After two frustrating weeks waiting for his Indian Visa to be approved, Simon finally crossed the border from Pakistan into India, the day before his already extended Pakistani Visa expired. As time was running out, he took an overnight local bus to Manali in Kashmir and started cycling towards Leh in Ladakh.
It took six days to cycle between Manali and Leh, crossing five high passes along the way. The highest pass, Taglang La was 5328m, which the road sign proclaimed to be “the second highest pass of the world”. Simon reports “this was a great ride, with the altitude, high passes and bad road conditions making for tough riding. But the views and hospitality were superb”.
The people in this region are Buddhists with their picturesque monasteries, prayer flags and stupas, making it look very similar to Tibet.
Some interesting road signs along the way!
“Around Leh the weather was mostly sunny and cool with only a slight breeze. There were lovely block houses with white walls, varnished wooden window frames, decorative doors and prayer flags streaming from the rooves . The houses were surrounded by flower gardens inside walled compounds”.
“The ride from Leh to Srinagar was on a better road with only three smaller passes, although it was still a challenge. The people of Srinagar are Muslims and it is a tourist mecca with over 1000 house boats on Lake Dal. The area around Srinagar was very green with the locals busy harvesting crops of rice and wheat”.
Srinagar marked the end of the cycling and from here Simon took a 24 hour bus ride to Delhi for his flight home to New Zealand.
Just a few days left for some sight seeing, a quick bus tour to the Taj Mahal in Agra and a visit to the Amer Palace in Jaipur.
Amer is surrounded by an 11km stone wall, rather like the Wall of China.
And just enough time to get tidied up for the home coming, gotta look good!
This is the last blog for Simon’s amazing journey through Central Asia from Istanbul, in Turkey to Delhi in India. Six months, ten and a half thousand hard won kilometres, a lot of sweat and an awful lot of hills, extreme heat and extreme cold. Everywhere he has travelled he has been shown such kindness and generosity and made so many friends along the way. It is humbling to realise that people all around the world have the same needs and wants as our own, regardless of where they live and regardless of their faith and living conditions. Cycle touring is an excellent way of connecting with local people going about their daily lives.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
PS. Don’t forget to check out the route map which details every overnight stop he made along the way. It is an impressive array of points across the map! You will find it by clicking on the heading “Where are we?” on the top menu just under the photo of Lake Te Anau, on the front page of this site.