The Journey so far…
Day 3 | Rangdum – Penzi La Pass – Drang Drung Glacier – Padum
Like you might have read in the last part, it was a tough night a night which just could not pass out but it finally passed away. We all woke up and shared the horrors of last night and to the surprise not just me but each one of us had suffered the extreme dehydration and desire to sip the chilled water whole night and that severe headache. I was still in worst condition than all of others. We discussed all ifs and buts of our ascend towards Penzi La and then descend towards Padum as compared to going all the way back to Kargil, acclimatize or abandon the trip. Finally, with little courage we agreed upon to go towards Padum because it also had a civil hospital which could save us with oxygen if things fell apart. Deciding on the fact with a agreement that we will not stop much in between and keep on carrying all the way to Padum from Rangdum with little stops, mainly at Penzi La and Drang Drung Glacier for clicking some pictures.
It was a gamble for us which should pay for us or we will have to pay for it 😉 … But, that’s how delicate sometimes adventure becomes that knowing the fact that when you are hit with AMS never ascend we still ascended but the thin line of difference was that we will still be sleeping at an altitude lesser than Rangdum. There is 400 Mtrs of difference between altitude of Rangdum and Padum, so that ways we were actually descending only. It is the ascend towards Penzi La which was the only factor in picture and then it was all descend. So, offering some prayers and saying a BIG NO to breakfast at Rangdum, we drive off towards Padum in bright sunshine with chilly breeze flowing around. The water in drains and accumulated here and there had become ice and at places we had to run over them too taking one shortcut or the other. I was not interested in anything, heart or perhaps my body did not allowed me to focus on taking any pictures or enjoying but as and when we started climbing towards Penzi La, the wildlife around begun to appear and the vistas started to change drastically.
Marmots started appearing around the roads up towards Penzi La and it took a while to reach the top. The beauty was such that I had forgotten everything and could not resist my nerves to take out the camera and click few pictures. It was heavenly as we reached the top, with so many glaciers surrounding the pass as if protecting it at 14000 feet. Penzi La is the highest point on Kargil to Padum road where along with the towering glaciers you can see the deep blue coloured twin lakes – Stat Tso and Lang Tso. This time we watched them only from distance as my body did not allowed any further exertion at that altitude. It was still very cold and with the brief moments we decided to descend. As soon as you start descending from Penzi La pass, you reach the place where you can see the Drang Drung Glacier in full glory… There is no other sight in India where you can watch such a huge glacier in touching distance, so close that you can even go down a bit and lay your hands at it. It was mammoth with river like bed formation of snow all over up to the point where our eyes could see… A Super Treat to eyes 🙂 … Again, could not believe what I was seeing and yes the decision for taking such a pain proved much healthy now as I was out of the car immediately with its first sight. But, all of us knew that we had to be easy while going and we can deal with everything while coming back. We moved ahead and reached the Abran Village, first villages of Zanskar valley and the Buddhism presence started to be felt with stupas coming into the scenes, which I love the most.
The road had not improved a bit since Parkachik and that bumpy full of potholes road along with being sick, was making me feel why the hell I was there… The sun was burning the skin now, such ferocious the rays were and I felt when your health is down nothing looks good around you 🙁 … The whole journey was covered either sleeping or thinking of what will happen ahead if we found hospital to be closed. Did not have anything interesting apart from vehicle registration at the police check post of Abran Village all the way up to Padum but just hoping to reach there in time as early as possible. Target was to reach Padum and head straight to civil hospital to see a medic and get some treatment and oxygen and we did just that 😉 … I was too sad to miss the vistas on route but could not help it out with body withdrawing its support. Finally, reached civil hospital.
Well, to be very frank, that hospital was so well maintained that it did not look like a civil hospital. Got registered, all 4 of us standing in a queue which apparently everyone there was respecting, not like idiotism here in urban world where no one knows what a queue means 😀 … Anyways, we were surprised to see that they charged only Rs 2 per person for everything including Medicines, Doctor, Oxygen etc. Everyone was looking at us, amused that they have just entered here and are heading straight to hospital 😆 But, that was the irony. Doc examined us thoroughly and finally gave word that out of 4 I was the one who was in much bad shape than others, so advised Oxygen for 15 Minutes. We went into the hospital but each one of us took Oxygen after I finished initially. As soon as got out of the bed with Oxygen in the body the whole scenery changed and everything around me was looking beautiful, the headache was also lowered. I called up home and told about my whereabouts and well being. Meanwhile, there were some army guys as ever helpful, invited us for any help we want, if required and shared few words with them. Finally, we took the medicine and still could not believe that Rs 2 can fetch so much in terms of health, was feeling first time so good about paying tax.
Finally, it was time to search the hotel, in fact we had already decided that not to take any chances with anything but to go with the best hotel in Zanskar or Padum, that is Hotel Marq even if it demands going over budget. We talked to the owner (a mid-aged family) and he offered us a bit of discounted price though not much but we wanted comfortable stay as well as good quality food which Hotel Marq does offer you without any second thought. We checked-in and just relaxed for sometime, slept the whole rest of afternoon after having lunch and then had some gup shups all night. The market was closed following some protest which we did not know about and there was some local issue going on. It did not bother us because we were getting everything wanted in the hotel itself and the rooms were quite relaxing. We wanted to rest for the whole day without exploring anything to give a chance for next day explorations in Zanskar Valley. They had generator too when the light got off during dinner time they switched it on. The cook (also named Hasan) prepared some very nice food, much similar to what we were used to at home, being from Jammu. As the night fell, the cold got bitter but very thanks to the cozy rooms it never made us realize about the conditions outside. There was running hot water too and finally I could bath on the trip before going for a good night sleep after horrible last night 😉 …
The Journey ahead…
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Thanks brother for sharing your experience. We 3 are planning to cover the trip in bike. Are there any staying options available between rangdum and padum?
YEs Anurag, there is a very decent guest house now at Rangdum as LA Himalaya and in Padum you can stay at Omasila Hotel. You can get connected with Nobu ji at +91 94693 69109 and he can help you with the booking of LA Himalaya too.
Thanks Dheeraj for your response. Do we need to stay between rangdum and padum or we can cover the distance during day hours? Also, how’s the road condition from rangdum to padum?
No, you can easily cover Rangdum to Padum. Road conditions are bumpy and dirt track between Rangdum to Padum
Is it doable for us to go from Kargil to Padum and back to Kargil in one day. We plan to be there around June 20, 2015.
Kargil to Padum and back is not at all possible. Kargil to Padum itself is 12-13 Hrs of journey. Kargil – Rangdum – Kargil still be possible.
Thank you Dheeraj. We plan to spend two nights in Kargil arriving on June 20, 2015. We would like to go the next morning from Kargil-Penzi La Pass-Darung Durung Glacier and back to Kargil. Is it possible to do it on one day? As we need to head towards Leh the following day.
Yes, day trip to Drang Drung and Penzila pass is possible from Kargil. Just leave early from Kargil.
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Sorry to hear about your Illness.
But Great Spirit. Thsnks for sharing.
Thanks brother, and this is part of Travel after all seeing the heavenly beauty is not always piece of cake 🙂
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