[ Dallas, Texas ]
In the Finally Got Around To It department, I’ve just finished a too-little, too-late video documenting last summer’s bike tour through the Indian Himalayas.
It’s been pretty exciting to dig through the hundreds of video files my friends and I recorded–reliving a seven-week, twelve hunred-kilometer journey which began on July 29th, 2013. One year ago today, for instance–August 7th–we climbed Lachulung La pass (5,065m), descending to a small village called Pang (4600m) for the night. As far as towns go, Pang is just a wide spot in the road, and an ugly one at that; an excuse to set up the usual parachute tents and dhabas which provide temporary shelter and dining opportunities for truckers and tourists braving this remote stretch of highway. Aside from these seasonal establishments, Pang hosts a permanent Indian Army outpost, which provides free supplemental oxygen to the many Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) sufferers traversing the Manali-Leh highway by Bus, Jeep, and Motorcycle (i.e. the folks who are travelling too quickly to acclimate properly to the altitude, frequently suffering from spells of nausea, projectile vomiting, headaches, black-outs, nosebleeds, and various other such pleasantries).
Instead of our usual routine (sleeping in a tent), my friends and I spent the night in a communal “hotel,” which we shared with two yoga instructors (one fuscia-haired lovely from Chile, one Spaniard, rather more demure–both stranded in Pang for 24 hours after their tourist Jeep broke down) and a passel of ubiquitous post-military service Israelis who flock to North India dreaming of charas-fueled sex with attractive young Spanish-speaking yoga instructors (or so sez all the available evidence from this particular evening, anyhoot). It was a great evening, marked by low temperatures and the vivid dreams of high-altitude slumber.
It was also, in many ways, unremarkable; the trip was crammed full of these random interpersonal encounters (the scenery wasn’t too bad, either).
So…finally, one year after the fact, here is a short little movie–yet another music video–commemorating the event. I made it for myself, for you, and most of all for the three people I met on the first day of the journey, and who remained my companions for six of the seven weeks: Jean Daniel Hahnhardt and Leonie Forestier from Switzerland, and Anthony Matic, a dreadlocked German of Croatian descent. Travelling by bike, it’s common to meet people and keep one another’s company for a day or two. But to meet three strangers, spend almost every waking moment with them for six weeks, and, rather than killing one another, forging deep, life-long friendships? That is a rare and beautiful beast, greatly to be cherished.
Naturally this short film will fail to do justice to those friendships, or to the alien landscapes we traversed together. It does, though, somewhat capture what it was like to be constantly on the move for those seven weeks; how it felt to ride through (and be lost within) some of the most breathtaking–and serious–scenery on earth. I know I say this about damn near everything I do these days, but it is true, once again: if you ever have a chance (or can make one) to ride the Indian Himalayas–to travel Manali-Leh Highway, or to ride down into Zanskar Valley–take it. Do whatever it takes to make it happen.
As usual, thanks for reading, thanks for watching, and thanks for your encouragement and support.
Love & Kisses,
—Your Friendly Neighborhood Transglobalist
JeanDa and Leo are in the midst of a round-the-world cycling journey. You should follow them via their blog:
Anthony can be found online at facebook.com/smoozi.shake