The Enchanting Trails- Part I

- Written by Aditya Bajaj

New Delhi April 2015:
 It all started with random discussion with Sud (Sudhakar) to plan something for this year. We started talking about different locations mainly a trek to Roopkund, Valley of Flowers, ride to Nepal or Bhutan and even a trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC).The talks were in initial stages and a trek to EBC, we were more interested in. I was in process collecting more details about the permits and travel agents when in April 2015 the disaster earthquake strikes in Nepal and as it turned out the treks towards EBC were all cancelled.

Change of Plan
We ended up finalizing Leh, Ladakh once again as our destination this year since in our last trip in Sept 2014 we covered Lahul and Spiti and Leh but many more places were still to be covered like Turtuk and Tso Moriri.

The Difficult part
Then came the most difficult part-asking leaves from boss!
You know you have to be prepared. So as time went by all my friends confirmed they got their leaves approved and it was my turn. I filled up an application form for two weeks leave and presented it to my boss. As expected first words he said:
B (Boss)-What? Two Weeks?
Me -Yup
B-You don’t work in a government company!
And the conversation went on for some time, in the end he said:
B-Let me think about it
Me-I said feel free!
Later he called me, he had made up his mind to approve it then also he started again:
B-Where are you going?
Me- Ahh ..Leh, Ladakh!
B- You went there last time also? Then
Me- Yup
B- Why you going again?
M- Going with friends, get together and stuff
B-OK I don’t understand much

And with little drama he finally approved it. I texted to Sud:

“Asking for leaves my boss looks Mad; it’s like asking a girl out from her Dad! Leh or Bhutan whatever it may be...Let’s go see some monastery!”
I wonder why all bosses are sadist, why they make such a face when asked for leaves.

The Audience

It was obvious Sud would bring down his Duke 390 from Mumbai and I need to visit service guys to fix up my Duke 200 for a second trip to Leh.

Last year we were just two of us.  We met two guys Arnab and Phanikar en route and we roamed Lahul-Spiti ,Kaza,Ki,Kibber and Leh, it was fun. Now Sud said this time his brothers (Shekar and Vijay (Aka Bunty) will also join on separate bikes. I said that’s fine as long as they ride on their own.

Then he said some more people wanted to join but they won’t ride rather will hire a car from Delhi.  I was little skeptical but he kept on saying car keeps our luggage and petrol cans (just to convince me).So now it was my duty to arrange a car from Delhi and even some more car audience to go for trip. With lot of discussion and weekly sessions: Prateek, Rahul and Sachin were ready from Delhi and Vipul from Mumbai and his friend Shri from Indore to sum up in the car.

The Car

Next was the process of hiring a taxi. I knew it from the beginning that commercial taxi from outside J&K was not allowed in Leh. So had to find out a private taxi and then deal with travel union guys in Leh.

The travel union is Leh is pretty strong nowadays. They even have the nod from government and they make their own rules, charge whatever they want to. They have now put up a booth for checking private cars at starting of Khardung La and Pangong which wasn’t there earlier.

They usually allow if it’s your own car (personal) and you driven it all the way from your home but private taxi they oppose (including the self drive cars) .The only way to deal with them was to start very early and where ever they stop you, just tell them it is your own car, your own driver, RC is in your name etc basically you need to convince them. Best was to just to pass them fast and not to confront them. I managed to book an Innova before the ride.

Getting Ready

The Bike...

So there was not much time left (1 month or so).I then visited the service centre on 3 Sundays out of 4 in a given month. Preventive maintenance as people says. I replaced Chain set, Chain-sprocket, brake pads, Accelerator cable, Clutch cable, Spark plug and Air Filter. Plus bought some spares like Kit Gear and Brake lever assembly (as there is still no KTM service station in Leh) and these were the most vulnerable parts in case of impact.  Also bought another set of front and rear disk pads(they run out quickly).Once I was satisfied with the service then I was confident that this trip could be done easily on my KTM again even if my ODO showing 48K+ reading, I knew would make half century there. 

The Stuff

1. Camera: I was interested in HTC RE action camera. Though not to be called as an action camera but it still put up a pretty good show with 16 MP, Ultra-Wide Angle Lens (146 degree), and Grip Sensor No fumbling with the on/off switch, ergonomic design, and was water proof to 1 meter without casing but the accessories were not yet available in India, though it still had my attention. Cost was 10 K only and was only available online. Bought it!

 2. Helmet: I had to buy a new helmet so went straight to Karol bagh the “Chopras”. I checked out many while spending some time chatting on history of MT helmet and Spartan Pro Gears with the owner. They showed newly launched MT helmet in association with Spartan Pro Gears called “KRANOS”, priced at INR 3350 and with DOT and ECE certification, dual certification .I liked the product while discussing on Spartan company. Finally after two Sunday visits bought the Kronos helmet

 3. Motorcycle Bluetooth Communicators: Taking from our last trip, this was one thing which I wanted to buy since have seen Arnab and Phanikar using the “Sena”. So with a quick chat with Sud and Rahul, we knew we cannot buy Sena (18 k) so we went ahead and ordered from China BT Interphone Bluetooth-V6, 3 sets, Cost just 3K each with intercom range up to 1200 meters and 7 hrs of talking time.

 The Bluetooth was performing exceptionally well, a total value for money. The headphones and the mic provided fits perfectly in helmet while initially one has to figure out on how to put on the clip and how to pair. Read the detailed review here.

4 Res Qtech Air Pump: Sud wanted to order a new small air pump as last time I took the big good old foot pump, kept it nicely in Viaterra Claw during the entire journey. So this time we ordered Res Qtech air pressure pump, brilliant product. They have an addition cable attachment which is fixed to bike’s battery and we can use it with bike as a power source along with usual car’s light power source socket. Cost just Rs 900 and size you will be surprised how it fits in your palm.

5. Coido 6071 Digital tire pressure gauge: A trip to Leh justifies reason to spend. I wanted to buy digital tire pressure gauge since I saw it with Phanikar. So ordered Coido 6071 Digital tire gauge cost Rs 600 and when it came I was so fascinated by it that tested it on all cars tires that were parked on road lol.

6. The Excel sheet(Route): We were planning to go from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh route as the Manali route was not yet opened. Sud had prepared route (to be taken) and distance (in Km) similar as last time. I also added the detailed route of all the places one can visit in Leh along with KM. You know with our KTM small tank (yeah  Mr. Phanikar  pipette fitted dukes) we need to know how much distance in KM beforehand so as to enable us to deal with petrol shortages if any.

7. Medicines: This time we had the expert Shekar with us. He works for a Pharma company and I keep on asking him about various generic drugs and molecules. So it was his responsibility to bring list of medicines like-
-  Diamox tab (To help deal with AMS)
- Combiflam (Painkiller)
- Moov (Pain relief spray)
-D cold total (Cold and Cough)
- Disprin (Head ache)
-Cyclopam (Abdominal cramps and stomach ache)
- O2 (Anti biotic)
- Soframycin & Betadine( Antiseptic cream)
- Dependal –M (Stomach upset)
- Dettol (Antiseptic liquid)

- Gauge (Sterilized)

- Doctors tape (3 M)

- Bandage (Crepe and Adhesive)


This time I had specially mentioned to him to bring more of Diamox tabs considering we are a large group. Only thing which we missed and was very important was “Portable Oxygen Cylinder”. Why? You’ll come to know later!

So for getting ready: The DSG jacket and Cramster pants, Viaterra claw, Gloves and Balaclava was out in open.

The Countdown...

It was Saturday June 06 2015, people from outside Delhi were put up in Karol Bagh and Shekar had taken the delivery of rented KTM 200 for from Karol Bagh itself. So the plan was to meet them on Sunday 07th June morning. Start early so that we are able to reach Jammu covering around 610 km on the first day. As I was discussing this, everyone was skeptical on reaching Jammu first day saying it would be too much for them. While I kept on insisting if we don’t stick to the plan then we won’t be able to visit Turtuk/Tso Moriri/Tso kar.

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