Day 19 Friday 20 July. Leh

Business takes up a lot of travelling time, but that is the case anytime you travel for more than a short trip. Alan has to arrange to change his flight date out of Delhi and purchase a new ticket from Leh to Delhi. “Come back in an hour. Return this evening and I will have your tickets.” It’s all finalised. The trip has cost Alan substantially both financially, physically and mentally. However I think he has made the right decision to return from Leh. I haven’t said much as I wanted it to be his decision. He should still be proud of his achievement. I know people who would not be game to travel on a bus where we have cycled.

We were directed to a bicycle mechanic who trued Alan’s wheel. He has Specialized flat blade spokes which don’t have a bend in the hub end. The man heated up a standard spoke and straightened and shaped it to fit. He then spent an hour truing the rim with skill. His boys brought us tea while we waited in his workshop. He only asked for Rs 300 ($6) but Alan gave him $10.

Earlier in the day while all the shops were shut and the streets free of cars we walked up the Leh Palace the most dominant structure in town. A beautifully proportioned and well balanced structure. It is magnificent. About 500 years old and built from stone and mud mortar with Poplar timber beams and window and door frames. I like the Ladakhi/ Tibetan architectural style where the vertical walls are slightly tapered inwards for strength. To get there we walked through the old town that has no room for cars on the narrow “streets.” It is also the Moslem quarter. We enjoy the Moslem tea houses and bakeries more than the Ladakhi and tourist eating places. The men are always honest and charge us the correct price for tea and food. We enjoy milk tea with a little ginger and a huge plate of rice with mutton and dahl. Though we have never actually seen any sign of flesh in any of the mutton meals we have had in India. By following shoppers with bread under their arms we discovered the bakery that was no more than a gap in the wall. They baked “Kashmiri” style bread, our favourite.

We stocked up on tomatoes, onions, dried apricots and dried tomatoes. Alan and I will ride out to the Nubra Valley north of Leh as a last challenge over the highest road in the world before coming back to Leh for his flight to Delhi. In the mean time we hope his bike bag and airline ticket will arrive. For dinner we took fresh tomatoes and bread back to our guesthouse