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Thread: Self-Drive Expedition Travel to Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" October 2010

  1. #51

    Leh -> Nyoma -> Loma -> Dungti -> Fukche/Koyoul

    Now, as said, heard of the name of Koyoul from the guest house of Hundar [see the previous travel post], and the description that I heard from there was enough for me to get up early morning next day to go fill up permit papers with the name written as "Koyoul" .

    Now October being the "off of off-season" and with me asking for all the offbeat permits, the permit gentlemen by this time had known me. And when they saw me in the morning again, they thought okay you are returning now - a permit for Dah-Hanu was what they though I would apply now. This was day also we were supposed to go start the return journey, i.e., go to Dah-Hanu and then to Kargil and then to Srinagar for Delhi.

    But no! we are going to Koyoul! Now for the first time, they said you can write but this is not just off-beat like Hanle or Chusul or Turtok, this is "off of off-beat"!

    They themselves wrote it down on the paper, I did not even know the spelling and was forwarded to the Additional DM. Presented myself in front of her when ordered, she asked me why do I want to go there? Who are we? this is sensitive territory!

    My only reply was that we travel and we travel to the furthest part and that we just want to see. We are The Wanderers!

    Anyway, the interview last around 30 seconds or so, the papers when signed and gave okay, I was like in cloud whatever you can say. Thanked her, thanked the permit people. called up wife in hotel to be ready, we have got the permits!! We are heading to the land of the most unknown, to the land as the local person in Hundar said, a land so different and beautiful that even Lehites consider it a different place - even most of the people of Leh haven't been there!!


    But then there was more drama in store. The journey was attempted over 3 days, the first day that we left for Koyoul, including one more attempt at Kyun Tso, we had a puncture near Nyoma and the way it was the same tyre that got cut after Chandrataal and was somehow patched.

    With now the tubed spare tyre doing its job and there was no extra tyre - there was absolutely taking these journeys with extra spare. So again we went back to Leh after travelling all the way to Nyoma.

    The next day was spent in buying up a new tyre as now 2 of 5 tyres were in bad condition and we were in Leh itself.

    Thus after a gap of a day we finally left Leh.

    The following description would thus cover these days i.e, the first attempt and rear tyre puncture which made us return to Leh, and then again going towards Koyoul from Leh after a day in between was lost procuring a new tyre.



    Just a brief idea of these places, [Koyoul, Dungti and Demachok]. From Loma, beyond Nyoma, the right turn goes to Hanle whereas the left turn goes through the checkpost of Dungti to the ultra-senstive areas of Fukche and the adjoining small village is named Koyoul. Beyond Koyoul and Fukche is the track to Demachok, the border town with China, an absolutely forbidden place for travellers.

    Demchok or "New Demchok" is a small village and military emcampment in the Indian-administered part of the disputed Demchok sector south of Aksai Chin, in the Ladakh district of India. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) passes along the southeast side of the village, following a wadi just upstream from the nearby Indus River. Across the wadi, less than a kilometer away, is the Chinese-administered village, called Dmqog, in the Ngari Prefecture within Tibet. This village was on an old route linking Ladakh and Tibet, currently closed. The village lies 36.5 km east of Ukdungle.

    Though the Kailash Mansarovar is 300 km away, the route there is mostly through plains [2] and there is demand to improve and open a road linking China and India through Demchok.
    One can again through these maps to get an idea of where Demchok and Fukche is. The vardhan.harsh map shows till Fukche and Demachok is another 35 km beyond.

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    Very luckily we got the permission from a smart, young Major [will come to the interaction with him later] at the defence post of Fukche and we see China a mere 10 feet away and see Indus as it enters from the Tibet. Its not without any reason that my son is one of the biggest fan of Army along with us!

    As said this was a journey of the journeys and what follows is THE BEST JOURNEY TILL DATE. So let's roll...



    With a Koyoul permit in hand, we headed out of Leh early morning. This was big journey, it is close to 300 km and in Ladakh that is big distance. Plus one more attempt at Kyun Tso if possible was in.
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    And with the turn from Upshi towards Nyoma with River Indus beside.


    A beautiful day again and we close to Nyoma for some Maggi breakfast and to get info about Koyoul from the Nidder village side.
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    With warnings of getting stuck even with a 4wd and no one being there this time of month, we ended up having Maggi and biscuit breakfast here in Nyoma and then headed towards Loma for Koyoul.
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    But then just as we crossed the Nyoma BRO camp, we had a flat/puncture, as described before. As I again went about the fully tiresome process of changing a Safari tyre with the stock equipment, the local labourers came up and lend me a hand. These people from all different states were looking forward to their return journey back to their wives and children as they left to be earn some living here.

    It was humanity at its best and they all obliged for a photo for us to keep them framed and we remember their selflessness every time. All places that we have travelled, we have met the real common people everywhere and have got the best of support from them, here it was no exception.


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    And then back towards Leh again, Koyoul travel abandoned for the day!

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    but not before some brilliant mineral mountain views!
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    So, as described above, with no spare now and it was a tense return to Leh in the night. With 360 km around travelled [Leh-Nyoma-Leh], we reached Leh back to our hotel, Shanti Palace late in the night. Did not even want to think what would have happened if we had suffered a flat again while returning in the dark night along the Nyoma-Leh road.


    Anyway tired and hungry, again the wonderful couple owners of Shanti Palace, surprised to see us in the night, soon had a dinner for us ready. Next day it was spent in Leh itself, bought a brand new BF Goodrich A/T. Koyoul has to be done and now we have 6 tyres - 4 good, one tubed spare and another anyhow patched up, the another extra.

    Thus after a day's gap, the journey began again - for Koyoul.



    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  2. #52
    Leh -> Nyoma -> Loma -> Dungti -> Fukche/Koyoul contd...



    Clouds gathered and the blue clear sky that we luckily got through the first 20 days of October was missing. But then we had a mission, a travel to the unknown part of Changthang, the land of Koyoul and Fukche
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    The weather was becoming worse now as we up on the inclines after Upshi, the Safari 2wd started losing grip.
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    And crossed a memorial dedicated to a Army officer from Bengal, "Sarkar-dada"
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    After a particularly tense slide more into the journey, we had to make a u-turn and stopped here for deliberations. In fact the Safari is now pointing towards Leh! Was the journey again abandoned for another day?

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    So there's more drama, after spending some time to go or not go, some like 1 hour was spent at that lonely rock crossing, to see how the weather progressed - to go or not, when suddenly remembered about Sela Pass journey that we did during our Western Arunachal travel during the winter months of December-January 2009-10. So how did Sela pass journey thoughts and experience bring about a decision?!!




    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  3. #53
    Leh -> Nyoma -> Loma -> Dungti -> Fukche/Koyoul contd...

    We waited for sometime, may an hour or so, the weather was bleak but holding out. But what suddenly I remembered was the weather while going towards Sela Pass on a cold winter day of December end [ Sela Pass windward-leeward - Western-Arunachal-trip ]. As soon as we crossed the pass, the weather that side was clear as it could be - the windward-leeward funda.

    So our journey started again with U-turn, on the hope that the other side would be clear, the same windward-leeward funda. We were again on the direction of Koyoul

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    And on the other side, it did clear out. Hip, hip, hooray!

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    And finally on the descent towards Mahe and Nyoma, it was all clear with no snow but definitely cloudy

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    Nyoma and Loma [permit papers checked] crossed in a jiffy, we take the right turn towards Koyoul - there's no turning back now.

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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  4. #54
    Leh -> Nyoma -> Loma -> Dungti -> Fukche/Koyoul contd...


    And what a land it is! Desert sands to yellow marsh grass to blue Indus to wild horses to brazen rocks and hills. Images don't capture it all but still just watch -- this is the la la land for travellers!
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    And we moved along this once in a lifetime journey on the land beyond Loma and Dungti

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    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

  5. #55
    Leh -> Nyoma -> Loma -> Dungti -> Fukche/Koyoul contd...


    Black-necked cranes and more Kiangs
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    A nomad family, we waved each other as we moved on

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    A nomad tent, the harsh winter condition that they stay over there is impossible for us to even understand or fathom

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    Textures and colours still continue to captivate
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    And Indus that we followed since the start of the journey, we go down to the banks in the desolate lands beyond Dungti.

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    And we moved on and some sandy areas crossed gingerly

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    Late afternoon at around 3 pm we finally approach Koyoul after a journey of 10 hours for the 280 kms around . It is a very small village of few houses around 2 km by side of Fukche, the military post.

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    But then the experiences have not ended for the day, wonderful moments and interactions still continues..





    contd...
    The Wanderers.in

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