That was the most thrilling, scariest and amazing trip of my life! I'm gonna have to break the 3 day overland journey here into 3 bits on here cos so much happened every day!
Palampur to Manali
We set off on a crowded local bus to Manali taking 8 hrs in all. It was eventful from the start, on leaving Palampur, there was a fight on the street, everyone piled out of the bus to wtach including the bus driver, 20 mins later there was a armty patrol stop and then we were on our way. The bus ride can only compare to the film Speed, he did not slow down on mountain bends r anything, overtaking other buses on blind corners with peopel hanging onto the bus... You get to a pouint where yopu have so many near death experiences that you just get used to it in the end! It was funny to see people just jumpin off in the middle of nowehere. The conductor has a real job as well, squeezing up and down the bus gettin fares off people hanging on for dear life outside the bus as well hahaa. We got to Manali (adventure sports town) around 11pm.
Manali to Keylong
We had booked a taxi/jeep beforee we arrived in manali and it cvost us 10000 IND rupees between 8 of us to leh, about 15 quid each.After fiunding our taxi we head off into the mountans climbing up snake passes. Tjhere was a few road blocks on the way, with rcoks blocking the rd, at one point we had to clear the road ourselves with the driver. As we are in jammu kashmir there are army/police checks ont he rds, to register foreigners incase we go miissing on route. Our first one 5hrs afer Manali needed our ppts for dfetails etc..one of our group had forgetten hers so had to head back by hereself all the way to Manali - Palampur, she was really crying at the time which was pretyy s*** for all of us.
The views to Keylong were amazing...the pine moutnains changed to arrid passes to valleys with huge rivers running through them. With the odd bus at the bottom of the crevass and floating in rivers... :s!! We got to Keylong at dusk after travelling for 8 hrs, a really ncie town set in a valey with snow capped mountains all round. WE made sure we ate a lot to set us up for our 12hr + journey to Leh.
Keylong to Leh
We had a 7am start from our guest hosue...to get us there in good light. The valleys changed everytime we went into another.( I have took SOOOOO many pics, but can't load them up here). The first thingthat cam into my mind, was Planet of the Apes, Mars etc...cos it was soooo out of this world! "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..." (Blade Runner) really is a quote that backs up my experience. Not of lot of backpackers do this route because of time, safety etc...and most fly in...but it really is an experience I don't think any other trip would top it in my lifetime. We wound up mountain passes to 4,700 feet, where soe of us started to have the symptims of altitude sickness, tight chest and banging headaches. Apparently the older and fitter you are the are, the more you get it!! I can only explian it as a bad hangover with out the drinking!. We had hot noodles in areally cool tent and it seemed to help out mountain sickness.
We headed up high onto a desert plateau, which again was out of this world. We were bombing it along when all of a sudden the gear stick in th jeep made a huge noise and moved totally out of place. I've gotta admit to freaking out of little here cos we really were at least 6hrs from anywhere. Our driver smacked the stick back in and tied it with rope and then just carried on driving. I really wondered whetyehr we were gonna get here then cos we were at least 8hrs away.
We finally got to the top of the rd pass ..the second highest in the world. Again the altitude sickness kicked in, but I managed to go for a wee just to say I've dione it that high hahaha!
We finally rolled in to Leh at 8pm, after changing a flat tyre cmin down thwe mountain pass (trucks were beeping us to warn us!!) We were so knackered after it, but was worth the trip.
I woke up early the nest day to wander round Leh...its like goin back a century or two into a medieval town with so much to see. I'll write up another blog after my whole week here, cos again there is so much to say!
Will post pics and vids asap...they are amazing!!!!