CYCLING!!! Leaving Leh. Stupas, gompas and temporary perfection.
After spending the morning with the WWF Leh team, (otherwise known as the some of the freindliest people in the world) we finally rolled through the gates of Leh and started our way to Manali.
The locals were busy doing their business and those that noticed us were surprised to see 3 fully laden bikes go by. They all yelled out ‘Jollay’ and although we were excited to start the next leg, there was a tinge of saddness about leaving.
The first few kms of riding were windy, dusty and full of nerves. We were acutely aware of any strange noises or groans coming from our bikes. After hauling them all the way from Japan and Australia, we were now leaving the security of Leh and had to rely on our (basic) bike maintenaince skills.
Todays ride was relatively short. Just a few hours of riding to get the trip started and shorten the climb on the coming days. We had a chance to test our packing and learn how to navigate pot holes, trucks, kids and cows with a full load on the bike.
At one point we came across a field of Stupas. The large white monuments sat serenely across the a huge area of land. As we rounded the next corner we could see Thikse and its spectacular Gompa sat staring at us from the top of the hill. This is where we chose to spend the night. We had enough daylight hours left to scramble up the hill and check out the Gompa.
In one of the temple rooms we were lucky enough to come across four or so monks working together to create a mandala. An artpiece that took a lot of concerntration, discussion and frequent referencing of a printed picture, only to then be blown away for another mandala to be created on the same space. It was heartening to see that even these guys had spirited conversations with each other, disagreeing during the process of working together. It seemed to us such a shame to destroy the beautiful piece they created after all that hard work.
I guess it was like our ride. We were learning to work together with each other, the locals and even our bikes. After all our preperations, the first day of our Leh-Manali adventure was already over and we had to prepare for new discoveries tomorrow.