Travelreport 55 - India 1 Ups (mountains) and Downs (health)

Delhi - Kalka (Train) - Kalka - Shimla (Bicycle) - Shimla - Manali (Bus) - Manali - Rohtang Pass (3078m) - Baralacha La (4890m) - Nakeela (4740m) - Lachung La (5065) - Moore Ebene (4600m) - Taglang La (5320m) to Leh by car

With a great view to a Gonkhang (a Buddhist temple containing protector statues) and freshly snow topped mountains on one side, and the 9 storey kings palace similar to the Potala in Lhasa (Tibet) on the other side - I'm writing theses lines. This means we arrived in Leh, Ladakh.

Arriving in Delhi during monsoon season is a rather puzzling experience. Even so it is not our first visit to the Indian Capital, the impressions are overwhelming; the chaos, noise, masses of people, dirt, hunking horns, cows on the roads, smells of all kinds, beautiful intense clours - hard to describe. And already the first day we cought the famous Delhi belly.

By train north to Kalka, then cycling the extremely busy road to the hill station Shimla (not very wise, there would be an interesting toy train ride). The planned tour through Spity valley was not possible because of washed away roads. Therefor a bus takes us to Manali where we start to cycle, even so our health is not yet really the best.

Up the Rohtang pass are some muddy passages (specially where there are roadworks done) which blocked our wheels - so we had to loosen the breaks. On the whole trip from Manali to Leh there are thousands of road workers trying to repair the road which probabebly every monsoon season gets washed away. The descend is very rough with mud, dust and rocky road.

Taking it easy to get altitude-aclimatised, we cycle only around 30km per day, through beautiful green valleys with rough mountains and hanging glaciers. Next pass, Baralacha La (4890m) was a challenge with the thin air and Pius's cough. But how lucky we are. An Indian cyclist, Vinay, is catching up with us in Tzing Tzing Bar. When his friend - Datta - arrived, it was clear, that he suffered from the altitude. Since theses two very kind men had an car accompagning them, they kindly offered us to transport our luggage too. Cycling together with Vilay - and with Datta looking well after us (our supervisor!), we reached the pass without problems. Next day going up Gata Loops and Nakeela Pass (4740m) where we saw Ibex and blue mountain sheep in barren surroundings. Then some downhill before climbing on the other side of the valley up Lachung La (5030m). But the most challenging part of this day is the endless downhill gravel road to Pang (4200m). Scenic wonderland would have been to be admired, if our bones and muscles had not hurt too much.