Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 60 - May 7 - Nathu La Saga!

May07 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Got up to a beautiful sunny morning. Every minute i felt i was wasting the good weather. But have to deal with the permits.

Got to check post office by 7.15 and boy was there chaos. The staff does both the work of local license papers and permits together! and there was not Q. When i got my chance to speak i was told to get my documents and photos! Man this seems never ending process. That took around half hour to get all the xeroxes again and lot more people squeezing through the window. seeing my predicament a good man took my papers, ploughed into the crowd called on the official regarding my permit! He responded and got mine in like 15 mins. But the permit says only BabaMandir and not NathuLa! As it was not in their power it seems. Man i dont have anything from the army now and hope the clerks at the secretariat did their job correctly.

By now i was not feeling took good in the tummy. Felt kinda sick. But knew once i get on the bike things will be fine. But the hotel staff take eternal time to get me my parotas. Get out my 9.10 only to know that i can get fuel going down the highway crossing the city. This was agonizing waste of 25 mins riding down to the fuel pump and back again.

Caught the road to NathuLa only by 9.30. Reached the first check post and on giving the permit copy was told to hurry up as the Nathula Gate will close by 11.30 and i have 1.5 hours to make the 45odd Kms. Gate closes? which gate i have no intention to go into china. But thought there must be one more so din wanna take chance and hurried up. The weather could not have been bettor. Bright warm sunshine, sparse white clouds and vivid blue sky and the dark green mountains, going lighter as i climb. So many places i wanted to stop and soak in the views but have to hurry. cut down on my photos and thought would take some on the way back. Based on my experience, if u needa take a picture, take it now or the later thing never works even coming back the same way. And its more interesting taking pix going. But with frustration kept riding watching the scenery go by. The climb was pretty steap and were climbing in a hurry. The views only got bettor. Uncontrollably stopped a few times for pix but generally pushed. To my luck there was a land slide and traffic was stopped. Luckily it opened up in 10 mins and i ride briskly. Lots and lots of sumos to overtake. Every body to Gangtok takes this road. But most only go to Baba mandir.

The roads were smooth twisties and after some time it got bad and more worse patches lay ahead. It was bright sunny all the way so made do with minimal winter wear. Reach Tsomgo Lake which is at 12300 feet. But the by the way the bike was gasping i thought we were much higher. It must be prolly the incline. A pretty green lake with brown back drop. There were this lot of wolly Yaks. The Real yaks i have seen so far, colorfully decorated and with seats on their backs. They take people on small rides. Prolly could a got a pic with my gear on but pushed ahead. The road got real pathetic. All the while climbing up and up. Have to overtake lot of Sumos.

Finally at 4KMs to NathuLa there is a gate. This is what the check post office was talking about. Showed my pemits and was promptly told this wont do and i cant get in. WTH... they needed an army permit it seems. But the secretariat staff told me that i dont need to do anything. This arrogant guards at the gate wouldn't listen to any of may pleas. It was a strict know and like what if you are riding from 10k kms, what ever save it and you are not going! One guy suggested going down 6 KMs to Brigade and try their. Now did not want to do the worst of the stretch so far with lot of water crossings and slush sections. One more guy said to visit babamandir and try calling the secretariat from there.

Went their and saw these boards saying chinese posts are observing this stretch of road. But i was in no mood to click. This was really frustrating. Damn those staff at secretariat. How could they put people into trouble like this. To my luck the fone lines are broken down.
Came back to the gate and explained the situation, was instead told to run down to Gangtok. These were the most arrogant army men i have met so far. Now i turn back my bike with a pang. so close and yet so far. But my one last chance for the day was at the Brigade. On the way was thinking should i spend one more day on this and comm again tomm. Went to the Brigade and Cournal Swamy heard my story and was pretty receiving. Checked my identity, and inquired about my travel so far. He also said if i was so adventurous why dint i join the army?!! any way He said i can go and they would inform the gate to let me through.

Left with a hearty thanks and have to ride the worst parts again. To make matters interesting blasting was scheduled near NathuLa for road construction and i was to hurry. May the whole day which could have been peaceful pleasure ride is getting hurried. I reach the gate by 2PM. The guard now lets me through. After some distance once more guard tells me to visit the place and come back quick. Well more pressure. Finally reached the coveted Nathula pass and Indo China border. As i was taking pix of my triumph, i was told to park the bike a couple of switch backs down and walk up a plat form to the side to see the border as only VIP vehicles are allowed near the gate it seems. I take a few quick clicks and ride down.

Now i had to climb lot of stares in a hurry at the altitude of 14k feet and i had no water and food since morning. The winds were picking up and the wind chill was pretty cold. As i get to the top. Mr Agith Kumar singh gives me a tour of the place. I take plenty of pix of the china land. And what you know even shook hands with a Chinese soldier. He was pretty disinterested, prolly been through his share of being a picture prop for Indian tourists.

The views around were great with towering mountains all around but not as impressive as BumLa.

The road on the other side looked damn good. Now i hurry down as the guard below was calling on to me. As i had to leave and only then they can start the blasting. It was in a hurry but i still made it. Got back to the gate and asked for some hot water. Instead i got a fruity from the army guard. Now i could sense his disapproval about my insistence of visiting the china border, as in should an Indian be so desperate to see a bit of china. As asked me like now what did i gain by going there and what did it see there on the china?? !! Hehe will i told the road on the china side was very good. He felt agitated and asked like being a India how could i appreciate their road. We have bettor roads it seems. But wats the point in having have false pride. It was me who had the back breaking ride and it was me who will be riding the worst stretch for 4 times now! And how the hell can i proud of our roads?! Any way not wanting to get into a debate there, i changed the topic and took a few pix of the gate and got moving.

By now the clouds were building up and things were getting cold. It was already like 3.30 plus and the pretty sunlight was over for the day. Man this permit process. Else i could have lazed this ride with plenty of breaks. But now it gets gloomy and i just feel like getting back tot he room. Still take a few pictures on the way back but noting seemed as pretty and interesting as in the morning. And i was right pix on the way back did not work. Even missed taking a picture of a board saying. The worlds highest cyber cafe! can see clouds on the mountains below. Soon i am riding in the thick mist. Luckily when i got down from the mist the weather was good in Gangtok and unlike i expected did not have to do a rain ride. Got back to the hotel by 5PM.
It was party all evening with Eric and Laura as it was his birthday and the hotel had great live music too..
Thats the crowd to negotiate to get my permits...


Jam on the narrow road as a stupid truckie had entered a one way!


Beautiful sky in the sunshine...


The first check post...


Getting high up...


Pretty good roads for quite some time..


Landslide break... and this guy was fancying my bike...


Atleast a good place for the break...


Road being worked on...


Yak Ride any one?


Never seen such huge Yaks...


Bike at the Tsomgo Lake... at 12300 feet...


Approaching Nathu La...


Baba Mandir where most tourists go...


Finally i made it...


Bike at the Nathu La Gate...


Have to pose alright...


The height of Nathu La 13973 feet..according to my fone...


A memorial for soldiers at the border...


Steps leading to observation deck...


They are building another great wall!!


Some Gyan...


That fence is the border and the construction work is in china and they are the chinese workers...


Thats their post office...


Thier observation posts...


The soldier took my potrait i never told and knew till i previewed. But dont i look happy ;)


Me with china land in the back ground...


That's Mr Ajit Kumar Singh who gave me a tour of the place...


Chinese soldier and an Indian Biker shaking hands over the border fence...


Thats envious road they have....


Thats the china Land...


Now thats the road our side leading to Nathu La... work in progress...




One of the many lakes...


Have to ride all the mountains you see....


Yes :)


The gate that took me couple of hours to cross!!


Tourists reveling on the snow...


Thats ice!








Dust on the road means lot of bumpy ride...


Cloud play...


Some water crossing.... i had to cross it for 4 times!!!


Tsomgo Lake not so bright now...


The climb down to Gangtok...






Now we have some mist...


More mist....


Nice view from Gangtok City...


Verticle travel for the day...

6 comments:

Ashvin said...

Chinese soldier's look is worth a million bucks.

"Track me live" is not working. Fix it.

Arun said...

why he is giving 'that hand for shakehands?

SKS said...

chei lai maa?

Praveen said...

Ashwin: Yeah he strange Chinese soldier :) GPRS is not working in my BSNL sim. So no TML till i get it going :(

Arun: May be thats how it is. India gives the right hand for shake hand and China gives the left.

SKS: ?????

SKS said...

heheh.. i thought u knew chinese! :D

Satish said...

No matter if you could not put your steps to china land.. your hand went to chine and touched the air and people.. How was the feeling being so near to the border?