• City: Kanpur

    The day after Independence day was also the day we lost our freedom. From the freedom of wide landscapes of the countryside we were jailed in a tiny 10x6ft room, with absolutely nothing to do, but to stare out of the window and watch the rain fall. Another session of Japanese anime movies started for the both of us. Fortunately on the evening of the first day a van full of European tourists had come to stay the night. They told us that the pass we had crossed the previous day was all snowed out and they were wearing all the thermals they had and were surprised to see us sitting in shorts and light jackets!

    They were good company and we had a nice evening of revelry. The second day we tried hitching a ride to the White Lake from Jargalant thanks to the inclement weather. We tried for the first half of the day, but with no luck we gave up and headed back to our room and more Japanese anime! In those two days I sat and watched about 10 movies, which can leave you mentally deranged, because those movies are psychedelic for lack of a better term!

    I also tried my hand at chopping wood there with the hotel guy, I sucked terribly at it. I hammered away with the axe, and that was probably what I was doing wrong! So to make amends I jumped onto his motorcycle and went with him to go buy water. Water is precious in Mongolia and people have to buy water for their daily needs. It is absurd and amazing. Prakash with our limited language skills and google translate tried to explain the concept of rainwater harvesting to the hotel owners, but the only person excited with the idea was Prakash himself!

    After a couple of days of lying around in our hotel room watching Japanese anime, it was finally time to ride as the weather had cleared considerably.

    We started from Jargalant towards the White Lake. None of the maps we had at our disposal showed accurate distances, but we made a rough estimate of around 60km. We put away all camera equipment and wore our rain gear as the skies were a threatening grey. Fortunately we didn’t get heavy rain, just a light drizzle in a few places.

    What we did get was a lot of slush thanks to the rain of the previous two days and not a spot of sunlight. But the biggest challenge for us were the water crossings, thanks to the rain all the streams were swollen and had left cars stranded on either bank, unable to cross. We had to wade across these streams, one had a small wooden bridge for two wheelers, but for the rest we needed to take of our shoes and step in the ice cold water and wade across. By the time we reached the other side, we were shivering like wet cats. It was a difficult day as we had to cross two passes again.

    One pass was in the middle of a thick pine forest which was beautiful, though we were struggling to push our bikes up! It would have been more beautiful if the sun was shining bright, but it was a dreary day and we saw the sun for the first time at 8pm. Not something that you would expect to happen in India!

    At the top of the pass we saw a board which said tourist camp, we expected to find the camp somewhere close by. But that was a cruel joke as we rode on and found absolutely nothing. We rode on the road which was mostly downhill till we hit a fork, with the left road going to the White Lake while the right went straight to the town of Tariat. So we headed in the direction of the lake. What we didn’t realize was that we were on a wild goose chase. We got slowed down by a few passes and general fatigue. We were still a few kilometres from the white lake according to our odometer and we had a stream to cross with the sun setting fast, we had no option but to pitch camp where we stood.

    So that is exactly what we did, since we didn’t want to be pitching our tents after dark. We had half a loaf of dry bread for dinner as that is all we had and a few apricots. The day was full of adventure as we were not sure how far we were from anywhere!

    The next morning we realized that we had camped near the white lake, but on the wrong side of the lake!The road circumnavigated the White Lake before going back to the town of Tariat which we could have gone straight the previous day. This was a BIG detour. We ended up crossing another 5 streams that day. At every stream we would get off our bikes, take off the luggage and carry everything individually to the other side.

    Fortunately the water wasn’t as cold as the previous day because the sun was shining bright. After having gone round the lake, we stopped at a pretty expensive camp for a bite to eat. We ended up paying 300 INR for the lunch. Quite expensive!

    As we left the lake we immediately climbed a small pass and on the other side of the pass was an extinct volcano – Khorgo. The volcano was surrounded by lava rocks, a pretty sight to see those rocks strewn all over the place. We reached a campsite in the wake of the volcano and we bargained to get a Ger for pretty cheap. What we didn’t realize was that the money we saved on the Ger was more than made up by the expensive meals we had there. 600 INR per person for dinner was the cost, fortunately we ate first and asked the price only the next morning! Else we wouldn’t have been able to swallow the food. Though I must add the food was extremely tasty, and I got to taste Yak meat as well there!

    On a side note, we had been pushing our bikes uphill so many times, that i wasn’t sure whether we were doing a cycle trip or a hiking trip 😀
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Prakash’s favourite, beer and lollypops!</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>On the first day which was very wet. This is the only photo because it was a very wet day!</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>The first view of the White Lake</p>

    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Climbing one of the many rocky passes</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>A wolf skin in the restaurant. Just to help you with your appetite</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>A fish head in the same restaurant</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Prakash posing with the Lava rocks, which are not so obvious in the background!</p>