VAEGABOND - With the monks in the Himalaya - Bike tour through Ladakh & Kashmir

What we're experiencing right now is just indescribable! With every chapter, we get the feeling, having passed an even more extreme stage, than before. Maybe that's also a bit because of the special Route, that we have tailored together for our bike world tour throught the north of India. (Download all our GPX data here)
Before we left Himachal Pradesh, we had the unique oppurtunity to attend a buddhist wedding in Keylong. After that, it was on to Ladakh, where lots of offroad, partially flooded streets, a snapped tent, the majestic Himalaya mountains and a buddhist monastery awaited us. 
The Spiti Valley had already impressed us, but the Valley Zanskar in Ladakh was the cherry on top. Ladakh is one of the highest inhabited regions in the world. The high plateau lies on average at a hight of 3.000m. Okay, we do have to admit, that those many offroad passages with partially flooded streets or paths, was not for the weak. We stopped counting, that's how often we had to roll up our jeans and push our bikes through calf high, ice cold glacier water. Atleast it would go really high upwards sometimes and over passes beyond the 5.000m with rain and snow. And yes, let's be honest, there were also thoughts, like „I'm hungry, I'm cold, I've had enough of mountains. I want to lay at the beach with a coconut in my hand...“ Because we got to a point, where we just couldn't see scree roads anymore and didn't want to move our 60 to 75kg bikes up one meter. But looking back, it was very worth it! It always does that, no matter how bad the route was. We've always got lots of postive things from everything up until now!
After a couple of exhausting weeks, we finally reached civilisation again. In Padum, we wanted to find a comfortable place for our tent and put our feet up for a few days and just do nothing. We deserved it. It started to rain and we wanted to put up our tent as fastas possible. We had quickly found a nice spot, but were scared away just as quickly. The angry looking owner didn't exactly like that. Disheartened we moved to the next meadow. There, we got discovered pretty quickly again, but we were also nicely waved at, what we swiftly percieved as a „doesn't bother anyone“. Dripping wet we vanished into our tent and fell asleep very exhausted. How practical, having a tent, when it's raining. Do you know that, when it get dark outside and the rain softly drums against your window? And you tuck yourself in and think „Thank God, I don't have to go outside with that weather“.  We were woken up uncomfortably, feels kind of wet. Tent is leaky. Wonderful. It was Dani's new job checking every couple of hours where it leaked to fix the damage. The second day. It continued to rain. The third day. It would still rain. The fourth day. We were happy, the rain had stopped. It was snowing now. The happiness was only half as big in the end. 
As we said in the beginning, looking back it was worth it. Because the rain and snow were soon followed by sunshine and we dipped. This time we could suck up the unique beauty of the Himalaya  again and see how the people live there with our own eyes. In Pakistan we saw Yaks (zoo doesn't count), but
there are also Yaks here, that are really terrifyingly big. What impressed us even more, was the monastery in Phuktar, which comes from the 12. century. Monks there live from their childhood on until they're old. They live very seperated and have an ascetic life with daily rituals and prayers. The monastery itself is built into a rock and you can only reach it over a narrow path by foot or by mule, that winds through the mountains. Just before the end you cross a stable bridge that was done being built just 2 months ago. The old Pendant still hangs next to it and looks like someone had tied together Mikado sticks with dried fern. Spooky, but the view from the monastery is truly spectacular. 
We really hurried up, because we wanted to celebrate Dani's 4rth birthday on our bike world tour witha roof over our heads and toast to it. A not too easy plan in the muslim north India. Meaning the thing with the toast. But we actually made it to Srinagar in Kashmir last minute and we actually found a wine shop. It was completely overpriced, but it was just necessary for the sake of the birthday and the crazy stage. The thing with the roof over our heads also worked out. A very nice Kashmiri invited us, to sleep a couple night over at an accomodation. That was probably the best gift of all. How we missed a bed and a real toilette, and the shower! Unfortunately, we couldn't really rest. Dani is currently fighting a fever and a heavy tonsillitis and Melli an upset stomach. And there are also still those many videos, that want to be cut, Pictures of the grandiose exeriences need to be saved, sorted and edited, our socials need to be taken care of, answering E-mail and so on. The to-do-list is long, especially when you didn't have any internet and electricity for the laptop. But it's also fun and something very special for us, sharing the unique moments with you all! ;)
Soon, we're in Delhi and the next great adventures are planned! It's on to the south of India, where we won't just cycle. What we have planned specifically will be displayed in the next traveling update!

Best wishes from Kashmir in the north of India
Melli & Dani
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