“What we all want in life is to travel, fall in love, and be happy.”
Halfway between Srinagar and Leh we decided to take a 250km detour down to Padum which is situated in the very cold and isolated Tibetan area of Zanskar Valley. First though, we had to traverse Suru Valley which is a lush green area with high snow covered peaks in the distance. The inhabitants are Tibeto-Dard meaning they are of both Chinese and Pakistani (and Afghani) descent. Though the region use to be Buddhist like its neighbor Zanskar, the inhabitants converted to Islam during the 16th century so mosques and headscarfs were in abundance.
The cycling along this area was wonderful as there were almost no cars, and the settlements were small and far between. The road, at least for the first half, was also newly paved and provided an unusually smooth surface for our wheels to enjoy.
During our second night it rained for nearly twenty four hours so we ended up spending most of the next day in the tent. Thankfully the sun did eventually peak its head out at which time we cycled a few hours before reaching our best camping spot yet. We saw an abandoned house at the side of the road with a nice flat field beside it, and decided to try and camp there. As we were sitting there taking in the beautiful scenery, the owner, an older gentleman with a lovely oversized coat and warm hat, came by to greet us. With hand motions and a mix of Hindi and English he explained that we could most definitely camp there, and even started to clear away rocks for us to pitch our tent. He watched and helped us then set it up, and was fascinated by our little stove as we began to cook. He even offered to get us milk for the tea, or give us a place to sleep a few kilometers away in his village. He was friendly, respectful, and left us feeling welcomed and safe, the perfect combination for a peaceful night.
The settlements were often perched on rocks such as this, and the buildings seemed to blend right into the rocks.
Our version of a date night… Eating pasta and canned beans in the tent as it’s pouring out (and yes, that is indeed dirt on our faces).
Selfies! I mean, what else is there to do on an evening walk with gorgeous mountains around you?
There is nothing quite like cycling through the Himalayas.