I had ridden small, automatic and semi-automatic, bikes in Laos but had never ridden a ‘real’ one. I started out renting a Pulsar 150 for three days. And only dropped it once :)
It was a real treat to be out on the open road, visiting monasteries and quiet villages. In some places there was still evidence of the terrible flash floods that took a huge toll in this area with crops lost. And almost three hundred lives.
The villages are beautiful. As are the inhabitants: friendly, relaxed, lovely.
I rode west, back in the direction of Srinagar, on my first afternoon on the Pulsar. This is the main route in and out of Leh but was not over-crowded: a few trucks labouring slowly up the hills, a few taxis and motorbikes. I felt relatively safe, learning to ride the heavy but underpowered bike. The road, with its hairpins, hugging the hillside above the Indus, required full concentration.
I went as far as the village of Basgo, where there seemed enough of interest for me to dismount and relax, and walk about on solid ground for a while. Apart from the occasional truck whining past, it was a peaceful place although there didn’t seem to be people about: maybe they were all at work in the fields? There were ancient – and one more recent – chortens (Tibetan word for stupa, originally burial mounds, with a distinctively shape).
I rode on past Basgo a little, climbing up another hair-pinned road that provided a nice view back down on the village and the old fort and palace above it. The scenery was spectacular, but typical, of Ladakh. Continually awe-inspiring.
I wanted to continue but I didn’t want to return to Leh in the dark. So I turned around and headed back to the city. I stopped to take a few photos in the clear afternoon light and was back in Leh in time for rush hour!
The square base of the chorten represents the element earth and the four steps are the Buddha’s crossed legs. The dome is the element water and the Buddha’s torso, the square above the dome are the Buddha’s eyes, the spire his crown and the element fire. The crescent and oval represent air and ether.
OK, this post has been a draft for as long as I can remember. I’m just posting pictures now – I’m off to India again in a week or so and if I don’t get these posted now, I never will. Dave, June 1 2014
The school bus…
Attendance Board at the old school: I’m not sure this is still politically correct.
An old school, now used for storage. The new school is below: