Nearing Spiti

Day 4 of Spiti trip â€“ Kalpa, Hangrang valley and Khab Sangam

At The Monk – Kalpa, we woke up to stunning views of Kinnaur Kailash mountain. Right from our window, we could see the mountain range shining brightly almost blindingly bright!

Kinnaur Kailash mountain range from the window of our room!

Some parts of the hotel were under construction. We navigated through some rubble to the restaurant and had simple delicious hot breakfast. The coffee was again a disaster. It was made of a premix 😦

After settling the bill, when we were almost about to leave, Jai initially asked us to give good rating to the hotel, especially his service and then insisted that we do there itself, right in front of him. By this time, we understood some folks don’t understand the concept of ‘space’ but again they don’t mean anything bad. So we went ahead and gave hotel review the way Jai wanted. Jai suggested that we visit Suicide Point before we leave.

Suicide point, Kalpa

The soles of my shoes were coming off and I had to buy new shoes. We stopped at a market and bought shoes at a reasonable price after some bargaining. This Himalayan market also has some real good views!

Kinnaur Kailash overlooking the market

All set, we started our journey to Nako. On the way, we had to refuel our Bolero. But the petrol bunk was waiting to be refuelled. While waiting for the fuel tanker, we had some humble Thukpa at small eating joint nearby.

Thankfully, the fuel tanker arrived and we refuelled by the time we were done with our brief lunch. Enroute, we crossed Akpa bridge. Only one vehicle can go on the bridge at a time. The surroundings are beautiful with three peaks overlooking the bridge. So while waiting for our turn to cross the bridge, I managed to take few shots of the three peaks.

Khab Sangam and Hangrang Valley

Before we reached Khan Sangam, we had to stop on a small road with Sutlej river beneath us. There were shooting stones ahead of us and it was dangerous to go. So we waited until the stones stopped falling and it was safe for us to go.

Dust after the shooting stones stopped falling

After crossing this perilous road, we reached Khab Sangam near Hangrang valley. Sangam is confluence of two rivers. At Khab Sangam, it is confluence of the Spiti and Sutlej rivers. We were following Sutlej river till now. After this confluence, we would be tagging along the Spiti river for the rest of our trip. Unofficially, we were in the Spiti region; though not officially in the Lahaul and Spiti district. The landscape changed drastically; it looked more of the brown barren “Spiti” rather than green “Kinnaur”.

Enduring machines in testing climes – At Khab Sangam

At this sangam, there is one cafe named after Khab. We wanted to take a break and have some tea. The moment we stepped out of our car, we had dust in our eyes. The wind was blowing very strongly, carrying dust with it. It was very to difficult to stay outside with all the dust blowing into our eyes. Me and Subbu rushed to the cafe. The owner is very friendly warm. He ordered ginger lemon mint tea for us. It was delicious and we ordered another cup.

Subbu and I had to use the loo. We waited till the wind took a very brief respite. There is a washroom outside the cafe that is nothing but an Indian toilet with four thick plastic sheets around it! All the while using it, I was praying that the wind wouldn’t blow away these sheets.

Somewhere here, we noticed that our driver had vanished from our view. By this time, we understood that he shouldn’t left alone with the like-minded Himachali people for more than 10 minutes. Else, he would smoke weed.

So we were little concerned when we could not find where he is. While ordering for another cup of tea, we noticed that he had befriended some folks in the cafe’s kitchen. But as he had promised that he would not repeat his “shameful” behaviour, we tried not to think much about it and had our second cup of the delicious tea.

Views before Nako

After paying bill, we got into our car and resumed our journey to Nako. The views were very different now and looked more of Spiti. Amidst the brown landscapes, there brief greens of apple orchards.

Another let down from Nariendar

Somewhere on the way, Nariendar blurted that he had smoked weed with the folks at Khab Sangam. Our initial apprehensions about him proved right and we were thoroughly utterly disgusted with him. Even the stunning landscaped around us failed to divert us; after all our safety was at question. By this time, there were no signals and there was literally nothing we could do.

Subbu by this time had started feeling effects of altitude. She was getting slight headache. We decided not to think about this man, him driving after smoking weed and tried to accept that this might be “normal”.

Reached Nako safely

It was evening 4pm or so by the time we reached Nako. The village looked beautiful but there were lot of tourists; much more than I had expected. By this time, our conversations with Nariendar were minimal and to none. We started looking around and asking locals regarding accommodation ourselves.

Just at the entrance of the village, we noticed a homestay sign. Despite her headache, Subbu talked with the homestay owner. We saw a room with views and were alright with it. This unsafe behaviour of Nariendar was clearly weighing us down mentally; despite home stay owner clearly saying that we must pay advance to reserve the room, we said we would visit Nako lake and be back. Basically, we were wondering what we could do to ensure that we will be driven around safely for the rest of our trip.

Absentmindedly, we went to Nako lake. Subbu’s headache got little worse now and she didn’t get down the car at all :(. I just saw the lake and took a few pictures. When we got back to the home stay, the room was given off to someone else. Our irresponsible driver was asking the guest to be chivalrous and give the room to us! Wow! After all this irresponsible behaviour, I found this very funny. We just pulled the driver away, apologised the guest for his behaviour, and started hunting for another accommodation. But none were available!

Nariendar was contacting his relative on phone. We also had other option to go a nearby village and stay there. I wasn’t worried, very surprisingly. In the worst case scenario, I was ok to sleep in the car. Luckily, Nariendar’s relative suggested us to stay at one his friend’s home in Nako. This turned out to be one of the best things that happened to us during the trip!! 😀

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