cycling Khardung Pass, Ladakh

Cycle high, sleep low. The best way to acclimatize to altitude. 🙂

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 4 of 16

Khardung La is 5,359m (17,582ft) … The summit signs incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602m and that it is the world’s highest motorable pass. …

Still … it’s bloody high.

Normally cold and windy, on September 14th when we were there it was sunny and mild. The Gods are smiling on me of late.

It’s 39km from the Pass back to Leh. Entirely down hill! 🙂

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 14 of 16

Dangerous? Nah! They have safety precautions in place.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 8 of 16

Summer Holidays is the company that pioneered downhill mountain biking out of Leh.

My day trip only cost about $25. No fancy support vehicle. They pile the bikes on a jeep.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 1 of 16

It takes about 2 hours to drive up the mountain on switchbacks.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 6 of 16

There are plenty of slow downs as vehicles inch past one another.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 7 of 16

Landslides and washouts are common. Heavy machinery (driven by men) and small hammers (driven by women) make repairs.

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 9 of 16

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 10 of 16


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Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 12 of 16

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 15 of 16

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 16 of 16

Khardongla Pass mountain bike - 5 of 16

acclimatizing to altitude in Leh, Ladakh

Flying from sea level to Leh at 3524 metres (11,562 ft), it’s strongly recommended you rest for at least 3 days. To acclimatize.

I recall doing exactly that after flying in to Lhasa 3,650m some years ago.

Instead I decided to register for the Ladakh Half Marathon. … What could go wrong?

Luckily for me they turned away my last minute US$35 registration. With nearly 4000 runners already signed up, I was one too many.

I’ll acclimatize at least 3 days before hitting the trail. After all. 🙂

Rick Ley Ladakh

arrived Himalayas

I flew north out of Delhi over the Himalayas. Leh in sparsely populated Ladakh is in the rain shadow, not affected much by monsoon.

This is one of the very best hiking destinations in the world in September. Spectacular arid, jagged mountains.

I’ll walk the most famous trek for sure – Markha Valley. Perhaps another after that.

I’m staying at Hotel Chube for the first 3 nights. Will likely leave my luggage there when I go off trekking.

Everything fantastic so far. Bright sunshine. Warm weather. Gorgeous vistas. 🙂


flying to India in September

Though I’ve spent well over a year traveling the subcontinent, I’ve never been to the hiking mecca of Ladahk.  I land in Leh September 11th, 2015 to do Markha and more.


  • Markha Valley is the most popular hike in Ladahk, northern India, bordering Tibet
  • easy access out of Leh
  • 6-8 days
  • 111km (69mi)
  • early June to mid-October
  • moderate-demanding
  • big risk of altitude sickness
  • 2-3 high passes (4900m-5200m)
  • several nights at very high altitude

This is the Tibet of India. 🙂

by lupus alberto
by lupus alberto


India hates tourists … less

New. Announced November 2014 for tourists wanting to travel to India.

e-Tourist Visa. Online. US$60. Good for 1 month. Single entry.

Here’s the application page (I hope). I’ll try it for a trip September 2015. Wish me luck.

Original post from 2014 ____

I’m in Nepal. Visa on arrival. No hassles. Nepal loves tourists.

India still requires a visa in advance for Canadians, a stupid and time consuming process from the days of the Raj.

Though open-for-business Modi promised Obama it was coming, it’s not yet here.


India is working on a proposal for visa on arrival (VoA) facility for US tourists, one of the big-ticket announcements expected to be made during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile visit to the US beginning September 26. …

Times of India

Since 2010 visa on arrival was available for citizens of these nations: Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and South Korea.

Yet they cannot bloody add more nations to that list? 😦

UPDATE – The list has been expanded to 43 nations including the USA. … But NOT Canada. NOT U.K.

related – India hates tourists (2013)

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

Not great, despite prizes and rave reviews.

The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga.

It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year. The novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy. In detailing Balram’s journey first to Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, the place to which he flees after killing his master and stealing his money, the novel examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty in India. …

white tiger


I did like the vision of modernizing India as seen through the eyes of one of the poorest Indians.

But – as is the case in many prize winning novels – there is weirdness for the sake of being original.

The protagonist is writing to the Premier of China. Admitting to murder.


In order to be considered for the Man Booker. It’s stupid. Makes no sense. I won’t read his follow-up novels. 😦

India hates tourists

You still need a visa in ADVANCE to visit India. Getting one is a pain.

I spent hours in a Kafkaesque office in Calgary, trying to get the paperwork right.

WHEN is India going to improve the process for applying for a tourist visa?

In Canada you are recommended to go through a 3rd party – BLS India. That helps. A bit.

All foreign nationals except those from Nepal and Bhutan need a visa to enter India. But the following nationals can probably get what we all want — a visa on arrival:

New Zeeland


India is fascinating, once you finally get a visa.

On arrival at Mumbai International terminal, I changed cash at Thomas Cook.

US$200 got me … 11,250 rupees (“Trans Fees, Service tax, Education Cess., Higher Education Cess., etc)

Google (same day) told me $200 was worth 12,410 rupees.

So I lost 9.35% by going through Thomas Cook. Par for the course, I believe.

Using my Visa card cash advance was, the Thomas Cook agent told, was going to cost me about 16%.

There seems to be no good way to get cash when traveling abroad, these days. My plan in future is to try not to exchange currencies more than once. You get burned each time.