Wrestling (a raftman on) the Zanskar River

Trip Start May 18, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, July 5, 2008

We forced ourselves to get up early again (once again awoken by the mediation music and call to prayer from the mosque) so we could meet at the rafting office at 7:15 to go on our trip. The place offered a level 2 trip for 900rs and a level 3+ for 1400. We opted for the 3+ after we concluded that I would be disappointed if we didn't do the best one. We picked up some flatbread from a small shop on the way to the office, and when we got there, we recognized one of the others waiting to go on the trip. It was My, the red-headed Danish lady we shared a cab with from the airport. She was with the friends she was talking about meeting up with: a Dane and an English guy, both probably in their mid 20s. A couple hours of waiting and driving later, we were at the river putting on wet suits, helmets, and life jackets. I was really surprised that we would need wet suits in the desert-like conditions, but the water really was freezing cold. Actually, I think the suits kept us colder than we would have been since they trapped the cold water against our skin, but at least we were covered so I didn't get sunburned any worse. The river was really tame and wide, and we only hit a few medium rapids in the about 2 hour ride. None of us thought we were really rowing for a reason when we were instructed to, and when we did the jump in the boat and duck down, it was obviously pointless as well. I decided that the rafting I did before on the Napo River in Ecuador was either a 4 or 5, and when we rowed fast and ducked, it was to prevent the raft from flipping over. Anyways, this scenery was opposite from Ecuador's green lush mountains. These mountains were barren and rocky, and instead of a variety of plants, there was a variety of colors and types of minerals. Some of the mountains looked purple, most tan, and some greenish and bluish. There were interesting rock formations along the way. The most exerting part of the trip was towards the end when the raft guide decided to pick a fight with me. He pushed me in once when I wasn't expecting it, then tried to about 5 times after that. It turned into a wrestling match pretty much, because I was determined not to let him push me in twice and I couldn't throw him out because he anchored his foot under a strap. It was kind of ridiculous for the guy to keep trying to attack me while everyone else just sat and watched. I think he realized how bored we were with the rafting (my eyes kept wanting to close because I was so tired too) and wanted to get a rise out of us. We had a decent lunch at the end of the trip by the river and headed back to town. We had dinner at the same small restaurant we liked, and found some delicious chocolate balls at a nearby German bakery. Back at the hotel, I ran into a really nice Indian man, named Sumit, with an Australian accent who invited us to go to Pangong Lake in a jeep. We were excited to get a chance to get a permit for an attraction outside of the city. I went to the travel office he used and talked about going to Nubra Valley instead since Sumit didn't care which place we went. They said they'd try to change the permit and let us know in the morning. We got photocopies of our passports and visas made and then went up to the palace to take some pictures of the city at sunset. Sumit had also shown me some long-exposure shots he took in the evening of some gompas, and I decided to bring my tripod and do the same. I got a bad ass shot of the palace with stars above it before my camera battery died, and we made our way to the hotel by the light of Sarah's camera screen.
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