It took around twenty hours to reach Leh by road. This included a few stops for refreshment. It was an incredible road trip which tested the vehicle and the skills of the driver.
I had booked my place early and had snagged the front seat. I watched the road carefully and considered the degree of difficulty I would experience cycling back. The road conditions were seriously bad and was amazed that a minibus could cope with the flooded rocky roads. All kudos to the driver who had been doing the route on a regular basis for over 6 years and knew it like the back of his hand. I enjoyed the luxury of being driven but felt a little guilty having scotched my ‘green’ copybook.
We were delayed at one point where the road had given way to fast moving water and mud. Vehicles were queued and a fair few people, in typical Indian fashion, stood and watched a lorry with its wheels spinning and sliding in the mud.
With a little coordinated effort there was a way for us to get through. By getting the passengers off, putting rocks under the rear wheels and enlisting the help of other drivers to push we were able to get past. Using this method we managed to get three minibuses through.
I was amused at the Israeli tourists that finally conceded to remove themselves off one minibus to lighten its load. They had summer sandals and flip-flops. Some looked like they were dressed as Rajasthani herdsmen with baggy trousers and matching hats. They did their best to avoid getting mud on their ethnic attire and gingerly tiptoed ahead past the problem. I think they would have been horrified at the thought of actually helping to push a vehicle through mud.
Having backtracked to a village to drop off an elderly lady we arrived in Leh in darkness. It took a little while to reorganise my luggage around my cycle panniers. Somewhat cold, tired and disorientated I struggled to make my way up a steep hill away from the bus station. It was pitch black. Eventually I found my way to a dirty looking room at the Indus hotel and gratefully fell in to a coma.