Wild Ass Nomads

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Where I stayed
Tiny Hotel in Village of Samad Rokchen

Flag of India  , Kashmir,
Thursday, September 27, 2012

9/27 Tso Moriri to Tso Kar (4268m) - 90 km

Accommodation at unsigned hotel in the village of Samad Rokchen – 200 rupees per person ($4)

Day's Highlight: Brief visit with the Chang-Pa nomad family



Another stark blue sky greeted us this morning. The dirt roads climbing up and through the village were filled with monks and village folks going about their business, frequently stopping to chat along the way.

The French couple departed before we woke and we shared a nice breakfast of omelet, fresh chapattis and milk tea, and coffee with Bernhard. Then, we were on our way.

Bernhard left at the same time as we did but soon got well ahead of us. We told him we'd meet up with him at tea stops.  Sheep and goat herders moved their flocks on the expansive Tso Moriri lake shore. We stopped to watch two women milk pashmina goats. They were neatly tied up head to head. And, when finished, a quick pull of the rope released them.
On our way out of town the guards at the check-point called out to us waving their arms, we smiled and waved back. Dave had no intention of stopping at the scene of last night’s crime. Later we heard from Bernhard that, yes, we should have stopped to "check-out". Whoops, our third mistake with these guys.

We followed Moriri Lake shore for several km.


Down below us, in small valley with about 5 nomad tents, we noticed woman gather goat droppings in large bags, which along with yak dung, is their main source for fuel. By the time we walked down into their valley she disappeared in one of the black tents.  The husband came towards us and invited us inside. The tent is woven from yak wool. His wife was nursing their healthy looking baby. No luxuries, no decorative touches, except for a few religious relics, all their possessions are functional; several small dented pans and few well-worn metal dishes and utensils were tucked away in one corner. Well-worn fabric and dusty rugs covered parts of the tent. A mouse lazily moseyed across the floor. No one paid attention. The weave of the tent was quite loose, I couldn't help wondering how these people survive the harsh winters. They had easy smiles. The nomads in Mongolia could teach these people a thing or two about insulating their tents.


We traced back along the same route we took yesterday for 43 km until we got to the picturesque village of Puga Zampa, nestled on a hillside. Everybody was busy in the fields harvesting barley and wheat, many calling a friendly "yulee" after us. Here we turned west towards the hot springs at Puga. Had the springs been at all inviting, we would have jumped in. Several small tents covered the springs in narrow stream along the roadside. A guide was waiting next to his van for his group of tourists to be finished with their dip. They were headed in opposite direction.


From here on, about 44 km, we entered a godforsaken desolate dusty (yes, more dusty) landscape. Climbing on rocky and sandy track to Polo Kongka La (Pass) from where we got our first breathtaking view of the opal blue Tso Kar (Lake). Here we came across a large group of nomads leading pack horses down to the valley apparently moving to lower elevation. They were the first sign of life we came across in the 3 hours it took us to get up here. One man spoke a little English and told us to take a right at the next fork and, yes, there are home stays at the village of Samad Rokchen. 

By now, a fiery wind picked up. The first building we came to was a simple restaurant where we spotted Bernhard's bike. The only thing on the menu was "Maggi", packaged noodle soup like ramen. Which we skipped soup and warmed up with some milk tea. No heater or stove in any of the homes and establishments we saw.
We continued to the village and had the choice of two bare bones hotels. Pads on the floor with well used sheets and numerous thick quilts to keep us warm and out-house in the back.

The Lake is famous for the endangered black necked cranes that stop by Tso Kar to lay their eggs.

For dinner we walked to the "parachute" restaurant, also owned by our guesthouse owner.

Parachute tents are a common sight here in northern India. Apparently the Indian Army makes emergency food drops during the winter and the discarded parachutes then are fashioned into tents by locals, often at road construction sites. Hygiene here left a lot to be desired. But we were hungry and tried to put the hygiene thing out of our minds. The wife made us bland dhal with rice which was not bad... for dhal.

90 kilometers for the day doesn’t sound like much on a motorcycle. But sections of the so called road were in pretty bad shape and our progress was slow. And we had ample opportunities for stops along the way. Yep, 90 km was a very good day!
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