We started our day at the hot springs in the temple just up from our hotel. You leave your shoes outside the temple with a man who will keep an eagle eye on them for one rupee(3cents.)
Many locals bathe daily in the temple pool. The water is much hotter than you will find at a hot tub in the states. Your skin quits sending the pain signal to the brain instantly and you relax into a puddle.
We had fresh squeezed oj from a roadside stand then headed to a rooftop restaurant for chai and breakfast. We shared a table w/ a Frenchman named Tony. He told us about his ten years here while he rolled mixtee after mixtee. Halfway through smoking his first the owner came to the table and asked him for a hit. Tony handed it to him and he went about his business, merrily puffing while he made breakfasts and teas and clearing tables.
After breakfast we returned to the hotel to find two shiny Royal Enfields parked outside. Mine had 735.3 km on it. Anu pulled up and suggested that we head up Solang Valley.
There is a rope across the road at the ski resort. We asked if we could park on the uphill side of the rope to get our bikes off the road. Bikes secured, we headed down to the clearing for a chai.
A constant stream of paragliders and bubble boy transport systems provided our entertainment. The paraglider pilots have an interesting technique that involves running over their passengers when they land. Most of them look young and inexperienced. I think they are also too small to effectively flair the wings at the crucial moment.
While the pilot gets off the client he just smashed into the ground two boys roll the wing up into a ball that may or may not be a tangled mess by the time it gets hiked back to the top of the hill.
People mill about the landing zone, sometimes eliciting a shout from a pilot that fears he may clip them. The north side of the clearing serves as the runout zone for the bubble ball things that hold two or more passengers. I never saw one catch air but they do roll along at a good clip and probably smell delicious with the residue of lots of vomit baking in the heat.
It became clear when we left why Anu wanted to park uphill of the ropeblock. We headed up the valley in the area restricted to Army and road building vehicles.
The freshly paved road twisted and climbed up the valley. The air cooled as we got closer to the hanging glaciers dribbling down from the peaks.
The pavement ended because they had come to the point where they planned to begin the tunnel. It is to be 9 km long and is necessary as an avalanche mitigation measure. The hope is that Leh will be accessible nearly year round.
Supply trucks must climb steep and dangerous Rhotang La to get to Leh at present. The rough road skirts numerous avalanche paths and usually closes for the season shortly after the first snows fall.
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