After Sangla we ride along the river to Rekong Peo to obtain permits for the next province. Lunch is at a wonderful restaurant with fabulous views of the mountains.
Then we climb and climb to a fabulous hotel in Kalpa, at just below 3000 metres, where we will spend two nights amongst the apple and pear orchards of this peaceful village. The view is stunning and you feel like you’re sitting in the lap of the mountains with so many visible peaks.
We have a day off to acclimatise once more so some people walk to the next village around an even more precipitous road than we’ve seen before!
I choose to get dropped off at the “view” and walk back to the village on my own. The road is particularly narrow with no armour guard and a one-kilometre sheer drop to the river and road below. Such is the nature of the Himalayas!
The village of Kalpa is cute and friendly with a temple, monastery and school. The townspeople are having their community meeting which is very cool, even though I can’t understand a word of it!
The others catch a wedding ceremony in the next village and get involved in some dancing. We all enjoy the day off as our rooms are so amazing with views of the mountains and attention to detail in every room. The food was exceptional here and I especially enjoy one of the staff, a delightful young man by the name of Shubham. He has taught himself English from movies (particularly Harry Potter which he loves) and the internet.
We are advised the road out in the morning will be closed as they will be “blasting” but we can take a 20-kilometre diversion. We head off early as it will take several hours more to ride the diversion – it doesn’t take long to turn into the most challenging road to date! It’s not so good for pillions and I decide it’s beyond my capabilities, so three of us end up in the jeep!
It’s very much a single-lane unsealed minor road with major drop-offs to the valley below. Even being in the jeep is very scary but these drivers are just the best. We finally finish the 20-kilometres of diversion and make it to the checkpoint gate to be ticked off. The road now follows the river again but is full of roadworks and active blasting. At one point we are all lined up waiting to get through an area and a guy is using a jack-hammer directly above me! Brian runs into the back of Kamal’s bike and breaks his clutch lever and side mirror! A little car does a u-turn in front of me and just about runs me into the river! We keep climbing and the scenery becomes more and more spectacular and like a moonscape. This is what we came here for.
Towards the top of the pass we have to wait for nearly an hour while they blast and work on the road. Our lunch stop is at the top and it’s evident we are close to the Chinese border as the people are starting to change again in looks and the food has a very Chinese flair to it with moo moo, a Chinese dumpling and a cabbage soup with noodles. The road has been quite a mixture on the way up and once we reach the summit and begin the descent it becomes quite pleasurable.
We ride along the river with 1000-metre-high banks of scree and the road running through the side of it. The sheerness and size are almost overwhelming and the changing lights of the day make the scenery even more special as we finally make the small village of Tabo.