Rough terrain, mountains, snowfall - off to spiti

It was a long long pending dream of traveling to Leh on bikes with friends. Indeed, now also it's pending but all I could say is we got a feel of it on our spiti tour.

The spiti tour is full of adventures, bike rides, arguments, changing decisions, testing mental and physical fitness. This was a real roller coaster ride. To give you a real feel, I have divided it into small-2 sections.

Let's begin the roller coaster.

Wait...

Let me introduce you to my co-travellers: Anoop Singh and Gurwinder Singh. We were friends from our college days (Rabb nazar na lave). Anoop is an emotionally matured person and is married now. Gurwinder, posted as a Manager in PNB, loves to keep things simple and he takes things easy, thinks like a child. All three of us are different characters.

As the story unfolds, you will get to know more about us.

So, the roller coaster is finally starting. Let's go

To begin or not to begin


Earlier the dream of Leh was pending because no one in my friends circle own an SUV. But, now most of the friends own high-end cars (all thanks to the almighty). As they say 'Sab time time di gal hai'

So, we begin planning from February, separate Whatsapp group was made, we were eagerly waiting for routes to open.

We heard a news that routes will open on may 27. It's time to get serious and turn our plans into reality.

But... in reality, not everything happens the same as you planned.

As the SUV was new, we decided not to take it and relied on saying 'Old is Gold'. ALTO was finalized.

And after several discussions that Alto will not be able to make it to leh, the trip was reduced from leh to spiti.

Now the equation was: on an alto to spiti. It was still a good bet.

But, then just for some confirmation, I asked a question on Quora 'Is alto a good choice for spiti?' Everyone (those who answered) said no. They suggested to take a car with minimum ground clearance of 180mm (Alto was 160mm).

The next day we were about to begin our journey and I hadn't told about the quora answers to my co-travellers.

This thing was making me uncomfortable, so I decided to make them aware that we might face difficulties on the way if Alto is taken.

I send the screenshots of quora answers in the whatsapp group.

After around 10 minutes, the status said read by both co-travellers, but no one replied.

After 20 minutes .... no reply...

After 30 minutes .... Still nothing ...


After 1 hour ......................................

That silence in the group was the moment of 'To begin or not to begin'.... to go ahead with the tour plans or drop the idea. To go ahead and live our dream or give it a miss. To again continue planning or let's do it...

The thought process continued the whole night and somewhere between 'no' to 'Don't know what to do' I fell asleep.


Next morning I posted a video status on Whatspp...... of three friends, on way to spiti, travelling in an ALTO... Yes you read it right ... ALTO as deep inside we all knew that IT's NOW OR NEVER.

To clear some doubts, they (co-travellers) did replied in group with random facts, motivational talks.


Started off with a bang


I was on the driving seat, we moved at a slow pace as we planned to stay in Manali for that day and proceed to Spiti the next day.

The road was mostly good, at times it becomes rough. Creating a confusion in my mind at what speed to go ahead.

The sun was set. No street lights were there. A swift desire was going ahead of us.

After crossing Kullu, The road was good and speed was around 70km/hr. There comes a sharp turn and rough patch of road. Swift dezire applied sudden brakes.

I also applied braked, Alto skid...skid...skid....and......BANG.

A moment of silence.

'Oh ho' I don't know who uttered these two magical words but these were enough to break the silence.

We stopped, I was waiting for the driver of Dezire to come out and be on talking terms with us.

But to our surprise, he raced away without even stopping as the impact of the collision was too little.

So, we started off with a BANG and I avoided eye contact with co-travellers for next 15-20 minutes due to a sense of guilt.

You need to take permit brother!


As we reached Manali, we were too tired, took a hotel and decided to take rest.

Next morning around 8 am, we were about to leave for our destination. On a general note, Anoop asked the person at the reception:

'How much time it will take to reach chandrataal lake?'

'Around 7-8 hours'

'Have you booked a taxi?' he asked

'No'

'Which car?'

'ALTO'

'How did you managed to get the permit?'

PERMIT????

We were expressionless..... What the hell did he just speak... We were not familiar with the word..

'Which Permit?' Gurwinder tried to intervene

'Sardar ji, aisa hai k Solang se aage jaane k liye aapko permit lena padta hai SDM office se'

(You need to take permit from SDM office if you want to go ahead of solang)

A big 'Ohh hoo' moment for us. We felt being trapped.

----

Tourist information

To go to Rohtang, keylong, leh, spiti you need to take permit from SDM office Manali or you can also apply online here.
It is advised to apply in advance as it is rare that you get the permit for the same day.
----

Pain in the Ass

We got the permit but for next day, so we were free. We decided to explore Manali.

As we were roaming, we saw a shop (TrekIndia), they rent out cycles to tourists.

Now, this is a good thing that happened to us for the day. We rented out 3 cycles (just for Rs 300 per cycle) and started towards old Manali (from mall road)

On the way to old Manali
I think it was after around 6 years that I was riding a bicycle.

Everyone was so enthusiastic, we planned to explore each and every corner of Manali and return the cycles at 7 pm (closing time of shop).

Started.... everyone peddled fast...

5 minutes after.... 'Just slow down, we got entire day' Gurwinder said

We started peddling at normal pace

After 10 minutes ..... 'Stop, stop ....Let's take a break' Said Anoop

We stopped

After 2-3 minutes everyone's breath was back to normal. We looked at each other and laughed

'Leya ta 22 panga hi aa' said anoop laughing

'Idea kida si ehh? (who gave this idea)' Gurwinder continued

'Tu hi keha si (You)' I said

After chit-chatting for another 5 minutes, we realized that it's better to peddle at a normal pace.

Slowly .... slowly ... we reached old Manali...

The place was great. We continued our journey, did some offroading and made the full use of bicycles.

offroading in old Manali


The scenic beauty was great.

Anoop got off the cycle and asked me to click a pic of him after he climbed a big rock.

Just as he sat down to give a pose for pic, within a second he got up

'Ki hoya (What happened)'

'**** Dukhn laggi (Ass started paining)' he replied making a dirty face

We didn't felt the pain before, but after he said that... we too started feeling the same

We ignored it at that time and peddled our way back to mall road...

It was evening by now (around 5 pm) and rush on mall road had increased, beautiful faces were roaming... So, we decided to give 2-3 rounds there

After 10 minutes

'Let's give back the cycles, it's paining too much' said Anoop

'Thodi der hor (just a few more minutes)'

He agreed

After 5 minutes

'Yaar bas, hor ni'

'bas thodi der hor...'

We continued

After 1 round, we saw Anoop was not there with us... Started searching for him.. he was there standing near lemon tea stall...

'What happened?'

'I'll not sit on the cycle, you take it and give it back' he kind of shouted

He refused to even sit on cycle.... that was the pain... when you ride cycle for 6 hours after 6 years.. that too in mountains...

Changing decisions


We were scheduled to check out from our hotel to spiti the next morning. Time was around 10.30 pm and we were about to sleep when Anoop received a call from UC (the person who had booking of our tents at Spiti)

'Which car are you planning to take there?'

'Alto'

'Can you meet me at Hotel ***?'

'Coming in 10 minutes'

We walked to the hotel. Mr. UC introduced us to a driver who just came back from spiti.

'You are planning to take an alto?' Said the driver

We nodded

'The condition of the road is very very bad... I advise you not to take Alto... '

An expression of concern appeared on our face

'Big stones are lying on road, you need to pass through water more than 100 times, there are two big Nalahs (Waterlogged area) where you can face difficulties, alto may be jammed..' he finished it in a single breath

He had finished his dialogue but we continue to stare at his face

'I advise you to hire a taxi'

I read it somewhere that when you are in mountains, always take the advice of locals.

We booked a taxi

We all slept in upside down position to avoid any unnecessary pain

The journey


After so many problems, It's finally beginning.

The taxi driver arrived.

Wait! Don't imagine a usual taxi with yellow number plate and driver in uniform.

This is different my friend!

There were two persons named Dhiru and Dhiru (One 19 yr old and the other 21) arrived in an SUV.

'You both have same names?' Gurwinder asked

'We never call each other by original names in front of tourists, Dhiru is the code word' 19 yr old Dhiru replied

Ahh! there We were in between the locals.... Now the real fun begins...

Even before starting the car, he said looking at Anoop

'Bhai botal yah se hi le lena, aage koi theka nahi milega'

No, he didn't ask anyone of us if we drink or not....straight away told to buy...

'Hum to old monk lenge, aap kaunsi? (We'll drink and you?)' he stopped the car in front of wine shop

'BP' Gurwinder said

'Bhai rum hi le lo sahi rahegi, boht thand hogi aage'

'Nahi BP hi thik hai'

He bought the bottles and started the car

Anoop took the front seat and asked if belt is necessary

'Yeh chandigarh thodi hai bhai..' both dhiru laughed

After 5 minutes....

'Dhiru peg bna' 19 year old ordered 21 yr old

They both were 1 peg down and it's just the start

and then he played punjabi song 'Patila peg la chadi da'

We looked at each other in amazement

'Our pen drive is full of punjabi songs so that you are not bored' 21 yr old dhiru cleared the confusion.

A homely feeling took over.

Now the equation became 'In a SUV, 5 persons, 2 wine bottles, 2 beer bottles, full volume punjabi songs, '

The feel was great

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