Journey back from Hemis Monastery to Shey
Lucky in Ladakh – Part 3 of (3):
I am travelling in Ladakh for four days and have rented an Enfield Bullet 350 cc motor bike.
Quite a heavy but trusty machine with good crash bars. The cost to rent is roughly £7 per day and I have filled the tank.
So far I have visited the Druk White Lotus School and Hemis monastery.
It is late afternoon and I am heading back to Leh, about 60 km back and the time is about 5 pm in the afternoon.
Sunset is around 6 – 6.30ish so I need to get on.
On my way up to Hemis I had noticed on my little photocopied map.There was an alternative route from Shey (where the school is) which runs parallel to the main road. It is on the opposite side of the river and I eventually reach the fork in the road where this starts. I look at the single track road heading off and it reminds me of the roads over the moors in Yorkshire. I look across to the main road and see the trucks moving up and down….I am at a cross roads and make a decision. No trucks, nice open empty road, condition looks good so may even be quicker. Trucks, busy and dusty road on the other side…hmmmmm….well what would a chap who spent a lot of time growing up on the Lancashire Yorkshire borders do? Yep, head for the moors……
I do wonder if this really is the right road as the map is so basic and when I see a lone man by the road I stop and ask ‘Shey?’
The man answers ‘Main Road, main road’ and again I say and point ‘Shey?’ He nods and points in my direction and then indicates to the right which is what the map says after many miles, don’t really consider why he was saying main road.
Great I say to myself. Off I go……a few more miles get covered in reasonable time and at good speed. Really getting the hang of this and enjoying it immensely. It is remote on this road, I am a little surprised as I expected more people around and more traffic. None of either. Still it is a beautiful late afternoon with the mountains on the opposite side of the valley still in sunshine.
About the Enfield Bullet 350.
As the company http://royalenfield.com/ says, ‘The legendary Bullet 350 need no introduction. Now Bullet 350 is with all new Unit Construction Engine. This classic machine has kept place with advances in engineering and ergonomics without diluting its impeccable pedigree. A long wheel base and bigger tyres provide increased stability and road grip, making it ideal for long distance travel. Its aristocratic black & gold livery and thumping engine beat remind passers by that they are in the presence of automotive royalty.’
These bikes are really quite heavy and care needs to be taken cornering, also I struggle with gravel on the roads in places which makes me a little nervous but this road seems fine and confidence grows.I am going well; this is perfect, no traffic, no people, and nice late afternoon sunshine.
Suddenly the road rises a little and as I come over the brow I can see down, the road bends, sharply, suddenly, gravel on the corners, oh oh, how things and life can change in a moment, I know I am in trouble……I try to brake, hand brake, foot brake ahhhh but it is too late, I realise I am going to loose it and in a split second the bike is over and I am thrown off. It is over in a flash, some tumbles then I am lying on the road looking up at the sky and in great pain…..all is quite, the engine is silent. Well, not all quite I can hear someone groaning in pain…no one else around so..that must be me then…..
I wonder if I can move and try to, lifting my right hand I see blood. I must have hit on my left hand side as my left shoulder feels terrible, my rib cage is painful when I move slightly but I can lift my left arm a little too, my fleece is ripped and blood is coming from my left forearm. I feel faint and sick and breathless. I lie back in the middle of the road.
Realisation begins to dawn. There will be no traffic coming. It is going to be dark soon. I am many miles from a town. I am perhaps many miles from a person. I have no SIM for my mobile so there is no network connection. Wireless? Here? I don’t think so. So no skyping. The wonders of modern technology fall away fast and how quickly we can head back to times long gone. That secure fabric we weave over life in our modern age can be unraveled at speed. The importance of power and energy to support what we do. The importance of remembering how people lived and survived and prospered in times past. Life and impermanence, it really is a fine line.
Before leaving UK I had thought of hiring a bike and someone at the Duke of Cumberland said that’s what you do in Ladakh and in a strange moment of safety consciousness I went and bought a survival bag thinking you never know, Himalayas, remote….
I picture my survival bag where I knew it to be….in my luggage at the guest house….
I know I have to lie here and see if the sick and faintness pass a little. I am breathing with difficulty, a combination of the altitude and accident. I look at the darkening deep blue sky and in a strange way all seems peaceful.