The old Hindustan-Tibet Highway, built by the British as a potential invasion route into Tibet runs NE from Shimla through the Kinnaur valley’s apple  orchids, temples and villages that have not changed over the millennia.

Our plan is to travel along the Sutlej river towards the greener Kinnaur valley (part 1 & 2) and then onto the high altitude mountain deserts of the Spiti valley(part 3 and however more posts it may take) , close to the India/Tibet border.

To do this requires a special permit as this is a restricted military area and a detour off ‘highway 22’. Why it is even called a highway defies logic.

A permit is obtainable in Shimla (for more on Shimla see Linda’s previous post)

We arrive at the ‘additional’ district magistrates office in Shimla full of hope only to spend a fruitless day going from pillar to post ,  to be told at 4.oo pm that this is NOT possible, with a smile. Too dangerous for 2 people seems to be the general excuse.

When seeking permits on previous trips, encounters with bureaucracy often left some hope- maybe our requests were lost in translation. Mish mumkin in Sudan, Nyet on the Silk road often ( with persistence) garnered the result we hoped for, once translation barriers were overcome.

In  Shimla however our request is denied, in perfect English.

A friendly local suggested we try Rhekong Peo as the local magistrate there maybe more amenable.

This is the first part of our trip there.

How this felow can smile after sitting the whole day at Shimlas addtional magistratres office beats me. judging by the mount of files our request ( & prehaps his) were an irritation

How this fellow can smile after sitting the whole day at the additional magistrates office in Shimla…..

 

1.We leave behind Shimlas Royal Enfield firetender

We leave behind Shimla’s Royal Enfield fire tender

 

2. and its protein

and its chicken protein

 

3.National highway 22 lures us

National highway 22 lures us

 

4. with apple orchids

with apple orchids

 

5. & teasing glimpes of the himalays-if we only can get a permit

& glimpses of the Himalayas-if we only can get a permit

 

National highway 22 quickly narrows

National highway 22 quickly narrows

At the expense of flogging a dead horse, the rules of the road, or lack thereof , still require an adjustment on our part. The mind-set seems to be if you are bigger you own the road. Here is a short video of what blind corners present, even on a small back roads  This video was shot with a Sena Prism helmet cam which has a relatively wide angle lens. The gap is actually a lot smaller than what it appears.

 
The majority of these pictures were shot while on the move with a Sena helmet cam(C10/Prism) either from the helmet or through the screen when mounted on the handlebars. If the boffins at Sena are reading this a game changer would be if the handlebar remote could control the cam. Fiddling for buttons on these roads could be fatal. Here’s hoping Sena!! 

7. Along the way we see road workers who live on the road

Along the way we see road workers who live on the road

 

8. Men & woman work under VERY diifcult condtions-here tar is melted in drums

Men & woman work under VERY difficult conditions-here tar is melted in drums over a fire

 

9.

 

10. It seems to make no sense trying to fight nature with small patches of tar

It seems to make no sense trying to fight nature with small patches of tar

 

11. or manually breaking rocks into smaller pieces to fill potholes

or manually breaking rocks into smaller pieces to fill potholes

 

12. when water & snow

when water & snow

 

13 and constant rock falls will always have the upper hand

and constant rock falls will always have the upper hand

 

14

 

16

 

17 the last bit of tar-not that there was ever much. Its a far way down to the bottom if one goes left wayward...

the last bit of tar-not that there was ever much. Its a far way down to the bottom on these narrow roads if one goes left wayward…

 

18.more protein although it probably has more rights than we do

More protein although it probably has more rights than we do

 

19. We start too see many sheared wheel stubs

We start to see many sheared wheel stubs

 

19. Which is little wonder as the road morphs into a mixture of hidden rocks and mush

Which is little wonder as the road morphs into a mixture of hidden rocks, rim denting potholes and slippery mush

 

20. with a surprise around every corner

 

21

I’m still fixated on what’s around every bend….

 

22.Landslides and rock falls still enable us to slip through-one of the joys of being on a bike

Or how we can slip by when traffic is held up due to landslides and rock falls

 

23

That truck in the distance has broken down but the military on foot are on their way

 

24 We climb from the valley

We climb from the Sutlej river valley

 

25 with its heavy miltary presence

with its heavy military presence

 

26 and its Hydro Electric power plant that at a glance could double as an Egyptian antiquity

and its Hydro Electric power plant that at a glance could double as an Egyptian antiquity

 

27 to a somewhat greener enviroment.Thats our track snaking on the left side

to a somewhat greener environment. That’s our track snaking on the left side

 

29. Somwhere around one of these bends is Sangla

Somewhere around one of these bends is Sangla, our stop for the night

 

 

...

 

Sangla!!!!

Sangla!!!!

 

 It's my birthday & we book into the Deb Buhmi Regency

It’s my birthday & we book into the Deb Buhmi Regency

 

33. With its welcoming comitttee

With its welcoming committee

 

34. And undercover parking, reserved for the military?

And undercover parking

 

 

35. A geyser in name only with no water pressure. Essentially a cold water bucket shower.

A geyser in name only with no water pressure and exposed wiring. Thankfully there was no power and the Regency’s cold water bucket shower system kicked in (also used to flush the non- squat toilet reached via a short skate over the wet floor). That little tap near floor level is in lieu of non existent toilet rolls…

 

No electricity but hey strong ,warm beer at blackmarket prices. At 9% we soon forget the price

No electricity but hey strong, warm beer at black-market prices. At 9% we soon forget the price

 

37 and more curry

Birthday heartburn

 

38 at the local eatery

at the local eatery

 

39

We choose to be in India and are actually quite happy, despite an overdose of chilly vegan, curry vegan, spicy vegan and all its derivatives that keep us awake at night….

 

40 the local silversmith

the local silversmith

 

41

has skills that must have been passed on down

 

42 creates these masterpieces

creates these masterpieces

 

4.Sangla ...

Sangla …