Kevin Swains
Travel Website
This is Kev's Travel Blog




Set off  for the monestry of Likir from Leh. I pass through endless army camps spoiling the pleasant views.
Eventually the army camps dissapear and things become a little more normal. The hills widen and the wind picks up. I pass the strange site of the differently coloured Ladakh and Zanskar rivers meeting near Nimmu.
The road is undulating and then climbs to a plateu. I get hammered again by a head wind and struggle along. Convoys of military vehicles pass towing heavy artillery. I keep my head down and push on.
Eventually arrive at the small
village of Saspul where I ask for the turn off to Likir. He laughs, turns out I missed the turn off 7km before:):)
I decide to stay in Alchi village which turns out to be very touristy and expensive but looks impressive, dwarwed in its grand mountain valley setting.

I take the overpriced guesthouse and slump on the bed knackered. Forget about the everlasting mountain climbs, today has been my hardest day yet!

Off Road Near Lamayuru
A small ride near Lamayuru Monastery. Had to return
due to fealing weak due to a stomach bug.


Leave for the impressive town and monatery of Lamayuru. The road is a little boring to the checkpost of Khalsi where it then splits. I take the left road and cross a small bridge, the sign reads "if you stop on the bridge you will be fired upon"! I deceide not to stop....
I cycle past the smiling Indian army gaurd, he says "hello, I'm fine thank you", wanting to practice his English, a pass without saying a word.
I cycle up the tough and almightly valley and to Lamayuru.
I'm again lost for words. The rock strata is just incredible, changing every 100m or so. At some points it's vertical layers of shale with little sunlight reaching the road then the next it turns white in colour and opens wide. Both sides of the valley are never the same. All the tourists comment on it's beauty.
Reach Lamayuru after passing through a bazzare mooonscape and admire the monestry on the hill top.

The Road to Lamayuru
Cycling through the ever changing valley to Lamayuru

Check into a friendly family run place and relax.
I decide to stay a day and set off for a little ride. It doesn't last long as I'm very weak, suffering from an amoebic stomach infection. I go back to my room and take some medicine and lay on the bed. 4hrs later I feel better and go and pig out to get some energy back as the next day I have two tough passes en-route.

Lamayuru Momostary
Lamayuru Monestary

Awake feeling strong and head off for the Fotu La pass (4147m). It's small compared to the others but very challenging. As I approach I see the road winding up one face of the hillside. It's busy with army convoys. As I cycle I watch as up convoys pass the down convoys. It's quite artistic with the constant weaving, almost like watching syncronised swimming at the olympics (not that I ever watch synchronised swimming:)
I reach the cloudy summit and get chased by a dog, I stop and throw stones, trying to smash its head in. Unfortunetly I miss but it pisses off all the same.
I whizz down the other side again pushing against a headwind. Stop at the bottom for a chai and a packet of biscuits before moving onwards towards the Namika La pass (3760m).
Just before the pass I stop for a chai in a quiet village and an even more quiet chai shop. I always make a point of stopping in the first or last chai shop to avoid the attention. I take a seat in the chai shop and then it suddenly fills....all the guys in the village have suddenly poured in for a look and the strange one on a bicycle!
I should start charging commision to the chai wallah!
Leave the chai shop for the climb up the
Namika La. It's raining a little and I pop on my waterproof jacket for the first time on my travels. The climb is steady and easy and passes quickly.
The downhill is the best yet with good quality tarmac. The rain is getting a little heavier so I prees on the peddles hard and cycle like a maniac to reach the dry roads, overtaking all the cars and busses and arrive at Mulbekh, the last post of the Buddists.
From Mulbekh I hit Muslim areas. I like the change and it strongly reminds me of northern china. The school girls wear head scarves and old men sit in shops wearing huge Muslim style glasses smoking water pipes.
But something else has changed as well. I keep getting asked for more and more pens off the children. They ask nicely and it's not too much of a problem but I can't understand why it's so, afterall few tourists come this way!

The Road to Zanskar
On the road near Mulbekh. The last strongold of the Buddists.

Heading towards Kargil I hit more miltary areas. Kargil was shelled by the Pakis in 1999 closing the Kargil-Srinagar road.
I eat in one of Kargils best dodgy restaurants and continue onto Zanskar.