Well, frankly speaking, hearing all these I couldn't utter a word anymore. Whatever it be, our emotions cannot be a reason for a loss for someone else.

Meanwhile, we reached Tso Kar by around 3:00 PM. This time we requested achu to take us to a homestay instead. As girls were still frightened with yesterday's situation and considering the AMS issues of Piu, we can't take more risk.


Achu drove us to a homestay and asked us to go ahead and check. Noticing 6 people, the lady informed us that, she can only provide 2 rooms as she have already got booking for the remaining 4 rooms. She informed that some group is coming from Sarchu and that they would be reaching by the evening.

Well, we 4 people were anyway about to stay in a room, so we informed her that it's completely fine with us and that we 4 would be managing in a room with one extra matress and Ayan and Piu would be taking up another room. While bargaining, we somehow took reference of our stay at Hanle. And surprisingly, she exclaimed, the lady at Hanle is her sister. Well this played a positive role for us and without bargaining much, we got it within our budget.

Achu parked the car inside the hotel premises and helped us unloading our luggages. Meanwhile it started raining heavily again. Although we were planning to pay a visit to the lake, but it seemed that weather is not going by our luck. Thus we decided to gather together and decided to play Dumb Charades. While Ayan and Piu were new to this, but they grabbed the idea quickly.

Later as rain came to halt, we went ahead outside for a walk. Although we thought of going by the lake, but later we decided not to disturb achu. And anyway after Pangong and Tso Moriri, it's something that we can easily give it a miss. Because of these rains, the peaks, seemed to have been covered with snow. Ayan, Avik and Sushmita went ahead towards the valley whereas rest of us stayed back.


Later around the evening we came back and realized that we haven't yet consumed any of the Knorr Soups that we were carrying. Thus we tried preparing the same, however it was a bit time consuming due to the voltage fluctuation. Rest of the evening we spent chit-chatting amongst ourselves, before we were called for dinner at around 9:00 PM.

The food was really great and nothing to complain for. Today being last night with achu, we kept gossiping and having fun for quite sometime. Later we realized that the group, the lady was taking about, has arrived and we must clear out the dinning hall, making space for them to have their dinner.

Meanwhile, it started raining again like cats and dogs and thus without wasting much time, we called off the day.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.
Reviews :

Padma Homestay, Hanle : Hanle is itself a quaint town and very beautiful and scenic. Being offbeat, not much accommodation options are there. Our stay at Padma Homestay was one of the best accommodation we got throughout our stay at Ladakh. The homestay is run by the family members themselves. The owner lady is an wonderful person and very helpful. The behaviour of the lady is something to praise for. The property, rooms and the washrooms are very clean and well maintained. The rooms were really warm, cozy and comfortable. The food is fingerlicking and heavenly. For enthusiasts, Hanle is bidwatchers paradise.








Golden Mark Camp, Tso Moriri : Frankly speaking, one the cheapest camp available throughout the town. The tents were really clean but I must not say well maintained. As you can notice in the picture, the tents lacks tarpaulin on either sides thus in case of rainstorm, the water starts pouring in from the corners. However the owner, and other staffs are very nice, welcoming and very helpful. The food is also great. What pleased us most is the behaviour of the owner and other staffs.

We were first allocated the tents on the right hand side (in the picture below), which after a hell of a rainstorm, got wet and couldn't keep up with the same. However upon notifying them, they shifted us to the tents on left hand side which were of good quality and standed still even after the rainstorm. Well I really cannot say one should avoid staying here, after all the helpfullness and behaviour they showed towards their guests. But it's definitely best to avoid during the monsoon. During other season, I'd not hesitate to recommend this to you!!












Druk Resort, Tso Kar : Tso Kar being an offbeat spot to halt, has limited accommodation options. Druk Resort is the nearest to the lake and the valley. We really enjoyed our stay here. The property, rooms and washrooms were really clean and well maintained. The owner, lady, is related to the lady at Padma Homestay, Hanle. She too is a very nice person and welcoming. The food served here was really great.






Costing:

Padma Homestay, Hanle : Rs. 5200/- (1 x 4 Bedded Dorm @ Rs. 850/- per day + 1 x Double Bedded Room @ Rs. 1800/-). This includes Breakfast and Dinner. Lunch was charged Extra @ Rs. 100/- per pax.

Golden Mark Camp, Tso Moriri : Rs. 4800/- (3 x Double Bedded Tents @ Rs. 1600/-)

Druk Resort, Tso Kar : Rs. 2800/- (2 x Double Bedded Room @ Rs. 1400/- + 1 Extra Matress)

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts:

Padma Homestay, Hanle : Sonam Dorjay - +91-94692-24302 / +91-70510-39046 / +91-94198-34944 / sonamdorjay19@gmail.com / Facebook / Padma Homestay

Golden Mark Camp, Tso Moriri : Mr. Namgayal - +91-94193-70663 / +91-97974-45829

Druk Resort, Tso Kar : Jigmat Gyalpo - +91-94196-58740 / druktsokar@gmail.com / Facebook

Bakir (Our Achu, The Driver, Very friendly young chap, Works for Rigzin) : +91-94696-66401 / +91-70514-45539. He drove a white Aria which belonged to Rigzin, under registration number JK 10A 4036.

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#10 Sep 28th, 2018, 20:18
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#10
This is the 6th and last part of the series Budget Trip To Ladakh. To reiterate again, we are on our 15 Day trip to Ladakh following the below itinerary (roughly).

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Kar - Debring – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa :

Today we woke up a bit early at around 5:30 AM. Although we got ready quickly within next 1 hour, as we had plans to leave by 7:00 - 7:30 AM, however our breakfast were served at around 7:00 AM. After having our breakfast, we loaded our luggage and left by around 8:00 AM towards our first destination of the day - Debring.

Well, we were anyway saddened because of our trip coming to an end, however what burnt a hole in our hearts is that achu is going to leave us within next few hours. Throughout the route to Debring, hardly anyone uttered a word. It took us around around 30 minutes to reach Debring.

Rinku Ji - Our driver for the last leg of our trip was already waiting for us there. While they were transferring the luggages, we thought of taking a smoke break and went ahead to the nearby dhaba to also buy some chocolates to gift the same to our beloved achu.

It took them around 10 minutes or so to transfer all the luggages and check all the belongings. We went ahead and bidded goodbye to our beloved achu by handing over a small endowment from all of us and a tight hug. However, without wasting a moment, he left instantly.

Girls went ahead to relieve themselves, while Me and Ayan choosed to have a smoke. Soon we started towards our destination for the day - Jispa. As we moved ahead, the beautiful landscapes greeted us.


And that's when we realized, why most people wants to go by Manali - Leh Highway. Well, we being covered both the Srinagar - Leh Highway and Manali - Leh Highway, I'd say both are equally beautiful and offers different kind of landscapes. Meanwhile, it didn't took us much time go get befriendly with Rinku Ji. Although he is mostly used to exclaim his guests as "Sir" and "Madam", however we strictly informed him not to do that!! Instead we'll be glad to hear "Bhaiya"!!

Finally by around 12:15 we reached Sarchu. Sarchu is the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. There's a small bridge which divides both the states. We took a halt there. While Rinku Ji was busy processing permits, we went ahead and relieved ourselves.

We were already hungry by then, thus we asked Rinku Ji, if we can stop for having our lunch somewhere nearby. However he asked us if we can wait and we nodded positively. He further informed us that, we'd have to cross a long river bed, and once glaciers starts melting we'd be stuck for the day. Although it mostly depends on luck as it's already past 12 PM, however it's better to proceed and have lunch.


Finally in between we halted for a lunch at a Dhaba at around 1:30 PM and quickly after having our lunch, without wasting much time, we started towards Jispa. Soon we came across the river that Rinku Ji was talking about. Well I don't know what the hell that was. Glad that we crossed it successfully without getting ourselves stuck. We just wondered why this route has been given a tag of Highway considering the condition of this portion of the road. Rinku Ji shot a video of the same, which I later taken from him just to give you guys an idea.



As we gradually proceeded, we noticed, greenaries appearing in gradually. The beauty here is different and something that we generally imagine about being at hills. Rinku Ji pointed towards few tunnels en-route and informed us that, by next few years, the Manali - Leh highway would get closed and instead this would be the way to reach Leh which would be way faster. Like one can expect to reach Leh within 8 hours from Manali.

In between we stopped by a small Lake as really wanted ourselves to soak into the lap of mother nature.


A few KM's of drive and finally we reached Jispa by around 4:20 PM. Achu had already informed him that we do not have any hotel bookings and requested him to help us with the same. Rinku Ji drove us to a hotel amidst the valley. The surrounding view was simply breaktaking.


It was off season anyway considering the monsoon season at Manali. And everyone is aware about the disasters that these regions had to face during this season. Considering all these, we didn't had to waste much words for bargaining to get it within our budget. Again we 4 decided to share a room with an extra matress, while Ayan and Piu took another room.

Later after getting freshen up, we went ahead for a walk. We just loved the walk through such a quaint village with breathtaking views on each side. First we spent sometime by the river bed.


Next as we were about to proceed towards the market, we noticed a farm nearby. We went ahead and seeked permission for visitng the same. The walk through the farm was something very different kind of experience for us. The people there welcomed us warmly with a big smile. We just loved the place and the people there. They even offered us some peas, which was way too sweet, something which we could never expect in our hometown.










Next we went ahead further, and noticing few Birds, Avik went ahead for capturing them in his camera. Later we walked back towards our hotel.

While Sushmita went ahead to freshen up, Me, Avik and Suparna pulled a chair together in the garden. Rinku Ji too joined us and we chit-chatted for a while over a cup of tea. Well, another aspect of staying here is, there are lots of birds in the garden, which is right in the hotel premises. This made Avik quite happy!! Infact he spent the whole evening running after those small creatures with his DSLR.


Later around the evening, both of them went ahead to their room, whereas I joined Rinku Ji over a glass of drink. He arranged some local drink - Chaang, which is made up of fermented rice or barley or sometimes fruits like apples. Rinku Ji informed that this specific one what he has got is made up of fermented barley. Frankly speaking, although I was very afraid of trying out a local drink, specially because of what I saw happened to Raj after drinking Ara, which again a local drink of Bhutan. However there was not way I could have avoided him after all these. So instead I decided to go for a glass instead. And believe me it was really nice. A nice smell unlike ara and tastes great. He also prepared dry chilly chicken for us which was fingerlicking.

While having drinks together, he informed me that, he was worried that how his new tourists would be. And thus he asked Achu while at Debring that how are the guests i.e. us. He further informed us that, achu replied him "Dil pe bithake le jao, fir pata chalega guest kaisa hai". Well I felt very happy that achu too was missing us. Rinku Ji even told us that, while leaving, he noticed tears in his eyes and that he's definitely missing us.


Later around 8:30 PM, one of his friend arrived at same hotel with few guests. Soon he joined us too. As I was about to leave, Rinku Ji hold me back and said "apke saath baat karke pehle hi pata chal gaya ki aap sabke saath uthne baithne wale admi ho. Bahut accha laaga ki aap humhare saath baithe" (While speaking with you throughout the route, I could tell that you are a kind of person who gets along with everyone. I'm glad that you joined us).

Later I went ahead to the room and shared this story with others. Finally after getting freshen up, we were chit-chatting for a while, and then we were called up for Dinner. Well, the food was not really that great, but can be easily survived on.

Later, after chit-chatting for a while and having a smoke with Rinku Ji, we went ahead to our rooms. Finally after a long time, Sushmita having BSNL, got her connectivity back, thus we took a while to call with our family back there. Finally by around 11:30 PM or so, we called off the day and hit the bed.

9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali :

The plan for the day was to reach Manali. Although there's nothing to hurry, however Rinku Ji informed us last night to start early, considering we would be travelling towards the town, and we might get stuck in a traffic jam. We woke up at around 5:30 AM and got ready gradually!! We took a long than usual, as we got geyzer, and it was a great feeling of taking a bath after 5 long days. Considering the scenarios like unavailability of hot water, high altitute, temperature and most importantly we were starting early, it's been 5 days all of us had to skip bath.

Finally we were ready by around 6:30AM. Noticing us, Rinku Ji asked us to relax and have Tea / Coffee if we wanted to and that we'd start within an hour or so.

Finally at around 7:20 AM, we started for our shelter of the day - Manali, after paying up all the bills. Our eyes were pleased to experience such green beauty. After driving for a while, Rinku Ji informed us that we should now be getting our mobile connection back gradually.


Soon we reached Chandrabhaga, where the rivers Chandra and Bhaga meets up and flows further in the name of Chandrabhaga. After having a smoke break, we started proceeding further. Later after driving for a while, Rinku Ji, stopped by a Dhaba for having our breakfast. After a long time, we were having proper breakfast like Alu Paratha. Here the punjabi's are used to have Paratha with Ghee, however at Dhabas they are mostly stucked with Butter. Although we being not used to such rich food habits, we were avoiding the same. However Rinku Ji asked us to have the same with Butter, which would spice up things a little bit. Noticing us hesitating at first, Rinku Ji assured that, there's nothing to worry, and in this climate, we'd be fine anyway. And believe me, it tasted heavenly. It's kind of first time for us!! Noticing this, Rinku Ji told us that "jab ghar ke ghee ke sath khayenge to sochiye kaisa lagega" (Just imagine, how it'd taste when you'd be having the same with clarified butter)!!

The next part of the route was in devastating state. Infact I should say there was no route at all. It was all muddy. At one instance, a vehicle was continuously trying to overtake us and considering the state of the route, Rinku Ji was constantly warning him not to do that. Suddenly at one point, he got fed up and stopped the vehicle allowing him to pass. While passing, they smilingly mocked us. Noticing this Rinku Ji, drove past through him with all the force, splashing all the mud over the vehicle. It was like, the whole vehicle got covered with mud. Well, I must say, it was a scene that I wished I could have made a video of.


Gradually we made our way to Rotang Pass. A place, which I used to know was covered with snow throughout the year, as I experienced while I was kid, is something that has turned all green due to global warming. Me and Sushmita have already been here and we couldn't imagine what it has turned into. Though we previously thought of making an halt there, but Rinku Ji pointed towards the Army Convoy and suggested us not to do that. As if we get stuck behind them, it'd take us years to reach Manali.

Thus we kept on driving and rest of the route was mostly uneventful. In between, Rinku Ji gave us a small break which we utilized for havng a smoke. Finally we reached our hotel by around 1:00 PM.

We had our hotel booked at Manali in advance as we got great deal on MakeMyTrip. Upon arriving the staffs welcomed us warmly and we were informed that although we booked Standard Rooms, we have been upgraded to Luxury Cottages. We seemed to be the only guest staying there.

After keeping all the luggages, we came back to Rinku Ji and payed him the remaining balance as per our discussion with Rigzin Ji. Finally after a breif hug, we bidded him goodbye with promises to stay in touch.


We went back to our rooms and quickly after getting freshen up, we placed the order for lunch. The 3 cottages that we were allocated, are actually joint i.e. on a same building. It's kind of a family suite. Thus we had our own private garden, common drawing and dining space. We were informed that, we don't need to go to the restaurant and we'd be served our food at our private dining space instead.

We gathered together and as we were about to start planning if we should relax or go to market, it started raining badly. We decided to keep a watch on the weather and planned to decide something accordingly later in the afternoon. We called up achu. He was glad that we called him. Meanwhile while chit-chatting with him, we were served lunch. The food was good I'd say. Well, it's not something heavenly, but definitely can't be labelled bad.

Later as rain came to halt, we decided to go to market. To save on taxi costs, we went ahead to the Bus Stand and took a local govt. Bus instead as suggested by the hotel manager. Rest of the evening we roamed around the market, exploring various shops. Sushmita bought few items for her and family members, while Suparna bought a jacket.

Finally while walking back to the hotel we picked up a couple of beer. Later while our dinner was getting ready, we pulled a chair together in the garden and enjoyed the chilled beer.


Soon, our dinner was served and after having the same, we came to conclusion that, we must have stick to North Indian Cuisine instead of trying out Chinese Cuisine at Lunch, as this being their local cuisine, it was really great unlike our experience at lunch.

Later, we gathered together in our room to make a distribution of all the remaining foods. Well, as tomorrow we'd be parting our ways, we couldn't find any best time to do that!! Out of everything, the main thing that was left was Maggie, because starting from Nubra Valley, all the hotels / homestays / camps comes with Breakfast and Dinner. Even if we won't have opted for meals, we couldn't have prepared breakfast on our own due to lack of electricity. As electricity in those remote regions, is provided by solar, and powered on during the 7PM - 11PM window only. Rest of the snacks like cakes, biscuits, dates, chocolates, walnuts etc. were anyway consumed!! Thanks to the remote roads of Hanle and Tso Kar where we couldn't spot any dhaba or as such for our lunch and kept munching on these snacks only!!

Finally, after chit-chatting for a while, we called off the day and hit the bed.

10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo) :*

It was a leisure day for us. We slept till around 9AM. Finally anyhow I made myself move out from the bed, went ahead and removed the curtain and got overwhelmed by the view. Wish I could wake up to a view like this every morning!




Soon we got ready and ordered our breakfast. We were asked to step to the restaurant for the same.

Finally after having our breakfast, we went back to our cottages and found that our vehicle has already arrived and waiting for us. Well, yesterday after gathering information about the sightseeing we found that our hotel itself is offerring the lowest rates. Thus we asked the manager to arrange the same only, as that would be more convenient anyway. He also suggested us to speak to the driver directly for dropping us to Bus Stand after sightseeing, for some extra bucks, as otherwise if we ask him to arrange the same instead, he'd have to charge by the fixed rates which would be higher.

Quickly after getting freshen up, we checked out and left the luggage at the hotel premises itself, as per our discussion with the manager there.

Our first stop was Vashist Temple. Me and Suparna went alone, as one needs to remove their shoes, they refrained from entering the temple.




Next, we went ahead to Hidimba Devi Temple. Hidimba Devi Temple and Ghatotkacha Temple is situated at walking distance from each other.




Next, Honey Ji - Our Driver, drove us to Club House. There were various entertainment activities like Boating, Bungee Jumping, Ziplining, etc. However we felt none of them to be worth the money their charge. Thus we spent sometime by the Beas River before leaving. The Club House have various restaurants, however again, they aren't that pocket friendly.


Our next and last spot was Market. We already bought what we needed yesterday only, so instead, we choosed to have our lunch there. Considering the overnight Bus Journey, we thought of having something light. After discussing and scanning a few restaurants around, we chose to head to a restaurant named Balaji Restaurant. However our experience was very bad. There were flies in the Khichdi, rubber band on Lassi and what not. Moreover their attitute towards the guests were not at all attentive and welcoming.


Finally we moved back to our hotel by around 3:00PM. As suggested by the hotel manager, we requested Mr. Honey to drop us to Bus Stand for something extra and he agreed and asked us to pay anything between Rs. 100/- - Rs. 200/- as per our wish.

After reaching our hotel, we were allowed to use the washrooms as previously discussed with the hotel manager. Finally after getting freshen up, we loaded our luggage and left bidding goodbye to the staffs and the manager for such a wonderful stay and co-opearating and friendly behaviour.

Finally we drove to Bus Stand whcih took us a mere 5 or 10 minutes from hotel. What really impressed us is Honey Ji stayed with us till the Bus showed up. We thought that he'd have left after dropping us there. In the meanwhile, we got really annoyed with thousands of vendors continuously approaching with Apples, Saffron etc. Finally after the bus arrived, we loaded the luggage and went ahead and payed Rs. 200/- to Honey Ji and thanked him for all the co-operation.


The Bus left as per it's deperture schedule. The rest of the journey to Delhi was mostly uneventful. We were given halts from time to time for refreshments, snacks break and dinner break. The journey was really comfortable enough!!

11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata :*

When we woke up, we were already driving through the roads of our capital city - Delhi. The Bus was mostly on time, however when we reached the Bus Stand, we noticed that it's late by a mere 30 minutes, which is completely acceptable.

First we thought of getting a hotel nearby Airport so that we can freshen up and take rest. However Avik, Sushmita & Trisha suggested to move to Airport directly and not to waste money on Hotel and the respective transports to & from hotel. Well, finally after thinking and discussing for a while, we decided to move ahead to Airport only.

There we had our breakfast from a coffee shop. And finally after killing some time by chit-chatting and gossiping, we thought of checking in our luggages as that would relieve ourselves from the headache of carrying and looking after all these luggages.

The security checkin was smooth, and finally we were in the deperture bay. The girls took a seat, and rest of us went ahead for a smoke. Later we had our lunch at KFC and kept waiting till our boarding time. This being a silent airport, there was no announcements being made, so we had to keep a close watch on the deperture table, not to repeat the scenario we faced during our onward journey!!


The journey back to Kolkata was uneventful anyway. As we boarded Uber to our home, the journey from Day 1 appeared like cinematic flashback. However, we were really tired, to even feel sad of getting back to our boring life again.

I quickly did a calculation en-route and was glad to find out that, we completed the whole trip within a budget of 30k per head!!


1 Dream Destination - 6 Friends - 15 Days - 30,000 Per Head!!

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :Important Points To Stay Safe :
  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you'd get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it's free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won't be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and one shouldn't be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that's the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM. However don't be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that's not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways - (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali - Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I'd always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar - Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it's really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you'd always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I'll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don't need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don't change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don't compete. Don't be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don't compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you'd feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don't walk faster or run as you'd do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you'll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there's nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don't be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don't compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there's no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god's sake keep your plan flexible and don't be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don't, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.

Reviews :
Norbuling Guest House, Jispa : The hotel is situated amidst the valley surrounding the breathtaking view. The whole property, rooms and the washrooms were really clean well maintained. The rooms were very spacious. The staffs were very cordial and smiling. The food however, needs a bit of improvement, but can be survived on!!








Apple Bud Cottage, Manali : In one word, one of the best place we have ever stayed. The large window overlooking the hills covered with clouds right in front of bed, is the first thing you see after waking up in the morning. The cottages were really quaint and ethnically designed. The whole property, rooms and washrooms were really clean and well maintained. Well considering a 3* hotels, you get aminities like Mini Bar, TV, Soap, Shampoo etc. The staffs are very helpful and co-operating. We just loved our stay at Apple Bud Cottage.
















Costing :

Norbuling Guest House, Jispa : Rs. 2200/- (1 x Double Bedroom @ Rs. 1000/- + 1 x Double Bedroom with Extra Matress @ Rs. 1200/-).

Apple Bud Cottage, Manali : Rs. 5114/- (3 x Double Bedroom @ Rs. 1704/-). This includes Breakfast and Dinner. Although we booked Standard Rooms from MakeMyTrip, however on spot, we were upgraded to Luxury Cottages.

Vehicle (Manali Sightseeing) : Rs. 1500/- (Arranged by the hotel itself)

Vehicle (Hotel to Manali Volvo Bus Stand) : Rs. 200/-

Parking : Rs. 50/- (Vashisht Temple) + 60/- (Hidimba Devi Temple) + 150 (Club House)

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

Contacts :

Norbuling Guest House, Jispa : Sonam Thakur - +91-94187-73787 / Thandup Thakur - +91-94590-18023

Apple Bud Cottage, Manali : 01902-254177 / +91-86268-83484 / Website / info@applebudcottages.com / C.R. Premi (MD) - +91-98574-22803 / Angali Negi (General Manager) - +91-98177-98177

Rinku Ji (Driver, Debring - Manali) : +91-98167-28828. He drives an white Innova with regisration number HP 01K 5119.

Mr. Honey (Driver, Manali Sightseeing) : +91-70182-72221. He drives an white Innova with registration number HP 01K 5446.

Bakir (Our Achu, The Driver, Very friendly young chap, Works for Rigzin) : +91-94696-66401 / +91-70514-45539. He drove a white Aria which belonged to Rigzin, under registration number JK 10A 4036.

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :
#11 Sep 29th, 2018, 18:36
Sukumar Manna (Chala jata hun kisi ki dhun mein)
Join Date:
Feb 2014
Location:
KOLKATA
Posts:
130
  • travelmanna is offline
#11
Excellent TR with lots of information and photographs. Thanks for sharing.
#12 Oct 8th, 2018, 20:26
Join Date:
Aug 2013
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
88
  • prodhar is offline
#12
Great!
Thanks for sharing.
#13 Oct 9th, 2018, 17:27
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelmanna View Post Excellent TR with lots of information and photographs. Thanks for sharing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by prodhar View Post Great!
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks!! I'm glad that you liked it

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
Dapoli trip report : Budget trip Jan 12th, 2017 14:50 77 38981 Maharashtra
My family trip to Ladakh in November - A trip report Nov 1st, 2015 20:13 77 16348 Ladakh & Zanskar
Budget Trip Report - My 5 days - $70 - trip to goa! Mar 9th, 2013 17:02 9 6764 Goa


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success