Kevin Swains
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This is Kev's Travel Blog

Manali-Leh 2

I wake up and decide to try and do another two days of travel in one today. Firstly I want to pass over the Taglang La in June rather than July, it's just one of thos things.Also....water will be a problem if I camp overnight and I'll need to carry 3kg more in weight (extra water) if I do camp. Anyway, I've got an easy 48km on the Mori Plains and I'm expecting a tailwind.
8km of switchbacks warms me up first thing. On the way I'm inteviewed by some Indians with there video camera. It's my second interview so far.
I reach the Mori Plains, they look stunning in the glow of the early morning sun. The road is good and lined with dissused oil/tar drums. Suddenly I hit a headwind and my speed plummits. I pass nomadic people at the side of the road begging for water. They have 5 and 10 gallon drums and wave them at me as I pass. I mean as if I can help them. They are hearding sheep on the grassy plains but obviously water is a problem and they rely on passing trucks for their needs.

Knackered I shelter behind some prayer stones at luch time and russtle up some 2 minute noodles, my prayes are answered.
Lachlang La Summit
Happy to be here....check out the grin!
Greeted by a van load of Nepalis. Good memories:)

As I eat I look up and see the pass of the Taglang La, 18km in the distance. I wish I'd carried the extra 3litres of water!
After 1hr I set off. Fortunately the wind has slackened off a bit. I feel better and concentrate on the pass.

Again I dig into the boiled sweets and settle into a 1st gear 6kmph flow. The summit appears quickly again. This time theres no one on the top. I feel let down. Where's my welcoming commitee? This is my greatest climb so far and I can only share it with myself. I shoot a few photos using my small tripod and the self timer.
Mori Plains
Early morning views from the Mori Plains. 48km of good road all above 4700m!

The pass is a dirty place with more oil and tar drums and dissused army aquipment. Theres also a ladies and gents toilet signposted but it doesn't smell as if many people make the little effort to walk there!
I leave the pass towards towards Rumtse. I have a perfect arc of mountains way in the distance. In the forground the Ladakh Range and behing the Karakoram Range. I'll be there soon. 
Again the road starts bad on the downhill before turning good into the sweeping bends. Now I'm flying and feeling good. I'm hoping to do over 100km just because I can. I hurtle down well paved switchbacks breaking hard into the corners. Oncoming trucks flash their lights, horn and the drivers wave at me. I feel good that at last my efforts are appreciated.
I approach Rumptse and cycle past some good dhabas but push on. I stop after 102km. I made a point to myself today but I'm not quite sure what it is?
Again I passed the good dhabas for a crappy one. A chain everyhing up that I can but get my Platypus 2ltr water container stolen....shit happens!

Looking Back Down the Tanlang La
Looking back down the tough Taglang La climb, the highest Rd on the Manali-Lah route. I'd conquered it,
I walked over and gave it the finger!

I wake up dreaming of good food and good hotels in Leh, an easy 84km away.
I enjoy the steady early 30km downhill on the good roads.
The road into Leh is lined with impressive monasteries with awesome mountain backdrops. On my right the bare rugged mountains rise. I snap a few pickies and carry on, still dreaming of good food.
I meet more and more children begging for pens and chocolates. Some even chase me. It's a sign of the heavy package tourism here. A major downside of tourism as far as I'm concerened.


Taglang La Summit
My reward!

The rest of the pass is a shit hole full of used oil drums and military equpment.

I reach Leh. I'm shocked at it's development. I was here 4yrs ago and it's changed. I eat and head off to the once quiet area of Changspa. It's now lined with western style bakeries selling awesome cakes.

The roads seem chock-a-block with Israelis on Enfield Bullet motor bikes. You can hear the Enfield phug phug everywhere. If the bullets don't have an Israeli aboard then thay have an Indian 'Bob-Marley wan-a-be' driving!
Stanka Monostary
Stanka Monestery on the way into Leh.

I check into my usual family run hotel. It's a basic but very peaceful farmhouse, even this has an ugly extension attached now!
I shower off the usual grime and look at my face in the's awful, even worse than normal! I have white Panda eyes where my sun glasses have been and the rest of my face is very dry and cracked and my lips have split open. I can't believe it. I think it goes to show the effort I did actually put into the past few weeks!?
I spend the next day relaxing and eating, including filling my face in the many bakeries.

The markets are busy with locals doing whatever they're doing and smartly dressed package tourists walking around in groups snapping any local who looks remotely "authentic". Their slide shows back home will give the totally wrong impression of how things really are. Buddism is still the major religion here but the new generation are looking very western indeed.

Thikse Monostary
Tikse Monestery, also on the way into Leh.

I'm really shocked by the Israeli invasion here. Off all the nationalaties they are the worst, giving little consideration to local culture. Most of the Israeli chicks walk around half naked by local standards wearing spagetti tops and low cut trousers. I shouldn't complain because they look hot and I like it but, most other western females I see are dressed in local garb and still get hassle of the pervy Indian guys.
Theres a saying in India....only cows show their tits in public!