LADAKH IV .. AUG 12/08

Tuesday.. August 12.. 2008.. from
Leh.. Ladakh.. evening.. 10:12 PM.. this cafe ‘closes’ at 10
PM but let me get on here.. so will be brief..

All day the internet has been impossible.. some of the
cafes have just closed their doors.. and this is my last
shot..

If you will recall.. I had a very VERY challenging trip up
North from Padum to Kargil.. the trip from hell to put it
mildly..

So I got to bed in Kargil Sunday night with only three
hours available to sleep.. I had to be on my bus to Leh at
(departure time) 4 AM on Monday morning..

This ‘altitude thing’ is ‘wearing’ on me.. try to get to
sleep and begin to feel like I am suffocating.. do the pant
pant pant to ‘air up’ .. and can’t quite get to sleep before
it starts again..

OK.. I got up at 1:30 AM on Monday morning the 11th.. and
was at the bus station at 3 AM.. early.. you betcha.. at
this point I wanted to get back to Leh in the worst possible
way.. no one around..

But I learned something.. when I got onto the bus in Padum
I was surprised I was not first on.. I was first waiting..
well I come to find out that the Indians SLEEP ON THE BUS..
somehow they get on the evening before and just sleep on the
bus.. to get the good seats and to save money.. live and
learn..

We left Kargil at about 4:30 AM.. half an hour late.. and
let me tell you.. after the road up from Padum.. it was like
riding the ‘autobahn’.. I could not believe how smooth the
road from Kargil back to Leh was.. and when I came FROM Leh
to Kargil a few Sundays ago.. it was terrible.. shows to go
ya.. it is all relative..

Smooth and nice and easy.. passed some familiar landmarks..
stopped for a nice break at about 11 AM and it was ‘this is
great’ time..

WHEN WHAT TO MY WONDERING EYES SHOULD APPEAR BUT..

THE TRAFFIC JAM FROM HELL..

We came upon a very long line of stopped trucks.. buses..
cars.. you name it..

“Uh oh” I said to myself “Must be an accident”..

Then my bus began to ‘empty out’.. I eventually was left as
the only one sitting on the bus.. not only did all of the
people leave.. they took with them their luggage..

“What in the heck is going on” I thought.. and got off and
began to ‘ask around’..

“Sahib” I was addressed “The bridge is out”..

“The what”.. “The bridge is gone.. there is no bridge”..

Friends.. it was absolute ‘chaos’..

NOT TOO PROUD TO ASK.. for assistance.. I asked my seat
mate from Padum to Kargil on Sunday “Will you assist me with
my stuff”.. “Sure” and he took my back pack and off he
went.. I had my suitcase and brief case and pillow bag..

We are talking  C H A O S.. Military Soldiers..
Police.. the works..

I walked about a Kilometer ( a bit over half a mile ) and
came to ‘the end of the road’.. everyone was having to ‘get
down’ a steep earthen incline to the river ‘way down below’
and I mean ‘WAY DOWN BELOW’..

Somehow.. now get this.. as we were going down.. people
from the other side were COMING UP.. both directions were
stopped by the total washout of the bridge.. and the dirt
path was a single lane one way only deal.. but two
directions of people trying to go ..

C H A O S..  I got to the river and there was the
‘foot bridge’.. a plank thing..

I called to mind what Iron Workers taught me about walking
the plank up high ( the high steel ).. LOOK AT YOUR FEET..
DO NOT LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE.. ONE FOOT BEFORE THE OTHER..
and across I went.. with people behind me and ahead of me
waiting their turns..

I got across and oh my gosh.. it was WAY UP THERE to the
top of the valley..

Out of nowhere a young Muslim lad ‘grabbed from me’ my
suitcase and said “Let me help you Sir”.. up he went .. me
way behind .. at the top he would NOT take money.. I
‘forced’ a one hundred (RS 100) bill on him.. I could not..
NOT have done it.. my buddy with my back pack was way
ahead..

I caught up.. got my back pack.. and several of us arranged
a taxi.. three of us for RS 1,800 to Leh..

Today I experienced a ‘new level’ of exhaustion.. the road
from hell on Sunday.. a few hours of sleep.. and the
‘bridge’ was out..

I have to sign off.. and let my man close.. it is 10:30 PM
and he has gone above and beyond..

Sunday and Monday have made me a ‘real world traveller’ let
me tell you.. I could write a book but not now..

MUCH JOY AND MY SPIRITS REMAIN SKY HIGH.. CAN NOT BELIEVE I
WILL BE.. GOD WILLING.. BACK IN ALASKA IN ONE MONTH..

Signing off.. I am ‘bobba caps’ the world traveller today..
joy to you all.. Cap

____________________________________________________


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