19th September 2014, Friday…..Day(9) Diskit-Panamik-Sumur 80 km
It had been a fantastic day the previous day. I fulfilled my long standing dream of solo bike ride on the highest motorable road in the world and the relative ease with which I was able to do this has already made me thinking about undertaking more of such rides in future. Beautiful vistas, wonderful people, amazing Nubra Valley, the road and emerald green waters of Shyok River was a treat. I covered a distance of 168 kilometers the whole day from 7am to 9pm stopping hundreds of times to appreciate the ever changing landscape, meeting wonderful people and numerous photo ups.
After a day full of excitement and amazing ride, I was looking for a nice comfortable place to stay. Although I wanted to stay at Hunder yet did not like the place in the dark and came back to Diskit to stay at this nice place Hotel Real Siachen. The rooms of this hotel were spacious, clean with running hot and cold water. I got the room in my budget too.
After having nice time at Hotel Real Siachen it was time to explore Nubra valley. I went walking in the lanes of Diskit to see how the people of the area lived. I saw nice homes, well kept and furnished. Almost all the houses in the village had orchards and flowers in their courtyards. The apple trees were full with ripe blood apples. Then I rode to Diskit monastery which was visible from a far. The ride to the monastery was on a steep zigzag road. After contributing a small amount at the entrance of the monastery and parking the bike, I went walking to the monastery and imposing sight of graceful Maitreya Buddha Statue.
After having a tranquil and peaceful time at Diskit monastery I rode towards Hunder which is just 7 kilometer from Diskit. Weather was pleasant and ride on that solitary single lane road was mesmerising. From the main road, which leads to Turtuk, I turned right towards Hunder. Soon I saw an army cafe and went inside. On looking at the menu my taste buds woke up. Soon I cleaned up two plates of idli sambar followed by two plates of crunchy jalebis.
After treating myself with double breakfast with in a gap of two hours it was time for dream ride on those rare double humped bactrian camels whose pictures I have been seeing for many many years. From a t-junction at Hunder I turned right on a rough road and reached a bridge on a soft flowing stream. Already many bikes were parked near the bridge. I parked my Red Knight along them and walked on the soft sandy open ground towards the site where many camels were munching food waiting for the customers. There wasn’t any rush of tourists or hassle of men rushing at you to book the ride. There was no bargaining as the rates were displayed at a prominent place.
I liked one beautiful camel named ‘Singham’ and asked its owner ‘Mohd. Ramdan’ to take me for the ride. Touching those soft camel hair was amazing. Climbing and sitting in between those two humps was very easy. But when the animal got up, first on its front legs and then on its back legs, it felt as if I was going to fall. But once the ‘Singham’ was up and walking on that soft nubra sand it felt amazing. Nubra landscape and sand dunes looked fabulous while riding the singham
Mohd Ramadan, the owner of ‘Singham’, the double humped camel was a very nice man. I asked him few questions and he was more than glad to answer them. He told me that this safari was started around 10-12 years ago and that the number of these camels were around 200 and increasing gradually. They are now facing little competition from the sand dunes site at Sumur. He also told me that these camels are not available anywhere in India other than in Nubra and that they are a good source of Income in for them in season.
After that dream ride I patted ‘Singham’ with affection, thanked his master Mohd Ramadan and walked towards my bike parked near the bridge. From Hunder I rode towards Turtuk but soon after few kilometers someone told me that the road ahead was blocked due to landslide. So I had to change the plan and turned back towards Hunder, Diskit and then later towards Panamik. The ride along the green emerald shyok river was just amazing. The vast open valley, towering brown and bare mountains, beautiful nubra road and sparse traffic, it was a perfect recipe for a mesmerising and memorable ride. I knew, It was a kind of atmosphere which would remain etched in my memory lane throughout my life. It was sheer joy riding in such a beautiful and amazing environment. This was once a lifetime experience.
Riding and singing in the dreamlike environment I soon reached t-junction, the right leads to Leh and the left towards Siachen glacier. I turned left towards Siachen glacier. The road and landscape continued to be beautiful. The ride was along Nubra River now. Unlike Shyok River, the water of Nubra River was not all that emerald green. There were more patches of greenery on this side though. I saw lots and lots leh berry shrubs on this route. The traffic became even more sparse. Soon I reached Sumur. I did not stop at Sumur and left it for return journey.
Panamik is the last village where civilians are allowed. From Panamik Siachen glacier is not very far. After riding on that lonely road I reached Panamik and found few abandoned homes. I took a round of the village and a cup of tea from a small shop then rode on a side road to Panamik hot springs. Since I had been to many such hot springs, the sight did not inspire me a lot. So after spending few minutes I rode back on the main road and then towards Sumur.
Soon I was in Sumur looking for a suitable place to stay. I spent around one hour walking and riding through the lanes of sumur and found a nice place to stay named AO Guest House, near main market and road.The place was nice one. It is run by a nice couple Tsewang and Stanzen. There is big lawn and camping ground with lots of orchards, plants, flowers and a hammock. There are rooms at ground floor and as well as on first floor. The owners themselves live on the first floor. I chose the room at first floor. The room was neat, clean and cozy.
In the evening Stanzen cooked egg curry and mix veg for me. I ate meals sitting in their kitchen. Stanzen served hot and fresh chapatis as we do at home. More than the guest house it felt like home. Since I was bit tired I went to sleep quite early that night.
That ends the 9th day of my Solo Bike Ride to Ladakh 2014!!!